Assa'ad-Faltas v. Carter, 1:14CV678

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtL. Patrick Auld United States Magistrate Judge
Docket Number1:14CV678
PartiesMARIE-THERESE H. ASSA'AD-FALTAS, Plaintiff, v. TANDY CARTER, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date15 September 2014

TANDY CARTER, et al., Defendants.



September 15, 2014


This case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (Docket Entry 1), filed in conjunction with her pro se Complaint (Docket Entry 2) and Motion for Leave to File Electronically (Docket Entry 4). For the reasons that follow, the Court will permit Plaintiff to proceed as a pauper solely to allow consideration of a recommendation of dismissal.

I. Legal Background

"The federal in forma pauperis statute, first enacted in 1892 [and now codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1915], is intended to guarantee that no citizen shall be denied access to the courts solely because his poverty makes it impossible for him to pay or secure the costs." Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951, 953 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Dispensing with filing fees, however, [is] not without its problems. . . . In particular, litigants suing in forma pauperis d[o] not need to balance the prospects of successfully obtaining

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relief against the administrative costs of bringing suit." Nagy v. Federal Med. Ctr. Butner, 376 F.3d 252, 255 (4th Cir. 2004). To address this concern, the in forma pauperis ("IFP") statute provides that "the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines . . . (B) the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

As to the first of these grounds, the United States Supreme Court has explained that "a complaint, containing as it does both factual allegations and legal conclusions, is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In assessing such matters, this Court may "apply common sense." Nasim, 64 F.3d at 954; see also Nagy, 376 F.3d at 256-57 ("The word frivolous is inherently elastic and not susceptible to categorical definition." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Coordinately, "[a] complaint plainly abusive of the judicial process is properly typed malicious." Crisafi v. Holland, 655 F.2d 1305, 1309 (D.C. Cir. 1981); accord Davis v. Shekita, No. 5:12CV504H, 2014 WL 2505485, at *3 (E.D.N.C. June 3, 2014) (unpublished); Galeas v. Byrd, No. 3:11CV543RJC, 2011 WL 6370373, at *3 (W.D.N.C. Dec. 20, 2011) (unpublished), aff'd, 469 F. App'x 236 (4th Cir. 2012); see also Cain v. Virginia, 982 F. Supp. 1132, 1136 (E.D. Va. 1997) ("[C]omplaints which merely repeat

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previously litigated claims may be dismissed as malicious. However, maliciousness is not confined to such a narrow class of complaints. A litigant may be deemed to act maliciously if his actions import a wish to vex, annoy, or injure another, or an intent to do a wrongful act, and may consist in direct intention to injure, or in reckless disregard of another's rights." (internal brackets, citations, and quotation marks omitted)).

Alternatively, a plaintiff "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted," 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), when the complaint does not "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) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are 'merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). This standard "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Id. In other words, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id.1

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The third ground for dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) generally applies to situations in which doctrines established by the United States Constitution or at common law immunize governments and/or government personnel from liability for damages. See, e.g., Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (1984) (discussing sovereign immunity of states and state officials under the Eleventh Amendment); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) (describing interrelationship between 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and common-law immunity doctrines); cf. Allen v. Burke, 690 F.2d 376, 379 (4th Cir. 1982) (noting that, even where "damages are theoretically available under [certain] statutes . . ., in some cases, immunity doctrines and special defenses, available only to public officials, preclude or severely limit the damage remedy").

II. Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that she "was falsely arrested and imprisoned . . . by the City of Columbia and Richland County

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Sheriff's Department [and that] . . . [i]n the process of defending herself, [she] discovered extreme corruption, criminality and/or unconstitutionality in South Carolina state government and its subdivisions . . . ." (Docket Entry 2 at 2.) As a result, Plaintiff seeks monetary and non-monetary relief from (according to the Complaint's caption) over 100 Defendants, including the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina, the State of South Carolina, South Carolina's Governor, South Carolina's Attorney General, South Carolina's General Assembly, South Carolina's Judicial Merit Selection Commission ("JMSC"), South Carolina's Supreme Court Chief Justice and Clerk, South Carolina's Court of Appeals Clerk and Deputy Clerk, the Sheriff of Richland County, South Carolina, his Department ("RCSD"), and several of his Deputies, the Mayor, City Council, and Assistant City Manager of Columbia, South Carolina, the Columbia Police Department ("CPD") and 20 or more CPD officers, as well as numerous judges and prosecutors in Richland County and Columbia. (Id. at 1-2).

Consistent with the large number of governmental bodies and high-ranking officials named as Defendants, the Complaint demands declaratory and injunctive redress on an epic scale. (See id. at 26 (requesting that the Court "declare any bond condition preventing a criminal defendant from returning to the only home she has as per se violative of the Eighth Amendment . . . [and] a right to immediate evidentiary hearing for every criminal defendant who

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has evidence that the Prosecution intends to use falsehoods against her"), 29 (proposing that the Court "hold South Carolina's harassment and stalking statute and unlawful use of a telephone statute, as well as bond procedures wherein the alleged victim is not sworn or cross-examined all unconstitutional"), 31 (seeking a "find[ing] that CPD has become a crime syndicate and should be dissolved immediately with all its members retrained before any of them applies to be rehired by the to-be-newly-constituted unified County law enforcement force"), 62 (praying that the Court "order [the Sheriff of Richland County] to establish and maintain a separate and safe detention facility for [Richland County's] female detainees with all due dispatch"), 64 (asking the Court "to hold JMSC unconstitutional on its face and as applied to Plaintiff and her class, to order JMSC dissolved, and to replace [South Carolina's] peculiar system of election of judges with one of popular election or election of new judges and retention of sitting judges upon the nomination and vote of the sitting judiciary, and not any other branch of government, with impeachment preserved").)

However, despite such grand objectives, by its express terms:

This Complaint addresses only: (a)(i) the Wednesday, 2 December 2009, false arrest of Plaintiff on two false charges of harassment "in the first degree" of which she was fully and finally exonerated in September/October 2012 and (a)(ii) all robbery and ransacking of Plaintiff's apartment and car that day under invalid search and seizure warrants and procedures; (b)(i) the false arrest of Plaintiff on Saturday, 12 December 2009, on false charge of "unlawful use of telephone" which was resolved in her favor on 6 October 2010, and (b)(ii)

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Defendants' continued efforts to bring that false charge to trial until July 2012 and March 2013; and (c)(i) Plaintiff's 23 March 2011 false arrest by RCSD on false charge of "trespass" unto the public courthouse, and (c)(ii) the continued unjustified denial of Plaintiff's access to the Richland County courthouse and to the CMC [Columbia Municipal Court] building and the services both offer to the public.

Claims for any and all acts of other entities . . . and for any and all other acts of [D]efendants . . . are expressly reserved for other complaints . . . .

(Id. at 3-4 (bold in original); see also id. at 6-32 (setting out 245 paragraphs of allegations under heading "The False Arrest and Imprisonment on the False Harassment Charges"), 32-50 (setting out 57 paragraphs of allegations and incorporating 15 pages of purported transcript excerpts under heading "The Saturday, 12 December 2009 False Arrest on False Charges of Unlawful Use of Telephone"), 50-62...

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