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Wallace v. Lamson

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

November 7, 2014

BERNADETTE LAMSON, et al., Defendants.


PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kelso David Wallace worked for Defendant Montgomery County, Maryland for more than a decade, during which time he suffered from disabilities and was injured, both on and off the job, and ultimately he applied for disability retirement. Dissatisfied with the conduct and outcome of his disability retirement hearing and other aspects of his employment history, he filed suit against Defendants Bernadette Lamson, Dianna Gunther, and Linda Bird. I dismissed his suit with prejudice, be he has filed a second lawsuit against the same Defendants, alleging, in essence, the exact same claims. Yet, res judicata precludes the re-litigation of the material facts and issues Plaintiff raises in this lawsuit. On that basis, I will dismiss Plaintiff's claim with prejudice.[1]


Mr. Wallace, who has dyslexia and related disabilities, began working for Montgomery County, Maryland (the "County") in 1987. Compl. 7-8, ECF No. 1.[3] Over the years, he was injured in different incidents, both on the job and off the job, and he began to suffer from arthritis. Plaintiff was terminated in 1998, allegedly based on his dyslexia and related disabilities that pre-dated his employment, but after filing an EEOC complaint, he was reinstated in 1999. Id. at 22-28.

Plaintiff's health problems continued, in part due to an on-the-job assault in late 2001. Id. at 28-29. By early 2003, Plaintiff no longer could walk or work. Id. at 31. Plaintiff had back surgery later that year, took "sick leave due to his duty related injury, " and worked part time while continuing to receive medical care. Id. at 32-36. He "was retired by the Defendant" and "placed on Non Duty Related Disability Retirement" on November 30, 2003, in what he characterizes as a "wrongful separation." Id. at 36. On February 18 and 19, 2009, Plaintiff's application for disability retirement was the subject of a hearing (the "Hearing"). Id. at 2; Defs.' Mem. 1.

Feeling that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his disabilities and been denied his right to a fair hearing with respect to his disability benefits, Plaintiff filed a twentytwo page, four-count complaint in this Court on March 22, 2013. Wallace v. Lamson (" Wallace I "), No. PWG-13-866 (D. Md.). In that first complaint against the County and County employees Bernadette Lamson, Dianna Gunther, and Linda Bird, he alleged "handicap discrimination, " negligence, insurance fraud, and breach of contract. Compl. 21-22, ECF No. 1 in Wallace I. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that Plaintiff's claims were time-barred. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 8 in Wallace I. I granted their motion on March 11, 2014, finding that Plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations and dismissing the case with prejudice. Mem. Op. & Order, ECF Nos. 29 & 30 in Wallace I. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Set Aside Order dismissing Case, ECF No. 31 in Wallace I, on March 21, 2014, but simultaneously filed a Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 32 in Wallace I, which divested this Court of jurisdiction to consider his motion. See Griggs v. Provident Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982); Panowicz v. Hancock, No. DKC-11-2417, 2013 WL 5442959, at *2 (D. Md. Sept. 27, 2013) (citing Griggs ). That appeal still is pending before the Fourth Circuit.

Thereafter, on June 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed the forty-nine page complaint that now is before me. Compl. Plaintiff names the same Defendants as in Wallace I. [4] He once again recounts his employment history, injuries during his period of employment, medical appointments, and employment issues related to his injuries and disabilities. Compl. 7-38, 40. Despite its length, Plaintiff's complaint includes only one count, for a violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, in which he claims that Defendants "acted with Malice against the Plaintiff during the 2009 [Disability Arbitration Board] DAB Hearing to prevent him from having a fair DAB Hearing under law, which violated his Constitutional Right under the Sixth Amendment to have a fair trial or hearing under law." Compl. 3. Plaintiff raises various issues with how the 2009 Hearing was handled, including alleging that Defendants "brought past false accusations and unrelated prejudicial statements into the present DAB Hearing record." Id. at 3, 4-5, 38-39, 40-42, 43-47. According to Plaintiff, "a final decision has still not been handed down" from the Hearing. Id. at 48.

Once again, Defendants have moved to dismiss. ECF No. 4. Plaintiff filed a Response[5] and a Rebuttal, ECF Nos. 6 & 7, and Defendants filed a Reply, ECF No. 9. Additionally, Plaintiff moved to file a surreply, ECF No. 12, to which Defendants filed an Opposition, ECF No. 14. Defendants contend that the proposed surreply "is redundant of Plaintiff's previous submission, " as it "simply restates and re-hashes the same arguments that Plaintiff has already placed before the Court in his opposition to the Motion to Dismiss." Defs.' Opp'n 2. Having reviewed Defendant's proposed surreply, as well as his Response and Rebuttal, I find the proposed surreply does not address any argument raised for the first time in Defendants' Reply or raise any argument that Plaintiff failed to make in his Response and Rebuttal. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion will be denied. See Interphase Garment Solutions, LLC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 566 F.Supp.2d 460, 467 (D. Md. 2008). I note that, even if I were to consider the surreply, the outcome of this case would not change.

Plaintiff also has filed a motion to supplement his complaint, which includes the supplemental information he wants the Court to consider, ECF No. 11, which Defendants have not opposed. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion to supplement is granted in that I will consider the supplemental submissions in this Memorandum Opinion and Order. In his motion to supplement, Plaintiff restates the relief he is requesting. Specifically, he seeks a ruling "that the Plaintiff['s] injuries were in the line of duty"; back pay, including "three missing increments steps that were withheld"; costs for spinal surgery; and attorney's fees for his representation at the Hearing. Mot. 1.


A. Motion to Dismiss

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and his complaint is to be construed liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, liberal construction does not absolve Plaintiff from pleading a plausible claim. See Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122, 128 (D. Md. 1981) (citing Inmates v. Owens, 561 F.2d 560, 562-63 (4th Cir. 1977)). As stated by the Fourth Circuit,

It is neither unfair nor unreasonable to require a pleader to put his complaint in an intelligible, coherent, and manageable form, and his failure to do so may warrant dismissal. Corcoran v. Yorty, 347 F.2d 222, 223 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 382 U.S. 966 (1965); Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122, 128 (D. Md. 1981). District courts are not required to be mind readers, or to conjure questions not squarely presented to ...

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