United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
ANTHONY M. AIKENS, Plaintiff,
MECKLENBURG COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
D. Whitney, Judge
MATTER is before the Court on initial review of
Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff has moved
to proceeding in forma pauperis. See (Doc.
se Plaintiff, who is incarcerated at the Attica
Correctional Facility, has filed a civil rights suit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
names as Defendants: John G. Walker, Dametra Monique
Ogletree, Mecklenburg County, and Mecklenburg County Court.
Construing the Complaint liberally and accepting the
allegations as true, Plaintiff was served on October
with service in a civil action in Mecklenburg County Court.
However, the summons had no address for the court. Next a
Complaint form was issued with Dametra Monique Ogletree as
the plaintiff and with Plaintiff as the defendant. The
document was date-stamped August 1, 2018 in Mecklenburg
County but with no court address. Plaintiff next received a
Motion for Summary Judgment dated October 12, 2018 with John
G. Walker's name and Bar number and his address. All of
these documents were mailed by Defendant Walker to Plaintiff.
These documents “were used and submitted to the
Mecklenburg County Court in civil action <18-CVD-15203>
to obtain a decree from a Judge who was never ID - a court
who's address was never listed and the area, room or part
this civil action was to be heard was also not listed.”
(Doc. No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff asks this Court “to
properly investigate this complaint with Exhibits and
construe the complaint with Exhibits that raises the
strongest argument plaintiff <Anthony M. Aikens> is
making and to clearly see that [his] federally protected
rights were violated and that [he] was discriminated against
because of [his] incarceration in N.Y.S Attica C.I. and to
see that these actions were intentional with purposeful
discrimination.” (Doc. No. 1 at 4).
claims that the foregoing violated his rights to due process
and equal protection. He seeks damages of at least $15 to $20
million from each Defendant, injunctive relief, and such
other relief that the Court deems just and equitable.
has attached to his Complaint several documents including
papers from divorce proceedings by Ms. Ogletree-Aikens, with
John G. Walker as her attorney, against Plaintiff in the
Mecklenburg County General Court of Justice. (Doc. No. 1 at
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma
pauperis, the Court must review the Complaint to
determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds
that it is “(i) frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In its
frivolity review, a court must determine whether the
Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is
founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as
fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). A complaint
should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim
“unless ‘after accepting all well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and
drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in
the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the
plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his
claim entitling him to relief.'” Veney v.
Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231,
244 (4th Cir. 1999)).
pro se complaint must be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); see
also Smith v. Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th
Cir. 2009) (“Liberal construction of the pleadings is
particularly appropriate where … there is a pro
se complaint raising civil rights issues.”).
However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit
a district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in
his complaint which set forth a claim that is cognizable
under federal law. Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). A
pro se complaint must still contain sufficient facts
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level” and “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007); see Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (the Twombly
plausibility standard applies to all federal civil complaints
including those filed under § 1983). This
“plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to
demonstrate more than a sheer possibility that a defendant
has acted unlawfully.” Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal
quotation marks omitted). He must articulate facts that, when
accepted as true, demonstrate he has stated a claim entitling
him to relief. Id.
attempts to sue Mecklenburg County, the Mecklenburg County
Court, and two private individuals, his ex-wife and her
attorney, in relation to divorce proceedings.
he has failed to state a claim against Mecklenburg County.
Counties and municipalities are political subdivisions of a
state that can qualify as a “person” under
Section 1983. See, e.g., Pembaur v.
City of Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 485 (1986) When
determining whether or not a government official is an agent
of the state or of a political subdivision for the purposes
of Section 1983, the “inquiry is dependent on an
analysis of state law.” McMillian v. Monroe
County, 520 U.S. 781, 785 (1997). Alleging that a county
or municipal employee committed a constitutional violation is
necessary, but not sufficient, to state a claim against a
county or municipality. A county or municipality may be found
liable under § 1983 only “when execution of a
government's policy or custom, whether made by its
lawmakers or by those edicts or acts may fairly be said to
represent official policy, inflicts the injury.”
Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
694 (1978). For § 1983 liability to extend to a local
government, the policy or custom must be the “moving
force” that resulted in the constitutional violation.
Monell, 436 U.S. at 694. Further, a county
“may only be held liable for acts for which the county
has final policymaking authority.” Parker v. Bladen
County, 583 F.Supp.2d 736, 739 (E.D. N.C. 2008). State
law governs whether a county has final policymaking authority
on a particular topic. City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 123 (1988); Stockton v.
Wake County, 173 F.Supp.3d 292 (E.D. N.C. March 24,
Mecklenburg County is amenable to suit, Plaintiff has failed
to state a claim for § 1983 relief because he does not
allege that any policy or custom violated his constitutional
rights. Therefore, the claims ...