Smith v. Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Levi Russell, III on 4/4/2017. (c/m 4/4/17 bmhs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Civil Action No. GLR-16-3751
Smith filed this Complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in this Court without prepaying the filing fee.
To guard against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires dismissal of any claim that
is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). When reviewing whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the
purpose 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.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d
231, 243–44 (4th Cir. 1999) (quoting Republican Party v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir.
1992)). 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,” Rule 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
F.App’x 165 (4th Cir. 2013).
A court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm’rs of Davidson Cty., 407
F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). But, the
court need not accept unsupported or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979), or legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Smith is proceeding pro se. Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(quoting 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). But even a pro se complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a plausible
claim for relief.” Forquer v. Schlee, No. RDB-12-969, 2012 WL 6087491, at *3 (D.Md. Dec. 4,
2012) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
The Complaint does not state a plausible claim for relief. Smith filed a supplemental
complaint following this Court’s Order directing her to provide additional information regarding
the program from which she claims she was excluded; the dates and substance of any decisions
regarding the programs at issue; and the reasons that she believes make her exclusion improper.
(ECF No. 3). The supplemental Complaint does not correct all of the noted deficiencies. (ECF
No. 4). Specifically, she does not provide any factual allegations to support her conclusory claim
that her exclusion from the PASS program was unlawful or improper. Rather, Smith simply
claims that her exclusion has harmed her financially because she has been unable to start her own
business which she alleges would have earned one to forty million dollars per year. (ECF No. 4
at 2). Thus, the Complaint is vague and contains no discernible basis for the conclusory
allegation that Defendant improperly excluded Smith from participation in the PASS program.
Accordingly, the Complaint will be dismissed. A separate Order follows.
April 4, 2017
George L. Russell, III
United States District Judge
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