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Wilson v. Vanalstine

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

October 2, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge J. Clay Fuller's Final Report and Recommendation [19] (“R&R”), recommending that this action be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Also before the Court are Plaintiff Christopher B. Wilson's (“Plaintiff”) Objections [21] to the R&R.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 25, 2017, Plaintiff, a prisoner, filed his pro se Civil Rights Complaint Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [1]. On March 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint [10] (“First Amended Complaint”), asserting approximately sixteen claims against six defendants, including Defendant Jim Vanalstine (“Defendant”). On June 28, 2017, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's federal claims for failure to state a claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. ([15] (the “June 28 Order”)). The Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint to remedy the deficiencies identified in the Court's June 28 Order. ([15] at 16). The Court provided Plaintiff with detailed instructions about the amended complaint required, and warned him that his failure to comply with the instructions would result in dismissal:

Plaintiff is advised that the amended complaint, if filed, will supersede and replace his current Complaint. Plaintiff's amended complaint must (1) assert each claim in a separate numbered count, (2) clearly identify the specific defendant(s) against whom each claim is asserted, (3) clearly explain the factual allegations supporting each claim and their application to each defendant against whom the claim is asserted, and (4) avoid vague, generalized, conclusory, contradictory or irrelevant assertions. Plaintiff should thoroughly describe the conduct and specific offenses for which he was arrested, so that the Court can determine whether there was probable cause for his arrest. Plaintiff's allegations and claims should be presented “with such clarity and precision that [each] defendant will be able to discern what the plaintiff is claiming [against him specifically] and to frame a responsive pleading.” Anderson v. Dist. Bd. of Trustees of Cent. Florida Cmty. Coll., 77 F.3d 364, 366 (11th Cir. 1996). The Court will dismiss this action if Plaintiff fails to (1) file a properly-pled amended complaint on or before July 21, 2017, (2) comply with the Court's instructions in this Order, or (3) comply with the Local Rules of this Court.

([15] at 16-17). The Court also instructed Plaintiff to “narrow, and specifically describe, the claims he asserts, ” including because “many of the[] claims are confusing, unclear, and appear to overlap.” ([15] at 16 n.7).

         On July 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint [18], asserting claims against Defendant for violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; violations of Defendant's “oath of office” under 5 U.S.C. § 3331; “abusive litigation in violation of due process under color of law (18 U.S.C. 242)”; “conspiracy against rigihts [sic], ” in violation of 18 U.S.C. 241; fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001; “abuse in (and of) power”; violations of six provisions of the Georgia Constitution; “tampering with evidence” and “false statements, ” in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-20; “public oath, ” in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-10; “perjury in 1st degree, ” in violation of O.C.G.A. § 17-1-4; and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Georgia law. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “conceal[ed] [a] dash-cam video” and offered “false statements and perjured testimony, ” causing Plaintiff to be indicted and confined for approximately ten and a half months “on false and fabricated charges.” (Sec. Am. Compl. at 2-3).[1] Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's false statements were made in “arrest warrants” and “police reports, ” and that Defendant committed perjury “before [a] grand jury.” (Sec. Am. Compl. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that he suffered “physical and emotional injuries” during his confinement, including because he was “denied medical treatment.” (Sec. Am. Compl. at 5). The Second Amended Complaint does not elaborate on these allegations.

         On July 31, 2017, the Magistrate Judge screened Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint and issued his R&R, finding that this action should be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A for failure to state a plausible claim for relief. The Magistrate Judge found that, to the extent Plaintiff asserts a malicious prosecution claim, “such a claim is premature until Plaintiff shows that the charges arising from his disputed arrest have terminated in his favor, and to date Plaintiff has not made the necessary showing.” (R&R at 5). On August 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Objections to the R&R, stating that “his criminal case was adjudicated on June 26, 2017, as the aggravated assault was dismissed and the other charges were plead [sic] to under nolo-contenderes.” ([21] at 1). Plaintiff acknowledged that he did not previously notify the Court of this fact, but failed to offer any explanation for his untimely disclosure. ([21] at 1). Plaintiff argued that the alleged disposition of his underlying criminal case “equates to being terminated in his favor, ” and that his malicious prosecution claim should thus be permitted to proceed. ([21] at 1).[2]


         A. Frivolity Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         A federal court must screen “a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court is required to dismiss the complaint 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 from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous, and must be dismissed, where it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008). To state a claim upon which relief may be granted, “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)). Mere “labels and conclusions” are insufficient. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (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). This requires more than the “mere possibility of misconduct.” Am. Dental, 605 F.3d at 1290 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). The well-pled allegations must “nudge[] [plaintiff's] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Id. at 1289 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         Plaintiff filed his Second Amended 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). 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 Fed.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 Fed.Appx. 863, 864 (11th Cir. 2008).

         B. Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

         After conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681 F.2d 732 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1112 (1983). A district judge “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With respect to those findings and recommendations to which objections have not been ...

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