United States District Court, D. Maryland
WAYNE E. MARSHALL Plaintiff,
MONICA DEVAUGHN, FBI Special Agent GORDON B. JOHNSON, FBI Defendants.
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
this Court for preliminary screening is Wayne E.
Marshall's ("Marshall") self-represented
Complaint and Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
ECF Nos. 1 & 2. Marshall claims that for the past five
years Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI")
agents have been aiming extremely low frequency
("ELF") weapons (with an electromagnetic field) at
his bedroom, front door, office/family room, and his
mother's bedroom. He alleges that these weapons include,
but are not limited to, "thermo imaging cameras, "
recording and listening devices, and multiple ELF weapons.
ECF No. 1 at 7. He asserts that the agents' actions have
caused him to experience headaches, dizziness, nausea,
blackouts, strange dreams, ringing in his ears, dehydration
(through excessive sweating and urination), chest and stomach
pain, eye problems, vomiting, and shortness of breath, and
have otherwise caused him permanent injury. He further
contends that FBI agents have been following him, tapping his
telephone, blocking his calls and text messages, and trying
to murder him. He seemingly alleges that federal agents are
conducting their activities from the house next door.
Marshall provides the purported license plate numbers of the
agents' automobiles. He accuses the agents of harassment,
assault with a deadly weapon, and attempted murder.
Id. at 7-11. Marshall's Motion for Leave to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis shall be granted. His Complaint,
shall, however, be summarily dismissed.
28 U.S.C. § 1915, an indigent litigant may commence an
action in federal court without prepaying the filing fee. To
protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the
statute allows a district court to dismiss the case before
service of process upon a finding that the action has no
factual or legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Indeed, this Court must conduct a
preliminarily review of Complaint allegations before service
of process and dismiss them if satisfied that the Complaint
has no factual or legal basis. See 28 U.S.C. §
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989), the United
States Supreme Court held that a district court may dismiss
the complaint of a pro se litigant under 28 U.S.C. §
1915 when the complaint includes only a "fanciful
factual allegation" and lacks "an arguable basis
either in law or in fact." Id. at 325; see
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992)
("[A] court may dismiss a claim as factually frivolous
only if the facts alleged are 'clearly baseless, ' a
category encompassing allegations that are 'fanciful,
' 'fantastic, ' and 'delusional.' As
those words suggest, a finding of factual frivolousness is
appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the
irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are
judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them. An
in forma pauperis complaint may not be dismissed, however,
simply because the court finds the plaintiffs allegations
unlikely.") (citations to Neitzke omitted).
explained that the statute "accords judges not only the
authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce
the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and
dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly
baseless." Id. at 327. Indeed, § 1915 was
amended after Neitzke and Denton, such that
now the statute mandates that a district court
"shall dismiss" a case upon a finding that the
Complaint "fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (B)(ii).
complaints of self-represented litigants are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys,
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.
1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally
construing a complaint filed by a self-represented litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007). When a
federal court is evaluating a self-represented complaint, the
Plaintiffs allegations are assumed to be true.
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (citing Bell Atlantic
Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)).
Liberal construction does not mean that a Court can ignore a
clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth
a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See
Weller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v, Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for "all
claims that he is being harassed and assaulted by federal law
enforcement through the use of weaponry that contains both
electric and magnetic fields. He asserts that the
electromagnetic fields directed at him are being generated
out of a home used by FBI agents next to his residence. The
Court finds that Marshall has, at best, set out fanciful and
fantastic claims, which fail to state a federal cause of
action under this Court's § 1331 federal question
jurisdiction. A district court has inherent authority to
dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte. See Mallard v.
United States Dist. Ct. for S.D. of Iowa,490 U.S. 296,
307-08, (1989) Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.App'x 405,
406 (4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished) (noting that
"frivolous complaints are subject to dismissal pursuant
to the inherent authority of the ...