Beall v. Hogan et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 8/25/2017. (c/m 8/25/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)
. r'''-;.... _... )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,,:~'
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ZOIl AUG2S P I:
LARRY LA WRENCE HOGAN,
NINA DIANA, Social Worker in Charge,
Case No.: (;.III-16-3678
stan: allcging that Defendants
vote in the 2016 presidential
in the Altcrnativc.
Richard Howard Bcall..Ir.
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'
The matter is ready liJr disposition.
and is a paticnt at thc Clition T. Pcrkins
ECF No. I. Defendants
violated his constitutional
of Hcalth and Mental Hygicnc ("DIIMH")
See Loc. R.
as a Motionli)r
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 \'.
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.
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
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 .
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.
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
Robinson attcsts that
she has ncvcr mct Bcall and has "no firsthand knowlcdgc of any cvcnts dcscribcd in his
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.
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).
Motion to Dismiss
To survive a motion to dismiss invokin!! Fcdcral Rule ofCivilProcedurc
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
contcsts surrounding the IllctS. the mcrits of a claim. or the applicahility of defenses."' Presley
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.
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
\" 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
Ilirst. 604 F.2d
844.847 (4th Cir. 1979).
Motion for Summary
Defendants' motion is stylcd as a Motion to Dismiss. or in the Altcrnative. for Summary
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
;\/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
faet"' without distinguishing
if the movant shows that there is no genuine
in the record. including depositions.
or other materials:'
, . 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
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
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"
f~lVoring the nonmoving
exists for the trier of f~lct to rcturn a verdict for that party. Anderson. 477 U.S, al 248, Ilow'ever.
parly "cannot crcate a genuine issue of matcrial
Ihe bui Iding of one inference
f~lct through mcrc speculation
Beale \', lIal'l~\'. 769 F.2d 213. 214 (41h Cir. 1986),
fails to statc a claim undcr 42 U.S,c.
right to votc in federal elections
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.
from suit in their official capacity
under the Eleventh Amendmcnt
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
/d. Under the NVRA. states must designate public benefit agcncies to assist with thesc
In Maryland. these agencies include the Motor Vehiclc Administration.
depal1ments of social scrviccs. local ol1ices on aging. and public institutions of highcr cducation.
See Exhibit 6, lOCI' 5-7.
oflices for voter assistance.
facilitates arc not among Maryland's
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
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,
are immune Irom suit in their onicial capacity under the Eleventh Amcndment.
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.
Ha/dl!l'lI/al1. 465 U.S. 89. 101-02 (\984), Of import here.
"r A 1 suit against
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). ~
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.
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.
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