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Pittman v. York

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

January 16, 2020

D.M. YORK, et al., Defendants.


          M. Hannah Lauck, United States District Judge.

         Clevin Pittman, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] By Memorandum Order entered on November 15, 2019, the Court directed Pittman to file a particularized complaint. (ECF No. 25.) Pittman failed to file a particularized complaint. By Memorandum Order entered on December 4, 2019, the Court again directed Pittman to file a particularized complaint. (ECF No. 29.) Thereafter, Pittman filed a Motion to Amend (ECF No. 30) and subsequently, a Particularized Complaint (ECF No. 31). The Particularized Complaint is now before the Court for evaluation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. For the reasons articulated below, the Court will allow Pittman's Eighth Amendment claim against D.M. York to proceed.

         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). 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)), aff'd, 36 F.3d 1091 (4th Cir. 1994). 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 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and 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 4a 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 Ail. 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). For a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, 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 will not act as the inmate's advocate and develop, sua sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his or her 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. Pittman's Motion to Amend and Particularized Complaint

         On December 6, 2019, Pittman filed a Motion to Amend wherein he asks the Court to change his demand for monetary relief to forty million dollars. (ECF No. 30.) Pittman's Motion to Amend (ECF No. 30) will be GRANTED and the relief requested will be reflected as forty million dollars in monetary damages.

         In his Particularized Complaint, Pittman names as Defendants D.M. York, an Officer with the Chesapeake Police Department, and the Chesapeake Police Department. (Part. Compl., ECF No. 31, at 1.) In his Particularized Complaint, Pittman alleges as follows:[2]

On 2-10-19 a.m. hours, police officers D.M. York and M. Sivels arrested me (Clevin Pittman) for traffic violations. My chest was hurting so I was tak[en] to Chesapeake General Hospital... . The two officers, D.M. York and M. Sivels, they put me in a hospital bed and I was handcuffed to both bed rails. As I (Mr. Clevin Pittman) and Officer D.M. York w[ere] talking, I asked him why do[es] he hate black people. Then after that, he started choking me to the point I thought I was going to die. Then he stopped and ran to the room door. I believe he stopped because he heard someone coming in the door and when he went to the door he told one or more nurses that they [were] going to charge me with spitting on them. As 1 was going up for my bond[], the video was show[n] of the action that was going on in the room. It [did] not show that I spit on anyone, but it clearly show[ed] D.M. York was choking me, Clevin Pittman. And Officer Sivels he just stood there and did nothing to help me. All this was caught on M. Sivels['s] body camera. Its clearly police brutality and he went against his oath of duties to serve and protect as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
The Defendant D.M. York clearly violated my (8th) VIII Amendment rights of the Constitution. Which was cruel and unusual punishment that he, D.M. York, inflicted on me (Clevin Pittman).
The Chesapeake Police Department are truly liable for his action, if it is legal or illegal, they are liable. Officer D.M. York in his apprehension and arrest on me, Clevin Pittman, he violated his code of conduct which is a dereliction of duties to serve and protect and also he committed a[n] act of police brutality and going against his code of honor or oath.
Due to the fact Officer D.M. York of the Chesapeake Police Department did not follow their policy and procedures doing the apprehension ...

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