United States District Court, D. Maryland
For Estate of Anthony Anderson, Sr., Decedent, Edith Fletcher, Mother of Decedent/Personal Representative for the Estate of Anthony Anderson, Leon Anderson, Father of Decedent, Anthony Anderson, Jr., Son of Decedent, Yvonne Anderson, Daughter of Decedent, Jean Anderson, Daughter of Decedent, Marcus Pettiford, Son of Decedent, Terrence Manocky, Son of Decedent, Plaintiffs: J Wyndal Gordon, The Law Office of J Wyndal Gordon PA, Baltimore, MD.
For Todd Strohman, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Michael Vodarick, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Gregg Boyd, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Defendants: Peter Woodward Sheehan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Whiteford Taylor and Preston LLP, Baltimore, MD.
For Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City, Defendant: Michael Patrick Redmond, LEAD ATTORNEY, Baltimore City Law Department, Baltimore, MD.
For Baltimore City Police Department, Defendant: Jennifer Sutherland Lubinski, LEAD ATTORNEY, Baltimore City Law Department, Legal Affairs Division, Baltimore, MD.
George L. Russell, III, United States District Judge.
Pending before the Court are Defendant Mayor and City Council of Baltimore's (the " City" ) and Defendant Baltimore City Police Department's  (" BPD" ) respective Motions to Dismiss. (ECF Nos. 9, 15).
Plaintiffs, the Estate of Anthony Anderson, Sr., and seven surviving immediate family members, are suing Officers Todd Strohman, Michael Vodarick, and Greg Boyd (collectively, the " Officers" ), the City, and the BPD, for civil and constitutional violations stemming from the violent death of Anthony Anderson, Sr., while in police custody.
This case presents two prevailing threshold issues. The first is whether the BPD may assert sovereign immunity to shield itself from Plaintiffs' state law actions. The second is one often visited but recently muddled by this Court: whether the City sufficiently controls the BDP to be subject to § 1983 liability for constitutional violations by Baltimore police officers.
Having reviewed the pleadings and supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2011). For the reasons outlined below, the Motions will be granted.
Anderson was returning home from a local corner store on September 21, 2012, when Officer Strohman approached him from behind in a vacant lot, lifted Anderson from his knees, and threw him to the ground head and neck first. Officer Strohman handcuffed Anderson while he lay on the ground. Moments later, Officers Vodarik and Boyd approached. The three officers proceeded to kick Anderson repeatedly in his ribs, stomach, back, and chest, causing him significant injuries from which he later died.
On October 24, 2013, Plaintiffs filed this survival and wrongful death action in this Court against the three officers, the City, and the BPD. Their eighty-six-page Complaint alleges forty causes of action, including twenty-eight counts against the three officers for violating Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, claims for constitutional violations asserted under § 1983, and claims for battery. The remaining twelve counts allege the BPD is liable because it inadequately trained, supervised, and disciplined the three officers. They also allege the BPD maintains a policy of using excessive force during criminal investigations. Despite listing the City as a defendant, the Complaint contains no substantive cause of action against it.
The City moved to dismiss the Complaint against it on November 22, 2013. (ECF No. 9). On December 3, 2013, the BPD moved to dismiss all but the two counts against it asserting § 1983 claims. (ECF No. 15). Although Plaintiffs filed a joint response to the Motions (ECF No. 19), only the City filed a reply. (ECF No. 20). Nevertheless, the Motions are ripe for review.
A. Standard of Review