Crime Scenes: Baltimore man prolific filer of lawsuits

Federal judge admonishes him to stop

December 30, 2010|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

It's safe to say that Michael L. Pack doesn't like city police. He doesn't much care for the mayor, either. Or the governor.

The 48-year-old indigent man has made a virtual career out of suing dozens upon dozens of local and state officials — 110 in the past 15 years, Almost all of the suits were dismissed before trial and accompanied by an admonishment from a frustrated judge.

Frivolous lawsuits are a common theme running through courts of all shapes and sizes throughout the country, and they cost time, energy and money. And some suits that seem frivolous can end with surprising results.

But Pack's suits are not among them.

He almost always seeks the same amount — $50 million. He has never used an attorney, and it appears that he's never won a penny. His status as a pauper allows him to file "Forma Pauperis," thereby getting excused from the $350 filing fee in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Benson E. Legg, one of many judges to sift through a Pack claim, is not amused. In dismissing his latest lawsuit, filed Dec. 2 — complaining he was "imprisoned without probable cause" for urinating in a city alley — the judge warned that "if he continues to file frivolous and vexatious complaints, the pleadings may be reviewed and returned to him without docketing."

Baltimore City Solicitor George A. Nilson said he's heard of Pack but described him as "not somebody who brings fear and trembling to my mind." He said Pack is by far the most prolific filer of what he dubs frivolous lawsuits.

"I don't think there's anybody who's that much of a frequent flier," Nilson said.

Even though most cases are quickly dismissed, the city's attorney said that his staff still has to research issues and respond. "Every hour we have to spend dealing with Mr. Pack is an hour less we can spend on other cases," he said.

Nilson said he could file what's known as a "Rule 11" motion to hold Pack financially responsible, but it wouldn't be of much use because he's indigent.

"It sounds like Judge Legg is trying to put him on a short leash, which we very much appreciate," Nilson said. "But you can't say to someone that just because he files frivolous lawsuits that he can't file another lawsuit. He might have a case with some merit next week. We're sort of stuck with the process."

Pack lists an address and phone number in court documents that belong to an in-law in Gwynn Oak, who said Pack hasn't lived there for a decade. That relative offered a cell phone number for Pack, who answered and then hung up when he learned that a reporter wanted to talk with him.

In court papers, Pack lists no income from any source, including unemployment and public assistance, no job, no bank, no home, no car, no spouse and no contacts. He also lists no expenses.

His court filings ramble and often don't make sense. He appears unable to contain his sentences to the lines — letting them go from paper's edge to paper's edge. He writes notes filling the empty spaces on documents.

His grievances are many and varied.

He sued Gov. Martin O'Malley in April 2009, alleging that the state's chief executive used millions of dollars in federal money to buy 100 mass-transit buses that are inadequate for disabled patrons who need to use restrooms.

Pack said an MTA worker denied him access to a private bathroom at the Mondawmin Mall Metro stop, and he said MTA buses should be equipped with toilets. He wrote that O'Malley is "refusing the taxpayer the right to the rest room in violation of the United States constitution and the civil rights of the taxpayers who are paying."

And failure to provide adequate bathroom facilities, Pack said, is why he had to urinate in an alley. Therefore, he said in his lawsuit, his arrest and detention were illegal and the fault of the governor.

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