United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RONALD A. NURSE, Plaintiff,
RICHMOND COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT and HOY DARLING, Police Officer, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") in the above-captioned case. Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984). As explained below, Plaintiff has been given an opportunity to amend his complaint, and it is the amended complaint that is now before the Court for screening.
I. SCREENING OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT
Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) Richmond County Sheriff's Department, and (2) Police Officer Hoy Darling. (Doc. no. 9, pp. 1, 2.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.
Defendant Darling, presumably an officer with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, effectuated a traffic stop involving Plaintiff on February 1, 2015. (Id. at 2.) Defendant Darling "tested the plaintiff for only alcohol and no other substances or drugs." (Id.) No drugs were found in Plaintiff's car, and he was not charged with possession of illegal substances. (Id.) He was, however, arrested and charged with driving while under the influence of multiple substances, even though there was no evidence "from a urine, blood, and/or 10 panel hair follicle drug test" that Plaintiff had multiple substances in his system. (Id.) This "fake and phony charge" has caused Plaintiff significant hardship in his life and ruined his career as a social and human services worker. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff also alleges, without explanation, that both Defendants have "conspire[ed] to destroy plaintiff." (Id.) He seeks sixty million dollars from each defendant, removal of the "fake and phony drug charge from his rap sheet, " and an award of the salary and pension of Defendant Darling.
Although Plaintiff disregarded the Court's instructions regarding the provision of the status of his underlying criminal proceedings related to the February 1, 2015 traffic stop, (doc. no. 8, p. 3), publicly available records indicate that the case is still pending, Plaintiff is represented by counsel in the proceedings, and Plaintiff has three charges against him: (1) Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, (2) Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Concentration, and (3) No Headlights After Dark. State v. Nurse, Case No. 2015RCMC04579 (Richmond County Magistrate Court Feb. 1, 2015), available at http://coc.augustaga.gov (follow "Criminal Search" hyperlink; then search for Case No. 2015RCMC04579); see also United States v. Jones, 29 F.3d 1549, 1553 (11th Cir. 1994) (noting a court may take judicial notice of another court's records to establish the existence of ongoing litigation and related filings.)
1. Legal Standard for Screening.
The amended complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). "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)).
To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the amended complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The amended complaint is insufficient if it "offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '" or if it "tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the amended complaint must provide a "plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Finally, the court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).
2. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Should Be Dismissed for Failure to Follow a Court Order.
A district court has authority to manage its docket to expeditiously resolve cases, and this authority includes the power to dismiss a case for failure to prosecute or failure to comply with a court order. Equity Lifestyle Props., Inc. v. Florida Mowing & Landscape Serv., Inc., 556 F.3d 1232, 1240 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)); see also Eades v. Alabama Dep't of Human Res., 298 F.Appx. 862, 863 (11th Cir. 2008). Moreover, dismissal without prejudice is generally appropriate pursuant to Rule 41(b) where a plaintiff has failed to comply with a court order, "especially where the litigant has been forewarned." Owens v. Pinellas Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 331 F.Appx. 654, 655 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing ...