United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
BURNIE L. MAJEED, SR. and MIA MAJEED, Plaintiffs,
THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, et. al., Defendants.
EARL BRITT SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the North Carolina Department
of Justice (“NCDOJ”) and the North Carolina
Administrative Office of Courts' (“NCAOC”)
(collectively “defendants”) motion to dismiss.
(DE # 10.) Burnie Majeed, Sr. and Mia Majeed
(“plaintiffs”) responded in opposition. (DE #
14.) The matter is now ripe for adjudication.
action arises over a property dispute regarding the
Morphis-Durham Cemetery, part of a 100-acre plot of land in
Baldwin Township, Chatham County, North Carolina. Plaintiffs
assert a present possessory interest over the subject
property as the property's heirs. (See Am
Compl., DE # 7, at 3.) In 1885, Emma Smith Morphis
(“Morphis”) received a 100-acre plot from Mary
Smith (“Smith”) for her life, with the remainder
in fee to her children. (Id. at 4-5.) The will
I devise out of the Jones Grove tract in Chatham County,
owned by my brother, Dr. Francis J. Smith, to Emma Morphis,
wife of Henry Morphis (colored) one hundred acres, to Annette
Kirby, wife of Ed Kirby (colored), one hundred acres, &
to Laura Toole, wife of Gray Toole (colored), 100 acres of
land, for their respective lives, free from the [control] or
debts of their said husbands, & after their deaths to
their children in fee. If either said Emma, Annette, or
Laura, shall make conveyance of their estates for life, or
give a lien on the same by mortgage or otherwise, their
estates shall cease & their children respectively shall
become immediately entitled to the land of their mothers . .
DE # 1-1, Ex. A, at 4-5.) Plaintiffs, as the descendants of
Morphis, seek title to the Morphis-Durham Cemetery, a part of
the 100-acre plot, because the land was mortgaged in 1911 and
1931 by Morphis' son, Eunie Morphis
(“Eunie”). (See Am Compl., DE # 7, at 3;
Pls.' Resp. Opp'n, DE # 14, at 9.) Because
“Eunie  had no legal authority, right, or ownership
to have a lien placed on said land[, ]” a condition of
the will was violated, thereby making plaintiffs, as
Morphis' living kin, the property's “rightful
owners.” (Pls.' Resp. Opp'n, DE # 14, at 9-10.)
[p]laintiffs seek justice for improper management by the
courts of inherited land and properties, ” (Am. Compl.,
DE # 7, at 2), and “return of 100 acres . . . and all
other properties and funds of the Smith/Morphis family
estate[, ]” (id. at 3). They invoke the
court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1331, 1332, 1343(a)(3), and 1357. (Id. at 5;
Pls.' Resp. Opp'n, DE # 14, at 2.)
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), (2), (4), (5), and (6). (Def.s' Mem. Supp. Mot.
Dismiss, DE # 10-1, at 1.) The court analyzes defendants'
motion only as to Rule 12(b)(1) lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and Rule 12(b)(6) failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenge is raised to the
factual basis for subject matter jurisdiction, the burden of
proving subject matter jurisdiction is on the plaintiff. 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. The district court should apply the standard
applicable to a motion for summary judgment, under which the
nonmoving party must set forth specific facts beyond the
pleadings to show that a genuine issue of material fact
exists. The moving party should prevail only if the material
jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party
is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v. United
States, 945 F.2d 765, 768-69 (4th Cir. 1991) (internal
district court should dismiss a complaint pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) if, accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the
complaint as true and drawing all reasonable factual
inferences in the plaintiff's favor, the complaint does
not allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Vitol, S.A. v. Primerose
Shipping Co., 708 F.3d 527, 539 (4th Cir. 2013).
“Moreover, the court need not accept the
[plaintiff's] legal conclusions drawn from the facts, nor
need it accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments.” Philips v. Pitt Cty.
Mem'l Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “While
a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
does not need detailed factual allegations, . . ., a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. ...