United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION, ORDER, AND RECOMMENDATION OF
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PATRICK AULD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Application to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (the
“Application”)(Docket Entry 1) filed in
conjunction with his pro se Complaint (Docket Entry 2). For
the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff's
instant Application for the limited purpose of recommending
dismissal of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) for failure to state a claim, pursuit of
monetary relief against immune defendants, and/or as
frivolous due to untimeliness.
federal in forma pauperis statute, first enacted in 1892 [and
now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915], is intended to
guarantee that no citizen shall be denied access to the
courts solely because his poverty makes it impossible for him
to pay or secure the costs.” Nasim v. Warden, Md.
House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 953 (4th Cir. 1995) (en
banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Dispensing
with filing fees, however, [is] not without its problems. . .
. In particular, litigants suing in forma pauperis d[o] not
need to balance the prospects of successfully obtaining
relief against the administrative costs of bringing
suit.” Nagy v. FMC Butner, 376 F.3d 252, 255
(4th Cir. 2004). To address this concern, the in forma
pauperis statute provides that “the [C]ourt shall
dismiss the case at any time if the [C]ourt determines . . .
the action . . . (i) is 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).
the first of these grounds, “a complaint, containing as
it does both factual allegations and legal conclusions, is
frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or
in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
325 (1989). “The word ‘frivolous' is
inherently elastic and not susceptible to categorical
definition. . . . The term's capaciousness directs lower
courts to conduct a flexible analysis, in light of the
totality of the circumstances, of all factors bearing upon
the frivolity of a claim.” Nagy, 376 F.3d at 256-57
(some internal quotation marks omitted). As concerns this
case, an action fails as frivolous when “it appear[s]
on the face of the complaint . . . that the applicable
statute of limitations bars [the plaintiff's claims] . .
. .” Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70, 74 (4th
Cir. 1983); see also Nasim, 64 F.3d at 955 (holding that
courts may anticipate defenses when conducting IFP review),
956 (“[T]he [district] court found that [the
plaintiff's claim] was barred by the applicable . . .
statute of limitations. In these circumstances, the district
court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the
action was frivolous . . . .”).
the second ground, a plaintiff “fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted, ” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), when the complaint does not “contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(emphasis added) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Where a
complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent
with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short
of the line between possibility and plausibility of
“entitlement to relief.”'” Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). This standard
“demands more than an unadorned,
Id. In other words, “the tenet that a court
must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
third ground for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) generally applies to situations in which
doctrines established by the United States Constitution or at
common law immunize government entities and/or government
personnel from liability for damages. See, e.g.,
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S.
89 (1984) (discussing eleventh-amendment immunity of states
and state officials); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547
(1967) (describing interrelationship between 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and common-law immunity doctrines); cf. Allen v.
Burke, 690 F.2d 376, 379 (4th Cir. 1982) (noting that,
even where “damages are theoretically available under
[certain] statutes . . ., in some cases, immunity doctrines
and special defenses, available only to public officials,
preclude or severely limit the damage remedy” (internal
quotation marks omitted)).
claims under “42 U.S.C. § 1983” for
“subject[ion] to cruel and unusual punishment which
violates [the] 8th [A]mendment” (Docket Entry 2 at 5),
and for violation of his rights under the “5th, 6th,
[and] 14th (section one) [A]mendment[s]”
(id.), Plaintiff initiated this action against ten
defendants: (1) “Jennifer Elwell”
(“Defendant Elwell”); (2) “Mark
Nelson” (“Defendant Nelson”); (3)
“Grant Gilliam (“Defendant Gilliam”); (4)
“Cerelyn Davis” (“Defendant Davis”);
(5) “Durham Police Department;” (6) “City
[o]f Durham;” (7) “Freda Black” (“ADA
Black”); (8) “Tracey Cline” (“DA
Cline”); (9) Durham County [D]istrict Attorney['s]
Office” (the “Durham County DA's
Office”); and (10) “NC State B[ureau] of
Investigation” (the “NCSBI”).
(Id. at 1-4.) The Complaint states the following as
the basis for asserting claims under Section 1983:
SBI lab[or]atory [t]echicians wrote reports in a misleading
manner to benefit Durham County [p]rosecutors, and did not
explicitly or clearly communicate results to defense.
Durham Police [D]epartment lodged [c]harge(s) [s]uch as
Statutory Sexual Offense, First [D]egree Murder[, ] and
Felony Child [A]buse when the evidence was not sufficient to
lodge those charges which conduced [sic] [Plaintiff] to being
categorize[d] as a child murder [sic] and rapist.
[ADA] Black and [DA] Cline were the Distr[ic]t Attorney
and/or Assistant [D]istrict [A]ttorney who prosecuted the
case and [sought] capital punishment ([t]he [d]eath
[p]enalty) against [Plaintiff] when the evidence was not
sufficient to warrant a death sentence. Durham County
[DA's O]ffice employed both [ADA] Black and [DA] Cline.
(Id. at 5 (parentheses in original).)
Complaint's “Statement of Claim” ...