United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Court Judge.
November 21, 2017, Nicole Yvette Winston, a resident of Fort
Washington, Maryland, acting without an attorney, filed suit
under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5
U.S.C. S 552(a)(4)(B) against the U.S. Department of Justice
("DOJ") and Federal Bureau of Investigations
("FBI"). She claims that these agencies have failed
to provide her information relating to "any Maryland
government-supported 'programs' against [her]."
Compl. 1, ECF No. 1. It is Ms. Winston's belief that the
DOJ and FBI are aware of a malicious
government-supported conspiracy against her and that that
information "is being improperly withheld under (her]
FOIA request." She contends that she has been subject to
harassment and harm over the past 16 years, such as when (1)
her drinks allegedly were tampered with in 2002 while working
for the Air Force Review Boards Agency, and (2) her food,
drink, cosmetic products, prescription and non-prescription
medications allegedly were tampered with on unspecified
dates. Id. at 3. She contends that she has
experienced adverse effects including significant facial
weight loss, severe itchy skin, and significant body mass
changes based upon her consumption of the contaminated
products, which she theorizes could only be done by a medical
group or "some sort of government entity."
Id. at 4. Ms. Winston discusses her health and
claims that she experienced unidentified harm and harassment
from December 2007 to December 2014. She describes the
numerous complaints she filed with a local 311 website and
medical boards in Maryland and the District of Columbia from
September of 2008 to October of 2015. Id. at 4-5.
She seeks to enjoin Defendants from withholding agency
records and to have agency records produced. Id. at
Complaint was accompanied by a motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. ECF No. 2. Ms. Winston shall be granted leave
to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. Her
Complaint, however, shall be summarily dismissed.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, courts are required to screen a
plaintiffs complaint when in forma pauperis status has been
granted. See Michau v. Charleston Cty., S.C,
434F.3d725, 727(4th Cir. 2006) (applying 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B) to preliminary screen a non-prisoner
complaint); Troville v. Venz, 303 F.3d 1256, 1260
(11th Cir. 2002) (applying §1915(e) to non-prisoner
actions); Evans v. Albaugh 2013 WL 5375781 (N. D.
W.Va. 2013) (28 U.S.C. §1915(e) authorizes dismissal of
complaints filed in forma pauperis). 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
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 complaintss factual allegations and dismiss
those claims whose factual contentions are clearly
baseless." 490 U.S. 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)(i)) (emphasis
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
plaintiff s allegations are assumed to be true.
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (citing Bell Atlantic
Corp. 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. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 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 civil
giving it a generous review, I find it appropriate to dismiss
Ms. Winstonss Complain.. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570 (a complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) if it does not allege enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face); Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 325-28. Ms. Winston presents a plethora of claims
which are completely implausible and made without any viable
factual supporting allegations. It is appropriate to dismiss
his action under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(b)iii).
reasons set out herein, the Complaint shall be summarily
dismissed by separate Order.
Title 28 U.S.C. Section 1915(e)(2)(B)
(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion
thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the
case at any time if the court determines ...