United States District Court, D. Maryland
.Frederick Motz United States District Judge.
action was originally filed on March 13, 2017, by
self-represented plaintiff Tia Greene ("Greene")
and her minor child "AJ" with a motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 1, 2. On March 15, 2017,
plaintiffs filed an amended complaint for "Conspiracy;
Redress of Grievances for Violation of Constitutional and
Other Rights; Preliminary Injunctive Relief and Jury
Trial." ECF No. 3. Because Greene demonstrates she is
indigent, she will be granted leave to proceed in forma
claims are based on her disagreement with child custody and
visitation arrangements made with her former domestic partner
defendant David Joyner, against whom she was granted a
temporary protective order on May 29, 2013 by the District
Court for Baltimore County in Case No. 0804SP33402013. ECF
No. 1 at p. 2. Shortly after, Greene retained defendant
Andrea Sugar as her attorney who represented her during
visitation and child custody negotiations with Joyner. On
September 16, 2013, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County
issued an interim order for access, child support and other
relief in Case No. 03-C13-8439. ECF No. 3-2 at pp. 15-16.
complaint alleges a litany of problems with Joyner in the
custody, access, and child support arrangements. ECF No. 3 at
pp. 4-6. She claims the custody arrangements were based on
fraudulent statements made by Joyner, and disputes the amount
of child support that she was ordered to pay because she
claims she is physically and mentally disabled and unable to
work full time. Id. at p. 5.
claims that on October 20, 2016, Joyner "brought the
minor child back" and the child now lives with her.
Id. Greene states without income and with scant
resources, she has been caring for the child on average 90%
of the time since then. Id.
faults the Circuit Court for Baltimore County for denying her
"numerous motions for relief, accommodations for
disabilities, motions to modify child
support/visitation/custody order and petitioner for
protection from domestic violation" without
consideration of the facts. ECF No 3 at p. 6. She faults the
remaining defendants for failing to prevent further injury to
her person and property. Id.
complains defendants caused her pain and suffering, loss of
time and "consortium" with her child, and faults
them for causing her to default on her student loans, her
failure to renew her nursing license, and the revocation of
her drivers' license. ECF No. 3. She requests unspecified
financial relief of unstated sum, unspecified injunctive
relief, accommodations for her claimed mental and physical
disabilities, and protection under the Federal Witness
preliminary matter, Greene may not represent the claims of
her minor child unless she is a member of the Bar of this
court. Local Rule 101.1.a. Requiring Greene to clarify AJ's
representation, however would serve only to delay disposition
of this matter.
filed the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in this
court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires
dismissal of 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). This court is
mindful too of its obligation to liberally construe
self-represented pleadings, such as Greene's complaint.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating such a complaint, the factual allegations are
assumed to be true. Id. at 93 (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)).
Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that a
district court can ignore a clear failure in this pleading to
allege facts which 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
affording Greene's lengthy and at times incomprehensible
complaint liberal construction, the complaint fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted. "It is well
established that before a federal court can decide the merits
of a claim, the claim must invoke the jurisdiction of the
court." Miller v. Brown, 462 F.3d 312, 316 (4th
Cir. 2006). A district 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). Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), "the court must dismiss the
action" if it determines that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. See also Arbaugh v. Y&HCorp., 546
U.S. 500, 506-07 (2006).
jurisdiction is available only when a 'federal
question' is presented or the parties are of diverse
citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $ 75,
000.00. See U.S. Const. Art. 3 § 2; 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 & 1332. There is no presumption that
jurisdiction is vested in the court. See Pinkley, Inc. v.
City of Frederick, 191 F.3d 394. 399 (4th Cir. 1999).
The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests
on the party invoking the jurisdiction of the court. See
Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982).
court does not have original subject-matter jurisdiction over
matters concerning child support. See Raftery v.
Scott,756 F.2d 335, 343 (4th Cir. 1985) (domestic
relations exception to federal courts' jurisdiction based
on idea that state has a stronger, more direct interest).
Although diversity of the parties' citizenship is not
alleged here as a basis for jurisdiction, it bears noting
that this court cannot review a child support case even where
the moving party establishes diversity jurisdiction. See
Wasserman v. Wasserman,671 F.2d 832 (4th Cir. 1982)
(diversity jurisdiction does not include power to grant
divorces, determine alimony or support obligations, or decide
child custody rights). Although Green claims Joyner and Sugar
violated her ...