United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge.
Henri Jean-Baptiste filed suit on October 17, 2017, invoking
this Court's diversity jurisdiction for a personal injury
claim against Montgomery County Department of Corrections and
the State's Attorneyss Office of Maryland. ECF No.
Plaintiff, who is self-represented, also filed a Motion to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis, which shall be granted. For the
reasons set forth below, the complaint must be dismissed.
alleges that on January 27, 2012, his ex-wife's employer
"instructed" her "to obtain a temporary
Protective Order against plaintiff, " and later that
day, his ex-wife and her coworker "to obtain the
Protective Order ... alleged that the Plaintiff was violent
with severe bipolar disorder who had stopped taken [sic] his
medications, followed [his ex-wife] to work and threatened]
to kill her." Compl. 4, ECF No. 1. He claims that
unspecified Montgomery County officials acted on the
accusations against him and issued a protective order.
Id. at 4-5.
claims that his ex-wife alleged that he violated the
protective order on February 16 and 23, 2012. Id. at
5. He claims that "[o]n March 19, 2012, Defendants . . .
failed to investigate before . . . initiation of a criminal
complaint without proper basis against Plaintiff."
Id. Plaintiff was arrested and spent 34 days
incarcerated in Montgomery County, Maryland pretrial.
Id. He alleges that, when he went to court on April
27, 2012, he also faced a charge for calling his ex-wifess
boss but, because the boss did not come to court to testify,
that charge was dismissed. Id. at 5-6. As for his
violation of the protective order, he claims that he
"was forced to accept a plea deal 'guilty' in
exchange for PBJ upon demonstrate[d] compliance after
completing Eighteen Months Supervised Probation."
Id. at 3. According to Plaintiff, the court failed
to grant probation before judgment immediately upon his
completion of supervised probation on October 27, 2013,
instead "[negligenlly delaying] the PBJ until April 27,
2015." Id. He further alleges that after his
release he petitioned the state court for an order requiring
his ex-wifess mental status to be evaluated and the court
issued an order requiring her to be involuntarlly committed
to a state mental health facility for that purpose.
!d. at 7. Plaintiff claims negligence, negligent
entrustmen,, false imprisonmen,, and malicious use of
process. Id. at 8.
filed this complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
S 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. S 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). This Court is
mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe
self-represented litigantss pleadings, such as
Jean-Baptiste's complaint. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating such a
complain,, the factual allegations are assumed to be true.
Id. at 93 (citing Bell Atl Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)). Nonetheles,,
liberal construction does not mean that this Court can ignore
a clear failure in the 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 that a district court may not
"conjure up questions never squarely presented"..
In making this determinaiion, "[t]he district court need
not look beyond the complaint's allegations .... It must
hold the pro se complaint to less stringent standards than
pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the complaint
liberally." White v. White, 886 F.2d 721,
722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
are several deficiencies present in Jean-Baptiste's
complain.. First, the claims asserted are time-barred because
they stem from the protective order issued on January 27,
2012; the March 2012 issuance of an arrest warrant;
Plaintiffs subsequent arrest; his April 27, 2012 criminal
trial, at which he "was forced to accept a plea deal
'guilty' in exchange for PBJ upon demonstrate[d]
compliance after completing Eighteen Months Supervised
Probation"; and the court's failure to grant
probation before judgment immediately upon Plaintiffs
completion of supervised probation on October 27, 2013,
instead "[n]egligenlly delaying] the PBJ until April 27,
2055." Compl. 3-6. Plaintiff filed suit on October 17,
2017, more than four years after the last negligent act on
October 27, 203.. Marylandss statute of limitations for the
causes of action listed is three years from the date of
occurrence. See Md. Code Ann., Cts & Jud. Proc.
S 5-101. However, even if there were a date less than three
years prior to the initiation of this lawsuit that could be
viewed as the operative date of accrual, the complaint fails
to state a claim against the named Defendants.
complaint contains no direct allegations against the
Montgomery County Department of Corrections. As such, it
violates Rule 8's requirement that a pleading contain
"a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). Additionally, "each allegation must be simple,
concise, and direct." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). And, it is
well-settled that complaint allegations must "give the
defendant fair notice of what the plaintiffs claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512, (2002) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Here the claims against the Department of
Corrections remain a mystery even after a thorough reading of
the State's Attorneyss Office of Maryland, he claims that
its "[f]ailure to investigate or refusal to properly or
be impartial [sic] resulted in criminal charges and total
destruction of plaintiff life [sic] and due process."
Compl. 7. Jean-Baptiste also appears to hold this Defendant
responsible for the delayed issuance of probation before
judgment. See Id. at 3. But, the State's
Attorneyss Office "is not an entity capable of being
sued." See Owens v. Baltimore City State's
Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 393 (4th Cir. 2014). In
Owens, the Fourth Circuit noted that Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)
"provide[s] that the law of the state in which the
district court sits determines an entity's capacity to be
sued" and "[i]n Boyer v. State, [594 A.2d
121, 128 n.9 (Md. 1991)] Marylandss highest court made clear
that, absent a statutory or constitutional provision creating
a government agency, an 'office' or
'departmen'' bears no unique legal identity, and
thus, it cannot be sued under Maryland law."
Id. There is no Maryland statutory or constitutional
provision creating the State's Attorneyss Office. See
id ("The 'State's Attorney' for each
county and Baltimore City is a constitutional officer, but
Maryland law creates no 'State's Attorneyss
even if Plaintiff amended the complaint to name individual
employees of the State's Attorneyss Office, those
Defendants would be entitled to avail themselves of a defense
of absolute immunity. Marylandss State's Attorneys are
quasi-judicial officers who enjoy absolute immunity when
performing prosecutorial, as opposed to investigative or
administrative functions. See Imbler v. Pachtman,
424 U.S. 409, 422-23 (1976). Absolute immunity is designed to
protect judicial process, thus the inquiry is
whether a prosecutor's actions are closely associated
with judicial process. See Bums v. Reed, 500 U.S.
478, 479 (1991) (citing Imbler, 424 U.S. at 423-23).
The decision as to "whether and when to prosecute"
is "quasi-judicial, " therefore, the State's
Attorneys involved in Plaintiff's case enjoy absolute
immunity. See Lyles v. Sparks, 79 F.3d 372, 377 (4th
light of the deficiencies noted, the complaint is dismissed
by separate Order which follows.
Although Jean-Baptiste lists Defendanss
as "Montgomery County Department of Correction,
State's Attorneyss Office of Maryland et, al [sic],
" he does not list any other defendanss on his Civil
Cover Sheet ECF NO 1-, and he only includes proposed