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Caldwell v. CVS Corp.

August 10, 2006

RAHIM CALDWELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CVS CORP., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RENÉE Marie Bumb, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon the motion of Defendant CVS Corp. ("CVS") to dismiss the complaint brought by Plaintiff Rahim Caldwell for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6). Caldwell alleges that, while he was shopping at a CVS pharmacy, an employee deprived him of numerous constitutional rights. In particular, Caldwell claims that he was: (1) discriminated against by CVS; (2) subject to racial profiling; (3) unlawfully touched by a CVS employee; (4) unlawfully detained; (5) forced to place his personal belongings on the store counter; (6) denied requested information; (7) and was not given an apology after the employee accused him of shoplifting. In doing these acts, Plaintiff alleges his "constitutional rights were violated," including the Thirteenth Amendment. Because Caldwell has failed to make a claim upon which relief may be granted, CVS' motion to dismiss will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Rahim Caldwell, alleges that while at a CVS store, he was approached by a CVS manager and improperly accused of shoplifting. Vineland police were called to the scene and, according to Plaintiff, he was asked to place his personal belongings on the store counter. (Compl. at 1.) Vineland police instructed him that he was "free to go" when no stolen merchandise was found. (Id.)

Plaintiff filed a Complaint (the "Complaint") against CVS on February 7, 2006 alleging numerous constitutional violations. The Complaint states in its entirety:

Plaintiff Rahim Caldwell, a U.S. citizen, constitutional rights were violated, claims he was discriminated and racially profiled by [CVS] when he was inside CVS then approached by a women (sic)(manager of CVS) employed by [CVS] defendant then unlawfully touched plaintiff, then accused Mr. Caldwell of shoplifting by stating "I seen what you put in your pocket." Mr. Caldwell stated "I did nothing wrong & that her actions were discriminatory, that this was discrimination, and that plaintiff was going to file a discrimination lawsuit against [CVS] well as the woman personally. City of Vineland police department were called, plaintiff was unlawfully detained, and forced by both the [CVS] manager as well as the city of Vineland police department to place all personal belongings on the counter of [CVS]. Findings were negative; plaintiff was then told by Vineland police that he was free to go, but [CVS] manager, nor city of Vineland police department never gave an apology to Mr. Caldwell for the accusations of shoplifting. Also many other constitutional rights were violated. Plaintiff was also denied info requested, such as all names of parties involved. Constitution 13th amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.

(Compl. at 1.) CVS filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6). [Docket Item No. 9.] Plaintiff failed to oppose CVS' motion.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A Rule 12 (b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted must be denied "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A district court must accept any and all reasonable inferences derived from those facts. Unger v. Nat'l Residents Corp. v. Exxon Co., U.S.A., 761 F. Supp. 1100, 1107 (D.N.J. 1991); Gutman v. Howard Sav. Bank, 748 F. Supp. 254, 260 (D.N.J. 1990). Further, the court must view all allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236; Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994).

It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead the facts that serve as the basis for the claim. See Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977); In re Midlantic Corp. Shareholder Litig., 758 F. Supp. 226, 230 (D.N.J. 1990). The question before the court is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail; rather, it is whether he can prove any set of facts in support of his claims that would entitle them to relief. See Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). Therefore, in deciding a motion to dismiss, a court should look to the face of the complaint and decide whether, taking all of the allegations of fact as true and construing them in a light most favorable to the non-movant, plaintiff's allegations state a legal claim. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). Only the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken into consideration. Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pennsylvania Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990).

In particular, "[p]ro se submissions, 'however inartfully pleaded,' must be held to 'less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers' and can only be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears 'beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Then v. I.N.S., 58 F. Supp. 2d 422, 429 (D.N.J. 1999)(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Constitutional Claims

Plaintiff's self-styled Complaint is not a model of clarity. However, the Court surmises that Plaintiff alleges that he was deprived of certain constitutional rights because CVS engaged in racial profiling, discriminated against him, unlawfully detained him, and required him to place his belongings on the store counter, in violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Compl. at 1.) Due to the ...


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