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McFadden v. Mail Room Staff

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

September 30, 2014



JOE L. WEBSTER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, commenced this pro se action alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated. ( See Docket Entry 2.) Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. (Docket Entry 7.) The court notified Plaintiff pursuant to Ro"eboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975) that he had the right to file a response to Defendant's motion and submit affidavits or statements and/or other legal or factual material supporting his claims as they are challenged by Defendant's motion to dismiss. (Docket Entry 10.) Plaintiff has filed a response to Defendant's motion (Docket Entry 12) and the matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion to dismiss should be granted.


Plaintiff filed this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 on November 19, 2013 against Defendant "Mail Room Staff" at Warren Correctional Institution ("WCI"). (Complaint, Docket Entry 2.) Plaintiff claims that on September 25, 2012 he received a letter from the mailroom at WCI indicating that a portion of a publication had arrived for him in the mail, but had been confiscated as contraband. ( Id. at 3.) According to the Plaintiff, he wrote back to the mail room, explaining that the material in question was his own manuscript that he had written and sent out to be typed. (Id.) Plaintiff was informed that the material was considered contraband because it was not from a legitimate source of published materials. The manuscript was destroyed because Plaintiff did not have funds in his prison account to have the material either returned to the sender or sent home. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges it took him over two years to write the material and he was "very hurt concerning this matter." (Id.)

In support of his complaint, Plaintiff has submitted to the court copies of the administrative grievances he filed regarding his complaints about the destruction of his manuscript. (Docket Entry 3.) Plaintiff received the following response to his Step One Grievance:

In your complaint you state that the mailroom withheld and then unnecessarily destroyed a manuscript that you had sent out to be typed and was being returned. Investigation reveals that when the item in question was delivered to the facility, it appeared to be "published material" and fell under Policy Chapter D, section.0101, paragraph (a): "Publisher is defined to include legitimate wholesale marketers and distribution centers for published material." Therefore, it was considered contraband. You were duly notified and given the option to mail it home. It is noted that you did opt to send the material home, but due to you not having sufficient funds, the material was destroyed.

(Docket Entry 3 at 2.) A Grievance Examiner who reviewed the findings and response of the staff in the initial grievance found that "staff has adequately addressed this inmate's grievance concerns, " and adopted the facts found by the staff investigator. ( Id. at 3.)

Plaintiff does not identify any staff by name or description. He contends that the Mail Room Staff "made a mistake" in construing his manuscript as contraband under Department of Corrections policies. (Pl.'s Brief at 4, Docket Entry 14.)


A. Rule 12(b)(6) Standards

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may seek dismissal of a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim should be granted if the complaint does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Movably, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In other words, the factual allegations must "be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555. "Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is probable, ' the complaint must advance the plaintiff's claim across the line from conceivable to plausible.'" Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Movably, 550 U.S. at 570). As explained by the United States Supreme Court.

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. The plausibility standard is not akin to probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. lqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

A 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a complaint and "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). Accordingly, a court should "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's allegations." E. Shore Mkts. Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). Although the truth of the facts alleged is assumed, courts are not bound by the "legal conclusions drawn from the facts" and "need not accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Id. While courts construe pro se complaints liberally, a court should not fashion Plaintiffs arguments ...

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