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Daniels v. McCall

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

May 29, 2019

LEONARD McCALL, Defendant.


          M. Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge.

         Anthony Derrick Daniels, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauper is, filed this civil action. For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A as frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. Preliminary Review

         Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") this Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or (2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon "an indisputably meritless legal theory," or claims where the "factual contentions are clearly baseless." Clay v. Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (second alteration in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," id. (citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible on its face," id. at 570, rather than merely "conceivable." Id. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at 556). In order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, therefore, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly, while the Court liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         II. Allegations

         Daniels's Complaint (ECF No. 1) contains a terse and disjointed statement of his claim against Leonard McCall, a defense attorney who represented Daniels during his criminal proceedings. (Id. at 2.) He labels his claim as brought pursuant to "The 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution"[1] (id. at 3) and states as follows:[2]

The plaintiffs attorney (Mr. McCall) failed to file a quash motion when evidence was strongly supported by facts and laws in my case. Defendant (Mr. McCall) was my attorney and failed to file a motion with evidence given to him from June 1, 2018 to the courts. Showing no integrity and reckless disregard of the truth of plaintiff s constitutional rights, also statutes and laws in Richmond Circuit Court.

(Id. at 4.) In an attachment labeled "Claim Attachment 1 A," Daniels continues the claim, and states:

The Plaintiff is now on lawyer #4. The facts of perjury by Ms. Cheatham in preliminary statement areas follows, "she said it was my car." This is my date of arrest 10/14/17 for expired registered vehicle tags. The car is registered to Ms. Cheatham. I have been convicted on these charges in Henrico Traffic Court. The 4 people in the courtroom support the fact of perjury against Ms. Cheatham: 1. Judge 2. Police Officer 3. Court Clerk 4. Lawyer from Henrico Traffic Court. (Have tickets.)

(Id. at 5.) In his second attachment, labeled "Claim: (Attachment 2A)," Daniels also states:

Defendant McCall failed to file quash motion, when evidence against witnesses was strongly supported by facts and laws in my case. Leads me to the conclusion that, the lawyer rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. On that complaint basis, I initiated a civil malpractice claim.
Defendant Mr. McCall received evidence from June 1, 2018, that proved perjury. Several documents [were] signed by Ms. Cheatham and dated before the alleged incident. The plaintiff wrote the court on June 6, 2018 and the BAR on this matter. The defendant refused to submit the evidence to the courts, but the plaintiff has several court dates where the defendant could have put forth motions knowing the law concerning the perjury 18.2-434. And the result, a defect in process, does to the outcome of the plaintiff being further detained. As a ...

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