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Dp v. Cintron

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

July 26, 2013

DP, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER FERDINAND CINTRON, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

Plaintiff DP ("Plaintiff" or "DP"), a minor, initially brought this civil rights action against Defendants Officer Ferdinand Cintron ("Cintron"), Officer Sheena Newman ("Newman"), the City of Baltimore ("City") and the Baltimore City Police Department ("BCPD") (collectively "Defendants") in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. The initial Complaint alleged a claim of excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Count VII) as well as Maryland state law claims of assault (Count I), battery (Count II), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III), excessive force/police brutality (Count IV), negligence (Count V), negligent failure to instruct/supervise (Count VI) and violations of Article 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count VIII).[1] Subsequently, the BCPD removed this action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441.

Pending before this Court is Defendants Cintron and Newman's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 12) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Similarly, the BCPD has also filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 15) for failure to state a claim. Also pending before this Court are Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 19) and to Remand (ECF No. 27). The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 19) is GRANTED. As a result, no federal claims remain pending before this Court and Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (ECF No. 27) is also GRANTED. Accordingly, Plaintiff's remaining state law claims are REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City.

BACKGROUND

In the context of the pending motions, this Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff DP ("Plaintiff" or "DP"), a minor, alleges that on September 2, 2009, [2] while he was driving in the 1200 block of East 25th Street in Baltimore, Maryland, Defendant Officer Ferdinand Cintron ("Cintron") "activated his overhead lights, and called for DP to pullover." Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 2. Once DP pulled over, he allegedly exited the vehicle. Id. ¶ 6. Soon thereafter, Officer Cintron allegedly instructed DP to stop or he would shoot. Id. As DP turned around he claims having seen a gun pointed in his direction. Id. DP then allegedly laid flat on the ground and put his hands on his head. Id. ¶ 7. It was at that time, DP claims, that Officer Cintron "hit him with a metal object three times, one on each cheek/jaw, and one time behind his right ear." Id. DP then claims that he "blacked out, and [later awoke in the] North Eastern Police District [station] handcuffed to a table and dripping blood." Id. ¶ 8. Despite the blood dripping from his head and being handcuffed to a table, DP then claims that he was interrogated by Defendant Officer Sheena Newman ("Newman") for over an hour. Id. ¶ 9. Photographs of him were allegedly taken by other police officers. Id. ¶ 10. DP also claims that his shirt "was covered in blood" and that he was ordered to "throw [it] away... at [the] North Eastern Police District" station. Id. Following these events, DP claims that he was taken to the Johns Hopkins Hospital at 600 North Wolf Street in Baltimore where he was allegedly "treated for trauma to the head and face, " administered a numbing shot to the back of his ear and stitched up. Id. ¶ 11. Additionally, DP claims that the probable cause statement does not contain a mention concerning this altercation. Id. ¶ 12.

On November 4, 2009, one of DP's former counsel contacted the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore Law Department to indicate that he would be representing DP with respect to his claim for personal injuries or property damage against Cintron and other defendants. See Letters concerning claim filed with Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, ECF No. 19-3. It was not until almost three years later, on August 31, 2012, that another attorney filed the initial Complaint in this case on behalf of DP against Defendants Officer Ferdinand Cintron ("Cintron"), Officer Sheena Newman ("Newman"), the City of Baltimore ("City") and the Baltimore City Police Department ("BCPD") (collectively "Defendants") in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City.[3] Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 2. The Complaint alleged a claim of excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Count VII) as well as Maryland state law claims of assault (Count I), battery (Count II), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III), excessive force/police brutality (Count IV), negligence (Count V), negligent failure to instruct/supervise (Count VI) and violations of Article 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count VIII).[4] Id. On November 9, 2012, Defendant the BCPD removed this action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that, on November 7, 2012, he filed a First Amended Complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City which was not removed to this Court.[5] See Mot. to Remand at 2, ECF No. 27.

Presently pending before this Court is Defendants Cintron and Newman's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 12) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The BCPD has also filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 15) for failure to state a claim. Finally, Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 19) and a Motion to Remand (ECF No. 27).

STANDARDS OF REVIEW

I. MOTION TO AMEND

Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[a] party may amend its pleading once, as a matter of course" within "21 days after serving it, " or "if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a)(1)(A)-(B). "In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court "should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires." FED. R. CIV. P. 15(a)(2). Accordingly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that "leave to amend a pleading should be denied only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would have been futile." Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 427 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Sciolino v. City of Newport News, 480 F.3d 642, 651 (4th Cir. 2007).

II. MOTION TO REMAND

It is well settled that the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests with the party seeking removal. See, e.g., Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). Removal jurisdiction raises "significant federalism concerns, " and therefore must be strictly construed. Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 816 (4th Cir. 2004) (en banc) (quoting Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151). "If federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary." Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151 (citations omitted). This strict policy against removal and for remand protects the sovereignty of state governments and state judicial power. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941). "If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Additionally, even if the court has original jurisdiction over a civil action, the court nevertheless has discretion to remand a case to state court if, among other things, "the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Remand is favored in cases turning primarily on questions of state law, because "[n]eedless decisions of state law [by federal courts] should be avoided both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the parties, by procuring for them a superfooted reading of applicable law." United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibb s, 383 U.S. 715, 729 (1966). Thus, in a case where federal claims are eliminated before trial, "the balance of factors... will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims." Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n. 7 (1988).

ANALYSIS

I. MOTION TO AMEND ...


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