United States District Court, D. Maryland
PERCY EDWARD PAIR, JR. Plaintiff
LAVINIA G. ALEXANDER, Clerk, JAMES FORRESTER, Deputy Clerk, DONTE CODE, Deputy Clerk,  and DOE DEFENDANTS 1-15,  Defendants
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
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
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).
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).
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).
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).
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.).
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.
Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss
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).
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
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 ...