Wilson v. Arthur

Filing 19

MEMORANDUM OPINION. See Opinion for detail. Signed by District Judge David J. Novak on 11/13/2023. Memorandum Opinion was mailed to the plaintiff. (sbea)

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IN THE UNITED STATE S DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EA STERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Richmond Division VIN CE NT ELLIOT WIL SO N, Plaintiff, v. Civil No.3:22cv665 (DJN) DEPUTY AGBOOLA, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION Vincent Elliot Wilson,a Virginia inmate proceedingpro se, filed this 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 action.1 The matter is before the Court for evaluation of Wilson's Particularized Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A. For the reasons stated below,the Particularized Complaint (E CF No.18) and the action will be DISMIS SED. I. PRELIMINARY REVIEW Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA "),this Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous " or (2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C.§ 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon "an indisputably meritless legal theory," or claims where the "factual contentions are clearly baseless." Clay v. Yates, 809 F. Supp.417,427 (E.D. The statute provides,in pertinent part: Every person who,under color of any statute ... of any State ...subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law .... 42 u.s.c. § 1983. Va.1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.319,327 (1989)). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure l 2(b)(6). "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly,it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts,the merits of a claim,or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party ofN.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943,952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing SA Charles A.Wright & Arthur R.Miller,Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 1 F.3d 1130,1134 (4th Cir.1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations,however,and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,because they are no more than conclusions,are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.662, 679 (2009). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ...claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."' Bell At/. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544,555 (2007) (second alteration in original) (citation omitted). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions " or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id (citations omitted). Instead,a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient ''to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," id (citation omitted), stating a claim that is "plausible on its face," id at 570,rather than merely "conceivable." Id "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S.at 678 (citing Bell At!. Corp., 550 U.S.at 556). In order for a claim or complaint to survive 2 dismissal for failure to state a claim,therefore,the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.L DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765(4th Cir. 2003)(citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193,213(4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270,281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Lastly,while the Court liberally construes pro se complaints,Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147,1151(4th Cir. 1978),it does not act as the inmate's advocate,sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241,243(4th Cir. 1997) {Luttig,J.,concurring); Beaudett v. City ofHampton, 775 F.2d 1274,1278(4th Cir. 1985). II. SUMMARY OF ALLEGATIONS AND CLAIMS In his Particularized Complaint, Wilson complains that "Deputy Agboola violated the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving me and stealing my pictures." (ECF No. 18, at 1.) Additionally,Wilson asserts that Deputy Agboola's theft of his pictures also gives rise to several state-law causes of action. III. ANALYSIS In order to state a viable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,a plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of state law deprived him or her of a constitutional right or of a right conferred by a law of the United States. See Dowe v. Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145 F.3d 653,658(4th Cir. 1998)(citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Wilson's due process claim for the deprivation of property is foreclosed by Virginia's provision of adequate post-deprivation remedies. See Wilson v. Mo/by, 2012 WL 1895793,at *6--7(E.D. Va. May 23,2012); Henderson v. Virginia, 2008 WL 204480,at *10 n.7(W.D. Va. Jan. 23,2008). Negligent and intentional deprivations of property "do not violate [the Due Process] Clause provided . .. that adequate state post-deprivation remedies are available." Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517,533(1984)(finding that due process satisfied by post3 deprivation remedy to redress intentional destruction of personal property by prison guard during a shakedown). Virginia has provided adequate post-deprivation remedies for deprivations caused by state employees. Under the Virginia Tort Claims Act,Virginia has waived sovereign immunity for damages for "negligent or wrongful" acts of state employees acting within the scope of employment. Va. Code Ann.§ 8.01-195.3 (West 2023). The United States Court_of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that the Virginia Tort Claims Act and Virginia tort law provide adequate post-deprivation remedies for torts committed by state employees. See Wadhams v. Procunier, 772 F.2d 75, 78 (4th Cir. 1985). Because the availability of a tort action in state court fully satisfies the requirement of a meaningful post-deprivation process, Wilson cannot state a claim for the loss of his property under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Wilson, 2012 WL 1895793,at *6-7; Henderson, 2008 WL 204480, at *10 n.7. Accordingly, Wilson's due process claim will be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim and as legally frivolous. "The doctrine of supplemental jurisdiction indicates that federal courts generally have discretion to retain or dismiss state law claims when the federal basis for an action drops away." Shanaghan v. Cahill, 58 F.3d 106,109 (4th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). "Although a federal court has discretion to assert pendent jurisdiction over state claims even when no federal claims remain certainly if the federal claims are dismissed before trial . .. the state claims should be dismissed without prejudice." Alexandria Resident Council, Inc. v. Alexandria Redevelopment & Hous. Auth., 11 F. App'x 283,287 (4th Cir. 2001) (citations,alterations,internal quotation 4 marks omitted). The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Wilson's state law claims. Wilson's state law causes ofaction will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. IV. CONCLUSION Wilson's due process claim will be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for failure to state a claim and as legally frivolous. Wilson's state law claims will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The action will be DISMISSED. The Clerk will be DIRECTED to note the disposition of the action for purposes of28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). An appropriate order will accompany this Memorandum Opinion. Let the Clerk file a copy of the Memorandum Opinion electronically and send a copy to Plaintiff. /s/ David J. Novak United States District Judge Richmond, Virginia Dated: November 13. 2023 5

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