United States District Court, D. Maryland
Kevin Jackson, Plaintiff, Pro se, Baltimore, MD.
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
At the time he filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Kevin Jackson (" Jackson") was a pre-trial detainee housed at the Baltimore City Detention Center awaiting trial on charges arising out of his May 19, 2012 arrest. Jackson sought declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, claiming that he was arrested on false charges of attempted second-degree murder and dangerous weapon with intent to injure in violation of his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He complained that police: subjected him to an illegal house search and seizure; failed to turn over probative evidence to the prosecutor; did not read him his Miranda rights, but instead questioned him about his guilt; and made false statements in the charging document. ECF No. 1. Jackson named the Baltimore City Police Department, an officer and two detectives as Defendants.
On October 10, 2013, the Complaint was dismissed without prejudice as barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994). Jackson subsequently sought an appeal and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed, vacated, and remanded the case in part on April 1, 2014. The Fourth Circuit noted that Jackson had been convicted of assault, but that the determination " required a close factual examination of the record related to the underlying conviction. It remanded the case for district court review as to whether Jackson's illegal search and seizure claim was barred by Heck's favorable termination rule. On April 7, 2014, the case was reopened and Defendants were directed to respond to that remaining claim.
II. Pending Motions
Defendants Byfield, Galling, and Hunter filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 20. Defendant Baltimore City Police Department (hereinafter referred to as " BCPD") Filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, construed as a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 22. Both Motions remain unopposed as of the within signature date. ECF No. 7. No hearing is needed to resolve the issues presented. See Local Rule 106.5 (D. Md. 2014). For reasons to follow, Defendant BCPD's Motion shall be granted and the Complaint against Officers Byfield, Galling, and Hunter shall be dismissed.
III. Standard of Review
Motion to Dismiss
The purpose of a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the petition. See Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The petition need only satisfy the standard of Rule 8(a), which requires a " short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). " Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a 'showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n. 3, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929, (2007). That showing must consist of more than " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" or " naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal citations omitted).
At this stage, the court must consider all well-pleaded allegations in a Complaint as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268, 114 S.Ct. 807, 127 L.Ed.2d 114 (1994), and must construe all factual allegations in the light most favorable to the Jackson, see Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). Because Jackson is self-represented, his submissions are liberally construed. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007). In evaluating the petition, the court need not accept unsupported legal allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), nor must it agree with legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009). " [W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not 'show[n] ... that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (quoting Fed. R .Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, " [d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will...be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.
Motion for Summary Judgment
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment should be granted " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (emphasis added). Whether a fact is material depends upon the substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Accordingly, " the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Id. " A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment:may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must 'set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003) (alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draw all justifiable inferences in his favor. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) (citation omitted); see also Greater Baltimore Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 721 F.3d 264, 283 (4th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). At the same time, the Court must not yield its obligation " to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial." Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
A federal court must liberally construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants to allow them to fully develop potentially meritorious cases. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 92 S.Ct. 1079, 31 L.Ed.2d 263 (1972). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a claim. See Weller v. Department of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387, 391 ...