Otis Bridgeforth v. TD Bank NA ( 2011 )

  • CLD-102                                                       NOT PRECEDENTIAL
                          UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
                               FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
                                         No. 10-4002
                              OTIS MICHAEL BRIDGEFORTH,
                               TD BANK; POOJA YADAV,
                                     Cus. Serv. Rep
                         Appeal from the United States District Court
                                  for the District of Delaware
                                 (D.C. Civil No. 10-cv-00472)
                         District Judge: Honorable Gregory M. Sleet
            Submitted for Possible Dismissal Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. „ 1915(e)(2)(B)
            or Summary Action Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 27.4 and I.O.P. 10.6
                                      January 28, 2011
                  Before: RENDELL, FUENTES and SMITH, Circuit Judges
                              (Opinion filed February 14, 2011)
                                 OPINION OF THE COURT
          Otis Michael Bridgeforth filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a
    bank and one of its employees, alleging that on May 29, 2010, he was prevented from
    opening a student checking account. He claimed that the defendants intentionally
    inflicted emotional distress and discriminated against him on the basis of “race, color, and
    sex” when they found his New York driver‟s license, student identification card, and a
    piece of mail he received insufficient to verify his address. He alleged that they lied to
    him when they told him that they only accepted proof of car registration or insurance, a
    utility bill, a pay stub, or a letter from an employer to verify an address. He alleged that
    he was later able to open the account over the telephone with the help of a representative
    who explained that he could have opened his account in the bank had he presented a
    Social Security card with his student identification card and a piece of recent mail.
    Bridgeforth requested thirty million dollars in damages and the termination of bank
           The District Court dismissed the complaint as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
    1915(e)(2). The District Court also held that amendment would be futile. Bridgeforth
           We have jurisdiction over Bridgeforth‟s appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We
    exercise plenary review over the dismissal of his claims. See Allah v. Seiverling, 
    229 F.3d 220
    , 223 (3d Cir. 2000). We review the denial of leave to amend for abuse of
    discretion. See Lum v. Bank of Am., 
    361 F.3d 217
    , 223 (3d Cir. 2004).
           Bridgeforth purported to proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As the District Court
    noted, to state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff “must allege the violation of a right
    secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged
    deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins,
    487 U.S. 42
    , 48 (1988). Neither defendant was acting under color of state law. See id.
    (explaining that a defendant must be “clothed with the authority of state law” to be acting
    under color of state law).
           We also note that Bridgeforth included no allegations in his complaint from which
    discrimination can be inferred. It is possible that Bridgeforth‟s claims could be
    interpreted as an attempt to plead a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which
    prohibits race discrimination in making and enforcing contracts. See Brown v. Philip
    Morris, Inc., 
    250 F.3d 789
    , 796 (3d Cir. 2001). To state a claim under § 1981, a plaintiff
    must allege that he or she is a member of a racial minority, that the defendant had the
    intent to discriminate on the basis of race, and the discrimination concerned one or more
    of the activities enumerated in the statute, which include the right to make or enforce
    contracts. Id. at 797 (citations omitted). However, Bridgeforth merely made a bare claim
    that the defendants‟ actions were related to his race and stated that the defendants‟ actions
    seemed “shady” and “immature.” A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than
    “„labels or conclusions.‟” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 
    129 S. Ct. 1937
    , 1939 (2009) (quoting
    Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 
    550 U.S. 544
    , 555 (2007)).
           Because Bridgeforth stated no federal claim, the District Court did not err in
    declining to consider the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under state
    law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c); De Asencio v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 
    342 F.3d 301
    , 311 (3d
    Cir. 2003).
           For these reasons, the District Court properly dismissed Bridgeforth‟s complaint.
    We also conclude that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in denying
    Bridgeforth leave to amend on the basis of futility. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp.,
    293 F.3d 103
    , 112-13 (3d Cir. 2002). Because this appeal does not have an arguable basis
    in fact or law, we will dismiss it appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B). See
    Neitzke v. Williams, 
    490 U.S. 319
    , 325 (1989).