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Uzoechi v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 8, 2017



          James K. Bredar, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Emmanuel Uzoechi initiated this action against Dr. David Wilson, Dr. Kevin Banks, Mr. Seymour E. Chambers, Morgan State University, and Ms. Stacie Sawyer on December 13, 2016 (ECF. No. 1), alleging a violation of Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, negligence, and malicious prosecution. Defendants move for dismissal of all claims (ECF. No. 15). Plaintiff moves for Summary Judgment (ECF. No. 12). There is no need for a hearing to resolve the matter. See Local Rule 105.6.

         Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF. No. 15) will be GRANTED by accompanying order. Defendants' motion for Leave to File their late response to Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF. No. 22) will be DENIED by accompanying order, and as such the Court has not read Defendants' proposed response to Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF. No. 23). As the Plaintiff has failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted, his Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF. No. 12) is moot, and it is DENIED by accompanying order.

         I. Background

         The Plaintiff's complaint is succinct, and it contains few explicit factual allegations. Ordinarily, in reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court is confined to the allegations and supporting information set out in the complaint in assessing the adequacy of its contentions. However, the Court may extend one step further and consider documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are “integral and explicitly relied on in the complaint… [if] the plaintiffs do not challenge [their] authenticity.” Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 611 (D. Md. 2011) (quoting Am. Chiropractic Ass'n, Inc. v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004) (first alteration in the original). Thus, the motion to dismiss will be considered in the context of not just the facts alleged in the complaint but also those set out in a document labeled “OFFICIAL NOTICE OF DECISION AND SANCTION(S)” which is attached as Exhibit 13 to the motion to dismiss (ECF No. 15-2) and which is integral and relied upon in the complaint.

         Plaintiff's further allegations and statements of fact contained in his Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF. No. 12) as well as those set out in his response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF. No. 20) are not properly considered at this stage. See Southern Walk at Broadlands Homeowner's Ass'n, Inc. v. OpenBand at Broadlands, LLC, 713 F.3d 175, 184 (4th Cir. 2013) (“It is well-established that parties cannot amend their complaints through briefing or oral advocacy.”).

         The Plaintiff alleges as follows: At some point in early 2015, the Plaintiff (who apparently was then a student at Morgan State University), was charged with a criminal offense under Maryland law. He was jailed for a period of 6 months, beginning on February 25. (Compl. III.) On April 21 or 28, 2015, a hearing was held at Morgan State in regard to Plaintiff's conduct that had resulted in his detention. (Compl. III (stating that the date of the hearing was April 28); Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Ex. 13 (stating that the date of the hearing was April 21).) Plaintiff was unable to attend the hearing because he was incarcerated. (Compl. III.1.) The result of the Morgan State hearing was that the University found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Plaintiff had been in a “young lady's room, ” and “did not comply with her wishes not to engage in sexual activity and . . . penetrated her.” (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Ex. 13). As a result of the University's handling of this matter, the Plaintiff's immigration status was affected, he was unable to transfer to Towson University, and he worried for his safety. (Compl. III). Furthermore, Defendant Seymour Chambers, who worked for Morgan State, “tampered with evidence surrounding the allegation, ” an act that impaired Plaintiff's ability to properly defend himself in criminal court.

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se and the Court, holding Plaintiff's complaint “to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Osei v. University of Maryland University College, 202 F.Supp.3d 471, 480 (D. Md. 2016), has deduced the following claims: (1) a violation of Title IX by Defendants Seymour Chambers and Morgan State University; (2) a claim of Negligence against Dr. Kevin Banks, Seymour Chambers, David Wilson, and Morgan State University; and (3) a claim of malicious prosecution against Assistant States Attorney Stacie Sawyer.

         II. Standard of Review

         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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists “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. An inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the Twombly opinion stated, “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” 550 U.S. at 555. “A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' . . . Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although when considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         The Court will construe all pleadings “so as to do justice, ” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(e), and “as the case law makes very clear, the district court is obligated to make a determined effort to understand what the pleader is attempting to set forth.” 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. §1286 (3d ed.). Pleadings written by a pro se litigant are especially liberally construed, but “the court cannot ignore a clear failure to allege facts that support a viable claim.” Osei, 202 F.Supp.3d at 480-81 (citing Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990)).

         III. Analysis

         a. Ti ...

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