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Norman v. Hopkins

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

January 10, 2019

Shomari E. Norman, Plaintiff,
v.
Evonne S. Hopkins, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER & MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION

          Robert T. Numbers, II United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Shomari E. Norman, proceeding pro se, brings this action to challenge the outcome of a child support determination made in June 2012 in Wake County District Court. Norman's filings are not a model of clarity. The court liberally construes Norman's complaint to allege that the child support determination resulted from “bias and prejudice” against him by the defendants: Evonne S. Hopkins, Raleigh Law Center, Marc Anthony, North Carolina Child Support Agency (NC CSA), and Judge Lori Christian. D.E. 1. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants slandered his credit and character, improperly terminated his parental rights, gave false statements and testimony, committed a conspiracy to interfere with his civil rights, committed various constitutional violations, committed coercion, breached their oaths, violated tort law, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. D.E. 1, 6, 7.

         Norman has submitted several motions that are before this court for consideration: the court reads three of them as motions to amend his complaint (D.E. 8, 11, 22), two are motions to change venue (D.E. 9, 20), and one is a motion for the court to audit records (D.E. 10). Judge Christian has moved to dismiss the complaint against her (D.E. 13). Norman later filed a motion (D.E. 21) which the court reads as a response to Judge Christian's motion to dismiss.

         After reviewing the parties' arguments, the court grants Norman's Motions to Amend (D.E. 8, 11, 22), denies Norman's Motions to Change Venue (D.E. 9, 20), and denies Norman's Motion to Audit Records (D.E. 10). And the undersigned magistrate judge recommends that the Court grant Judge Christian's Motion to Dismiss (D.E. 13).

         I. Background

         According to documents filed with the court, Norman's complaint arose from a child support case in the District Court for Wake County. Judge Christian presided over the matter, which began in June 2012. Defendant Evonne S. Hopkins, an attorney, and her law office, Defendant Raleigh Law Center represented the mother of Norman's child in her action against Norman. Defendant Marc Anthony represented Defendant NC CSA. In April 2013, Judge Christian found against Norman.

         Norman filed his complaint in this action in July 2018. D.E. 1. He filed three motions to amend his complaint over the next two months. DE. 8, 11, 22.

         II. Analysis

         A. Motions to Amend

          Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a “party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course before being served with a responsive pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). By its terms, the rule leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a district court, and so the Court has no discretion to reject an amended pleading filed before a party serves its responsive pleading. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). For purposes of this Rule, an answer is a responsive pleading, and a motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading. Dominion Healthcare Servs., Inc. v. Value Options, Inc., 2009 WL 580326, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 5, 2009); see Smith v. Blackledge, 451 F.2d 1201, 1203 n.2 (4th Cir. 1971).

         For secondary and tertiary motions to amend a pleading, “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). The Fourth Circuit has held that a court should deny “leave to amend a pleading . . . only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would have been futile.” Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006) (en banc).

         Since Norman filed his first Motion to Amend before any responsive pleading, the Court grants it (D.E. 8). Norman's second and third Motions to Amend are largely duplicative of his original complaint, but are not prejudicial to the opposing parties, in bad faith, or necessarily futile. Thus, the Court grants Norman's second and third motions to amend (D.E. 11, 22).

         B. Motion to Audit Records

         Norman has filed a motion entitled “MOTION FOR AUDIT OF RECORDS.” D.E. 10. Besides reciting federal statutes and regulations raised in his Motions to Amend, Norman appears to allege that Defendant NC CSA improperly ...


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