Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pair v. Alexander

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 30, 2018

PERCY EDWARD PAIR, JR. Plaintiff
v.
LAVINIA G. ALEXANDER, Clerk, JAMES FORRESTER, Deputy Clerk, DONTE CODE, Deputy Clerk, [1] and DOE DEFENDANTS 1-15, [2] Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Percy Edward Pair, Jr.'s Motion to Substitute Party (ECF No. 2), Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 39), and Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 37). Also pending before the Court is Defendants, James Forrester and Donte Code's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 32). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion, grant in part and deny in part Pair's Motion to Substitute Party, and deny Pair's Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion for Summary Judgment.[3]

         I.BACKGROUND[4]

         Pair is incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. He pleads that Defendants refused to file his Petition for Judicial Review against the Custodian of Records for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland after he received no response to his request to inspect public records. (Compl. at 4-5, ECF No. 1).[5]

         On July 13, 2013 and November 18, 2013, he filed requests under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) with the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City (“Clerk's Office”), but he received no response. (Id.). On September 13, 2015, Pair mailed two Petitions for Judicial Review to the Clerk's Office by certified mail. One Petition alleged that the Custodian of Records for the Circuit Court of Baltimore City violated the PIA. (Id. at 5; ECF No. 1-1). The second Petition alleged that the Custodian of Records for the Maryland Department of Human Resources violated the PIA. (Compl. at 5; ECF No. 1-2).

         On September 15, 2015, Code, who is a mailroom clerk in the Clerk's Office, received a certified envelope containing Pair's two Petitions. (Compl. at 5; ECF No. 1-3). On September 16, 2015, both petitions were filed under the same case, Percy Edward Pair, Jr. v. Department of Human Resources, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, Case No. 24-C-15-004760. (Bentley Decl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 29-2). The Department of Human Resources petition was docketed as “DEF 001.” (Id. at 4). The Circuit Court for Baltimore City was docketed as “DEF 002.” (Id. at 5).

         On October 1, 2015, Lavinia Alexander, the Clerk of the Court, mailed notices of the Petitions for Judicial Review to the parties. (Id. at 6). On October 30, 2015, the Maryland Department of Human Resources filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. (Id.). On December 2, 2015, the Honorable Jeffrey Geller, Associate Judge, dismissed the Complaint against the Department of Human Resources. (Id.). The Clerk's Office closed the case against the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in error based on Judge Geller's order, but reopened the case on December 15, 2015. (Id.; Bentley Decl. ¶¶ 7-9).

         On January 4, 2017, the Clerk of the Circuit Court mailed the parties a notice of contemplated dismissal for lack of prosecution. (Bentley Decl. at 6). On February 13, 2017, the Complaint against the Circuit Court was dismissed without prejudice for lack of prosecution. (Id.).

         On May 17, 2016, Pair, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 (2018) against employees of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in their official and individual capacities. (ECF No. 1). Pair asserts that Defendants refused to file his Petition for Judicial Review Against the Custodian of Records for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City after he received no response to his request to inspect public records. Pair pleads that Defendants acted to deliberately deny him access to the court in violation of his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and in violation of Maryland law. Pair seeks declaratory relief to state the acts and omissions alleged violated his constitutional rights, and preliminary and permanent injunction to order Defendants to cease “deviating from their ministerial duties” and to provide him with a “Certificate of Qualification.” (Compl. at 8). Finally, Pair requests compensatory damages of $35, 000 against each Defendant, jointly and severally and punitive damages of $15, 0000 against each Defendant, jointly and severally. (Id. at 8-9).

         II.DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         1. Motion to Dismiss

         “The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint, ” not to “resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243-44 (4th Cir. 1999)). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d 445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)), aff'd sub nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 F.App'x 165 (4th Cir. 2013).

         In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). But, the court need not accept unsupported or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pair filed his Amended Complaint pro se. Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d 720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). Pro se complaints are entitled to special care to determine whether any possible set of facts would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). But even a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.