United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 30, 2016, Bessie Moore, the self-represented
plaintiff, brought suit against defendant National Railroad
Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”), arising out of
an injury that she sustained while boarding an Amtrak train
in Baltimore. ECF 1. Although the Complaint does not
explicitly state a cause of action, I construe it to assert a
claim for negligence under Maryland law. See also
ECF 1-2 (civil cover sheet).
Complaint, Moore states that on December 20, 2013, at 1:30
p.m., she boarded an Amtrak train at Pennsylvania Station in
Baltimore for a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ECF 1 at
2. As she was walking down the aisle, her “right foot
became entangled in the strap of a passenger's
bag.” Id. According to Moore, she was
“unable to disengage [her] right foot from the
strap”, causing her to fall forward. Id. Moore
states that she tore her right rotator cuff in the fall,
which had to be surgically repaired. Id. She also
suffered pain in her left arm and hips as a result of the
fall. Id. Moore seeks $200, 000 in damages.
Id. at 3.
pending is Amtrak's motion to dismiss (ECF 7), which is
supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 7-1 (collectively,
Motion). After the Motion was filed, the Clerk mailed Moore a
letter informing her: “Amtrak National Railroad
Passenger Corporation filed a motion to dismiss or for
summary judgment. If this motion is granted, it could result
in the dismissal of your case or the entry of judgment
against you.” ECF 9 (“Rule 12 Letter”).
Moreover, the Rule 12 Letter advised Moore of her right to
respond, and provided her with information as to the relevant
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rules to assist
her in doing so. Id. Moore has not responded, and
the time for her to do so has expired. See docket;
Local Rule 105.2(a).
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. The Court is mindful of its obligation to
construe liberally the pleadings of a pro se litigant, which
are “held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also White v.
White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
Nevertheless, for the reasons that follow, I shall grant the
Standard of Review
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 well-pleading allegations 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 relief.” The purpose of the rule is to provide the
defendants with “fair notice” of the claims and
the “grounds” for entitlement to relief. Bell
Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for
‘all civil actions' . . . .” (citation
omitted)); see also Hall v. DirecTV, LLC, __F.3d__,
No. 15-1857, 2017 WL 361065, at *4 (4th Cir. Jan. 25, 2017).
But, a plaintiff need not include “detailed factual
allegations” in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading
rules “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted.” Johnson v. City of Shelby,
__U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . [the] actual proof of those facts is
improbable and . . . recovery is very remote and
unlikely.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'” and must “‘draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Semenova v. Maryland Transit
Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017); Belmora
LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG, 819 F.3d 697, 705 (4th
Cir. 2016); Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc.,
791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v.
Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, 565 U.S. 943 (2011). But, a court is not
required to accept legal conclusions drawn from the facts.
See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
“A court decides whether [the pleading] standard is met
by separating the legal conclusions from the factual
allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, __U.S.__, 132 S.Ct. 1960 (2012).
general, courts do not “resolve contests surrounding
the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses” through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
The purpose of the rule is to ensure that defendants are
“given adequate notice of the nature of a claim”
made against them. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555- 56
(2007). But, “in the relatively rare circumstances
where facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are
alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6).”
Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th
Cir. 2007) (en banc); accord Pressley v. Tupperware Long
Term Disability Plan, 533 F.3d 334, 336 (4th Cir. 2009);
see also U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Penn. Higher Educ.
Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 148 (4th Cir. 2014).
However, because Rule 12(b)(6) “is intended [only] to
test the legal adequacy of the complaint, ”
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
Forst, 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993), “[t]his
principle only applies . . . if all facts necessary to the
affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face of
the complaint.'” Goodman, 494 F.3d at 464
(quoting Forst, 4 F.3d at 250) (emphasis added in
Motion, Amtrak argues that the Complaint is subject to
dismissal because Moore has failed to make allegations
sufficient to state a claim for negligence under Maryland
state law. ECF 7-1 at 2-4.
Maryland Court of Appeals recounted the elements of a prima
facie case of negligence in Hamilton v. Kirson, 439
Md. 501, 523-24, 96 A.3d 714, 727 (2014). It said,