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Ghazzaoui v. Anne Arundel County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 11, 2014

RAMEZ GHAZZAOUI, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND, et al., Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Ramez Ghazzaoui filed suit against defendants Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Anne Arundel County Police Department; Officer Dwayne Raiford; and Corporal Doyle Holquist.[1] Alleging violations of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, he has brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also asserts claims under Maryland state law. See ECF 3 ("Am. Compl." or "Amended Complaint").[2]

Presently pending before this Court are defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF 5), which is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 5-1) (collectively, the "Motion"), and plaintiff's motion for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint (ECF 6, "Motion to Amend"). No hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I will grant plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend. Defendants' Motion will be granted in part, denied in part, and denied in part as moot.

Factual Background[3]

Shortly before midnight on April 26, 2013, Raiford and Holquist entered plaintiff's home, located at 8003 Sanctuary Court, Laurel, Maryland 20724, after receiving a report and observing an open garage that contained a vehicle with open doors. Am. Compl. ¶ 11. Raiford and Holquist searched the first floor of plaintiff's home, and then proceeded to the second floor to continue their search. Id. ¶¶ 12-13.

Raiford and Holquist entered the second floor bedroom where plaintiff was sleeping and woke him. Id. at ¶ 14. Raiford and Holquist asked plaintiff for identification, and plaintiff provided his driver's license, which reflected an address of 8003 Sanctuary Court, Laurel, Maryland 20724. Id. To substantiate that the residence was his home, plaintiff indicated that Raiford and Holquist could look at the photographs on the wall that depicted plaintiff, and speak with plaintiff's minor daughter, who was asleep in a bedroom down the hall. Id. Nevertheless, Raiford and Holquist remained on the premises. Id . ¶ 15.

After Raiford and Holquist refused to leave, plaintiff requested their names and badge numbers. Id. at ¶ 16. Raiford refused. Id. Raiford and Holquist then arrested plaintiff. Id. According to plaintiff, the arrest was "unlawful" and "without a warrant and without probable cause." Id. Plaintiff asserts that during the course of the arrest, Raiford and Holquist "used excessive force, slamming Plaintiff's head and face into a wall and onto the floor, and brutally assaulted the Plaintiff's person, " which resulted in "bruises and injuries to his body, including his face, head, lower back, and right arm." Id.

Following his arrest, Raiford and Holquist transported plaintiff to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Western District Station for processing. Id. ¶ 17. At some point after plaintiff was taken into custody, Holquist conducted a search of plaintiff's bedroom and master bathroom. Id. ¶ 96. Plaintiff alleges that the post-arrest search of the bedroom and master bathroom occurred "without a warrant, without probable cause, and without Plaintiff's consent." Id. ¶ 97.

Plaintiff was confined to a jail cell until approximately 3:00 a.m. and then transported to the County Police Station, where he remained until 8:30 a.m. Id. That same morning, plaintiff was taken to the District Court for Anne Arundel County, where he appeared before a commissioner. Id. The statement of charges filed by Officer Raiford included two charges for obstructing and hindering a police officer in the performance of his lawful duties, two charges for resisting arrest, one charge for failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order of a law enforcement officer, and one charge for causing a physical injury in the second degree to a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties. Id. Plaintiff remained in jail until the evening of April 28, 2013, when he posted bond.

The District Court acquitted plaintiff of the charge of failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order of a law enforcement officer. Id. ¶ 21. The remaining charges were tried before a jury in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, and ultimately disposed of in plaintiff's favor, either by jury verdict or dismissal. Id.

Subsequently, plaintiff initiated this action, asserting the following claims: Count I, "Violation of Maryland Declaration of Rights"; Count II, "Excessive Force/Police Brutality"; Count III, "Assault and Battery"; Count IV, "False Arrest"; Count V, "False Imprisonment; Count VI, "Malicious Prosecution"; Count VII, "Violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983/Deprivation of Federal Civil Rights Against Defendant Dwayne Raiford, " based on violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; Count VIII, "Violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983/Deprivation of Federal Civil Rights Against Defendant Cpl. Doyle Holquist, " based on violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; Count IX, "Negligent Supervision, Training, and Retention Against Defendants Anne Arundel County and Anne Arundel County Police Department"; and Count X, "Violation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983/Deprivation of Federal Civil Rights Against Defendant Cpl. Doyle Holquist for Unlawful Search and Seizure of Property, " based on violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

After defendants moved to dismiss the suit, plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend, seeking leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to address certain deficiencies cited in defendants' Motion. In particular, plaintiff seeks to: (1) remove the Anne Arundel County Police Department as a named defendant in the suit; (2) remove Anne Arundel County, Maryland as a defendant from Counts II-IV; (3) remove Count IX; "supplement/amend" Count I; and (4) "supplement/amend" Count X (renumbered as Count IX of the proposed Second Amended Complaint) by removing a claim for unlawful seizure of property and including additional factual allegations. ECF 6 at 3. Plaintiff opposes the dismissal of Count II as to Raiford and Holquist, and Count X as to Holquist (ECF 7, "Opposition"). In light of the Motion to Amend, plaintiff asks the Court to deny as moot defendants' motion to dismiss Counts I, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX of the Amended Complaint.

Defendants proceed as if the Court will grant the Motion to Amend. They have replied to the Opposition based on plaintiff's proposed Second Amended Complaint (ECF 9, "Reply").

Additional facts are included in the Discussion.

Standard of Review

A defendant may test the adequacy of a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must satisfy the pleading standard articulated in Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The purpose of the rule is to provide the defendant with "fair notice" of the claim and the "grounds" for entitlement to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 & n.3 (2007). That showing must consist of more than "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" or "naked assertion[s] ...


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