United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. HAZEL, United States District Judge
Se Plaintiff Sarkodie Yaw Osei filed an action against
Defendant Sam's Bast. Inc. in the Circuit Court for
Montgomery County on June 29. 2017. ECF No. 2. which
Defendant removed to this Court on August 10. 2017. ECF No.
1. Now pending hefore the Court is Defendant's initial
and renewed Motion to Dismiss. ECF Nos. 14 and 29. and
Plaintiffs Objection to Case Removal. ECF No. 17. construed
as a Motion to Remand. No hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6
(D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons. Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss is granted, and Plaintiffs Motion to Remand
was previously employed by Defendant at its Sam's Club
store in Gaithersburg. Maryland and asserts claims against
Defendant for political persecution, discrimination, and
attempted wrongful termination. ECF No. 2. Plaintiff appears
to allege that Defendant discriminated against him by
assigning him extra work and ignoring his requests for help
in 2017. Id. ¶ 2. However, the majority of
Plaintiff s Complaint and subsequent tilings with the Court
allege that Plaintiff is the victim of an international
conspiracy and persecution by U.S. and Ghanaian Government
agents, aided by Defendant and its corporate parent Wal-Mart
Stores. Inc., based on Plaintiffs opposition to the "New
Patriotic Part[y] (NPP) political party in Ghana.
See ECF Nos. 2. 17. 22. 27.
filed his Complaint in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County on July 11, 2017. Defendant alleges that Plaintiff did
not serve its resident agent; rather, a sheriffs deputy
handed a copy of the Complaint to Yahaira Castro, the
co-manager of Defendant's Gaithcrsburg store.
See ECF No. 14-1 ¶¶ 8-10. Regardless.
Defendant timely removed the action to this Court on August
10. 2017 based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
Motion to Remand
September 6. 2017. Plaintiff filed his Objection to Case
Removal From the Circuit Court, ECF No. 17. which the Court
will construe as a Motion to Remand. However, because removal
was proper, the motion will be denied. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). the Court has original jurisdiction of all
civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds $75,
000 and the action is between citizens of different States.
Defendant is incorporated in Delaware, with its principal
place of business in Arkansas. See ECF No. 16 ¶
2. Plaintiff states that he is a resident of Maryland. ECF
No. 17 ¶ 6. and has alleged damages in the amount of
five million dollars. See ECF No. 2 at 3; see
also Id. at 1 (listing Plaintiffs mailing address as
P.O. Box 803. Germantown. Maryland). Plaintiff appears to argue
that Defendant is a citizen of Maryland based on the location
of its Gaithersburg store. See ECF No. 17 ¶ 7.
However, because a corporation is deemed to be a citizen of
every State in which it has been incorporated and the State
where it has its principal place of business.
Defendant is a citizen of Delaware and Arkansas. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). Therefore, diversity of
citizenship exists, removal is proper, and Plaintiffs Motion
to Remand is denied.
Motion to Dismiss
outset, the Court recognizes that a "document tiled
pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held
to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers."" See Linlor v. Poison. 263
F.Supp.3d 613. 618-19 (E.D. Va. 201 7) (citing Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89. 94 (2007)) (internal quotations
omitted). However, the Court may not ignore a clear failure
in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a cognizable
claim. See Wetter v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387. 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990). The Court
may not act as the pro se plaintiffs advocate and
develop claims that he failed to clearly raise. Gordon v.
Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147. 11 51 (4th Cir. 1978). Nor may the
Court excuse a pro se plaintiffs failure to satisfy
the procedural requirements of service of process. See
Gray v. Allied Waste Services of Washington, No.
RWT-11-1612, 2012 WI. 2871422. at *2 (D. Md. July 11, 2012)
(citing Omni Capital Intern., Ltd. v. Rudolf Wolff &
Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97. 104 (1987) and Hanson v.
Fairfax County Sch. Bd., 405 Fed.Appx. 793. 794 (4th
construes Plaintiffs Complaint to be a claim for
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., or the
Maryland 1 luman Rights Act ("MHRA"). Md. Code,
State Gov't § 20-101 et seq.. and provides
the Court with three separate bases to dismiss the action
under Federal Rules of Civil Procure l2(b)(1). (5). and (6).
ECF No. 14-1 at 8. First. Defendant argues that the Court
lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs discrimination claim
because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies. Id. (citing Balas v. Huntington
Jngalls Indus., Inc., 711 F.3d 401. 406 (4th Cir. 2013)
(under Title VII. "[a]n employee seeking redress for
discrimination cannot file suit until she has exhausted the
administrative process") and Cuffee v. Verizon
Commc'ns, Inc., 755 F.Supp.2d 672. 678 (D. Md. 2010)
("like Title VII. the MHRA does require that would-be
plaintiffs first file a charge of discrimination with an
enforcement agency"). Second. Defendant argues that
Plaintiff failed to properly serve its resident agent
pursuant to Maryland Rule of Civil Procedure 2-124(d). ECF
No. 14-1 at 5. Third. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has
failed to plead a prima facie case of discrimination
or retaliatory discharge. ECF No. 14-1 at 9 (citing
Nichols v. Comcast Cablevision, 84 F.Supp.2d 642.
653 (D. Md. 2000) (providing the four elements of a prima
facie case of discrimination)).
can prevail on any one of its three bases; however, because
Plaintiffs Complaint fails to provide "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief as required by Rule 8(a)(2). much less meet the
standards set forth in Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544. 570 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662. 678 (2009) to "state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." the Complaint must be dismissed
at the outset, and the Court need not address Defendant's
remaining arguments in detail. Even after liberal
construction of the Complaint, the Court is unable to discern
a cognizable claim against Defendant. See Spencer v.
Earley, 278 Fed.Appx. 254. 259-60 (4th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 5 19, 521 (1972)
("dismissal of a pro se complaint ... for failure to
state a valid claim is [ J only appropriate when, after
applying this liberal construction, it appears 'beyond
doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts
in support of his claim which would entitle him to
relief")) (emphasis in original). While Plaintiff
invokes general language suggestive of employment
discrimination, he alleges no set of facts to support the
notion that he was discriminated against, wrongfully
terminated, or constructively discharged by Defendant.
Rather, the Complaint alleges that Defendant is party to an
international conspiracy set up to persecute Plaintiff
because of his opposition to a Ghanaian political party. In
contrast to practice under Rule 12(b)(6). where a court must
presume the truthfulness of the allegations set forth in the
complaint, a court need not do so when determining
jurisdiction under Rule I2(b)(1). See O'Connor v.
U.S., 159 F.R.D. 22, 25 (D. Md. 1994) (citing Ohio
National Life Insurance Company v. United Stales, 922
F.2d 320 (6th Cir.1990)). Under Rule I2(b)(1). Courts may
dismiss such "patently insubstantial" complaints
sua sponte where the complaint's "factual
contentions are clearly baseless" and include
"claims describing fantastic or delusional
scenarios." See id (citing Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 n.6 (1989)): see also
Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528. 536-37 (1974) (federal
courts lack power to entertain claims that are "so
attenuated and unsubstantiated as to be absolutely devoid of
has been afforded an opportunity to respond to
Defendant's arguments and clarify his cause of action but
has refused to do so. Moreover, Plaintiffs last pleading,
entitled "it Is Finished" sets forth additional
conspiracy theories that make no mention of Defendant and
state that he is departing for Ghana and will never return to
the United States. ECF No. 27 at 1. The Court will not
attempt to extract a legally cognizable claim from Plaintiffs
pleadings any further, and his Complaint must be dismissed.