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Roshchin v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

August 29, 2014


Appeal from the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Alison L. Asti, Judge.

Argued by: Ryan A. Mitchell (Kramon & Graham, PA on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant.

Argued by: Sharon B. Benzil of Baltimore, MD, William C. Lindsey (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General, Robert J. Sager of BWI Airport, MD) on the brief for Appellee.

Woodward, Kehoe, Hotten, JJ.[*]


Page 500

[219 Md.App. 171] Kehoe, J.

Appellants, Vadim Roshchin and his employer, American Sedan Service, Inc. (" American" ), assert that the State of Maryland, through three of its agencies, the Maryland Transportation Authority (" MTA" ), the Maryland Transportation [219 Md.App. 172] Authority Police (" MTAP" ), and the Maryland Aviation Administration (" MAA" ) (collectively, the " State" ), orchestrated Roshchin's arrest and the temporary confiscation of a limousine owned by American. The basis for these actions was Roshchin's violation of a regulation requiring him to display a permit allowing him to pick up passengers from the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (the " Airport" ). According to appellants, the sanction for violating the regulation is a fine. Therefore, they assert, Roshchin's arrest and the confiscation of the vehicle were unlawful and tortious.

Page 501

Appellants filed suit against the State asserting various common law and constitutional torts. The Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County granted the State's motion for summary judgment and appellants present four questions for our review, which we have consolidated and rephrased:

I. Did the circuit court err in treating the relevant Airport regulation as valid and enforceable on the date of Roshchin's arrest?
II. Did the circuit court err in granting summary judgment in favor of the State on all claims alleged by Roshchin and American?

For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the judgment of the circuit court in part, reverse it in part, and remand this case for further proceedings.


The Incident

American operates a limousine service that regularly picks up arriving passengers (who have previously contracted for its services) from the Airport. In order to do so lawfully, a limousine service must obtain a permit from the MAA and the permit must be displayed in the vehicle while the pick-up is made.

On the evening of February 23, 2010, Roshchin arrived at BWI to pick up two customers who had previously arranged [219 Md.App. 173] transportation from the airport. Roshchin was operating a limousine owned by American, his employer. American had obtained a valid permit for the type of vehicle operated by Roshchin but, on this particular night, Roshchin had left the permit in another of American's cars. Also on that night, unbeknownst to Roshchin, MTAP was conducting an enforcement initiative designed to curtail unauthorized commercial transportation operations at the airport. This initiative included the enforcement of COMAR §, which is the regulation that requires display of the permit.[1] While Roshchin was waiting for his passengers, he was approached by MTAP Detective Kevin Ermer. Roshchin had neither a permit displayed on his vehicle nor physical possession of such a permit. Detective Ermer, in accordance with a MTAP protocol, proceeded to arrest Roshchin for violating the regulation and impounded the vehicle.

Roshchin was held in a holding cell at the airport for several hours until his case was called before a District Court Commissioner. After the hearing, Roshchin was released on his personal recognizance. The Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office subsequently entered a nolle prosequi to the charge. The vehicle Roshchin had been operating at the time of his arrest remained in the impound lot for about an hour and a half before being retrieved by Vladimir Segel, the owner of American.

The Circuit Court Proceedings

In February, 2012, Roshchin and American filed suit against the State, alleging in their complaint three counts arising out of Roshchin's arrest (false arrest, false imprisonment, and a violation of the rights guaranteed by Article 24 of the Declaration of Rights), and two counts arising out of the impoundment of the vehicle Roshchin was operating (trespass to chattels and tortious interference with business relations).

Page 502

[219 Md.App. 174] The parties eventually filed competing motions for summary judgment. In their motion, Roshchin and American asserted that a partial judgment should be granted in their favor because " a violation of COMAR [§ ] is not an incarcerable offense pursuant to the unambiguous language of the enabling statutes." Instead, according to Roshchin and American, Detective Ermer was authorized only to issue a citation to Roshchin for his violation of the regulation.

The State contended that judgment in its favor was appropriate as to the counts arising out of Roshchin's arrest because Detective Ermer's actions were supported by probable cause, were legally justified, and did not otherwise violate Roshchin's Article 24 rights. Similarly, the State maintained that judgment in its favor was appropriate as to the counts arising out of the impoundment of American's vehicle because Roshchin, the driver, had been properly arrested and impoundment of the vehicle was thereafter necessary in order to preserve public safety at the airport terminal.

In response to the State's motion, Roshchin and American argued that there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether COMAR § was an enforceable regulation on the night of Roshchin's arrest because the record evidence was unclear as to whether the regulation had been " posted conspicuously in a public place" at BWI pursuant to the relevant statutory requirements.

After a hearing on the motions, the circuit court issued a written opinion and order granting summary judgment in favor of the State on all counts. With respect to the counts raised by Roshchin, the circuit court concluded that, while Detective Ermer could have issued a citation to Roshchin for violating COMAR §, the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions did not restrict the officer's authority to place Roshchin under arrest. Turning to the undisputed facts, the court concluded that Detective Ermer's arrest of Roshchin was proper because: one, Roshchin's violation of the regulation constituted a misdemeanor under the relevant provisions [219 Md.App. 175] of the Transportation Article; and, two, Roshchin committed the offense in the presence of the Detective.

With respect to the counts raised by American, the circuit court concluded that judgment was appropriate on the trespass to chattels count because the State had " the authority to impound [American's] vehicle in order to permit the uninterrupted flow of traffic and decrease the risk of any accidents occurring at BWI," and on the count for tortious interference with business relations because Roshchin " was lawfully arrested by Detective Ermer, and American's vehicle was lawfully impounded."

This appeal followed.


We review the circuit court's grant of summary judgment de novo, Harford County v. Saks Fifth Ave. Distrib. Co., 399 Md. 73, 82, 923 A.2d 1 (2007), determining, first, whether there exists a dispute as to any material fact and, second, whether the court was legally correct. Lombardi v. Montgomery County, 108 Md.App. 695, 710, 673 A.2d 762 (1996). In making this determination, we consider the facts in the record " 'in the light most favorable to the non-moving part[y].'" Georgia-Pacific Corp. v. Benjamin, 394 Md. 59, 74, 904 A.2d 511 (2006) (quoting Sadler v. Dimensions Healthcare Corp., 378 Md. 509, 533-34, 836 A.2d 655 (2003)). " Even if it appears that the relevant facts are undisputed, if those facts are susceptible to inferences supporting the position of the party

Page 503

opposing summary judgment, then a grant of summary judgment is improper." Id. The " purpose of the summary judgment procedure is not to try the case or to decide the factual disputes, but to decide whether there is an issue of fact, ...

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