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C.P. v. Doe

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

October 1, 2019

C.P.[1], Plaintiff,
JOHN DOE, et al., Defendants.


          Martin Reidinger United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Motion to Seal [Doc. 1]; the Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Equitable Tolling [Doc. 3]; and the Plaintiff's Application to Proceed in District Court without Prepaying Fees or Costs [Doc. 4]. The Court will dismiss this action sua sponte for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff, who identifies himself only as “C.P., ” brings this action against a number of Defendants -- who are identified only as “John Doe, ” “R.B., ” “MHI, ” “Officer Doe” and “Paramedic Doe” -- for damages arising from his allegedly “unlawful medical detainment” and wrongful involuntary commitment. [Doc. 2 at 3, 9]. The Plaintiff alleges that he was transported by Paramedic Doe to the emergency room of Defendant MHI without the Plaintiff's consent after Officer Doe of the Asheville Police Department and unnamed private guards “observed Plaintiff sunbathing in the nude on private property.” [Id. at 11 ¶ 7]. Once at the emergency room, the Plaintiff was evaluated by Defendant R.B., a licensed clinical social worker. [Id. at 12 ¶ 9]. The Plaintiff alleges that Defendant R.B., among other things, “lacked the cultural competency to evaluate or treat Plaintiff in consideration with Plaintiff's worldview” and “made no meaningful effort to research, learn, or understand Plaintiff's history, culture, religion, or worldview” prior to filing an involuntary commitment petition. [Id. at 12 ¶ 12]. As a result, the Plaintiff contends, Defendant R.B.'s “personal and religious worldview caused her to perceive Plaintiff's comments as nonsensical and/or delusional, ” and he alleges that Defendant R.B. “falsified an affidavit stating that Plaintiff met the [involuntary commitment] criteria of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 122C-3(11) by exhibiting symptoms of a mental illness and predictable dangerousness.” [Id. at 13 ¶¶ 15, 16].

         The Plaintiff alleges that, based on Defendant R.B.'s affidavit, the Plaintiff was deprived of his liberties and unlawfully detained. [Id. at 13-14 ¶¶ 17-21]. He further alleges that while he was being unlawfully detained at MHI, Defendant John Doe “violently punched Plaintiff in the eye.” [Id. at 14 ¶ 21]. The Plaintiff does not specify whether John Doe was an employee of MHI or another patient of the facility.

         The Plaintiff alleges that by seeking an involuntary commitment order, Defendant R.B.

was acting to ameliorate her own interests and that of the state . . . . In essence, RB's actions were the State's actions. By virtue of the powers and privileges granted to RB under the state's mental health statutes, RB was acting to further the interests of the state by carrying out the state's [involuntary commitment] policy.

[Id. at 15 ¶ 24]. He further alleges that Defendant R.B. “was acting in close relationship with” Officer Doe, Paramedic Doe, and an unnamed county deputy sheriff to obtain the involuntary commitment order. [Id. at 16 ¶ 25].

         Based on these factual allegations, the Plaintiff asserts a number of causes of action. The Plaintiff asserts both federal question and diversity as bases for the Court's jurisdiction. With respect to his claim of diversity jurisdiction, the Plaintiff asserts that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. He further alleges that he is a citizen of the State of “Mohamed, ” and that the named Defendants are citizens of North Carolina. [See id. at 3 ¶ B.1.a.; 10-11 ¶¶ 2-6].[2] The Plaintiff asserts a number of state law claims against the Defendants, including claims for medical negligence/malpractice, negligence per se, negligent misrepresentation, “lack of informed consent, ” false imprisonment, assault and battery, and “vicarious liability.” [Id. at 16-24].

         The only federal cause of action asserted is under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In that claim, the Plaintiff alleges that the “Defendants acted under a [sic] color of state law, custom, or policy in subjecting Plaintiff to a deprivation of his rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Organic Constitution for the United States of America, stare decisis and federal laws. Defendants deprived Plaintiff of his liberty and property without due process of law.” [Id. at 23 ¶ 58].


         Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347 (4th Cir. 2009). “Thus, when a district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an action, the action must be dismissed.” Id. The lack of subject matter jurisdiction is an issue that may be raised at any time. See Ellenburg v. Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc., 519 F.3d 192, 196 (4th Cir. 2008); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).

         The burden is on the Plaintiff to plead facts sufficient to establish the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). In reviewing the Plaintiff's allegations, the Court must accept as true any “allegations for which there is sufficient factual matter to render them plausible on their face.” Hutton v. Nat'l Bd. of Examiners in Optometry, Inc., 892 F.3d 613, 620 (4th Cir. 2018) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).


         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         1. Federal Question Jurisdiction

         Title 28 of the United States Code, Section 1331 provides that “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or ...

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