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Moseley v. Young

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 12, 2018

STEVEN MOSELEY, Plaintiff
v.
STEPHANY YOUNG, WALTER CLOSSON, ESQ., JUDGE RICHARD S. BERNHARDT, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Steven Moseley, who is self represented, has filed a “Petition To Vacate Judgment As Per FRCP 60(B)(4)” (ECF 1), which he has amended on two occasions. See ECF 4; ECF 8. The suit includes numerous exhibits. Moseley alleges that his due process rights were violated by the Circuit Court for Howard County during child support proceedings in the case of Howard County Dept. Soc. Services, et al. v. Moseley, No. 13-C-11-087194 (Howard Co. Cir Ct.).[1] Moseley seeks injunctive and declaratory relief prohibiting the enforcement and a collection of child support and declaration that the Howard County Circuit Court judgment is “void ab initio.” ECF 4 at 1; id. at 10.

         Defendants Walter Closson, Esquire and Judge Richard S. Bernhardt (the “State Defendants”) have moved to dismiss.[2] ECF 10. It is supported by a Memorandum (ECF 10-1) (collectively, “Motion”) and exhibits.

         Pursuant to the dictates of Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), on June 11, 2018, the Clerk of Court informed Moseley that a dispositive motion had been filed; that Moseley had seventeen days in which to file a written opposition to the motion; and that if Moseley failed to respond, his claim could be dismissed, without further notice. ECF 12. Moseley failed to respond, and the time for doing so has expired.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion shall be GRANTED and this case shall be closed.

         I. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a complaint in light of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997). Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26 (4th Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint need only satisfy the “simplified pleading standard” of Rule 8(a)).

         Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has explained that a “plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). However, the complaint does not need “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 563. To survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         II. Discussion

         Defendant Closson, now retired, was an attorney in the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, who represented the Howard County Department of Social Services (“DSS”), Office of Child Support. See ECF 10-4, Decl. of Karen Rohrbaugh, Supervising Attorney; ECF 1-2 at 14. While so employed, Closson was an employee of the State of Maryland. Id. He was involved in child support proceedings involving Stephany Young, the mother of Moseley's daughter, born in 2001. ECF 8-1 at 46.

         Moseley seeks injunctive and declaratory relief prohibiting the enforcement and collection of child support and declaring void the judgment issued by the Circuit Court for Howard County. ECF 4 at 10. Moseley claims that his federal due process rights were violated by the misconduct of Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt, who allegedly ignored Moseley's request for a hearing during the child support proceedings. See ECF 8.

         Moseley's complaint raises the same claims presented in his previous federal action, filed January 13, 2017, wherein Moseley alleged that he did not receive notice via first-class mail of a hearing before an appointed master on the question of child support until after the hearing. In that action, Moseley v. Young, et al., Civil Action JKB-17-116 (D. Md.), Moseley stated that he filed an exception to the master's recommendation on child support and requested a hearing because his lack of employment and “other evidence relevant to the case . . . would have [allegedly] resulted in a major difference in the calculation of the child support award.” Id., ECF 1 at 4. This action was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on December 21, 2017, prior to initiation of the instant case.

         Here, the State Defendants argue that all claims against them are subject to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482, (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923). Further, they argue that they are immune from suit. Most compelling, however, is their argument that Moseley's action is barred under Rule 12(b)(6) because it is untimely.

         An outline of the State court proceedings follows.[3] Moseley was sued by the Howard County Department of Social Services and Stephany L. Young in a paternity action filed on June 20, 2011. See Howard County Dept. Soc. Services, et al. v. Moseley, No. 13-C-11-087194 (Howard Co. Cir Ct.).[4] A July 29, 2011 docket entry notes Moseley was served with the complaint on July 25, 2011. Moseley filed a counter-complaint on August 24, 2011. See Id. at Docket Entry of August 24, 2011. A magistrate (master) held a hearing on March 5, 2012 and/or March 8, 2012, and entered recommendations in the matter, to which Moseley filed exceptions. See Id. at Docket ...


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