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Dillard v. Perry

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

March 18, 2019

THOMAS T. DILLARD, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK PERRY, W. DAVID GUICE, GEORGE SOLOMON, BELINDA DUDLEY, GWENDOLYN SCOTT, REGINALD MEWBORN, E.W. WALLACE, THOMAS E. ASBELL, II, CYNTHIA O. THORNTON, PAULA S. PAGE, C. HERNANDEZ, D. GIBBS, JOE SOLANO, M. SLAGLE, LAUREN HARRELL, JASON PENLAND, TIM JONES, G. GARNER, TOMMY L. PAGE, JR., CAPTAIN MILLIS, JAMES C. MARLOWE, P.G. CHRISAWN, CHAD GREEN, MIKE BALL, LIEUTENANT PHILLIPS, SERGEANT DAWSON, MARY E. WILLIAMS, RASHIA L. NORMAN, SCARLETT R. ASWELL, CRISSY H. SMITH, NICKI A. WEBB, A SHLEY WE L C H, M ONI C A BOND, DAVID MAY, JR., JOHN DOE 1-3, LEMMIE SMITH, MATTHEW DELBRIDGE, KRISTIE STANBACK-BENNETT, NICOLE SPRUELL, CAPTAIN CAIN, RANDY A. MARKHAM, PATRICIA BLACKBURN, PROGRAM SUPERVISOR STEWART, E. WHITTED, GEORGIA S. BRYANT, K. FAIRLEY, CUSTODY OFFICER BARCINAS, KENNETH E. LASSITER, ERIK A. HOOKS, KRISTY NEWTON, G. CRUTCHFIELD, JEFFREY FIELDS, MARSHALL PIKE, and HAROLD BELK, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUIS W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendants' motions to dismiss (DE 65, 69, 74), and the following motions filed by plaintiff: 1) to strike defendants Delbridge, Newton and Welch's reply brief (DE 94); 2) to allow waiver of the requirements of Local Rule 7.2 (DE 95); 3) to require that plaintiff's release from custody be within all necessary transitional/aftercare assistance and/or without imposition of undue prejudice to plaintiff's abilities to continue to effectively litigate (DE 99); 4) for entry of order to protect security/confidentiality of evidence and legal documents (DE 100, 102); and 5) for entry of order upon pending motions (DE 103). The motions to dismiss and plaintiff's motion to strike have been fully briefed, and defendants did not respond to the remaining motions. In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the following reasons, the court grants the North Carolina Department of Public Safety defendants' (“DPS defendants”) motion to dismiss and denies all remaining motions as moot.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 5, 2016, plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants failed to protect him from assaults, did not provide adequate access to the courts, and subjected him to unlawful disciplinary measures. The operative amended complaint names 56 defendants, most of whom are DPS prison officials. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

         On June 13, 2017, plaintiff filed motion to amend the complaint. The court conducted its initial frivolity review of the complaint and proposed amended complaint on June 16, 2017, and directed plaintiff to file amended complaint particularizing his claims. The court granted plaintiff's motion to amend in that same order.

         On June 28, 2017, plaintiff filed motion for reconsideration of the court's frivolity order. On July 19, 2017, plaintiff filed motion to appoint counsel. The court denied the motion for reconsideration in an order entered on July 25, 2017, and again directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint that complied with instructions set forth in the June 16, 2017, frivolity order.

         Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on August 9, 2017. As discussed further below, plaintiff's amended complaint named 56 defendants, alleged the same legal claims contained in the original and proposed amended complaints, and referred the court to his previously-filed pleadings for “greater detail, depth, and specificity.” (DE 15 at 20).[1]

         On October 10, 2017, the court denied plaintiff's motion to appoint counsel. On October 13, 2017, the court conducted its frivolity review of the amended complaint and allowed the matter to proceed.

         Defendant Smith filed the instant motion to dismiss on April 26, 2018, arguing the amended complaint fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. On May 11, 2018, defendants Delbridge, Newton, and Welch filed the instant motion to dismiss, arguing plaintiff's claims are barred by various immunity doctrines. The DPS defendants filed their motion to dismiss on May 16, 2018, asserting among other things that the amended complaint does not comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff timely filed responses in opposition to each of the instant motions. Defendants Delbridge, Newton, and Welch filed reply in further support of their motion to dismiss on July 9, 2018.

         After briefing on the motions to dismiss was complete, plaintiff filed the following instant motions: 1) to strike defendants Delbridge, Newton, and Welch's reply brief (July 16, 2018); 2) to allow waiver of requirements of Local Rule 7.2 (July 23, 2018); 3) to require that plaintiff's release from custody be within all necessary transitional/aftercare assistance and/or without imposition of undue prejudice to plaintiff's abilities to continue to effectively litigate (November 8, 2018); 4) for entry of order to protect security/confidentiality of evidence and legal documents (November 29, 2018 and January 7, 2019); and 5) for entry of order upon pending motions (January 9, 2019).[2]Defendants Delbridge, Newton, and Welch filed response to plaintiff's motion to strike reply brief, and defendants did not file responses to the remaining motions.

         COURT'S DISCUSSION

         The amended complaint asserts the following claims for relief: 1) defendants[3] failed to protect plaintiff from assaults; 2) defendants enforced a no contact order in a manner that prevented plaintiff from accessing the courts; 3) defendants subjected plaintiff to unlawful disciplinary measures; 4) defendants enforced DPS policy in a manner that prevented his access to the courts; and 5) the DPS administrative remedy procedure impairs plaintiff's access to the courts.

         The DPS defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint “must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When determining whether to dismiss a complaint for failure to comply with Rule 8, the court considers: 1) the length and complexity of the complaint; 2) whether the complaint is clear enough to enable the defendant to know how to defend himself; and 3) whether the plaintiff was represented by counsel. North Carolina v. McGuirt, 114 Fed.Appx. 555, 558 (4th Cir. 2004); see also Kittay v. Kornstein, 230 F.3d 531, 541 (2d Cir. 2000); United States ex. rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003); Elliott v. Bronson, 872 F.2d 20, 21-22 (2d Cir. 1989) (per curiam).[4] While a pro se plaintiff's complaint is entitled to liberal construction, this rule of construction is “not . . . without limits.” Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701, 707 (4th Cir. 2002); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         Here, the court's June 16, 2017, order explained that plaintiff's original and proposed amended complaints did not comply with Rule 8 and directed plaintiff to ...


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