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Bryant v. United States Department of Interior

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

October 9, 2018

Anthony G. Bryant, Plaintiff,
United States Department of Interior, United States Marshal, Attorney General of United States, Defendants.



         Anthony Bryant (“Plaintiff”) is a nonprisoner litigant who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(D.S.C.), the United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the record and to submit findings and recommendations to the United States District Judge. Upon review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Amended Complaint (DE#9) should be summarily dismissed, with prejudice, and without issuance and service of process, and furthermore, that a pre-filing injunction pursuant to Riddle be entered, [1] for the following reasons:

         I. Relevant Law

         A. Liberal Construction

         Pro se pleadings are given liberal construction and are held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, “[t]he ‘special judicial solicitude' with which a district court should view ... pro se filings does not transform the court into an advocate. United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2401 (2013). Only those questions which are squarely presented to a court may properly be addressed.” Weller v. Dept. of Soc. Servs., City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Giving “liberal construction” does not mean that the Court can ignore a prisoner's clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim. “Principles requiring generous construction of pro se complaints ... [do] not require ... courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented to them.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).

         B. Standard of Review

         Upon application, an indigent litigant may commence an action IFP in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows the court to dismiss the case upon 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). A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). Under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte “at any time.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989). “Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.” Id.

         C. Inherent Authority to Dismiss Frivolous Case

         The United States Supreme Court has observed that federal district courts possess inherent authority to dismiss a frivolous case. Mallard v. U.S. District Court, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989) (“Section 1915(d) ... authorizes courts to dismiss a ‘frivolous or malicious' action, but there is little doubt they would have power to do so even in the absence of this statutory provision.”); see also Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-537 (1974) (holding that federal district courts may dismiss claims that are “so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit”).

         Consistent with such authority, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that “frivolous complaints are subject to summary dismissal pursuant to the inherent authority of the court.” Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.Appx. 405, 406 (4th Cir. Aug. 22, 2012); Cabbill v. United States, No. 1:14-cv-4122-JMC-PJG, 2015 WL 6905072, *5 (D.S.C. Nov. 9, 2015) (same), appeal dism'd, 2016 WL 1085106 (4th Cir. Mar. 21, 2016); Anderson v. Patterson, No. 6:16-761-MGL-JDA, 2016 WL 1743095 (D.S.C. April 12, 2016), adopted, 2016 WL 1732763 (D.S.C. May 2, 2016). “A suit is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325; McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391, 399 (4th Cir. 2009). Therefore, the Amended Complaint is subject to review pursuant to the inherent authority of this Court to ensure that subject matter jurisdiction exists and that the case is not frivolous. See e.g., Carter v. Ervin, No. 0:14-cv-00865-TLW-PJG, 2014 WL 2468351, *3 (D.S.C. June 2, 2014), appeal dism'd, 585 Fed.Appx. 98 (4th Cir. 2014); Mayhew, 2014 WL 468938 at *1, fn.1 (exercising inherent authority to summarily dismiss a frivolous case).

         II. Allegations

         Plaintiff filed a nonsensical Complaint (DE#1, 09/24/2018). This Court gave Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his pleading. (DE# 6, Order of 09/27/2018). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (DE# 9, 10/01/2018). Plaintiff names the following parties as Defendants: the United States Department of Interior, the United States Marshal, and the Attorney General of United States. He checks the box for “federal question jurisdiction” and states that the basis for jurisdiction is: “the Identity Theft and Assumption and Deterrence Act, False Claims Act, Administrative Procedure.” (Id. at 3, ¶ II.A). In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff's “Statement of the Claim” consists of the following (verbatim):

South Carolina State Trooper ticket 1989 was used to deem Plaintiff IO complaint under False Claims Act leading to physical reprisal 2010

(DE# 9 at 5, ¶ III). For relief, Plaintiff states (verbatim):

South Carolina state trooper ticket 1989 served 2013 led to a physical reprisal for filing complaint one million eight hundred [illegible] dollars

(Id. at 5, ¶ IV “Relief”).

         III. Discussion

         Review of the Amended Complaint reflects multiple grounds for summary dismissal.

         A. Failure to State a Claim

          The United States Supreme Court has made it clear that more than conclusory statements are required to state a plausible claim. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009). A plaintiff must allege specific facts that adequately support the claim. Id. The Amended Complaint fails to state any factual or legal basis for any federal claims. Although courts give “liberal construction” to pro se pleadings, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has emphasized that federal courts may not “ignore a petitioner's clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim.” Wilson, 699 F.3d at 797.

         The allegations of the Amended Complaint are nonsensical and incomprehensible. Plaintiff does not allege any supporting facts that suggesting a constitutional violation or any violation of federal law. The Amended Complaint consists of disjointed phrases that fail to state any sort of coherent claim. Even liberally construing the allegations of Amended Complaint, it is not possible to discern any plausible claims from the disconnected sentence fragments in it. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has emphasized that “[p]rinciples requiring generous ...

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