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Robertson v. Foster

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 23, 2017

EDWARD FOSTER, et al. Defendants.


          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge

         Travis Robertson, the self-represented plaintiff, has filed suit against Edward Foster, a security officer; the Enoch Pratt Free Library; and the City of Baltimore (collectively, “defendants”). ECF 1. Robertson asserts claims for “constitutional rights violations”; “ADA compliance violations”; and “civil rights violations” based on the alleged actions of Mr. Foster. ECF 1 at 4, 6.[1] Robertson also appears to assert claims under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242. See Id. at 6. On the civil cover sheet (ECF 1-1), plaintiff indicates that he is pursuing a claim under the First Amendment, although he does not refer to the First Amendment in the text of his Complaint. See ECF 1. And, in the “Relief” section of the Complaint form, Robertson references claims for false arrest and false imprisonment. ECF 1 at 7. However, he does not otherwise mention such claims.[2]

         Robertson states under the “Amount in Controversy” section of the Complaint form that he is “suing for $275, 000 . . . .” ECF 1 at 5. However, under the “Relief” section of the Complaint form, Robertson states, id. at 7: “The total lawsuit amount is $100, 000.”

         Now pending is defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF 6), which is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 6-1 (collectively, “Motion”). The Motion seeks dismissal of the case based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF 6. Robertson has responded in opposition. ECF 9 (“Opposition”). Defendants did not reply, and the time to do so has expired. See docket; Local Rule 105.2.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion.

         I. Factual Background[3]

         Robertson asserts that he is “filing this Complaint and law suit today because [he has] observed several violation [sic] such as constitutional violation & ADA compliance violations.” ECF 1 at 6. Robertson also contends, id.: “The officer don't know how to deal with those who are mentally ill and those who are mentally disable. I have spoken to many young women and men who have been harassed by Mr. Edward Foster . . . .”

         According to Robertson, on October 31, 2016, he was “criminally harassed” by Foster when Foster asked Robertson to leave the Enoch Pratt Free Library (“Pratt Library”), claiming that Robertson was causing a disruption. Id. It is common knowledge that the Pratt Library has a main location in Baltimore and many branch locations throughout the City. But, plaintiff does not specify the location of the incident. In any event, Robertson claims that he refused to leave and called for “a Baltimore City Police Office and a senior supervisor” to assist him. Id. As a result, Foster “got mad at [him] calling the police [and] knocked the phone out of [his] hand . . . .” Id. According to Robertson, Foster and another security guard then placed him in handcuffs and banned him from the Pratt Library, in “retaliation” for his complaints. Id.

         II. Rule 12(b)(1)

         Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Demetres v. East West Const., Inc., 776 F.3d 271, 272 (4th Cir. 2015); see also Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). A challenge to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed “in one of two ways”: either a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations pleaded in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting “'that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true.'” Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted) (alteration in original); see also Buchanan v. Consol. Stores Corp., 125 F.Supp.2d 730, 736 (D. Md. 2001).

         In a facial challenge, “the facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192; accord Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., 22 F.Supp.3d at 524. In a factual challenge, on the other hand, “the district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to subject matter jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that circumstance, the court “may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see also Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). Here, defendants assert a facial challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that plaintiff has failed to plead the existence of jurisdiction.

         Construing the Complaint liberally, plaintiff has met his burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff has asserted claims that appear to arise under the Constitution and laws of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Therefore, plaintiff has met his initial burden of proving the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction. To the extent that

         III. Rule 12(b)(6)

         A defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Goines v. Valley Cmty, Servs, Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v. Young, ___ U.S.___, 133 S.Ct. 1709 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Whether a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to ...

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