United States District Court, D. Delaware
Charles Burgess, Jr., FCI Butner Low, Butner, North Carolina.
Pro Se Plaintiff.
ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge.
Albert Charles Burgess, Jr., an inmate at FCI Butner Low (a
low security federal correctional institution), in Butner,
North Carolina, filed this action alleging violations of his
constitutional rights. He claims jurisdiction by reason of
diversity of citizenship. He appears pro se and has
been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
(D.I. 4, 6). The Court proceeds to review and screen the
Complaint (D.I. 2) and its addendum (D.I. 9) pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
was arrested on March 6, 2008. (D.I. 9 at Ex. 3 p.2). In
November 2009, he was convicted in the United States District
Court for the Western District of North Carolina of two
felonies involving the receipt and possession of materials
depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
See United States v. Burgess, Crim. No.
1:09-00017-GCM-DLH-1 (W.D. N.C. ) at D.I. 185. Burgess was
sentenced to a prison term of 292 months, supervised release
for life, and restitution. Id. On appeal, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the
conviction and sentence, but vacated the restitution order.
See United States v. Burgess, 684 F.3d 445, 460 (4th
Cir.), cert, denied, 133 S.Ct. 490 (2012). Burgess
is currently incarcerated at the Butner Federal Correctional
Complex in North Carolina.
Complaint, filed on February 6, 2017, alleges that Burgess
had accounts with Defendants eBay Corporation and PayPal
Corporation beginning in 2003 until 2008. (D.l.2at2). Burgess
signed a user agreement with both Defendants. He closed his
PayPal account in 2004 after he was "charged repeatedly
with site memberships to child pornography web sites."
(Id.). Burgess alleges that in July 2007, Defendants
caused the closed account to be temporarily opened and
"somehow, some agent of the Defendants, created a sale
by the Plaintiff to a web site that was illegal."
(Id.). When Burgess learned of the sale, it was
canceled and the money paid was refunded. (Id.).
alleges that Defendants were partners with law enforcement
(including federal agents), and that Defendants reported to
law enforcement that Burgess had purchased the site.
(Id. at 2, 5). Burgess alleges his arrest by law
enforcement was based upon Defendants' false assertions
and falsification of records. (Id. at 2). Burgess
alleges that "at no time [did he engage] in buying
illegal sites from [Defendants], yet their words were taken
as FACT when in fact they were lies." (Id.).
alleges that the user agreements he entered into with
Defendants did not "mention" they were "law
enforcement partners, " and he was not "advised
that he had surrendered his Fourth Amendment right against
unlawful seizures and searches by subscribing to
Defendants' website/businesses." (Id. at
3). Burgess alleges that Defendants' failure to advise
customers that Defendants worked as "undercover police
officers" violates his right to due process.
(Id. at 4-5).
alleges that Defendants are a criminal money laundering
enterprise that is continuing in nature, but are protected
from prosecution because of their work as law enforcement
partners. (Id. at 3). Burgess alleges that at his
criminal trial, Defendants' actions were concealed, but
later, after the trial, their involvement became known, and
that an immunity agreement which exists between Defendants
and the United States Attorney will not be released via FOIA.
(Id.). Burgess alleges that he is currently
incarcerated because Defendants are able to illegally cover
up their money laundering activities in exchange for
illegally targeting persons who cannot defend themselves.
(Id. at 4).
alleges violations of his constitutional rights, violation of
civil rights statutes, breach of contract, and that damages
are continuing in nature as a result of the breach. He seeks
compensatory and punitive damages. The addendum to the
complaint states, "[t]his is NOT an attempt at
challenging my conviction. This is a civil action to punish
the players in deceiving the public and the Plaintiff."
(D.I. 9 at 2).
federal court may properly dismiss an action sua
sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) if "the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726
F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013); see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions). The
Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as
true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro
se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny,
515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff
proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed
and his complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).
action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis
either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i), a court may dismiss a complaint as
frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or
"fantastic or delusional" factual scenario.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v.
Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and §
1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when
ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v.
McCullough,184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999) (applying
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard to dismissal for failure to
state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)). However, before
dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court must grant