United States District Court, D. Maryland
Stephen D. Chamberlain
Samuel J. Brown, et al.
before the Court are Defendant Judith C. Chamberlain's
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Lack
of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim
Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted (ECF No. 10) and Defendants
Samuel J. Brown and Marietta B. Warren's Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15). 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 the Motions.
22, 2009, Plaintiff Stephen D. Chamberlain and Ms.
Chamberlain (collectively, “the Chamberlains”)
divorced. (Am. Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 9). As part of the
divorce, the Chamberlains entered into a Marital Settlement
Agreement (“MSA”). (Id. ¶ 6). The
MSA contained a provision that dictated how the
Chamberlains' three children would apply to and select a
college to (the “College Education Provision”).
(Id. ¶ 7).
September 19, 2013, Ms. Chamberlain filed a Petition for
Contempt and Declaratory Judgment Complaint to Enforce the
MSA in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County (the
“Declaratory Judgment Action”). (Am. Compl.
¶ 13; Def.'s Mot. Dismiss [“Def.'s
Mot.”] Ex. A at 14, ECF No. 4-2). Ms. Chamberlain
sought a declaration that the MSA's College Education
Provision permitted the Chamberlains' youngest son to
apply to “the schools of his choice.” (Am. Compl.
¶ 13). Brown and Warren represented Ms. Chamberlain in
the Declaratory Judgment Action. (See id.
¶¶ 13, 17). The parties entered into a consent
order that resolved the Declaratory Judgment Action on June
5, 2014. (Def.'s Mot. Ex. B, ECF No. 4-3).
September 28, 2017, Mr. Chamberlain, pro se, sued Ms.
Chamberlain, Brown, and Warren. (ECF No. 1). On November 27,
2017, Mr. Chamberlain filed an Amended Complaint, (ECF No.
9), which brings seven counts: (1) abuse of process for
wrongful use of discovery against Ms. Chamberlain, Brown, and
Warren (Count I); (2) abuse of process for filing known
meritless litigation against Ms. Chamberlain, Brown, and
Warren (Count II); (3) abuse of process for concealing known
information from the court against Ms. Chamberlain and Warren
(Count III); (4) abuse of process for sustaining known moot
litigation against Ms. Chamberlain, Brown, and Warren (Count
IV); (5) abuse of process for tampering with a sealed court
record against Brown and Warren (Count V); (6) tortious
interference with contract against Brown and Warren (Count
VI); and (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”) against Ms. Chamberlain, Brown, and
Warren. (Id. ¶¶ 41-79). Mr. Chamberlain
seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (See, e.g.,
id. ¶ 45).
November 28, 2017, Ms. Chamberlain filed a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Lack of Subject Matter
Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief
Can be Granted. (ECF No. 10). On December 11, 2017, Mr.
Chamberlain filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 18). To date, the
Court has no record that Ms. Chamberlain filed a Reply.
November 30, 2017, Brown and Warren filed a Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 15). Mr. Chamberlain filed an Opposition
on December 16, 2017. (ECF No. 21). To date, the Court has no
record that Brown and Warren filed a Reply.
and Warren style their Motions as motions to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment
under Rule 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the
Court's discretion under Rule 12(d). See Kensington
Volunteer Fire Dep't., Inc. v. Montgomery Cty., 788
F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011), aff'd, 684
F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012). This Rule provides that when
“matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion must be
treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The Court “has ‘complete
discretion to determine whether or not to accept the
submission of any material beyond the pleadings that is
offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and rely
on it, thereby converting the motion, or to reject it or
simply not consider it.'” Wells-Bey v.
Kopp, No. ELH-12-2319, 2013 WL 1700927, at *5 (D.Md.
Apr. 16, 2013) (quoting 5C Wright & Miller, Federal
Practice & Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed.
2004, 2012 Supp.)).
case, because Brown and Warren did not attach any exhibits to
their Motion, the Court will not convert it into a motion for
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).
pleadings, however, are liberally construed and held to a
less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers.
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (citing 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). 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)).
advance five arguments for dismissing the Amended
Complaint: (1) the domestic relations exception to
diversity jurisdiction; (2) the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine; (3) res judicata; (4) statute of
limitations; and (5) failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6). The Court agrees with Defendants' fifth
argument and addresses Mr. Chamberlain's claims in turn.
state an abuse of process claim under Maryland law,
plaintiff must allege that: (1) the defendants
“willfully used process after it has issued in a manner
not contemplated by law”; (2) the defendants acted with
an “ulterior motive”; and (3) damages as a result
of the defendants' improper use of process. Clark v.
Choudry, No. DKC 16-0261, 2016 WL 3541248, at *4 (D.Md.
June 29, 2016) (quoting One Thousand Fleet Ltd.
P'ship v. Guerriero, 694 A.2d 952, 956 (Md. 1997)).
As to the damages element, “an arrest of the person or