United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants, J Messina, Stacey
Hoffman, Jason Ganoe, and Richard Dovey's Motion to
Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 10). The Motion is 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
unsworn Complaint, Bell provides the following recitation of
events and statement of claim:
On 02/01/17 at 8:40 am, my teacher a Mrs. J. Messina is
guilty of slander and racial discrimination when she got
upset when I said it[']s black history month and quoted
the 13th Amendment, she said “I was stupid and
ignorant[”] in front of the whole class. When I said
[“]lady this is the truth[”]-she boldly said
“don[']t call me lady, and your [sic] just
ignorant.” I then went and told the principal Stacey
Hoffman of racial discrimination and a couple of days later,
4 or 6 days later I got a ticket for #400 disobey an order
& #405 demonstrate disrespect or use vulg[a]r language.
The hearing officer, a Mr Jason Ganoe said “even though
this ticket makes no sen[s]e and you don[']t have any
witnesses” which I told him I did as I wrote out on my
appeal or challenge to charge, the class, the officer outside
of class at desk and the principal I told immediately, he
said “well her being a white woman you should have just
shut up and stayed in your place[!”]. He, Mr. Ganoe
wrote based on the credible evidence and findings of facts,
provide a written explanation for the decision, 15 days cell
restriction. The warden, Mr Richard Dovey. [sic] I[']m
citing false statement, false applications/affidavits and
perjury. This whole situation is to show me to bow down to
white supremacy & white privilege. All Defendants are
employees of the Maryland Correctional Training Center in
(Compl. at 2-3, ECF No. 1).
Complaint is not a model of clarity. Based on his allegations
that Messina “is guilty of . . . racial
discrimination” for chastising Bell when he “said
it[']s Black History Month and quoted the 13th Amendment,
” (id. at 2), and, possibly, for charging Bell
with inmate rule violations, Bell appears to bring a claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2018) for violating Bell's
rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. Further, based on
his allegations of “false statement, false
applications/affidavits, and perjury, ” that seem to be
the basis of his inmate rule violations, (Compl. at 3), Bell
appears to bring a state law claim for defamation or
Bell states that Ganoe, purportedly acting in the capacity of
hearing officer, violated his rights under the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment during the disciplinary
hearing by: failing to let Bell call witnesses despite Bell
identifying witnesses on his violation notice receipt;
injecting racial considerations into Bell's disciplinary
hearing, (see Compl. at 3) (“[Ganoe] said
‘well her being a white woman you should have just shut
up and stayed in your place'”); and finding Bell
guilty of disciplinary violations despite Ganoe's
acknowledgment that the reported violation notice
“makes no sen[s]e.” (Id.).
Standard of Review 1.Motion to
“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 Fed.Appx.
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 plausible claim for
relief.” Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969,
2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4, 2012) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
Conversion to a Motion ...