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Jordan v. Newman

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

December 13, 2019

ZAVIAN JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRIS NEWMAN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of pro se Plaintiff's Complaint, (Doc. No. 1).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is presently serving a 420-month sentence for charges relating to a federal drug trafficking conspiracy, [1] filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 with regards to the circumstances surrounding his 2016 arrest. He names as Defendants Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Detective Chris Newman and Gastonia Police Department Officer Miller Clint Bridges.

         Liberally construing the Complaint and accepting the allegations as true, Bridges and Newman conspired with Special Agent Billings and other members of an HIDTA task force to deprive Plaintiff of his rights. Billings directed Newman to initiate a traffic stop on Plaintiff on May 11, 2016. Newman stopped Plaintiff's vehicle on the basis of a false red-light violation and prolonged the stop on a false DWI investigation before running a k-9 search. Newman admitted at trial that he prolonged and manipulated these events to gain access to Plaintiff, that he conspired with and was directed by Bridges, Special Agent Billings, and other unknown members of the HIDTA task force, and that the search and seizure were unjustified.

         Later that day, Newman, Bridges, and other unknown HIDTA task force members conducted the searches of two properties that were conducted with unstamped and undated warrants. The warrants contained false statements and included information gleaned from Plaintiff during an involuntary interview at which Plaintiff was denied counsel. Newman and others exceeded the scope of one of the searches by breaking into a locked garage and locked cabinets.

         A six-count federal indictment resulted from these violations and the resulting sentence has caused Plaintiff emotional, physical, and mental suffering. He seeks damages for his monetary losses and loss of family ties and time.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore, § 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” and the court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         In its frivolity review, this 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 pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). 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.

         III. DISCUSSION

         (1) Parties

         The body of the Complaint contains allegations against individuals who are not named as defendants in the caption as required by Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This failure renders Plaintiff's allegations against them nullities. See, e.g., Londeree v. Crutchfield Corp., 68 F.Supp.2d 718 (W.D. Va. Sept. 29, 1999) (granting motion to dismiss for individuals who were not named as defendants in the compliant but who were served). The allegations directed at individuals not named as Defendants are therefore dismissed without prejudice.

         (2) Unreasonable ...


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