United States District Court, D. Maryland
HAROLD HODGE JR. Plaintiff,
THE CORDISH COMPANIES INC., Defendants.
LIPTON HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hodge, Jr., the self-represented plaintiff, filed suit on
January 27, 2017, against a host of corporate and individual
defendants. ECF 1. As set forth by Hodge, the defendants are
as follows (with abbreviations supplied by the Court): The
Cordish Companies Inc. (“Cordish Cos.”);
Entertainment Consulting International (“ECI”);
PPE Casino Resort Maryland LLC (“PPE”); Maryland
Live Casino (“MLC”); David S. Cordish; Reed
Cordish; Jonathan A. Cordish; Chase Martin; Joseph Weinberg;
Robert J. Norton; Douglas Shipley; and “John Doe,
” a Security Guard at MLC. Id. Hodge appended
several exhibits to the Complaint. ECF 1-1 to ECF 1-8.
leave of court (ECF 20), Hodge subsequently filed an Amended
Complaint. ECF 21. Exhibits to the Amended Complaint are
docketed at ECF 25-1 to 25-4. Plaintiff's federal claims
are based on 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, providing federal
question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
The remaining claims are predicated on the Court's
supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §
suit arises out of an allegedly illegal search of his
“purse” by an unidentified security guard at the
Maryland Live! Casino on January 2, 2017. The alleged search
occurred when Hodge and his wife attempted to enter the
Casino's game rooms. ECF 21, ¶¶ 37-47.
Plaintiff asserts that “because he was a black male
with a fur hat on, ” he was regarded “as a thug,
pimp or just a trouble-maker” and was
“targeted” for a search, without justification.
Id. ¶ 4; see also Id. ¶ 42.
According to plaintiff, “'white' and Hispanics
[sic] female customers” were permitted to enter the
casino without a search, even when their purses were larger
than Mr. Hodge's “purse.” Id. ¶
1; see also Id. ¶ 42. Hodge seeks $82 million
in compensatory and punitive damages. Id. ¶ 92.
Amended Complaint contains six causes of action, which I
shall identify as counts. In Count I, Hodge claims race
discrimination, in a place of public accommodation, in
violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a, et seq.
(“Title II”). Count II alleges discrimination
based on gender, in a place of public accommodation, in
violation of Title II. In Count III and Count IV,
plaintiff alleges race discrimination and sex discrimination,
respectively, each in violation of Md. Code (2015 Repl. Vol.,
2016 Supp.), § 20-304 of the State Government Article
(“S.G.”). Count V alleges common law assault and
Count VI alleges “trespassing-intrusion.”
See ECF 21.
have moved to dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF
23. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 23-1)
(collectively, “Motion”) and an exhibit. ECF
23-2. According to defendants, dismissal is appropriate
because, inter alia, Hodge has failed to state a
claim as to the individual defendants (ECF 21-1 at 2) and
because Hodge is not entitled to damages under the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. Id. at 3. Defendants also
maintain that there is no private right of action under S.G.
§ 20-304. Id. Hodge opposes the Motion (ECF 26)
(“Opposition”) and defendants have replied. ECF
addition, defendants have filed a Motion to Strike (ECF 22),
claiming that many of Hodge's allegations and submissions
in the Amended Complaint “bear no reasonable relation
to the controversy at issue here” (id. ¶
11) and “are nothing more than an attempt to smear the
names of Defendants in a public forum and introduce
inadmissible evidence.” Id. ¶ 16. Hodge
has responded in opposition to the motion to strike (ECF 26)
and defendants have replied. ECF 28.
hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. 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
Motion, with leave to amend, and deny the Motion to Strike,
January 2, 2017, Hodge and his wife âdecided to
'paint the town' a little and go to Maryland
Live Casino for the very first time.” ECF 21, ¶ 41
(emphasis in original). Hodge was carrying a black
“purse” that was “about the size of
9” x 3” x 9”.” Id. ¶
Hodge was wearing the purse “around his neck on his
shoulder.” Id. Ms. Hodge was also carrying a
“purse”. Id. According to plaintiff, he
was dressed “in fine décor, ” including a
suit. Id. ¶ 44.
the Hodges were in the lobby of the casino, they were
“approached and stopped” by an unidentified MLC
security guard. Id. ¶ 37a. The security guard
informed Hodge that he would not be permitted to enter the
game floor until he opened his “purse.”
Id. ¶ 36. The Hodges began to open their
purses, but the security guard allegedly told Ms. Hodge that
she did not have to open her purse “because Maryland
Live Casino did not check women [sic] purses or
belongings.” Id. ¶ 39.
to Hodge, he “feared” that he would not be
permitted to enter the casino if he did not open his purse.
Id. ¶ 41. He asserts: “Mr. Hodge had a
few zippers on his black purse and he was opening against his
will the last one. Immedeately [sic], the (MLC) John Doe
Secuirty [sic] out of nowhere [leaped] reach
[sic] towards Mr. Hodge and began to try to force his purse
open.” Id. ¶ 40 (emphasis in original).
The purse was opened “without permission or
justification” (id. ¶ 41), and the
occurrence was “extremely embarrassing” to the
Hodges. Id. ¶ 43.
was allowed to enter the game rooms after the security guard
completed the search. Id. ¶ 44. The Hodges
“played a few games in one of the game rooms” and
then left the casino. Id. ¶ 47.
contends that defendants “are using the discriminatory
purse check of only black men as and [sic] deterrent in the
hope they will . . . turn around and . . . go back out the
door . . . .” ECF 21, ¶ 42. With respect to the
claims lodged against the individual defendants, plaintiff
merely asserts that they “knew or should have
known” of the illegal actions of their staff.
See, e.g., ECF 21, ¶¶ 56, 57, 58,
59. The Complaint also lists other cases (without reference
to case numbers or courts) in which claims of race
discrimination were allegedly posited; plaintiff contends
that those cases were settled by “The Cordish Companies
Inc. and (ECI) LLC ” ECF 21 at 9.
Standard of Review
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); 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 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 Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93, 112 (4th
Cir. 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 ...