United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on defendants Stanley and
Page's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), (2),
and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs,
who proceed in this matter through counsel, failed to respond
to the motion to dismiss and the time for doing so has
expired. For the reasons that follow, the motion to
dismiss is granted and this action is dismissed in its
filed this action complaining under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 of
violations of their Fourteenth Amendment rights and under
North Carolina state law of malicious prosecution,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, and
conspiracy to commit fraud. Plaintiffs' claims arise from
their arrest by defendants on July 12, 2015, for false
imprisonment, neglect of the disabled/elderly, and felonious
restraint. The criminal charges against plaintiffs arose from
an allegation that a family member of plaintiffs who suffered
from HIV and mental illness was being kept by plaintiffs
against his will at a location without plumbing or air
conditioning and in conditions otherwise unsuitable for
habitability. Plaintiffs allege that they had worked with
several different agencies to come up with a plan of care for
this family member, but had been left without any option
other than to care for him themselves. Plaintiffs allege that
the home in which this family member was living had working
plumbing and air conditioning and that another person was
living in the home in order to care for the family member.
allege that defendants did not fully investigate the home in
which their family member was living, nor did they attempt to
seek a full understanding of the situation. The charges
against plaintiffs were formally dismissed on August 5, 2016.
The dismissal stated that the alleged victim was determined
to be mentally incompetent and that the state had determined
there was no crime committed based on credible information.
Prior to the dismissal of the charges, plaintiffs allege that
their arrest was excessively covered in the media, and that
this coverage resulted in negative impacts on their private
and personal affairs.
complaint was filed in this Court on October 12, 2018.
Defendants Stanley and Page timely moved to dismiss
plaintiffs' complaint on January 16, 2019.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a
claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. When subject
matter jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff has the
burden of proving jurisdiction to survive the motion.
Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647-50 (4th
Cir. 1999). "In determining whether jurisdiction exists,
the district court is to regard the pleadings'
allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider
evidence outside the pleadings without converting the
proceeding to one for summary judgment." Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States,
945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). To this end, "the
nonmoving party must set forth specific facts beyond the
pleadings to show that a genuine issue of material fact
exists." Id. (citing Trentacosta v.
Frontier Pacific Aircraft Indus., 813 F.2d 1553, 1558-59
(9th Cir. 1987)). The movant's motion to dismiss should
be granted if the material jurisdictional facts are not in
dispute and the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of
12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes
dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. When personal
jurisdiction has been challenged on the papers alone, the
plaintiff must make a prima facie case showing that personal
jurisdiction exists, and a court construes all facts and
inference in favor of finding jurisdiction. Combs v.
Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989).
12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 283 (1986). When
acting on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "the
court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and
should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the
plaintiff." Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir.1993). A complaint must allege
enough facts to state a claim for relief that is facially
plausible. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). Facial plausibility means that the facts as
pleaded "allow the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged," and mere recitals of the elements of a cause
of action supported by conclusory statements do not suffice.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). I.
Section 1983 claims.
allege claims under § 1983 against defendants Stanley
and Page in their individual and official capacities.
and Page have raised the privilege of qualified immunity as
to the § 1983 claims against them in their individual
capacities. Qualified immunity shields government officials
from liability for statutory or constitutional violations so
long as they can reasonably believe that their conduct does
not violate clearly established law. Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982); see also Henry
v. Purnell, 652 F.3d 524, 531 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc).
A court employs a two-step procedure for determining whether
qualified immunity applies that "asks first whether a
constitutional violation occurred and second whether the
right violated was clearly established." Melgar v.
Greene, 593 F.3d 348, 353 (4th Cir. 2010). A court may
exercise its discretion to decide which prong of the analysis
to decide first based on the circumstances presented.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). When
qualified immunity is raised in a motion to dismiss, the
appropriate inquiry for a court is whether the plaintiff has
"plead[ed] factual matter that, if taken as true, states
a claim that [defendants] deprived him of his clearly
established constitutional rights." Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 666.
have raised two claims under § 1983 against the
defendants in their individual capacities. First, plaintiffs
allege that defendants violated their due process rights by
fabricating and withholding evidence and that defendants
maliciously, recklessly, or callously acted with deliberate
indifference to plaintiffs' federally protected rights.
In order to show that the fabrication of evidence violated an
individual's due process rights, the individual must
plead adequate facts to show that a loss of liberty resulted
from the fabrication; "[fabrication of evidence alone is
insufficient to state a claim for a due process violation . .
.." Massey v. Ojaniit, 759 F.3d 343, 354 (4th
Cir. 2014). In order to state a claim that police officers
violated their due process rights by withholding evidence,
the plaintiffs must sufficiently plead that "(1) the
evidence at issue was favorable to [them]; (2) the Officers
suppressed the evidence in bad faith; and (3) prejudice
ensued." Owens v. Baltimore City State's
Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 396-97 (4th Cir. 2014).
plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for violation of
their due process rights based on the fabrication or
withholding of evidence. Plaintiffs have not identified what
evidence they allege was fabricated or withheld by
defendants, or when the defendants fabricated or withheld
evidence. Nor have plaintiffs have alleged any conviction or
deprivation of liberty which ensued from the alleged
fabrication of evidence. Mindful that plaintiffs need only
show that they have a "more-than-conceivable"
chance of success on the merits to survive a motion to
dismiss, Owens, 767 F.3d at 396, the Court's
review of the complaint reveals that it is comprised solely
of conclusory allegations that the defendants deprived
plaintiffs of any constitutional rights. Because plaintiffs
have failed to state a due process claim, the Court need not