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Klinger v. Ahern

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

November 21, 2014



RICHARD L. VOORHEES, District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Mark Coffey's ("Coffey") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 3) and Defendants Robert J. Ahern and Joe Whittington's ("DOR Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7). All Defendants have asked this Court to take judicial notice of certain government records. (Docs, 3, 8). Plaintiff has responded to both motions. (Docs. 9, 11). Defendant Coffey has replied. (Doc. 10). At the outset, the Court notes that Plaintiff Michael Lawrence Klinger is proceeding pro se.


Plaintiff has sued all Defendants in their individual and official capacities. (Compl., Doc. 1). Defendant Coffey is a Lenoir police officer. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Defendants Ahern and Whittington work for the North Carolina Department of Revenue ("DOR"). ( Id. at ¶¶ 6-7). Defendants Ahern and Whittington investigated Plaintiff for failure to file a return or pay taxes. Plaintiff was eventually arrested by Coffey. ( Id. at ¶ 26). Plaintiff claims the arrest was made without probable cause, a warrant, and without his consent. ( Id. ). Plaintiff claims he has causes of actions against all Defendants for "causing damage without probable cause" in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments ( Id. at ¶¶ 43, 45); against DOR Defendants for "taking the private records of the Plaintiff without cause" and ( Id. at ¶ 48); against Defendant Ahern for arresting Plaintiff "without exhausting any administrative remedy" ( Id. at ¶ 52); and against Defendant Coffey for "arresting and seizing of the Plaintiff without cause, without warrant and without consent." ( Id. at ¶ 52).



A. Treatment of Pro Se Litigant

"A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed'... [and] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, Erickson does not "undermine Twombly's requirement that a pleading contain more than labels and conclusions.'" Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 304 n.5 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)). Further, the liberal construction afforded to pro se litigants "does not require [district] courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). District judges are neither advocates for pro se litigants nor mind readers. Id.; Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Svcs., 902 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

B. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

A motion filed pursuant to 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Jordan v. Alternatives Res. Corp., 458 F.3d 332, 338 (4th Cir. 2006); Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, the courts require more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (applying Rule 8).

Rule 12(b)(6) protects against meritless litigation by requiring sufficient factual allegations "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" so as to "nudge[] the[] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Twombly, 500 U.S. at 555, 570; see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662. Under Iqbal, the court performs a two-step analysis. First, it separates factual allegations from allegations not entitled to the assumption of truth. Second, it determines whether the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, "plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." 556 U.S. at 681.

Under a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6), the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the pleading and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movants favor. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam); Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). This requirement applies only to facts, not legal conclusions, however. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). Further, district courts do not have to blindly accept "allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice." Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002); see also Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007) (under 12(b)(6), it is ordinary for a court to consider matters of which it may take judicial notice). This is seen as a narrow exception to Rule 12(d)'s requirement that matters considered outside of the pleadings will convert the motion to summary judgment. Clatterbuck v. Charlottesville, 708 F.3d 549, 557 (4th Cir. 2013).

C. Request for Judicial Notice

All Defendants have asked the Court to take judicial notice of five arrest warrants. DOR Defendants ask the Court take judicial notice of judgments issued by the Wake County General Court of Justice. The materials in question are docketed in the case of State v. Klinger, ...

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