United States District Court, D. Maryland
DA'JUAN'DRE LAMAR SR. OF THE LATTING FAMILY Plaintiff,
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND; CIRCUIT COURT FOR DORCHESTER COUNTY, MARYLAND; KAREN R. KETTERMAN Defendants
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
civil rights suit, plaintiff Da'Juan'dre Lamar Sr. of
the Family Latting ("Latting"), proceeding pro
se, has sued the Maryland Department of Human Services
("MDHS"); Dorchester County, Maryland
("Dorchester County"); the Circuit Court for
Dorchester County, Maryland (the "Circuit Court");
and Karen R. Ketterman, a former family court magistrate for
the Circuit Court. ECF 1 (the
suit appears to be rooted in a child support enforcement
action brought by MDHS against Latting in the Circuit Court.
Latting alleges that he was unlawfully compelled to disclose
his Social Security number so that the State could employ
child support collection remedies under Title IV-D of the
Social Security Act, which created the federal Child Support
Enforcement Program. Id. at 1-2.
Complaint contains nine § 1983 claims: "Deprivation
of Rights under Color of Law"; compelled disclosure and
use of a Social Security number in violation of 42 U.S.C.
§ 408; violation of Article I, § 9, clause 3 of the
United State Constitution; and violations of the First,
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments
to the Constitution. Id. at 7-13. Plaintiff seeks
general damages, special compensatory damages, punitive
damages, reimbursement of income, legal fees and costs, and
various forms of equitable relief. Id. at 14-15.
the Circuit Court, and Ketterman have moved to dismiss (ECF
5) on various grounds, supported by a memorandum of law. ECF
5-1 (collectively, the "Motion"). Dorchester County
adopted and incorporated the Motion. See ECF 7.
Plaintiff has not filed an opposition, and the time to do so
has expired. See Local Rule 105.2.
hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
defendants' Motion, with leave to amend.
a State agency that provides social services throughout the
state of Maryland and, of relevance here, brings child
support enforcement actions. Md. Code (2007, 2018 Supp.),
§ 2-201 of the Human Services Article. The Circuit Court
is also a State entity. See Md. Code (2013 Repl.
Vol., 2018 Supp.), § 1-501 of the Courts & Judicial
Proceedings Article ("C.J.") ("The circuit
courts are the highest common-law and equity courts of record
exercising original jurisdiction within the State.").
Complaint is not a model of clarity, and the Court struggles
to determine the precise nature of plaintiff s suit.
See ECF 1. Nevertheless, it appears that
Latting's suit arises out of a child support enforcement
action brought against him by MDHS in the Circuit Court.
Id. at 1-3. Although not expressly stated in the
Complaint, the Court assumes that Ketterman, a former family
court magistrate, presided over the action. Id. at
3-4; ECF 5-1 at 1 n.1. In the proceeding, the State compelled
Latting to disclose his Social Security number. The State
then used his Social Security number to employ collection
remedies and thereby satisfy child support obligations.
Id. at 8, 12. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that
the defendants placed liens on his real and personal property
and collected money from his income. Id. at 8.
Standard of Review
Defendants have moved to dismiss, in part, under Rule
12(b)(6). A defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a
complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
In re Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017);
Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd, 822 F.3d 159,
165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616
F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'dsub nom., McBumey
v. Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule
12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that,
even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the
complaint fails as a matter of law "to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted." Whether a complaint
states a claim for relief is assessed by reference to the
pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That rule
provides that a complaint must contain a "short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." The purpose of the rule is to
provide the defendants with "fair notice" of the
claims and the "grounds" for entitlement to relief.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must set forth facts sufficient to "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 684 (2009) (citation omitted) ("Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all
civil actions'......"); see also Willner v.
Dimon, 849 F.3d 93, 112 (4th Cir. 2017). But, a
plaintiff need not include "detailed factual
allegations" in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading
rules "do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted." Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss.,
574 U.S., 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
"labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action," it is
insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, to
satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth "enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest" a cognizable cause of action,
"even if.. . [the] actual proof of those facts is
improbable and . . . recovery is very remote and
unlikely." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court "must accept
as true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint" and must "draw all reasonable inferences
[from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff." E.I.
du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637
F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see
Semenova v. MTA,845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017);
Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc.,791 F.3d 473,
484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v. Balcerzak, 650 F.3d
515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert, denied,565 U.S. 943
(2011). But, a court is not required to accept legal
conclusions drawn from the facts. See Papasan v.
Allain,478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "A court decides
whether [the pleading] standard is met by separating the
legal conclusions from the factual allegations, assuming the
truth of only the factual allegations, and then determining
whether those allegations allow ...