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Bledsoe v. Erves

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 22, 2015

RITA ERVES, GA STATE PTA, and GA STATE DISTRICT 12, All Board of Directors in the Official and Personal Capacity, Defendants.


WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr,, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the required frivolity review of Plaintiff Lorna Nembhard Bledsoe's ("Plaintiff") Complaint [3] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).


Plaintiff asserts that she became a member of the Georgia Parent Teacher Association ("PTA") in 2005 and held various leadership positions within the Georgia PTA, including First Assistant District Director, to which she was elected in 2013. (Compl. at 2). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Rita Erves ("Erves"), Georgia PTA President for 2013-2015, and Dee-Dee Jackson ("Jackson"), Director of the District 12 PTA program, "conspired... to have PTA members removed from both the state board and at the district levels, " including by "using unsupported and false statements [and] misrepresentations designed to defame the[ir] character." (Id. at 3-7).[1] Plaintiff asserts that Erves and Jackson "ha[d] Plaintiff illegally removed from office" on insufficient grounds[2] after Plaintiff confronted them about "misconduct of illegal voting" that Plaintiff had observed during Georgia PTA elections. Plaintiff claims that "[t]he District 12 Executive Committee met and illegally voted to remove Plaintiff" in violation of [her] due process rights and the GA PTA written Allegations and Disciplinary Procedures Document." (Compl. at 8).

On February 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Complaint and an Application for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP Application") [1]. Plaintiff asserts federal claims against Erves, the Georgia PTA, and the members of the Georgia PTA Board of Directors (collectively, "Defendants"), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for violation of due process and slander (Counts 2 and 3). Plaintiff also asserts state law claims for "breach of policy" (Counts 1 and 7), libel (Count 4), defamation (Count 5), "deprivation" (Count 6), conspiracy (Count 8), "abuse of an organization, position and authority" (Count 9), and "failure to exercise reasonable intervention" (Count 10).

On March 3, 2015, Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand granted Plaintiff's IFP Application and Plaintiff's Complaint was submitted to the Court for a frivolity determination.


A. Legal Standard

A court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if at any time the court determines the action is frivolous or malicious or that it fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). "Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Wilkerson v. H&S, Inc., 366 F.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)). Under this standard, "a complaint must 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Review for frivolousness, on the other hand, "accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.'" See Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). A claim is frivolous when it "has little or no chance of success, " that is, when it appears "from the face of the complaint that the factual allegations are clearly baseless' or that the legal theories are indisputably meritless.'" Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993) (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327).

Plaintiff filed her Complaint pro se. "A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Nevertheless, a pro se plaintiff must comply with the threshold requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Beckwith v. Bellsouth Telecomms. Inc., 146 F.Appx. 368, 371 (11th Cir. 2005). "Even though a pro se complaint should be construed liberally, a pro se complaint still must state a claim upon which the Court can grant relief." Grigsby v. Thomas, 506 F.Supp.2d 26, 28 (D.D.C. 2007). "[A] district court does not have license to rewrite a deficient pleading." Osahar v. U.S. Postal Serv., 297 F.Appx. 863, 864 (11th Cir. 2008).

B. Analysis

a. Plaintiff's Federal Law Claims

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff may pursue relief for possible violations of her constitutional rights only against the specific individuals who committed acts that allegedly violated those rights. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 27 (1991); Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 n.10 (1989). To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that an act or omission committed by a person acting under color of state law deprived her of a right, privilege, or ...

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