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Tucker v. Kivett

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

September 11, 2019

CPL KIVETT, et al., Defendants.


         The plaintiff Cornelius Tucker alleges that while he was a pre-trial detainee in Forsyth County, the defendants violated his constitutional rights and committed other torts. Numerous motions have been filed by all the parties. This Order resolves a pending motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which will be granted, and a motion for a prefiling injunction, which will be largely denied. In the Court's inherent authority to manage its docket, the Court will further strike more recent paper writings filed by Mr. Tucker; those paper writings violate the Local Rules and are largely incomprehensible.

         On July 24, 2019, the Magistrate Judge filed a recommendation as to the motions to dismiss and for prefiling injunction, Doc. 75, and the Recommendation was served on the parties. Doc. 76. No. objections were filed, though Mr. Tucker thereafter filed numerous other paper writings seeking various forms of court action. Doc. 81 (paper writing labelled by the plaintiff as a “motion for protective order”); Doc. 82 (paper writing labelled by the plaintiff as “motion for court issuance of temporary order” related to his medical care); Doc. 83 (paper writing labelled by the plaintiff as a “motion for consideration of counsel attorney appointment/counsel”); Doc. 84 (paper writing labelled by the plaintiff as a “(motion) request for Summary Judgement order Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) And Preliminary Injunction”). After consideration of the record, the Court hereby adopts the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation as stated in this order.

         Having liberally construed the complaint, the Court agrees that Mr. Tucker has not alleged facts sufficient to plausibly support a claim for any constitutional violations against defendants Catrina Thompson, Sergeant Dorn, the Winston-Salem Police Department, or the Internal Affairs Division of the Winston-Salem Police Department. Nor are there any facts plausibly indicating that any of these defendants committed torts against Mr. Tucker. Conclusory allegations directed toward unclear causes of action fail to state a claim, and the motion to dismiss filed by these defendants will be granted.

         Mr. Tucker's responses to the motion to dismiss are virtually unintelligible and fail to address the legal issues raised by the defendants in their motions. See Docs. 42, 49. He failed to object directly to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation and has offered no defense of his claims against these defendants. The Court has no trouble concluding that his claims against these defendants are frivolous.

         In his recommendation, the Magistrate Judge concluded that the prefiling injunction sought by several defendants was not appropriate at that time. See Doc. 75 at 12. Among the factors he considered was that after a pretrial conference on March 12, 2019, the plaintiff ceased his repetitive filings. Id. at 11-12. The defendants have not objected to this recommendation.

         Even though Mr. Tucker has since resumed his repetitive filings, the Court agrees that the requested injunction prohibiting Mr. Tucker from filing any new lawsuits would likely be overbroad and that there are other ways to deal with Mr. Tucker's unreasonable litigation conduct that should be tried before any restrictions are placed on his ability to file new lawsuits.[1] A warning and some limits on Mr. Tucker's ability to obtain court consideration of motions and other requests for relief in this case are appropriate, however, given Mr. Tucker's repeated abuse of the litigation process, his repeated violations of the Local Rules, and his repeated filing of conclusory and incoherent paper writings after the Recommendation was filed.

         Virtually all of the pleadings and paper writings Mr. Tucker has filed in this case violate the requirements of the Local Rules that handwritten documents be double-spaced, be legibly handwritten, and have certain margins. See LR 7.1. After an order was entered reminding Mr. Tucker of these provisions of the Local Rules, see Text Order 04/30/19, some of Mr. Tucker's paper writings came closer to compliance with these aspects of the Local Rules. For example, a recent motion for protective order did have wider left and right margins. Doc. 81. That paper writing, however, still failed to comply with requirements for top and bottom margins and double spacing. Id. Other post-warning paper writings he filed in this case, see, e.g., Doc. 67, and other cases continue to violate all aspects of these formatting rules.[2] With very few exceptions, these violations were not minor or technical, and they continued despite the Court's warning that it may strike paper writings Mr. Tucker files that are not in compliance with these formatting requirements. Text Order 04/30/19. His failure to comply with these rules makes it difficult if not impossible for opposing parties and the Court to understand his arguments and decipher his writings, especially when CM-ECF pagination is appended.

         Moreover, Mr. Tucker has filed and submitted numerous paper writings that are not motions, briefs, or pleadings and that are not authorized by Rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or any court order. See, e.g., Doc. 11. Other documents have the word “motion” in the label or title but are mysterious as to the actual relief sought, the authority for such relief, or towards which defendants the motions are directed. See, e.g., Doc. 10. Despite the Magistrate Judge's patient efforts over time to make sense of all of these paper writings so that the defendants can appropriately respond and the Court can efficiently resolve the issues, and despite the Magistrate Judge's warnings, see, e.g., Minute Entry and Text Order 03/12/2019, Mr. Tucker continues to file conclusory paper writings that are characterized as motions, see, e.g., Docs. 78, 81-84, but are unsupported by briefs as required by the Local Rules. LR 7.3(a).

         While not characterized as such, some of these paper writings appear to be more like motions to amend or motions for injunctive relief. To the extent the plaintiff is seeking to amend the complaint, he has failed to provide a proposed amended complaint, see LR 15.1, and to the extent he is seeking injunctive relief, he has failed to submit any evidence to support the request.

         For each paper writing, each defendant must spend time reviewing the paper writing and determining whether it is directed against him or her and whether it requires a response. The Court must do the same. This results in a waste of time and resources.

         While a broad prefiling injunction may not yet be appropriate, some limits on Mr. Tucker's unbounded filing of paper writings must be imposed. Mr. Tucker has had notice that the Court is considering such restrictions, per previous Text Orders and the motion filed by the defendants. Pursuant to that motion and in the Court's inherent authority to manage its docket, and in an effort to impose the most limited restrictions likely to deter future violations by Mr. Tucker, the Court will take several steps.

         First, the Court will order Mr. Tucker to comply with the rules he has repeatedly violated and otherwise to file only comprehensible pleadings that clearly identify the party against whom they are directed and the relief sought. The Court will warn Mr. Tucker that if he continues to file paper writings in this case or in other cases that:

(i) are frivolous or conclusory,
(ii) do not comply with the Local Rules or this ...

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