United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 5, 2018, Plaintiff Kenneth Williams, proceeding
pro se, filed this action against Defendant Lauren
Godwin, Commissioner of the Maryland Workers'
Compensation Commission ("MWCC"), alleging
violations of the Due Process Clause relating to his claim
for benefits before the Commission. ECF No. I. The Court
denied a motion to appoint counsel on October 17, 2018, ECF
No. 6, and a motion for reconsideration, ECF No. 16.
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 11, and the
Court granted Plaintiffs Motion for an Extension of Time
until May 22, 2019, ECF No. 16. Plaintiff still has not
responded to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. No. hearing
is necessary. See Loc. Rule 105.6. For the following reasons,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss shall be granted.
September 4, 2018, the MWCC held a hearing to
consider Plaintiffs request for additional temporary total
disability benefits and an evaluation for surgery relating to
an injury suffered while on the job years prior. See
ECF No. 11-3. Defendant Godwin presided over the hearing.
Id. at 1. At that hearing, Plaintiff
explained that he had seen a doctor who recommended surgery
to fix the pain in his wrist. Id. But that opinion
was not issued pursuant to an Insurance Medical Exam
("IME"), so Defendant Godwin held her decision on
the surgery until after the IME was completed two days later.
Id. at 11. On October 4, 2018, after receiving the
IME report, Defendant Godwin denied authorization for the
surgery without holding a second hearing. ECF No. 11-2. On
November 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed a petition for judicial
review of that decision in the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County. ECF No. 11-4. Plaintiff also seeks review in this
Court, claiming that Defendant Godwin's failure to hold a
second hearing violated his due process rights.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court "must accept the
factual allegations of the complaint as true and construe
them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party." Rockville Cars, LLC v. City of Rockville,
Md., 891 F.3d 141, 145 (4th Cir. 2018). To overcome a
12(b)(6) motion, the "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, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Plaintiffs must "provide sufficient detail" to show
"a more-than-conceivable chance of success on the
merits." Upstate Forever v. Kinder Morgan Energy
Partners, 887 F.3d 637, 645 (4th Cir. 2018) (citing
Owens v. Bait. City State's Attorneys Ofice, 767
F.3d 379, 396 (4th Cir. 2014)). The mere recitation of
"elements of a cause of action, supported only by
conclusory statements, is not sufficient to survive a motion
made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)." Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012). Nor must the
Court accept unsupported legal allegations. Revene v.
Charles Cray. Commis., 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.
1989). A plausibility determination is a
"context-specific inquiry" that relies on the
court's "experience and common sense."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679-80. A pro se
plaintiff is held to a "less stringent" standard
than a lawyer, and the Court must liberally construe a
pro se plaintiffs pleadings. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But these principles are
not without limits, and courts cannot "conjure up
questions never squarely presented to them."
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985). Finally, a court "may consider official
public records, documents central to plaintiffs claim, and
documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint so long
as the authenticity of these documents is not disputed."
Witlhohn v. Fed. Ins. Co., 164 F, App'x 395, 396
(4th Cir. 2006).
claim is most reasonably read as alleging a violation of his
procedural due process rights. To establish a procedural due
process violation, Plaintiff must show that "(1) [he]
had property or a property interest (2) of which the
defendant deprived [him] (3) without due process of
law." Sunrise Corp. of Myrtle Beach v. City of
Myrtle Beach, 420 F.3d 322, 328 (4th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff has not sufficiently pled that he was deprived of
Workers' Compensation Act guarantees a procedure by which
claims must be adjudicated. See Md. Code Ann. Lab.
& Empl, § 9-701. That procedure appears to have been
followed here. A review of the transcript reveals that
Plaintiff and his counsel attended a hearing before the M
WCC; both Plaintiff and his counsel were given the
opportunity to speak at this hearing, and their concerns were
carefully considered by Commissioner Godwin. Plaintiff
appears to take issue with the fact that he was not afforded
a second hearing after having his 1ME. But Plaintiff does not
identify, and the Court is unaware of, any Maryland law or
regulation requiring a hearing under those circumstances.
Therefore, the Constitution cannot be said to require a
the Act also guarantees the availability of judicial review
in Maryland state court-a procedure upon which Plaintiff has
already relied. Id. § 9-737; see also
Md. R. 7-206.1 (establishing rules for judicial review of a
decision of the MWCC). If Plaintiff believes the MWCC has
violated Maryland law, that proceeding is the proper forum in
which to raise those concerns.
Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 11, is granted. A separate Order