United States District Court, D. Maryland
MICHAEL T. EATON, SR. Plaintiff
KEVIN P. GUISTWITE, BALTIMORE CITY CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT OFFICE, and MARILYN BENTLEY Defendants
K. Bredar Chief Judge
above-captioned civil rights complaint was filed on April 26,
2018, together with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
which shall be granted.
complaint plaintiff alleges that “[t]he defendants
worked together to violate my rights and/or conspired under
42 U.S.C. 1983 AND 18 U.S.C. 241 and have continued to do so
to this day.” ECF 1 at p. 5. Defendant Kevin Guistwite
is the executive director of the Baltimore City Office of
Child Support Administration and Marilyn Bentley is the Clerk
of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Id. at p.
3. As relief, plaintiff seeks a full refund of $24, 626 that
was taken from him as well as a refund of $11, 901.93 that
defendants claim he owes, presumably in unpaid child support.
Id. at p. 5. Additionally, he seeks compensatory
filed this Complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1), which permits an indigent litigant to
commence an action in this Court without prepaying the filing
guard against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute
requires dismissal of 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). This
Court is mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally
construe self-represented pleadings, such as the instant
Complaint. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). In evaluating such a Complaint, the factual
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 this Court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that 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 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, 722-23 (4th Cir.
pleadings are liberally construed. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94. Nonetheless, this court has an
“affirmative obligation” to prevent factually
unsupported claims from proceeding to trial. Bouchat v.
Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 526
(4th Cir. 2003) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d
774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing Celotex
Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986)).
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), a pleading that
sets forth a claim for relief shall contain “(1) a
short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and
the claim needs no new jurisdictional support, (2) a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for the relief sought .
. . . ” Moreover, each “allegation must be
simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1).
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
complaint contains no factual allegations that support
plaintiff's legal conclusion that defendants have
violated his civil rights. There are no statements regarding
how plaintiff's rights have been violated, nor can it be
discerned why any alleged improprieties in the case
concerning plaintiff's child support may not be addressed
by the Maryland appellate courts. Factors to consider in
determining if a complaint fails to comply with Rule 8(a)
include the length and complexity of the complaint, see,
e.g., United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin
Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir.2003); whether the
complaint was clear enough to enable the defendant to know
how to defend himself, see, e.g., Kittay v.
Kornstein, 230 F.3d 531, 541 (2d Cir. 2000); and whether
the plaintiff was represented by counsel. See, e.g.,
Elliott v. Bronson, 872 F.2d 20, 21-22 (2d Cir. 1989).
Here, none of the named defendants are provided any
information that would inform their defense against this
as the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
defendant Bentley is not responsible for collecting child
support; thus, the basis for her liability is not discernible
from the information provided in the complaint. The matters
regarding plaintiff's child support obligations also
concern matters of state law, and the complaint appears to
invite this court to review the validity of state court
decisions regarding the collection of arrearages in child
support. State court appellate review is the appropriate
avenue for such a challenge. Given that the precise nature of
plaintiff's claims cannot be discerned from the complaint
and the likelihood that it involves matters not appropriate
for a civil rights complaint in this Court, the complaint
will be dismissed without prejudice in a separate order that
 18 U.S.C. § S241, entitled
“Conspiracy Against Rights, ” is a criminal
statute prohibiting the conspiracy against the rights or
privileges secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States and making ...