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Bell v. Baltimore City Police Department

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

May 23, 2013

RUDOLPH L. BELL, JR
v.
BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL

MEMORANDUM

J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

This case was originally filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. Named as defendants are the Baltimore City Police Department and several unidentified officers of the Department. The Department removed the action to this court, and it has filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint.

Count V of the amended complaint is entitled "Violation of U.S. Constitution, Fifth Amendment, Defendant Police Department's Failure to Properly Train." The Department reasonably construed this count as alleging a Monell claim in violation of federal law, and it was on this basis that the removal petition was filed. It his opposition memoranda, plaintiff avers that he was not intending to assert a federal claim but rather was stating only a state claim for failure to properly train and that the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution merely establishes the standard of care to a failure to train claim. It may very well be that plaintiff has no cognizable claim under state law. This court, however, will take plaintiff at his word that he is not stating a federal claim. Of course, plaintiff's representation to this court that he is not asserting any Monell claim judicially estops him from asserting a Monell claim at a later stage of this litigation.

Under these circumstances plaintiff's motion to remand will be granted. Given the fact, however, that it was plaintiff's own inartful pleading that caused the removal, no costs or fees will be awarded against defendant for having filed the petition for removal.

The Circuit Court for Baltimore City, to which this case is remanded, should decide the non-federal issues raised by defendant's motion to dismiss because only questions of state law are presented. To reiterate, however, plaintiff is estopped from asserting a Monell claim later in this litigation.


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