United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
Lee, a Maryland Department of Corrections prisoner housed at
Eastern Correctional Institution, filed an action seeking
compensation for personal property destroyed by fire on
October 9, 2016, while Lee was housed at Jessup Correctional
Institution. ECF No. 1. For reasons set forth herein,
Lee's motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis shall be granted and the complaint shall be
dismissed without prejudice.
seeks unspecified compensatory damages and states that the
sprinkler system failed to extinguish the fire that destroyed
the property in his cell. ECF No. 1, pp. 3-4. His administrative
action seeking damages against the Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”) was
unsuccessful. See In the Matter of John Lee, No.
C-19-CV-17-000141 (Cir. Ct. for Somerset Co.).
complaint is filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires a
district court to dismiss any claim that is frivolous or
malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). In this
context, this court is mindful of its obligation to liberally
construe the pleadings of pro se litigants. See Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
evaluating a pro se complaint, a plaintiff's allegations
are assumed to be true. Id. at 93, citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
(2007). Nonetheless, liberal construction does not mean that
a 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 a district court may not
“conjure up questions never squarely presented”).
In making this determination, "[t]he district court need
not look beyond the complaint's allegations . . . . It
must, however, 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, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989). Thus, this court is
obligated to examine the tort claim of negligence outlined in
not named a proper party. At most, Lee's complaint appears to
involve negligence based on the alleged failure to maintain a
working sprinkler system in the prison. This is a tort claim
under state law. It does not state a constitutional or
federal statutory violation, and cannot be brought in this
Court pursuant to § 1983. See Daniels v. Williams,
474 U.S. 327 (1986). His complaint shall therefore be
dismissed under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). Lee is cautioned that under 28 U.S.C.
§1915(g) he will not be granted in forma pauperis status
if he has
on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained
in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of
the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it
is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent
danger of serious physical injury.
separate Order follows.
 Lee indicates he was in the prison
hospital at the time of the ...