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Womack v. Alcantara

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

May 29, 2018

STEPHANIE ALCANTARA, et al., Defendants.


          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon initial review of Plaintiff Geoffrey Lewis Womack's pro se civil Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985. (Doc. No. 1.) Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Application to Proceed without Prepaying Fees or Costs. (Doc. No. 2.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on November 20, 2017, while incarcerated at the Mecklenburg County Jail. He names Stephanie Alcantara, identified as an officer with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (“CMPD”), Taft Farmer, identified as a CMPD officer, and Dan Decker, identified as a CMPD detective/investigator, as Defendants.

         This is Plaintiff's second civil rights complaint stemming from incidents occurring on December 16, 2015.[1] See Compl., Womack v. Paragon Systems, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00667-FDW (W.D. N.C. filed Nov. 16, 2017), Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that on that day, two security guards working at the Social Security Administration's Charlotte office falsely accused him of stealing a framed picture of Barack Obama, a coat, an iPhone, and a flip phone from their work station. (Compl. 2-3, Doc. No. 1.) He also alleges he was accused of stealing a grey 2012 Honda Accord. (Compl. 1.)

         According to the Complaint, Defendant Alcantara arrested Plaintiff based upon the security guards' reports and filed false charges against him for misdemeanor larceny and felony larceny of a motor vehicle without conducting any investigation to determine if the reports were true. (Compl. 6.) It appears from the Complaint that Defendant Farmer also responded to the security guards' call to police and transported Plaintiff from the scene. (Compl. 7.) According to the Complaint, Farmer did not inform Plaintiff where he was being taken; Plaintiff began having an anxiety attack and chest pains; medic was called and Plaintiff was taken to the hospital where he was not assigned a room but was treated in the hallway. (Compl. 7.) Defendant Farmer kept watch for 25-30 minutes while Plaintiff was being treated; Farmer was then relieved by another officer. (Compl. 7.)

         After Plaintiff was discharged, the other CMPD officer transported him to the CMPD Hickory Grove substation, to be interviewed by Defendant Decker. (Compl. 7.) Plaintiff alleges he was handcuffed to a wall in a small room under a hidden camera; Plaintiff did not learn of the camera's existence until September 17, 2016. He claims he was deceived by Defendant Decker, but he does not state how he was decieved. (Compl. 7.)

         Plaintiff claims he was falsely imprisoned when he was placed in the custody of the Mecklenburg County Jail. (Compl. 3.) He acknowledges being indicted by a grand jury for felony larceny of a motor vehicle and four counts of misdemeanor larceny but alleges the trial judge declared a mistrial because the jury could not reach a verdict at trial. (Compl. 3.) Plaintiff asserts he has been in custody ever since, waiting to be retried. (Compl. 3.)


         Federal law requires that a party instituting a civil action in federal district court pay a filing fee or be granted leave to proceed without prepayment of fees and costs. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(a)(1). A prisoner seeking to bring a civil action in federal district court without prepayment of fees, must file an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses and a statement that the prisoner is unable to pay such fees or give security therefor. § 1915(a)(1). Additionally, the prisoner must submit a certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the prisoner for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint or notice of appeal, obtained from the appropriate official of each prison at which the prisoner is or was confined. § 1915(a)(2).

         Plaintiff has filed the required affidavit (Doc. No. 2) but has not filed a certified copy of his inmate account statement from the Mecklenburg County Jail. The Court takes judicial notice that Plaintiff filed a certified copy of his inmate account statement in his related complaint, which was opened four days before the instant action.[2] Inmate Acct. Stmn't, Womack, No. 3:17-cv-00667-FDW at Doc. No. 4 (sealed). Based upon the affidavit filed in the instant Complaint (Doc. No. 2) and the inmate account statement filed in Civil No. 3:17-cv-00667-FDW, the Court finds Plaintiff has insufficient funds to prepay the filing fee. Therefore, the Court will grant Plaintiff's application to proceed without prepaying the filing fee.


         Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous, ” “malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). In its frivolity review, the Court must determine whether the Complaint raises an “indisputably meritless legal theory, ” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992), or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as “fantastic or delusional scenarios, ” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989).

         With respect to failure to state a claim, the “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. However, a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999)). While a pro se complaint must be construed liberally, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. ...

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