United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD B. MARTIN JR., Plaintiff
RICHARD B. MARTIN SR., KATHRYN L. MARTIN, Defendants
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
31, 2016, plaintiff Richard B. Martin Jr., a resident of
Boston, Massachusetts, filed a personal injury action against
his parents, Richard Martin Sr. and Kathryn Martin, who
reside in Woodbine, Maryland. ECF 1. Jurisdiction is based on
diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Plaintiff, who is self-represented, has filed a motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF 2. His motion shall
be granted because the financial affidavit accompanying his
complaint indicates that he has no source of income. However,
his motion to file electronically (ECF 3) shall be denied.
lawsuit represents the eighth action brought by plaintiff in
this court in the last ten months. Here, plaintiff complains
that he has been "emotionally and physically
abused…since [he] was born, " at the hands of his
parents. Plaintiff's suit includes seven claims, and he
seeks $10, 000, 000 collectively, in compensatory and
punitive damages, as to all claims. ECF 1 at 1.
alleges, inter alia, that his mother
"pretend[ed] to commit suicide with a musket when [he]
commented on her cheating at [a] child's card game
(possibly, Go Fish)." ECF 1 at 1. He also claims that
while he was a teenager, his father "intentionally and
highly offensively graz[ed] his…penis…as I lie
in bed after giving me a hug goodnight…"
Id. Plaintiff recounts that he contacted the Howard
County Police Department in late 2007 concerning his
father's sexual abuse. Id. at 2. Thereafter, his
mother. a psychiatric nurse, "started telling family
members that [Martin] had a serious mental illness."
2012, plaintiff "moved back home after living
abroad" but alleges that he was not treated with
respect. Id. at 3. According to plaintiff, in June
2013, his father "began to harass" him and refused
to leave him alone, and instead "attempt[ed] to initiate
conversation and…to inappropriately order [plaintiff]
to do different tasks." Id. Plaintiff claims
that during one encounter with his father, plaintiff
attempted to leave the house, but his father
[u]sed his body to prevent [plaintiff] from progressing
farther up the stairs. With his groin at the level of about
[plaintiff's] midabdomen he quickly positioned his
genital region close to [plaintiff's] body and stimulated
himself against [plaintiff's] body…He proceeded to
throw some of [plaintiff's] clothes into the backyard. It
Id. at 4.
addition, plaintiff alleges that his parents
"propagate[ed] the rumor that [he] was mentally
ill" and "defamed [him] so severely" because
"they don't want [him] to inherit what is rightfully
[his] and don't want others to believe that Mr. Martin
has sexually abused minors." Id. at 3. Further,
plaintiff states that his parents obtained a court order for
a psychiatric evaluation of plaintiff. As a result, on August
15, 2015, Sheriff's deputies removed plaintiff from a
family member's home and took him to Frederick Memorial
Hospital, where he remained for ten days,
"unjustly." Id. at 4.
the heading of "Statement of Claims, " plaintiff
asserts numerous causes of action against both defendants.
These are set forth below.
Claim I, plaintiff asserts intentional infliction of
emotional distress, based on the alleged assaultive behavior
of his father, plaintiff's alleged false imprisonment at
Frederick Memorial Hospital, and the defamatory statements as
to plaintiff's alleged mental illness. In Claim II,
plaintiff alleges negligence, claiming his parents had
"a legal duty" to "exercise reasonable care
towards [him] when [he] was living at home."
Id. at 5. Instead, they failed to do so; Martin Sr.
"indecently assaulted" plaintiff; and "Mrs.
Martin enabled it." Id. at 5. In Claim III,
plaintiff alleges battery, based on his father's
"sexual and nonsexual contact" with plaintiff, for
which "[b]oth defendants are responsible. . . ."
Claim IV alleges defamation based on the conduct of
plaintiff's parents in "telling others" that
plaintiff is "mentally ill to cover up Mr. Martin's
history of sexual abuse and to prevent [plaintiff] from
accessing the family's wealth." Id.
Plaintiff asserts in Claim V false imprisonment as to his
hospitalization. And, in Claim VI plaintiff alleges assault
based on his father's "sexual and nonsexual contact,
" again asserting that [b]oth defendants are liable . .
. ." Id. at 6. Finally, in Claim VII, plaintiff
asserts "malicious prosecution, " based on his
parents' conduct in having him "ordered to Frederick
Memorial Hospital where [plaintiff] was falsely imprisoned,
harassed, and assaulted." Id.
asserts subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and "may not
exercise jurisdiction absent a statutory basis."
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545
U.S. 546, 552 (2005). The question of subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised by the parties or the court,
sua sponte, at any stage of the litigation.
Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 506 (2006);
see Ellenburg v. Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc., 519
F.3d 192, 197 (4th Cir. 2008). Indeed, courts "have an
independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter
jurisdiction exists, even when no party challenges it."
Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010).
court is to presume . . . that a case lies outside its
limited jurisdiction unless and until jurisdiction has been
shown to be proper." United States v. Poole,
531 F.3d 263, 274 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Under
the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, the facts
showing the existence of subject matter jurisdiction
"must be affirmatively alleged in the complaint."
Pinkley, Inc. v. City of Frederick, 191 F.3d 394,
399 (4th Cir.1999) (citing McNutt v. Gen'l Motors
Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178 (1936)). Moreover, the
"burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction is
on ... the party asserting jurisdiction." Robb Evans
& Assocs., LLC v. Holibaugh, 609 F.3d 359, 362 (4th Cir.
2010); accord McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393,
408 (4th Cir. 2010).
as noted, plaintiff asserts subject matter jurisdiction based
on diversity of citizenship. It is satisfied if the
litigation is between "citizens of different
States" and "the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
respect to the amount-in-controversy requirement, the Supreme
Court has articulated two standards that are seemingly in
tension. On the one hand, in Saint Paul Mercury Indemnity
Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283 (1938), the Court said:
"The rule governing dismissal for want of jurisdiction .
. . is that . . . the sum claimed by the plaintiff controls
if the claim is apparently made in good faith. It must appear
to a legal certainty that the claim is really for
less than the jurisdictional amount to justify
dismissal." Id. at 288-89 (emphasis added)
(internal footnotes omitted). In other words, "if, from
the face of the pleadings, it is apparent, to a legal
certainty, that the plaintiff cannot recover the amount
claimed . . ., the suit will be dismissed." Id. at
289 (emphasis added).
other hand, in McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp.
of Indiana, 298 U.S. 178 (1936), the Supreme Court
considered a complaint that was "destitute of any
appropriate allegation as to jurisdictional amount save the
general allegation that the matter in controversy exceeds $3,
000, " which was then the statutory
amount-in-controversy threshold, and the "particular
allegations" of the complaint shed no further
"light upon that subject." Id. at 181. In
that circumstance, the Court said that the plaintiff
"must allege in his pleading the facts
essential to show jurisdiction." Id. at 189
(emphasis added). The Court continued: "The authority
which the statute vests in the court to enforce the
limitations of its jurisdiction precludes the idea that
jurisdiction may be maintained by mere averment . . . .
If [the plaintiff's] allegations of jurisdictional facts
are challenged by his adversary in any appropriate manner, he
must support them by competent proof." Id.
Momin v. Maggiemoo's International, LLC, 205
F.Supp.2d 506 (D. Md. 2002), Judge Blake observed that,
"[i]n determining whether an amount in controversy is
sufficient to confer jurisdiction, " courts have applied
"one of two legal standards depending on whether the
damages are specified or unspecified in the complaint, "
id. at ...