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Mason v. Montgomery County Police Dep't.

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 13, 2013

RAFAEL S. MASON, Plaintiff,
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE DEP'T., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The Court has reviewed the record and deems a hearing unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is employed as a police officer at the Montgomery County Police Department, Division of Security Services (the Department). Plaintiff has sued both the Department and Montgomery County, Maryland. The Court dismisses Plaintiff's claims against the Department per se because it not a suable entity. See, e.g., LaPier v. Prince George's County, Md., Civil Action No. 10-CV-2851 AW, 2011 WL 4501372, at *3 (D. Md. Sep. 27, 2011) (citing cases).

Plaintiff started working for the Department in 1995. Plaintiff is an African-American male. Plaintiff alleges that he filed a complaint of racial discrimination against the Department in 2008. Doc. No. 1 ¶ 62. However, Plaintiff provides no allegations surrounding this incident. See id.

Plaintiff was transferred to the Rockville facility in the spring of 2011. Apparently, Plaintiff was a "Security Officer II" (SO II) at this time. Plaintiff alleges that his white supervisors started to harass him upon his transfer to the Rockville facility. Plaintiff sets forth the following allegations to support this assertion: (1) his request to attend a one-day training class was denied even though a lower-ranked white coworker was allowed to attend; (2) a white manager spread false rumors about Plaintiff; and (3) "Mr. Gordy" did not grant his request for a different post assignment even though two white coworkers hardly had to work this assignment.

In September 2011, Plaintiff filed an EEOC charge of discrimination. Plaintiff hurt himself on the job in November 2011. At an unspecified time thereafter, Gordy did not properly submit information for Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim.

In August 2012, Officer Gerharz, a lower-ranked white officer, sent "sensitive information across the Department's intranet to harass and humiliate" Plaintiff. Doc. No. 1 ¶ 24. Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff complained about Gerharz to internal affairs. The complaint was assigned to Gordy. Allegedly, Gordy failed to appropriately investigate Plaintiff's complaint and Gerharz was not disciplined for his conduct. Sometime later, Gordy charged Plaintiff with conduct unbecoming of an officer for allegedly threatening Gerharz. As a result, Plaintiff was demoted to Security Officer I (SO I) and suspended for 160 hours with his pay to be docked accordingly.

In December 2012, Plaintiff was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation. Plaintiff adds that he must be at home during his normal tour of duty and is not able to earn overtime pay.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court on April 11, 2013. Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff asserts claims for racial discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment under Title VII, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (MFEPA), and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.[1] On August 12, 2013, the County filed a Motion to Dismiss. Doc. No. 7. The County generally argues that Plaintiff has failed to state facially plausible claims. Plaintiff filed a Response on October 10, 2013. Doc. No. 11. Although Plaintiff argues that he has asserted facially plausible claims, he alternatively requests leave to amend his Complaint. The County has replied and the matter is ripe for review.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The purpose of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In two recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified the standard applicable to Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). These cases make clear that Rule 8 "requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). This showing must consist of at least "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570.

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court should first review the complaint to determine which pleadings are entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50. "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950. In so doing, the court must construe all factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999). The Court need not, however, accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles County Commissioners, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, ...


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