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Evans v. Chase

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

November 27, 2017

WALLACE C. EVANS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHASE, et al., Defendants.

          Trauger Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon a “Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Amended Complaint or in the Alternative Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint, ” filed by Defendant PNC Bank, N.A. (“PNC”) on June 6, 2017, which contends that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint should be stricken or dismissed because it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Docket No. 31. PNC has also filed a Supporting Memorandum of Law. Docket No. 32. Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, has not responded.

         PNC argues that the Amended Complaint (Docket No. 30) fails under the standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because it “contains no more than unsupported conclusions that PNC somehow violated his Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment rights because Prudential Bank and Trust Company promised him a loan but ‘no loan was ever made' by PNC.” Docket No. 32, p. 2-3. PNC asserts that the Amended Complaint does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and is insufficient to establish a claim upon which relief can be granted, even under the liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings. Id. at 3.

         1. Motions to Dismiss Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

         To withstand a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). The Supreme Court has clarified the Twombly standard, stating that “[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). Plausibility requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A complaint that pleads facts “‘merely consistent with' defendant's liability . . . ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility' of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (internal brackets omitted).

         When ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, the court must “construe the complaint liberally in the plaintiff's favor and accept as true all factual allegations and permissible inferences therein.” Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994). The court should allow “a well-pleaded complaint [to] proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. However, a “plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions.” Id. at 555. “‘[A] legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation' need not be accepted as true on a motion to dismiss, ” Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted), and mere recitation of the elements of a cause of action “or an “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” will not do, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While the court must accept “as true all non-conclusory allegations in the complaint, ” Delay v. Rosenthal Collins Grp., LLC, 585 F.3d 1003, 1005 (6th Cir. 2009), it does not have to accept unsupported legal conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “The Plaintiff's failure to respond to the Defendant's motion to dismiss does not alter the standard of review, nor does it allow for dismissal without undertaking such review.” Powers v. U.S. Bank, N.A., No. 3:13-cv-01334, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91813 at *2 (M.D. Tenn. July 7, 2014), citing Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451 (6th Cir. 1991).

         “Pro se complaints are to be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court is not required to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life. Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 F. App'x 608, 613 (6th Cir. 2011) (“a court cannot create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Payne v. Sec'y of Treas., 73 F. App'x 836, 837 (6th Cir. 2003) (affirming sua sponte dismissal of complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) and stating, “[n]either this court nor the district court is required to create Payne's claim for her”). To demand otherwise would require the “courts to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         2. Plaintiff's Allegations Against PNC[1]

         The entirety of Plaintiff's allegations against PNC are as follows:

Reference: PNC Bank account number 15038452xxxxxxxx
1. The cause of action in this matter is breach of contract.
There is a deed of trust
A loan was promised to the Plaintiff by (Prudential Bank and Trust Company) the bank that ...

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