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Rogers v. McDonald

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

November 10, 2015

Hayward Rogers, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert McDonald, VA Secretary; Laura H. Eskenazi, VA Vice Chairman; and Department of Veterans Affairs, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MARY GORDON BAKER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Hayward Rogers ("Plaintiff" or "Rogers"), a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant suit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (the "Department") and two Department officials. ( See generally Dkt. No. 1.) Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review such complaints for relief and to submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. After careful review, the undersigned recommends summarily dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint.

PRO SE AND IN FORMA PAUPERIS REVIEW

Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The review has been conducted in light of the following precedents: Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); and Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147 (4th Cir. 1978). The Complaint herein has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is "frivolous or malicious, " "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(I), (ii), (iii). Hence, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989).

This Court is required to liberally construe pro se documents, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5 (1980) (per curiam). Even under this less stringent standard, however, a pro se complaint is subject to summary dismissal.

The mandated liberal construction afforded pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a petition to "conjure up questions never squarely presented" to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

BACKGROUND

As noted above, Plaintiff filed the instant action against the Department and two Department officials. ( See generally Dkt. No. 1.) The case appears to arise out of a denial of benefits by the Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. ( See id. ) In the Complaint, Plaintiff states (verbatim),

This matter comes from a 2007 and 2009 rating decisions of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs regional office in Columbia, S.C. that office denied the veteran's claims for service connection for P.T.S.D., lower back spine injury disability, right leg, right knee injury, and left leg injury, and loss of sense of taste and sense of smell.

(Dkt. No. 1 at 3 of 7.) Plaintiff alleges he made a disability claim with the Department which was initially denied; he appealed, and the Board of Veterans Appeals (the "Board") "remanded the case back to the Regional Office" on October 14, 2011, "for further development on the [Plaintiff's] claims." ( Id. ) Plaintiff states, "After almost a 3 year delay the Regional Office on May 9, 2014 presented false evidence, and misrepresented the actual facts." ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, the Regional Office "misrepresent[ed] the facts in denial of [Plaintiff's] claim for service connected disability." ( Id. at 4 of 7.) He complains that the Regional Office "has deliberately denied [Plaintiff] medical services" and "is deliberately denying [him] due process of veterans' rights by discrimination because [he] is incarcerated." ( Id. )

In the "Relief" section of his Complaint, Plaintiff states that he seeks the following (verbatim):

Declaratory relief, declaring defendants acts and omissions in violations of the Department of Veterans Administration ("38 C.F.R.") or Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Injunctive relief, enjoining that defendants comply with Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, compel Defendant McDonald to provide due process protection to the [Plaintiff], representation to represent the veteran, sanction all other party to cease any further unnecessary in deciding his appeal, and to investigate any further abuse, or misconduct during the process of the Plaintiff's case, to compel partys to provide the veteran immediate medical care for the veteran, and those members of his approved dependants, and compel any immediate medical care for the veterans P.T.S.D. that has been diagnosed with multiple mental disorders, and have scheduled an emergency ...

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