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Beauchamp v. State

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 13, 2015

EDITH J. BEAUCHAMP, DR. VIRGINIA WALCOTT BEAUCHAMP, and K.C.B. and A.J.B., two minor children of Edith Beauchamp, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE, CITY OF GREENBELT, MARYLAND, THEODORE (TED) DALLAS, Secretary of Human Resources, JOSHUA M. SHARFSTEIN, M.D., Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, GLORIA L. BROWN, Director of Prince George's County Department of Social Services, MICHAEL McLAUGHLIN, City Manager, City of Greenbelt, DOUGLAS F. GANSLER, Attorney General of Maryland, MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, DAVID E. BELLER, Principal Counsel, Maryland Department of Human Resources, SHIREEN BLAIR, and SANDRA I. BARNES, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THEODORE D. CHUANG, District Judge.

In 2009, Plaintiff Edith J. Beauchamp became the subject of a child protective services investigation and was found responsible for child neglect. She has since been listed in a state registry of perpetrators of child neglect or abuse. Beauchamp now files suit alleging violations of her constitutional rights. Listed as Defendants in this action are the State of Maryland; the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ("MDHMH"); Joshua M. Sharsftein, M.D., the Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene; the Maryland Department of Human Resources ("MDHR"); Theodore Dallas, the Maryland Secretary of Human Resources; the Prince George's County Department of Social Services ("PGCDSS"); Gloria L. Brown, Director of the Prince George's County Department of Social Services; Douglas F. Gansler, the Attorney General of Maryland; Sandra I. Barnes, Assistant Attorney General of Maryland; and David E. Beller, Principal Counsel of the Maryland Department of Human Resources (collectively, the "State Defendants").[1] Beauchamp has also filed suit against the City of Greenbelt, Maryland; Michael McLaughlin, the City Manager of Greenbelt, Maryland; and Shireen Blair, a Crisis Counselor for the City of Greenbelt (collectively, the "Greenbelt Defendants").

Currently pending are the State Defendants and the Greenbelt Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. Also pending is Beauchamp's Motion Requesting Additional Time to Respond to Defendants' Recent Filings and Special "Attorney" Access to the Pacer System ("Motion for Leave"); and Motion to Request this Court's Order to Defendants' to Cooperate with Depositions, Requesting a Bench Conference Due to Dispute Over Complying with Discovery, and Requesting the Court's Assistance or Permission to Issue Summons for Additional Records to Supplement the Complaint ("Motion to Compel").

The motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, the Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED. Beauchamp's Motion for Leave is DENIED as to the request to file additional memoranda and DISMISSED AS MOOT as to the request for access to the electronic court filing system. The Motion to Compel is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

BACKGROUND

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are presented as alleged in the Complaint and the Notarized Statement and Amended/Supplemental Complaint (the "Amended Complaint"). ECF Nos. 1, 5. This case follows PGCDSS's finding that Beauchamp was responsible for child neglect based on unsuitable living conditions at the home where she lived with her two minor children. See Beauchamp v. Prince George's Cnty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., No. 0523, slip op. at 1 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Oct. 21, 2013). On September 16, 2009, police discovered the conditions while investigating burglaries in the area. They alerted PGCDSS shortly afterward. On December 12, 2009, after failed attempts to get Beauchamp to improve the conditions, Shamar Rouse, a Child Protective Services investigator, made a finding that Beauchamp was responsible for child neglect, and that she had failed to provide her children with proper care and attention. After conducting a hearing, an administrative law judge ("ALJ") affirmed the findings on June 21, 2010.

On April 18, 2012, the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland upheld the ALJ's decision. Beauchamp appealed the Prince George's County Circuit Court decision to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, where she argued that there was not substantial evidence of child neglect because her children had not been placed at a substantial risk of harm. She also argued that the State did not properly serve her with the record prior to the hearing, and that the ALJ abused her discretion by limiting Beauchamp's presentation of evidence and refusing to admit as evidence certain materials offered by Beauchamp. On October 12, 2013, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the circuit court's decision, concluding that substantial evidence supported the finding of child neglect, that the State followed proper procedures in serving Beauchamp with the record, and that the ALJ did not abuse her discretion. Id. at 11-15. The Court of Appeals of Maryland denied certiorari on March 24, 2014.

On August 18, 2014, Beauchamp, proceeding pro se, filed this action.[2] ECF No. 1. In the present case, Beauchamp disputes that the living conditions for her children were unsuitable or established a substantial risk of harm. She alleges that the children lived with her mother from August to October 2009 while Beauchamp recovered from a knee injury. Beauchamp acknowledges that her house "temporarily was left in a mess" after she injured her knee, but she maintains that the children did not return to the home until she had obtained Rouse's approval. Am. Compl. ¶ 33, ECF No. 5.

Although Beauchamp does not delineate specific causes of actions against Defendants, she asserts three categories of claims. First, she alleges a series of errors in the administrative and state court proceedings resulting in the finding of child neglect. For example, she alleges that during the state court proceedings, "fraudulent" hearsay evidence was admitted against her. Compl. at 2, ECF No. 1. Specifically, she claims that in 2009, Blair fabricated fraudulent documents and statements that were used in the state proceedings. Beauchamp also alleges that she was not allowed to submit her own evidence, was not properly given copies of the evidence against her, and was not given equal time to present her case. She alleges that Rouse was improperly allowed to testify as an expert witness, even though she had not yet taken her licensing exam. Beauchamp also alleges that Barnes, the Assistant Attorney General who represented the PGCDSS before the Court of Special Appeals, fought to exclude the exculpatory evidence that Beauchamp wanted to present.

Second, Beauchamp alleges that she was falsely arrested by the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department when she was taken to a hospital for an emergency evaluation on August 18, 2011, based on allegations by Blair that Beauchamp had made "eye contact" with Blair outside the government building where Blair worked. Am. Compl. ¶ 21. Court filings, which Beauchamp attached to her memorandum in opposition to the Motions to Dismiss, indicate that on August 17, 2011, both a Petition for Emergency Evaluation and a Petition for Peace Order were filed with the District Court for Prince George's County, Maryland. In the Petition for Emergency Evaluation, the police officer filing the petition stated that Beauchamp "has been writing threatening emails to City officials and researching the history and address of employees, " and that Beauchamp "sought out [Blair], entering a rec. facility illegally, and confronting [Blair]." Pl.'s Ans. Mot. Two Mots. Dismiss ("Pl.'s Opp.") Ex. 6, ECF No. 28-6. In the Petition for Peace Order, seeking a form of restraining order against Beauchamp, Blair marked the check boxes for "stalking" and "other: multiple emails to various agencies and persons maligning Ms. Blair" as bases for the petition. Id. at 3. In the section provided for further details, Blair stated that Beauchamp:

Appeared fully clothed in shower area of [the] pool where Blair was showering and vulnerable and engaged in threatening direct eye contact sustained for several seconds and sent emails over the course of April - August 2011 accusing Ms. Blair of various insane acts against her and demanding retaliatory acts against Blair.... She has threatened me personally by approaching me in my most vulnerable position [while] showering and is accusing me to multiple agencies and persons of malicious absurd acts demanding they retaliate viciously against me.

Id.

The Prince George's County District Court found probable cause to believe that Beauchamp "has shown the symptoms of a mental disorder and presents a danger to the life or safety of the evaluee or others" and ordered law enforcement to take Beauchamp to receive an emergency evaluation by a physician. Pl.'s Opp. Ex. 15 at 3, ECF No. 28-15. Also on August 17, the district court granted a temporary peace order against Beauchamp, finding "reasonable grounds to believe" that Beauchamp had placed Blair "in fear of imminent serious bodily harm" and was "likely to commit a prohibited act against [Blair] in the future." Pl.'s Opp. Ex. 6 at 7. After the district court granted the Petition for an Emergency Evaluation, a sheriffs deputy "arrested" Beauchamp and transported her to the hospital, from which she was released "a few hours later." Am. Compl. ¶ 21.

Third, she alleges a constitutional violation because she is listed in the Central Registry for Child Protective Services (the "Registry") as a result of the finding of child neglect, and because there is no means by which to have her name expunged from the registry. Beauchamp asserts that the Registry does not differentiate between cases involving child neglect or child abuse, "does not differentiate between criminal charges or... civil matter[s], and is reportable nationwide despite these significant lapses in definition or information." Compl. at 4. She claims injury from her listing in the Registry because she has been prevented from volunteering in the classroom with her children and serving as a chaperone or driving a carpool for school trips, sports activities, and a church youth group. She also claims that she lost her federal security clearance as a result of the listing.

As relief, Beauchamp seeks an unspecified amount of damages, an injunction ordering a "Federal review" of the Registry and the alleged violation of Beauchamp's rights, and restoration of her "reputation and Federal clearances." Id. at 6. She also seeks "Justice Department assistance with a Federal Attorney" to assist Beauchamp to "prosecute this case against the State and the local municipality." Id. Beauchamp also requests expungement of her name from the Registry and restoration of her reputation.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal ...


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