United States District Court, D. Maryland
MELVIN JOHNSON, et al.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution in this civil rights case
are a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a more
definite statement filed by Defendant Maryland State
Administrative Board of Elections (“State Board”)
(ECF No. 13-38); and a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant
Linda Lamone, State Administrator (ECF No. 8). The issues
have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, the motions to dismiss will be granted in part and
Plaintiffs' state law claims will be remanded to state
Factual Background 
Melvin Johnson and Qaaree Palmer claim to be unregistered but
eligible voters and residents of the state of Maryland who
were detained in the Prince George's County Department of
Corrections during the November 8, 2016 general election.
(ECF No. 2 ¶¶ 2, 3). They assert that the State
Board lacked a “strategy governing inmate voter
registration and voting” and there was no
“official local or statewide policy, procedure, or plan
to register eligible voters desiring to do so by the October
18, 2016 deadline, or distribute ballots, absentee or
otherwise, to pre-trial detainees or convicted misdemeanants
who are registered voters wanting to exercise their right to
vote[.]” (Id. ¶¶ 15, 17). Further,
they allege that the State Board failed to provide
information to inmates about “voting, voter
eligibility, or voter registration” and “access
to the ballot for persons eligible to register and/or
vote[.]” (Id. ¶ 21). Thus, Plaintiffs
claim that they were “denied the right to register,
access to the ballot, and the right to vote in the November
 General Election by the City and State Board of
Elections.” (Id. ¶¶ 7, 8).
November 21, 2016, Plaintiffs commenced this action against
the Prince George's County Board of Elections and the
State Board in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland, alleging violations of the Maryland
Election Law Article, Maryland Constitution, and United
States Constitution. (ECF No. 13-1). On December 14,
Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint, adding Linda
Lamone as a defendant in her official capacity as State
Administrator of the State Board. (ECF No. 2). On August 24,
2017, all claims against the Prince George's County Board
of Elections were dismissed. (ECF No. 13-37). On September 1,
Defendant State Board filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiffs' second amended complaint in state court (ECF
No. 13-38), and Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition
(ECF No. 13-44). Defendant Lamone was served with the summons
and second amended complaint on September 18. (ECF No. 10
¶ 1). On September 26, Defendant Lamone removed this
action from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County
with the consent of Defendant State Board. (ECF Nos. 1; 4).
Defendant Lamone filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs'
second amended complaint on October 11, 2017, incorporating
the arguments made in Defendant State Board's motion to
dismiss by reference. (ECF Nos. 8; 8-1, at 9 n.2). Plaintiffs
filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 14), and Defendant
Lamone filed a reply (ECF No. 15).
Motion to Dismiss
assert that Plaintiffs' second amended complaint should
be dismissed because (1) Plaintiffs failed to comply with the
Maryland Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”) and thus their
claims are barred by sovereign immunity; (2) Plaintiffs lack
standing; (3) Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted; and (4) Plaintiffs fail to state a
claim for punitive damages. Because this case was removed
based on federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiffs'
§ 1983 claim, it is appropriate first to consider
whether Plaintiffs have standing to pursue this claim.
plaintiff seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal
court must establish standing. The doctrine of standing
consists of two distinct “strands”:
constitutional standing pursuant to Article III and
prudential standing. Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v.
Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 11 (2004), abrogated on other
grounds by Lexmark Int'l, Inc. v. Static Control
Components, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1377 (2014). The
requirements for constitutional standing reflect that Article
III “confines the federal courts to adjudicating actual
‘cases' and ‘controversies.'”
Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984),
abrogated on other grounds by Lexmark Int'l, 134
S.Ct. 1377; see also Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 560 (1993) (“[S]tanding is an essential
and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of
Article III[.]”). To establish Article III standing, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that:
(1) [he] has suffered an “injury in fact” that is
(a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent,
not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) the injury is fairly
traceable to the challenged action of the defendant; and (3)
it is likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the
injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs.
(TOC), Inc., 528 U.S. 167, 180-81 (2000)).
addition to satisfying constitutional standing requirements,
a plaintiff must also demonstrate that his claims are not
barred by prudential limitations on a federal court's
exercise of jurisdiction. Doe v. Sebelius, 676
F.Supp.2d 423, 428 (D.Md. 2009). In contrast to Article III
standing, prudential standing “embodies
‘judicially self-imposed limits on the exercise of
federal jurisdiction.'” Elk Grove, 542
U.S. at 11 (quoting Allen, 468 U.S. at 751). One
such limitation is that “a plaintiff generally must
assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest
his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third
parties.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499
(1975). This limitation serves to “preclude a court
from deciding ‘questions of broad social import in
cases in which no individual rights will be
vindicated'” and to ensure that “access ...