Beall v. Hogan et al

Filing 8

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 8/25/2017. (c/m 8/25/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)

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flLFfJ . r'''-;.... _... ) IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,,:~' FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND Southern Division RICHARD IIOWARD BEALL, ZOIl AUG2S P I: .m., lj q * I'laintiff, ,, * -- ~ v. LARRY LA WRENCE HOGAN, DIRECTOR ROBINSON, TOM LEWIS, NINA DIANA, Social Worker in Charge, Case No.: (;.III-16-3678 * . * * * Defendants. * * * * * * * * MEMORANDUM Self~rcprcscnted Dcpartmcnt Hospital Plaintiff against Dcfcndants. including Maryland stan: allcging that Defendants vote in the 2016 presidential in the Altcrnativc. Opposition. Richard Howard Bcall..Ir. a Maryland state psychiatric Governor for Summary committcd hospital. to thc Beall brought this Complaint (Larry) Hogan and various hospital rights by interfcring "ith his right to have tiled a Motion to Dismiss ECF NO.5. to which Beall tiled a Rcsponse Thc Court finds a hearing unnccessary. 105.6. (D. Md. 2016). For reasons to 1()llow. Dcfcndants' I. * 01'. in ECF No.7. The matter is ready liJr disposition. Summary * and is a paticnt at thc Clition T. Pcrkins ECF No. I. Defendants Judgment. * is involuntarily Lawrencc violated his constitutional election. * OJ'INION of Hcalth and Mental Hygicnc ("DIIMH") Ccnter ("Pcrkins"). * Judgmcnt. Motion. construcd See Loc. R. as a Motionli)r is grantcd. BACKGROUND - On Au!!ust 21. 2008. the District Court lor Carroll Countv committcd . Beall to DIIMII after he was held not criminally responsible on the charge of second-degree assault. Slale \'. Richard /I. Beall. Jr.. Case No. 6S00040935 (Carroll County Circuit Court. August 21. 20(8). ECF No. 5-2. Defendants acknowledge that Beall has not been declared judicially incompetent and therefore retains his right to vote. ECF No. 5- J n.l (citing 60 Op. At!'y Gen. 208: Ifill \'. SIll/e. 35 Md. App. 98 (Md. 1977)}. Beall is housed in a maximum security ward at Perkins. Aflidavit of Michael Jordan. LCSW-C. ECF 5-2 n 2. 3. 4. 1 Beall claims that Defendants failed to provide him with an absentee ballot or an application to apply Illr one in the 20 J 6 Presidential election. thereby denying him his right to vote. ECF No. I at 32 He alleges that he is being unconstitutionally detained by the hospital administration and was denied an absentee ballot to makc him "look bad," It!. Bcall further claims that the hospital stalTt~liled to tIle paperwork necessary tllr him to vote or ask him ifhe wanted to vote or participate in the voting process. ECF NO.7 at 1-3. As relief: Beall seeks $75.000.000. his release. and shutdown of the hospital. ECF No. I at 33 Defendants Governor Larry I logan. Danielle Robinson. M.D .. a psychiatrist and Chief of Pretrial Services at Perkins. Thomas Lewis. Chief Operations Ortlcer at Perkins. and Nina Diana. Director of Social Work at Perkins. by their counsel. have lIIed exhibits and declarations with their dispositive Motion. ECF Nos. 5-1 to 5-8. Defendant Governor Larry I logan is not a Perkins' employee and has had no involvement in Beall's treatment at Perkins. ECF 5-1 at 2. According to their Aftldavits. Defendants Lewis. Robinson. and Diana are employed by Perkins. ECF No. 5-4. ECF No. 5-5. ECF No. 5-6. Lewis. who has served as acting Chief Exeeutivc I Michael Jordan. Beall"s social worker. sees him on the housing unit daily. Jordan also meets with Beall 1110nth. EeF No. 5-3 at 2. individually and with [3caJl"streatment team several times each Pin cites to documents filed by that systelll . 1 011 the Coun"s electronic tiling system (CM/ECF) refer to the page numbers generated .13eall provides no facts to suggest he is being unconstitutional]v detained. Accordinl!lv. this Court construes Bcal1"s ' claim as violation of his right to VOle only. "'.... ~. ¥ 2 ~ • Orticcr and is prcscntly Chicf Opcrations Orticcr at Perkins. attests that although hc occasionally mccts with paticnts at Pcrkins, he has no dircct recollection of mecting Bcall. and "no firsthand knowledge of any cvents dcscribed in his Complaint." ECF No. 5-4 ~i~ 1-4, Robinson attcsts that she has ncvcr mct Bcall and has "no firsthand knowlcdgc of any cvcnts dcscribcd in his Complaint:' ECF No, 5-5 ~3, Diana attcsts shc docs not "rccall evcr mccting Mr. Bcall"' and has "no firsthand knowlcdgc of any evcnts described in his Complaint:' ECF No, 5-6 ~6. Bcall providcs no artidavit or othcr vcrilied cvidcnce to rcfutc thcsc statcmcnts. II. STANDARD OF REVIEW The Court is mindful that Bcall is a pro se litigant and his pleadings arc libcrally construcd, Erickson \', ['an/lls. 551 U.S. 89,94 (2007): Haines \" Kerner, 404 U,S. 519. 520-21 (1972) (pcr curiam), Howcvcr, the requircment of libcral construction docs not mcan thc Court can ignorc a clear Itlilure in thc pleadings to allege ft\cts which sct fiJrth a claim. See Weller \" Depar/lllel1/ o(Soeial Sen'ices. 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). A, Motion to Dismiss To survive a motion to dismiss invokin!! Fcdcral Rule ofCivilProcedurc 12(b)(6},"a complaint must contain sutlicient factualmattcr, acccptcd as truc, to 'statc a claim to rclicfthat is plausible on its face:" Ashen!!! \'. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell A/lan/ie Corp. \', 7\l'olllhfy, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has lacial plausibility whcn thc plaintifT plcads ftlctual contcnt that allows thc court to draw thc rcasonable infercnce that thc dcfcndant is liablc f()r thc misconduct allegcd:' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "Thrcadbare rccitals ofthc e1cments ofa causc of action. supportcd by mcre conclusory statements, do not surlice:' Ill. (citing T\l'Olllb~\', 550 U.S. at 555). The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6} "is to test thc surticiency ofa complaint and not to resolve 3 contcsts surrounding the IllctS. the mcrits of a claim. or the applicahility of defenses."' Presley Cily o{Charlo/leS\'flle, I', 464 F,3d 480. 483 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(h)(6). a court "must accept as truc all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint:' and must "draw all reasonable inferences [Irom those tllctSJ in favor of the plaintiff."' E.I. dllPol1/ de Nelllollrs & CO. I', l\o!tJll Indlls .. Inc .. 637 F.3d 435. 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omittcd). Thc Court nced not. howcvcr. acccpt unsupportcd Icgal allegations. see Rel'ene \'. Charles CO/l/lly COIllIll'rs. 882 F.2d 870. 873 (4th Cir. 1989). legal conclusions couchcd as factual allcgations.Papa\all \" Allain, 478 U.S. 265. 286 (1986). or conclusory Illctual allcgations dcvoid of any rcfcrcnce to actual eyents. Uniled Black FirefigllleJ's ,!fN'i/:fillk I', Ilirst. 604 F.2d 844.847 (4th Cir. 1979). B. Motion for Summary ,Judgment Defendants' motion is stylcd as a Motion to Dismiss. or in the Altcrnative. for Summary Judgment. If the Court considcrs materials outside the plcadings. the Court must treat a motion to dismiss as onc for summary judgment. Fcd. R. Civ. P. 12(d). Whcn the Court treats a motion to dismiss as a motion It)r summary judgmcnt. "[aJIl parties must he given a rcasonahle opportunity to present all the matcrial that is pcrtinent to the motion."' Id. Whcn the moving party styles its motion as a "Motion to Dismiss. or in the Altcrnative. tt)r Summary Judgmcnt:' as is thc case herc. and attaches additionalmatcrials to its motion. thc nonmoving party is. of course. awarc that matcrials outsidc the pleadings are helt)re the Court. and thc Court can treat thc motion as onc It))'summary judgmcnt. See Lallgh/in I', ;\/ell'Opolil1ll7 Wash. Airports AII/h .. 149 F.3d 253. 260.61 (4th Cir. 1998). Fm1her. the Court is not prohibitcd li'om granting a motion lor summary judgmcnt beforc thc commcncement of discovcry, See Fcd. R. Civ. P, 56(a) (stating that the court "shall grant summary judgment dispute as to any material judgment is appropriate e1cctronieally interrogatory material faet"' without distinguishing if"materials stored information. answcrs. if the movant shows that there is no genuine pre-or post-discovery). in the record. including depositions. aflidavits or declarations. or other materials:' stipulations. Summary doeuments. , . admissions. show that thcre is "no genuinc dispute as to any lact and the movant is entitled to judgmcnt as a mattcr of law:' Fcd. R. Civ. P, 56(a) and 56(c): see also Celolex Corp. \', Calrell. 477 U.S. 317. 322 (1986), Thc party moving IlJr summary judgmcnt material bears thc burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to facts. Pullialll!l1\'. Co, \', Call1eo Props .. 810 F.2d 1282. 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving P,1I1Y to identify specific facts showing that there is a genuinc burden shins to the nonmoving issue for trial. See ("elolex. 477 U.S, at 322.23. A material outcome party's case. the of the suit under the governing f~lct is one that "might affect thc law:' Spriggs \', Dialllond Aula 0lass. 242 F.3d 179. 183 (4th Cir. 200 I) (quoting Anderson \', Liherly La"")', Inc.. 477 U.S. 242. 248 (1986 dispute of material fact is only "genuine" if sufficient evidence ». f~lVoring the nonmoving A party exists for the trier of f~lct to rcturn a verdict for that party. Anderson. 477 U.S, al 248, Ilow'ever. Ihe nonmoving parly "cannot crcate a genuine issue of matcrial Ihe bui Iding of one inference III. upon anothcr:' f~lct through mcrc speculation Beale \', lIal'l~\'. 769 F.2d 213. 214 (41h Cir. 1986), DISCUSSION Plaintiff fails to statc a claim undcr 42 U.S,c. right to votc in federal elections conferred by Article * 1983 lor violation of his constitutional I. Section 2 of the U.S, Constitution. lIarper \', Virginia Slale Bd. OrE/eclions. 383 U ,S, 663 (1996), Moreover. the Defendants immune or otherwise from suit in their official capacity or under the Eleventh Amendmcnt 5 See are protected from suit in their individual capacity under thc doctrine of sovcreign immunity. Thc National Votcr Registration Act ("NVRA") rcquires cach statc to designate agcncics fiJr the registration of voters in Federal elections. 52 U.s.C. ~ 20506. Designatcd agcncies assist votcrs in registering to vote. rcnc\ving or recertifying voter eligibility. and submitting a change of address. /d. Under the NVRA. states must designate public benefit agcncies to assist with thesc responsibilitics. In Maryland. these agencies include the Motor Vehiclc Administration. local depal1ments of social scrviccs. local ol1ices on aging. and public institutions of highcr cducation. See Exhibit 6, lOCI' 5-7. Maryland's public psychiatric oflices for voter assistance. facilitates arc not among Maryland's designated State l3eall does not allege that anybody at Perkins, including Defendants, impeded his right to vote: rather. Bcall asscrts that Perkins' staff failed to provide him with an absentee ballot. ECF No. I at 3. Perkins has no obligation to provide I3call with an abscntee ballot. And even if Pcrkins was among Maryland's designated State onices lix voter assistancc, such ofliccs are tasked with assisting in cnrolling eligible voters, not providing voters with absentee ballots. Beall does not allege that he requestcd anyone at Perkins to assist him in enrolling to vote. On the contrary, Michael Jordan, Beall"s social worker. attests "Mr. Beall never exprcssed to me a desire to vote in the 2016 elcction. The first I heard of his desirc to vote was upon rcceipt ofa copy of the Complaint alleged lailure to anirmatively in this case:' ECF No. 5-3 ~5. The Delendant's olTer I3call assistancc in obtaining an absentee ballot alone does not suppon a claim under 42 U,S.c. ~ 1983. Even if this Court found Bcall to havc a plausible claim under 42 U.S.c. ~ 1983, Dcfendants are immune Irom suit in their onicial capacity under the Eleventh Amcndment. Thc Elevcnth Amendmcnt bars suits lor damages against a state in federal court unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity or Congress has abrogated its immunity. See Pennhursl Slille Sell. 6 & /Imp, I', Ha/dl!l'lI/al1. 465 U.S. 89. 101-02 (\984), Of import here. "r A 1 suit against a state oflieial in his or her oflicial capacity is not a suit against the oflicial but rather is a suit against the oflicial's ofticc. As such. it is no different Irom a suit against the State itself."' WillI", Micl1igal1 Dept, a/Slate Police, 491 U.S. 58. 7\ (1989): see a/so Lal1al1al1 \', State OJ".'vIlIlTlal1ll. No. JFM-15-2030. 2016 WL 3570602 (D. Md. June 23. 2016) (finding that suits againstl'erkins arc barred under the Eleventh Amendment). ~ IV. CONCLUSION For thcse reasons. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or. in the Alternative. Motion for Summary Judgment. Eel' NO.5. shall be granted. A separate Order follows. Dated: August t5. 2017 GEORGE J. HAZEL United States District Judge ~ Beall does not specifY ifhc is suing Defendants in their official or individual capacities. Regardless. Defendants are immune from suit in their individual capacities under the doctrine of sovereign immunity because Beall docs not suggest that Defendants' actions violate a clearly established constitutional right of which they knew or should have known. Pro('unier \', Na\'orelfe. 434 U.S. 555. 561-562 (1978). Additionally, Beall docs not refute Defendants' assertion that they have no firsthand knowledge or any of the allegations in his complaint. 7

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