United States District Court, D. Maryland
STEVEN T. CORBIN, Plaintiff,
ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA E. LYNCH, et al. Defendants.
W. TITUS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 4, 2015, Plaintiff Steven Corbin (Corbin),
proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against
numerous Defendants in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County, Maryland, which Defendants removed to this Court on
May 18, 2016. ECF No. 1 at 1. The Amended Complaint named as
Defendants former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, as well
as other federal officials at the United States Office of
Personnel Management, the United States Office of Management
and Budget, and the former Secretary of Labor. ECF No. 2 at
1. Although significant portions of Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint are unclear, Corbin appears to allege fraud, an
“other” labor violation, an “other”
violation of “family heirlooms, ” a fraudulent
contract claim, and a copyright infringement claim.
Id. at 2. Similar to Corbin's prior lawsuit
before this Court, see ECF Docket for Case No.
8:15-cv-02118-RWT, Entry #2 (hereinafter Corbin I), Corbin
provided no factual basis for his allegations. See
ECF No. 2.
18, 2016, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss in this
case. ECF No. 27. On July 19, 2016, the Clerk of this Court
mailed a letter to Corbin informing him of the
Defendants' Motion and warning him that if he failed to
“file a timely written response, the Court may dismiss
the case or enter judgment against [him] without further
notice.” ECF No. 28 at 1. The letter was not returned,
and he did not file a response.
April 23, 2015, Corbin filed a pro se Complaint in
Corbin I against the Assistant Attorney General for
Administration, staff at the Department of Justice, as well
as a number of other federal officials, alleging
“contributory infringement, harassment (detrimental),
wiretapping, collusion, [and] assault.” ECF Docket for
Case No. 8:15-cv-02118-RWT, Entry #2 at 2. On November 10,
2015, this Court granted a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Cause of Action due to Corbin's failure to
provide a factual basis for the allegations. ECF Docket for
Case No. 8:15-cv-02118-RWT, Entry #28 at 2-4. Six days prior
to the Court's ruling on the Motion in Corbin I, Corbin
commenced this case in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County, Maryland, naming the above-named Defendants. ECF No.
1 at 1-2. The Court will now address all of the pending
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure tests the sufficiency of a
complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d
231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a motion to dismiss,
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations omitted). The
complaints of pro se plaintiffs are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys,
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.
1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally
construing a complaint filed by a self-represented litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678.; see also Simmons & United Mortg. &
Loan Invest, 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir. 2011)
(“On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must be
dismissed if it does not allege enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.”) (internal
quotations and emphasis omitted). “Thus, ‘[i]n
reviewing a motion to dismiss an action pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6). . . [a court] must determine whether it is
plausible that the factual allegations in the complaint are
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.'” Monroe v. City of
Charlottesville, 579 F.3d 380, 386 (4th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Andrew v. Clark, 561 F.3d 261, 266 (4th
judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or
their privies from litigating issues that were, or could have
been, raised in that action. Federated Dep't Stores
v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394, 398 (1981); Pueschel v.
United States, 369 F.3d 345, 354 (4th Cir. 2004).
“By precluding parties from contesting matters that
they have had a full and fair opportunity to litigate, the
doctrine of res judicata minimizes the expense and
vexation attending multiple lawsuits, conserves judicial
resources, and fosters reliance on judicial action by
minimizing the possibility of inconsistent decisions.”
Union Carbide Corp. v. Richards, 721 F.3d 307, 314
(4th Cir. 2013) (internal punctuation altered). For the
doctrine of res judicata to apply, there must be:
(1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit; (2) an
identity of the cause of action in both the earlier and the
later suit; and (3) an identity of parties or their privies
in the two suits. Pueschel, 369 F.3d at 354-55
(citing Nash County Bd. Of Educ. v. Biltmore Co.,
640 F.2d 484, 486 (4th Cir. 1981)). “Identity of the
cause of action exits if two claims arise out of the same
transaction or series of transactions or the same core of
operative facts.” Nathan v. Takeda Pharms. Am.,
Inc., 546 Fed.Appx. 176, 178 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing
Union Carbide Corp., 721 F.3d at 314).
“Privity between parties exists when the interests of
one party are so identified with the interests of another
that representation by one party is representation of the
other's legal right.” Takeda Pharms. Am.,
Inc., 546 Fed.Appx. at 178 (citing Weinberger v.
Tucker, 510 F.3d 486, 491 (4th Cir. 2007)).
estoppel precludes a party from litigating issues of fact or
law that are identical to the issues which have been actually
and necessarily decided in prior litigation. In re:
Microsoft Corp. Antitrust Litigation, 355 F.3d 322, 326
(4th Cir. 2004). To demonstrate that collateral estoppel
applies, the proponent must demonstrate that:
(1) the issue or fact is identical to the one previously
litigated; (2) the issue or fact was actually resolved in the
prior proceeding; (3) the issue or fact was critical and
necessary to the judgment in the prior proceeding; (4) the
judgment in the prior proceeding is final and valid; and (5)
the party to be foreclosed by the prior resolution of the
issue or fact had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the
issue or fact in the prior proceeding.
Id. (citations omitted). The Court may take judicial
notice of facts from a prior judicial proceeding when the
res judicata defense raises no disputed issues of
fact. Andrews v. Daw, 201 F.3d 521, 524 n.1 (4th
Defendants argue that the case should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim on the basis of res
judicata and collateral estoppel. ECF No. 27-1 at 1.
They argue that this Court's dismissal in Corbin I for
failure to state a claim is a dismissal on the merits
entitled to res judicata. Id. at 6 (citing
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 41(b); Mclean v. United States,
566 F.3d 391, 396 (4th Cir. 2009) (collecting cases holding
dismissing case pursuant to 12(b)(6) is a decision on the
merits)). In addition, they argue that any discrimination or
retaliation claims should be barred because Corbin asserted
similar allegations of discrimination in two complaints
before the Merit System Protection Board
(“MSPB”). ECF No. 27-1 at 6. The Court takes
judicial notice of the two MSPB Decisions, dismissing
Corbin's complaints, that are attached as Exhibits
“B” and “C” to the Motion to Dismiss.
See Andrews, 201 F.3d at 524.
the Defendants argue that Corbin did not “raise any
claims that he was otherwise unable to bring in Corbin I or
before the MSPB.” ECF No. 27-1 at 6. In support of
their argument that Corbin seeks to raise allegations that
arise “out of the same transaction or series of
transactions or the same core of operative facts” as
Corbin I, see Takeda Pharms. Am., Inc., 546
Fed.Appx. at 178, the Defendants reference Corbin's
filings in the instant lawsuit that (1) continue to make
allegations raised in Corbin I or before the MSPB concerning
“Artworks, Publications, Patents, Trademarks, and
Copyrights”, as well as “claims regarding
personal information, breach of contract, and potential
employment discrimination”; and (2) “seem to
suggest that [P]laintiff is attempting to use this new
lawsuit to challenge this Court's prior decision, and/or
the basis for removal, which [P]laintiff has already appealed
to the Fourth Circuit.” ECF No. 27-1 at 6-7. The Fourth
Circuit, however, affirmed this Court's ruling dismissing
Corbin I. See ECF Docket for Case No.
8:15-cv-02118-RWT at Entry #35. With Corbin's failure to
respond after proper notice and the Defendants' arguments
appearing meritorious, the Court will grant the Motion to
Dismiss on the basis of res judicata. See
Pueschel, 369 F.3d at 354-55.
the pendency of this action, Corbin also filed Motions to Add
Supporting Documentation (ECF Nos. 8, 9, 10), a Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12), Motions to Proceed (ECF Nos.
14, 15), and a Motion to Represent the Pro Se (ECF No. 17).
Corbin's Motions to Add Supporting Documentation (ECF
Nos. 8, 9, 10) will be denied. Corbin's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) will be denied because, as
discussed above, the Defendants have shown that Corbin is not
entitled to relief. Corbin's Motions to Proceed (ECF Nos.
14, 15) are properly construed as ...