United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
PROPOSED FINDS OF FACT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A. EIFERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
October 5, 2017, Plaintiff Courtney Ricardo Robinson
(“Robinson”), proceeding pro se, and
then incarcerated at the Western Regional Jail in
Barboursville, West Virginia, filed a complaint against the
defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 2.).
Currently pending are Robinson's Application to Proceed
Without Prepayment of Fees and Costs, (ECF No. 1), and an
initial screening of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915. This matter is assigned to the Honorable Robert C.
Chambers, United States District Judge, and by standing order
has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge for the submission of proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). Having thoroughly reviewed Robinson's
allegations, the undersigned FINDS that the
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Therefore, the undersigned GRANTS
Robinson's Application to Proceed in forma
pauperis, but RECOMMENDS that the
presiding District Judge DISMISS the
complaint, with prejudice, and
REMOVE this matter from the docket of the
alleges that in 2016, he was living with Defendant Lahoma
Wentz in an apartment owned by Defendant Cindy Null. (ECF No.
2 at 4). On December 22, 2016, Robinson left the apartment.
When he returned the following day to collect his belongings,
the lock on the door had been changed, denying him access to
the apartment. Robinson tried to call both Wentz and Null and
finally reached Null on January 4, 2017. (Id.). Null
agreed to meet Robinson later in the day and give him his
belongings. Robinson went to the designated meeting location
at the agreed upon time, but Null did not show. (Id.
at 5). Robinson spoke with Null later. She claimed that she
had dropped off Robinson's belongings, advising him that
her explanation was the “end of the story.”
(Id.). Robinson filed a lawsuit in the Magistrate
Court of Cabell County, West Virginia against Defendants
Wentz and Null for the loss of his property. A hearing was
scheduled in the case on August 21, 2017, but Robinson
“was taken to the wrong court room.”
(Id.). For relief, Robinson asks this Court to
facilitate his “day in court;” ensure that
“the judge make[s] whoever that is responsible pay for
[his] belongings;” require “the state court [to]
pay [him] for denying [him] … due process;” and
provide him with a lawyer since he is “locked up in
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, a court must
screen each case in which a prisoner seeks to proceed in
forma pauperis. The court must dismiss the case, or any
part of it, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant “who is immune from
such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915. A
“frivolous” case has been defined as one which is
based upon an indisputably meritless legal theory, Anders
v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744 (1967), or lacks
“an arguable basis either in law or fact.”
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989);
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992). Likewise, a
complaint fails to state a compensable claim, and therefore
should be dismissed, when viewing the well-pleaded factual
allegations in the complaint as true and in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint does not contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Supreme Court further clarified the
“plausibility” standard in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), stating that the
Court is required to accept as true the factual allegations
asserted in the complaint, but is not required to accept the
legitimacy of legal conclusions that are “couched as .
. . factual allegation[s].” Id. at 678
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp, 550 U.S. at 554).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded
facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it
has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is
entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679.
has filed his complaint pro se, and courts are
required to liberally construe pro se complaints.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However,
even under this less stringent standard, the complaint still
must contain sufficient factual allegations to support a
valid legal cause of action. Bass v. E.I. Dupont de
Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003).
The court may not rewrite the pleading to include claims that
were never presented, Parker v. Champion, 148 F.3d
1219, 1222 (10th Cir. 1998), construct the plaintiff's
legal arguments for her, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d
411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions
never squarely presented” to the court. Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a remedy to parties who are
deprived of federally protected civil rights by persons
acting under color of any state “law, statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage.” To state a
cause of action under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
facts showing that: (1) an official deprived the plaintiff of
a federally protected civil right, privilege or immunity and
(2) the official did so under color of State law. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635,
640 (1980). If either of these elements is missing, the
complaint fails to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C.
names Lahoma Wentz and Cindy Null as defendants in this case,
but includes no factual allegations demonstrating that either
of these defendants acted under color of state law. To the
contrary, Robinson describes Wentz as a former roommate and
Null as his former landlord. Robinson does not claim that
Wentz or Null acted on behalf of the State of West Virginia
when they prevented him from obtaining his belongings, or
that the State of West Virginia regulated the defendants'
actions, or that they exercised powers that were
“traditionally the exclusive prerogative of the
state.” See Conner v. Donnelly, 42 F.3d. 220,
224 (4th Cir. 1994). In the absence of facts establishing the
existence of one of these situations, a § 1983 complaint
against a private party-such as Wentz and Null-must be
dismissed as “[p]urely private conduct, no matter how
wrongful, injurious, fraudulent, or discriminatory, is not
actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Perrin v.
Nicholson, C/A No. 9:10-1111-HFF-BM, 2010 WL 3893792, at
*2 (D.S.C. Sept. 8, 2010); see also Burton v. Wilmington
Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715, 721 (1961). Robinson
includes no factual allegations in the complaint to support a
finding that Wentz and/or Null acted under color of state
law. Therefore, the undersigned respectfully
PROPOSES that the presiding District Judge
FIND that Robinson fails to state a claim
against Defendants Wentz and Null under 42 U.S.C. §
Robinson fails to include any factual allegations implicating
the Cabell Cabell Magistrate Court in any wrongdoing. From
the information contained in the complaint, Robinson
apparently missed a court appearance and is unsure as to the
disposition of his magistrate court action. The liberal
construction afforded to pro se complaints requires
the Court to accept a pleading that, although inartful, can
reasonably be read to state a valid cause of action against
the named defendant. Nonetheless, this requirement does not
eliminate the duty of a pro se plaintiff to include
sufficient factual allegations to support a cognizable claim.
As previously stated, the Court need not develop, nor
tolerate, a complaint that fails to “allege anything
that even remotely suggests a factual basis for the
claim.” See Weller v. Dep't of Social
Services, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Here,
factual contentions setting forth the alleged wrongful
actions of the Magistrate Court are nonexistent, leaving this
Court to construct Robinson's theory based purely upon
speculation; this is something the Court simply cannot do.
Accordingly, the undersigned respectfully
PROPOSES that the presiding District Judge
FIND that Robinson has failed to allege
sufficient facts to establish a plausible claim against the
Cabell County Magistrate Court.
Proposal and Recommendations For the
reasons set forth above, the undersigned respectfully
PROPOSES that the United States District
Judge accept and adopt the proposed findings and
RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's Complaint,
(ECF No. 2) be DISMISSED, with prejudice,
and this civil action be REMOVED from the
docket of the Court.
is notified that this “Proposed Findings and
Recommendations” is hereby FILED, and
a copy will be submitted to the Honorable Robert C. Chambers,
United States District Judge. Pursuant to the provisions of
Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B), and Rules
6(d) and 72(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff
shall have fourteen days (filing of objections) and three
additional days (if received by mail) from the date of filing
this “Proposed Findings and Recommendations”
within which to file with the Clerk of this Court, specific
written objections, identifying the portions of the
“Proposed Findings and ...