United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
TONYA R. CHAPMAN and KENNYACHTTA S. CHAPMAN, Plaintiffs,
LIL CEASER COMPANY, MELOTTE ENTERPRISES, INC., PAUL MELOTTE, LORA LEIGH, ACURA BLANTON, and AMANDA SIMS, Defendants.
REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court sua sponte.
Plaintiffs Tonya R. Chapman and Kennyachtta S. Chapman bring
this action against a Little Caesars pizza restaurant and
several of that restaurant’s employees. The Plaintiffs
assert that subject matter jurisdiction exists on the basis
of a federal question (specifically 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
[Doc. 1 at 3]. Specifically, the Plaintiffs assert claims of
racial discrimination, assault, defamation, perjury, and
slander. [Id. at 5].
the Plaintiffs have paid the $400 fee associated with the
filing of this action, the statutory screening procedure
authorized under the in forma pauperis
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), is not applicable.
Nevertheless, the Court has inherent authority to dismiss a
frivolous complaint sua sponte. See Ross v. Baron,
493 F. App’x 405, 406 (4th Cir. 2012) (noting that
“frivolous complaints are subject to dismissal pursuant
to the inherent authority of the court, even when the filing
fee has been paid”) (citing Mallard v. United
States Dist. Ct. for S.D. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08
(1989)). Further, the Court may address the issue of subject
matter jurisdiction at any time. See Ellenburg v. Spartan
Motors Chassis, Inc., 519 F.3d 192, 196 (4th Cir. 2008).
“If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
the Plaintiffs appear to assert claims for racial
discrimination, assault, defamation, perjury, and slander
arising from mistreatment they allegedly received at the
Defendant restaurant. Specifically, the Plaintiffs claim that
the restaurant employees “avoid[ed] taking [their]
order”; that the employees “ma[de] gestures of
wanting to assault” the Plaintiffs; and that the
employees threatened to have them arrested. [Doc. 1 at 5].
extent that the Plaintiffs’ claims are brought pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, such claims are frivolous and fail
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. As the
Fourth Circuit has explained:
To implicate 42 U.S.C. § 1983, conduct must be fairly
attributable to the State. The person charged must either be
a state actor or have a sufficiently close relationship with
state actors such that a court would conclude that the
non-state actor is engaged in the state’s actions.
Thus, the Supreme Court has held that private activity will
generally not be deemed “state action” unless the
state has so dominated such activity as to convert it into
state action: [m]ere approval of or acquiescence in the
initiatives of a private party is insufficient.
DeBauche v. Trani, 191 F.3d 499, 506-07
(4th Cir. 1999) internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). Here, the Plaintiffs have not brought
suit against a state actor; instead, they have attempted to
sue a restaurant and its employees for violating their
federal civil rights. The Plaintiffs have made no allegation
that the Defendants have a sufficiently close relationship
with state actors such that the Court could conclude that the
Defendants were engaged in governmental action. The
Plaintiffs’ § 1983 claims, therefore, are
extent that the Plaintiffs attempt to assert a claim for
racial discrimination under federal law, they have failed to
allege their race or that the conduct complained of was
motivated by any sort of discriminatory animus. Accordingly,
the Plaintiffs’ claims for racial discrimination are
the Plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to present any
cognizable claim under federal law, the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs’ claims. Having
dismissed all of the claims over which the Court could
exercise original jurisdiction, the Court in its discretion
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for assault, defamation,
perjury, and slander, and these claims are dismissed without
Court notes that this is at least the second lawsuit filed by
the Plaintiff Tonya R. Chapman that has been dismissed on
initial review. See Chapman v. USPS/US Attorney, No.
1:17-cv-00132-MR-DLH, ECF Doc. 4 (W.D.N.C. June 22, 2017).
Litigants do not have an absolute and unconditional right of
access to the courts in order to prosecute frivolous,
successive, abusive or vexatious actions. See Demos v.
Keating, 33 F. App’x 918, 920 (10th
Cir. 2002); Tinker v. Hanks, 255 F.3d 444, 445
(7th Cir. 2002); In re Vincent, 105 F.3d
943, 945 (4th Cir. 1997). District courts have
inherent power to control the judicial process and to redress
conduct which abuses that process. Silvestri v. Gen.
Motors Corp., 271 F.3d 583, 590 (4thCir.
Plaintiffs are hereby informed that future frivolous filings
will result in the imposition of a pre-filing review system.
Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am., Inc., 390 F.3d 812,
818 (4th Cir. 2004); Vestal v. Clinton,
106 F.3d 553, 555 (4th Cir. 1997). If such a
system is placed in effect, pleadings presented to the Court
which are not made in good faith and which do not contain
substance, will be summarily dismissed as frivolous. See
Foley v. Fix, 106 F.3d 556, 558 (4th Cir.
1997). Thereafter, if such writings persist, the pre-filing
system may be modified to include an injunction from filings.
In re Martin–Trigona, 737 F.2d 1254, 1262
(2d Cir. 1984).
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Plaintiffs’
Complaint is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.