United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN, United States District Judge
a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights
action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
matter is before the court for frivolity review pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915. Also before the court are
plaintiff's objections to the filing fee requirement
(D.E. 12, 13).
September 27, 2010, plaintiff was convicted of assault with a
deadly weapon with intent to kill or seriously injury and
sentenced a term of incarceration of 22 years, 3 months, and
25 days. See North Carolina Department of Public
Safety, Offender Public Information,
t s&listpage=1 [https://perma.cc/Q3J3-3DEW].
Although his complaint is not a model of clarity, it appears
he argues that his arrest and incarceration constitute an
unlawful exercise of the State of North Carolina's
eminent domain authority. (Compl. (DE 1), p. 3-6). As relief,
he demands “judgment for the property to be condemned
and just compensation for the taking.” (Id. at
November 21, 2016, the court granted plaintiff's motion
to proceed without the prepayment of fees. (D.E. 10). The
order required plaintiff to pay an initial filing fee of
$16.00, and then to pay monthly installments of 20% of the
proceeding months' income credited to his trust fund
account. On April 20, 2017, plaintiff filed two motions which
essentially argue that the court erred by imposing a filing
fee in this matter (DE 12, 13).
Filing Fee Motions
Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides
that “prisoner[s] shall be required to pay the full
amount of a filing fee.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)
(emphasis added); see Torres v. O'Quinn, 612
F.3d 237, 241 (4th Cir. 2010) (“Congress [has] required
that indigent prisoners filing lawsuits be held responsible
for the full amount of filing fees.”). Thus, the PLRA
permits a prisoner to file a civil action without prepayment
of fees or security, but requires the prisoner to pay the
full amount of the filing fee as funds are available.
McDaniels v. Wright, No. 1:14-CV-03728-TLW, 2015 WL
10710269, at *2 (D.S.C. Jan. 12, 2015). Accordingly,
plaintiff's motions challenging the filing fee in this
case are DENIED. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914
(“The clerk of each district shall require the parties
instituting any civil action . . . to pay a filing fee of
$350, except that on application for a writ of habeas corpus
the filing fee shall be $5.”).
1915 provides that courts shall review complaints in which
prisoners seek relief from a governmental entity or officer
and dismiss such complaints when they are
“frivolous.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). A
complaint may be found frivolous because of either legal or
factual deficiencies. First, a complaint is frivolous where
“it lacks an arguable basis . . . in law.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
Legally frivolous claims are based on an “indisputably
meritless legal theory” and include “claims of
infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not
exist.” Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 74 (4th
Cir. 1994) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327). Under
this standard, complaints may be dismissed for failure to
state a claim cognizable in law, although frivolity is a more
lenient standard than that for failure to state a claim under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 328. Second, a complaint may be frivolous where
it “lacks an arguable basis . . . in fact.”
Id. at 325. Section 1915 permits federal courts
“to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual
allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual
contentions are clearly baseless.” See Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992) (citing
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that a complaint must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Although the court must liberally construe
a pro se complaint, a plaintiff must do more than make
conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78; Bell Atlantic Com. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Here, plaintiff's
complaint is rambling, disjointed, nonsensical and fails to
provide a short and statement of his claims. Thus,
plaintiff's complaint could be dismissed for that reason
plaintiff seeks to recover damages for an allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment. Therefore, he
must show that the underlying conviction has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). The Supreme Court
later clarified that Section 1983 actions are barred, no
matter the relief sought, “if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S.
74, 82 (2005). In Wilkinson, the Court again
emphasized that habeas corpus was indeed the exclusive remedy
for state prisoners who “seek to invalidate the
duration of their confinement-either directly through an
injunction compelling speedier release or indirectly through
a judicial determination that necessarily implies the
unlawfulness of the State's custody.” Id.
at 81-82; see also, Edwards v. Balisok, 520
U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (A “claim for declaratory relief
and money damages . . . that necessarily imply the invalidity
of the punishment imposed [ ] is not cognizable under §
1983.”). Here, plaintiff's claim falls within the
purview of Heck because his claim is predicated on
the theory that the State is abusing its authority by
addition, even if plaintiff's claims were not barred by
Heck, the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment
protects private property, and is wholly inapplicable to any
challenge to his conviction. See Phillips v. Washington
Legal Found., 524 U.S. 156, 163 (1998); Washlefske
v. Winston, 234 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir. 2000).
although he does not specifically name any personal property
he was deprived of, the court notes that a prisoner may not
bring a federal claim for deprivation of property through the
“random and unauthorized” acts of government
officers, whether negligent or intentional, when state law
provides an adequate remedy. Hudson v. Palmer, 468
U.S. 517, 533 (1984); Francis v. State of Md., No.
87-6517, 1987 WL 37670, at *1 (4th Cir. June 1, 1987)
(finding that claims of unlawful conversion or negligent loss
involving items seized from a car by law enforcement officers
fails to state a claim under § 1983) (unpublished
opinion); Calhoun-El v. Maynard, No. RDB-07-220,
2007 WL 5254010, at * 4, n.9 (D.Md. Nov. 19, 2007),
aff'd, 267 F. App'x 252 (4th Cir. Feb. 27,
2008). North Carolina has adequate post-deprivation remedies
for the ...