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Williams v. Christenson

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

November 7, 2014

JOSH CHRISTENSON, et al., Defendants.


JAMES C. FOX, District Judge.

On April 4, 2014, Plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding prose, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Compl. [DE-1]. Plaintiff has requested leave to proceed without prepayment of the full civil filing fee [DE-2]. The matter is now before the undersigned for frivolity review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In reviewing an in forma pauperis application, a court "shall dismiss" any case that is "frivolous or malicious, " that "fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted, " or that "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). A case is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). The standard used to evaluate the sufficiency of the pleading is flexible, and a pro se complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quotation omitted). Erickson, however, does not dispense with the "requirement that a pleading contain more than labels and conclusions.'" Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 304 n.5 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Com. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-80 (2009); Nemet Chevrolet Ltd. v., Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255-56 (4th Cir. 2009); Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).

Here, Plaintiff contends that his November 14, 2008 arrest and subsequent "arrest, indictment, charges, [and] tri[al]" violated the "4th/5th/8th/14th Amendments." Compl. [DE-1], pp. 1, 7. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at p. 9. These allegations have already been the subject of a prior complaint in this court. See Williams v. Canady, No. 5:10-CV-558-FL. Plaintiffs previous case was dismissed on summary judgment because, inter alia, "defendant officers had probable cause to stop, arrest, and search plaintiff [on November 14, 2008]." Williams, No. 5:10-CV-558-FL, 2014 WL 51245, at *4 (E.D. N.C. Jan. 7, 2014) aff'd, 577 F.Appx. 146 (4th Cir. 2014). "Res judicata or claim preclusion bars a party from suing on a claim that has already been litigated to a final judgment by that party or such party's privies and precludes the assertion by such parties of any legal theory, cause of action, or defense which could have been asserted in that action.'" Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition v. Aracoma Coal Co., 556 F.3d 177, 210 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting 18 James Wm. Moore, et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 131.10(1)(a) (3d ed. 2008)). Plaintiff readily concedes that both ofhis actions are predicated on the same facts. Compl. [DE-1], pp. 6-7. Thus, the claims in the instant complaint are barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

Moreover, because Plaintiffhas not demonstrated to the court that his "conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, " he may not recover damages for the alleged constitutional deprivations he attributes to defendant. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 486-87 (1994).[1] The "favorable termination" rule of Heck applies "no matter the target of the prisoner's suit... if success in that action wold necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its duration." Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005). Accordingly, this claim is not cognizable in a suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Heck, 512 U.S. 486-87.

For these reasons, the matter is DISMISSED as frivolous, and the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to close the case.


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