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Waters v. Randolph

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 29, 2018

DIONNE RANDOLPH, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Benjamin Waters' Complaint (ECF No. 1), filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) (2018), and Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Waters' Motion and dismiss the Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         An overview of Waters' previous litigation history is necessary for preliminary review of this action. Waters has, on three prior occasions, filed lawsuits in connection with his pretrial detention in Baltimore, Maryland. The first suit, Waters v. Warden, et al. (Waters I), No. BPG-16-3238 (D.Md. filed Sept. 23, 2016), is an ongoing civil rights action for damages against the Baltimore City Booking and Intake Center (“BCBIC”), Warden Dionne Randolph, and BCBIC employees J. Francis, M. Fortcham, P. Jackson, D. Williams, N. Mars, and T. Brown. In Waters I, Waters alleges that the defendants denied him meals on multiple occasions, physically assaulted him, and conducted inappropriate body searches. (2d Am. Compl. at 2, ECF No. 19, Waters I). The Court appointed counsel to represent Waters in that case. (Dec. 17, 2017 Order, ECF No. 55, Waters I).

         In the second suit, Waters v. City of Baltimore, et al. (Waters II), No. GLR-17-1113 (D.Md. dismissed July 31, 2017), on June 8, 2017, the Court dismissed without prejudice Waters' allegations of malicious prosecution, assault by officers at the time of his arrest, and the denial of affordable bail to permit the filing of a separate action limited to those claims. (June 8, 2017 Order at 3, Waters II, ECF No. 3). The Court also granted Waters twenty-one days to supplement his Complaint with regard to his claims against Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center (“CTPHC”)[2] personnel, in which Waters alleged that he was wrongfully held at CTPHC and forcibly medicated pending adjudication of his criminal charges. (Id.). On July 31, 2017, the Court dismissed without prejudice Waters' claims against CTPHC because he failed comply with the Court's Order to supplement the Complaint. (July 31, 2017 Order, Waters II, ECF No. 4).

         In the third suit, in Waters v. Randolph, et al. (Waters III), No. GLR-17-2960 (D.Md. dismissed Jan. 9, 2018), on October 5, 2017, Waters sued BCBIC, Warden Dionne Randolph, and four BCBIC officers, alleging violations of his civil rights while detained at BCBIC. (Am. Compl. at 3, Waters III, ECF No. 3). Waters also named as defendants Baltimore City Mayor, Catherine Pugh, and Baltimore City Assistant State's Attorneys, Shari Greene and Tracy Varda, who participated in his 2016 criminal prosecution on charges of first- and second-degree assault and wearing or carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure.[3] (Id.). On February 10, 2017, the State's Attorney placed Waters' criminal case on the stet docket and Waters was subsequently released from detention. (Jan. 9, 2018 Mem. Op. at 4, ECF No. 5, Waters III).

         On January 9, 2018, the Court dismissed Waters III. (Jan. 9, 2018 Order, ECF No. 6, Waters III). The Court dismissed Waters' claims against the BCBIC defendants because they were before the Court in Waters I. (Jan. 9, 2018 Mem. Op. at 5). The Court dismissed the claims against Mayor Pugh because she had no supervisory role over BCBIC operations. (Id. at 5-6). Finally, the Court dismissed Waters' malicious prosecution and false imprisonment claims against Greene and Varda for failure to state a claim. (Id. at 6-7).

         On April 5, 2018, Waters filed the instant Complaint against Defendants BCBIC Warden Dionne Randolph, Shari Greene, and Tracy Varda.[4] (ECF No. 1). In this Complaint, Waters again brings claims against Randolph, this time alleging that she “operated” BCBIC and “allowed the officers to illegally detain” him from February 10, 2017 through February 13, 2017 after the court had ordered his release on February 10, 2017. (Compl. at 4, ECF No. 1).[5] Waters also alleges that BCBIC “refuse[d] to provide [him] with his preexisting medication when he was first admitted to the jail” and “after many attempts . . . to receive his medication, he was ultimately denied several months later.” (Id. at 4-5). “Due to the denial of medical treatment, ” Waters' health “was compromised.” (Id. at 5). Additionally, Waters again brings claims of malicious prosecution and false imprisonment against Greene and Varda. (Id. at 4). Waters seeks money damages, injunctive relief, and an apology from Defendants. (Id. at 6).


         A. Standard of Review

         Waters filed his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) (2018), which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal district court without prepaying the filing fee. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to review civil complaints filed in forma pauperis to determine if the plaintiff alleges cognizable claims. Upon review, if the Court concludes that a claim is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief, ” the Court must dismiss the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         The Court is mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe pro se pleadings, such as the instant Complaint. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating such a complaint, the Court assumes that the factual allegations are true. Id. at 93 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)). 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). Nonetheless, “[w]hile pro se complaints may ‘represent the work of an untutored hand requiring special judicial solicitude, ' a district court is not required to recognize ‘obscure or extravagant claims defying the most concerted efforts to unravel them.'” Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. for Balt., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985)).

         Here, Waters does not state under which law or laws he is bringing suit. Given that he alleges that his “civil liberties were trampled, ” the Court construes his Complaint as bringing claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2018).

         B. ...

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