Hinson-Gribble v. Purvis
ORDER adopting 12 Memorandum and Recommendation - Signed by District Judge Louise Wood Flanagan on 5/22/2017. (Baker, C.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CLAUDE MARTIN PURVIS,
This matter is before the court on the memorandum and recommendation (“M&R”) of
Magistrate Judge James E. Gates, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b),
wherein it is recommended that the court dismiss plaintiff’s complaint on frivolity review under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Plaintiff timely objected to the M&R. (DE 14). In this posture, the matter
is ripe for ruling. For the reasons stated herein, the court adopts the M&R as its own and dismisses
the complaint as frivolous.
On October 11, 2016, plaintiff filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) and
a proposed complaint with exhibits, asserting claims against defendant arising from his
representation of her then husband, the late Robert Gribble,1 in a divorce proceeding against plaintiff
in the Chancery Court of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Plaintiff alleges that defendant’s fraudulent
Mr. Gribble passed away on November 18, 2011. (DE 1-1 at 2).
actions during the course of the divorce proceedings caused her substantial pain and suffering and
exposed her to identity theft.
Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of
$10,000,000.00, as well as injunctive relief.
On March 30, 2017, the magistrate judge granted plaintiff’s IFP petition and issued an M&R,
recommending dismissal of plaintiff’s claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Specifically,
the magistrate judge recommends dismissing plaintiff’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, pursuant to District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983) and Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). Alternatively,
the magistrate judge recommends dismissing plaintiff’s claims as barred by the applicable statute
of limitations. See e.g., Nasim v. Warden, Maryland House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 955 (4th Cir.
1995). Plaintiff filed an objection to the M&R on April 6, 2017.2
Standard of Review
The district court reviews de novo those portions of a magistrate judge’s M&R to which
specific objections are filed. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The court does not perform a de novo review
where a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a
specific error in the magistrate’s proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687
F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). Absent a specific and timely filed objection, the court reviews only for
“clear error,” and need not give any explanation for adopting the M&R. Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.
1983). Upon careful review of the record, “the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
After plaintiff filed her objection, she filed two identical objections, styled as responses to the M&R. (DE 16; 17).
part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court may dismiss an action that is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief. A complaint may be found frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact.” Neizke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A complaint fails to state
a claim if it does not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face,” sufficient to “allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quotations omitted). In evaluating whether a claim has been stated, “[the] court accepts all wellpled facts as true and construes those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,” but does not
consider “legal conclusions, elements of a cause of action, . . . bare assertions devoid of further
factual enhancement [,] . . . unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions or arguments.”
Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations
Plaintiff raises a general objection that does not direct the court to a specific error in the
M&R. Rather, plaintiff’s objection reiterates her claims against defendant, again explaining how
defendant’s allegedly fraudulent actions in the state court divorce proceedings injured her.
Upon considered review of the M&R and the record in this case, the court adopts the analysis
and conclusions of the M&R. The court finds that plaintiff’s general objection provides no reason
to disturb the cogent analysis in the M&R. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, district courts are
divested of subject matter jurisdiction to hear actions “brought by state-court losers complaining of
injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced
and inviting district court review of those judgements.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). The doctrine applies “when the loser in state court files suit in the
federal district court seeking redress for any injury allegedly caused by the state court’s decision
itself.” Davani v. Va. Dep’t of Transp., 434 F.3d 712, 713 (4th Cir. 2006). In this case, after the
divorce proceedings concluded, plaintiff filed a petition to set aside the divorce decree. (Attachment
A, DE 12 at 12–14). On December 20, 2012, the Chancery Court of DeSoto County dismissed the
petition with prejudice. (Attachment B, DE 12 at 16). Accordingly, plaintiff’s claims seeking to
have the court review the state court’s entry of divorce, and decisions related thereto, must be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Based on the foregoing, and upon de novo review of the M&R and the record in this case,
the court ADOPTS the recommendation of the magistrate judge. Plaintiff’s claims are DISMISSED
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case.
SO ORDERED, this the 22nd day of May, 2017.
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN
United States District Judge
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