United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Winters, a Maryland Department of Corrections prisoner housed
at Patuxent Institution,  filed a personal injury action against
his mother, who works in Montgomery County, Maryland, seeking
money damages. Winters, who is self-represented, signed
his Complaint on December 13, 2016. It was received by the
Court on January 6, 2017. ECF 1. For the reasons set forth
herein, Winters's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis (ECF 2) shall be granted. However, the
Complaint shall be dismissed, without prejudice.
was born in 1989. ECF 1 at 6. He alleges that he was
subjected to ongoing physical child abuse by his father,
Andrew Winters, who repeatedly beat him from 1992 to 2006. He
claims that his mother, Gustava Winters, “did
nothing” while his father beat him throughout his
childhood. Id. at 4, 6. According to Winters, his
mother committed abuse and “child neglect for not
stopping child abuse.” Id. at 6. He seeks
$500, 000.00 in compensatory damages. Id.
bases jurisdiction solely on a “federal
question.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. However,
there is nothing within the allegations of the Complaint that
suggests federal question jurisdiction. Moreover, it is also
clear that the suit is untimely.
Complaint was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires a
district court to dismiss any claim that is frivolous or
malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). In this
context, this court is mindful of its obligation to construe
liberally the pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
evaluating a pro se complaint, a plaintiff's allegations
are assumed to be true. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Nonetheless,
liberal construction does not mean that a court can ignore a
clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth
a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th
Cir. 1985) (stating a district court may not “conjure
up questions never squarely presented.”). In making
this determination, A[t]he district court need not look
beyond the complaint's allegations . . . . It must hold
the pro se complaint to less stringent standards than
pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the complaint
liberally.'' White v. White, 886 F.2d 721,
722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).
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). Indeed, a federal court has “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);
see also Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Astellas
Pharma, Inc., 471 F.3d 544, 548 (4th Cir. 2006).
28 U.S.C. § 1331, federal district courts have
“original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” Of import here, “‘[t]he presence
or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by
the “well-pleaded complaint rule, ” which
provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal
question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's
properly pleaded complaint.'” Rivet v. Regions
Bank of La., 522 U.S. 470, 475 (1998) (citation
review of the Complaint fails to set forth any basis for
federal question jurisdiction. Therefore, the suit is subject
to dismissal, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
the Complaint is untimely and barred by limitations.
claim against plaintiff's mother is akin to a claim of
negligence for failure to protect plaintiff from the physical
abuse inflicted on plaintiff by his father, in the presence
of his mother. That claim is untimely under Maryland's
general three-year statute of limitations, applicable to
civil actions. See Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol.), Cts.
& Jud. Proc. (“C.J.”) ' 5-101.
Plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional
distress likewise is also time-barred. Cf. Doe v.
Archdiocese of Washington, 114 Md.App. 169, 689 A.2d 634
arising from alleged sexual child abuse must be filed within
seven years of the date that the victim attains the age of
majority. See C.J. § 5-117(b). Taking judicial
notice of Maryland's electronic docket, Winters was born
on June 6, 1989, and is now 26 and one-half years of age. He
attained the age of majority on June 6, 2007. Plaintiff does
not allege sexual child abuse. But, even assuming,
arguendo, that C.J. § 5-117(b) applies to
claims of physical abuse, and even assuming it applies to
claims against a parent for failure to protect, or ...