United States District Court, D. Maryland
Stephanie A. Gallagher, United States District Judge.
reviewed the Motion to Dismiss Complaint filed by Defendants
State of Maryland Office of the Governor and the Baltimore
County Office of Child Support (collectively,
“Defendants”), ECF 7, along with the Petition for
Judgment filed by Plaintiff Brandon Williams, who appears
pro se. ECF 9. No. hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons
addressed below, Defendants' Motion must be granted, and
Mr. Williams's Petition must be denied.
Williams's Complaint seeks money damages in the amount of
$100, 000, 000, along with “dismissal and discharge of
all support orders.” ECF 1 at 4-5. Essentially, his
Complaint alleges constitutional and statutory violations by
the Defendant state agencies, pertaining to their collection
activities to enforce a child support order from a Maryland
court. Id. at 3-4.
Complaint must be dismissed for three distinct reasons, each
of which are cited in the Defendants' Motion. ECF 7-1.
First, the Eleventh Amendment of the United States
Constitution bars suits seeking money damages in federal
court against state agencies, without a valid abrogation or
waiver of sovereign immunity. See Bd. of Trs. of Univ. of
Ala. v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 363 (2001) (“The
ultimate guarantee of the Eleventh Amendment is that
nonconsenting States may not be sued by private individuals
in Federal Court.”). Plaintiff's lawsuit, against
two state agencies, is a suit against the State of Maryland,
as the real party in interest. See, e.g., Will
v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71
(1989) (stating that a suit against an official's office
“is no different from a suit against the State
itself”). The State of Maryland has not waived its
sovereign immunity with respect to Plaintiff's claims,
and accordingly his claims for monetary damages are barred by
the Eleventh Amendment.
Mr. Williams's claims are also barred by Maryland's
three-year statute of limitations. See Bailey-El v. Hous.
Auth. of Balt. City, 686 Fed.Appx. 228, 229 (4th Cir.
2017) (per curiam) (citing Md. Code An.., Cts. & Jud.
Proc. § 5-101 (LexisNexis 2013)). According to Mr.
Williams's Complaint, he knew of the garnishment of his
wages to pay his child support obligations for well more than
three years. ECF 1 at 3. In fact, Mr. Williams specifically
protested garnishment actions in 2011 and 2014. Id.;
ECF 1-1; ECF 1-5. Nevertheless, Mr. Williams did not file
this action until 2019, well outside the three-year window.
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to grant Mr.
Williams's request to invalidate his Maryland child
custody order, because the alleged injury to him resulted
from a state court judgment and cannot be challenged in
federal court. See, e.g., Exxon-Mobil Corp. v.
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)
(noting that federal courts lack jurisdiction over cases
“brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries
caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district
court proceedings commenced and inviting district court
review and rejection of those judgments”); see also
Shooting Point, L.L.C. v. Cumming, 368 F.3d 379, 383
(4th Cir. 2004) (noting a lack of jurisdiction where
“if in order to grant the federal plaintiff the relief
sought, the federal court must determine that the state court
judgment was erroneously entered or must take action that
would render the judgment ineffectual” (quoting
Jordahl v. Democratic Party, 122 F.3d 192, 199 (4th
Cir. 1997))). Given that Mr. Williams expressly seeks
“dismissal and discharge” of the support orders
entered in state court, this Court lacks jurisdiction to
address his claims. ECF 1 at 5.
reasons set forth above, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss,
ECF 7, is granted and Plaintiff's Petition for Judgment,
ECF 9, is denied. A separate Order follows.
 Mr. Williams argues, without citation
to any case law, that “NO ONE is immune once they
violate constitutional law.” ECF 9 at 2. The governing
precedent does not support that statement. Although there is
a narrow exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity permitting
a State official to be sued for prospective injunctive relief
to address an ongoing constitutional violation, see Ex
parte Young,209 U.S. 123 (1908), Mr. Williams does not
seek prospective injunctive relief in this case. He has only
asked for money ...