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Abunaw v. Prince George's Corrections Department

United States District Court, District of Maryland

March 9, 2015



DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, United States District Judge

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this civil rights case is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Prince George's County, Maryland ("the County").[1] (ECF No. 25). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion will be granted.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

On September 12, 2013, Plaintiff was conducting a "business transaction" at a Wells Fargo bank located in Prince George's County. (ECF No. 1, at 2). According to Plaintiff, two police officers entered the bank and asked Plaintiff to follow them outside. Plaintiff alleges that he complied with the officers' request and once outside, the officers placed handcuffs on him "without telling [Plaintiff] that he was under arrest or why [Plaintiff] was being arrested." (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff alleges that he was taunted by other officers while being taken to the police car and that he suffered injuries to his arms during this incident. (Id.).

Following his arrest, Plaintiff was transferred to an Upper Marlboro jail by Officer Laura Perret (ID No. 3663). (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that while at the jail, he continued to be taunted by police officers and was placed in a "dirty and filthy" cell. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff alleges that while in jail he requested water, but was never given any. (Id.). Plaintiff requested to use a phone to call his relatives, which he "understands is his right to do, " but was told that the phones were not working. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that after being told this, he saw other inmates using the same phones to which he was denied access. (Id. at 4-5). After spending several hours in a jail cell, Plaintiff was taken to see the Commissioner; Plaintiff was given forms to sign as a condition of his release and was eventually released. (Id. at 5).

B. Procedural Background

On September 17, 2013, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action against Prince George's Corrections Department and Prince George's Police Department. (ECF No. 1, at 1). On September 20, 2013, an order was issued notifying Plaintiff that his complaint did "not name a proper Defendant" and instructing Plaintiff to identify the individual actors who were responsible for violating his civil rights. (ECF No. 2).[2] Plaintiff subsequently filed an "Amended Complaint, " naming as individual defendants his arresting officers, Officer Perret (ID: 3663) and Officer Rustin (ID: 3578). (ECF No. 3).

Defendant Officers Perret and Rustin moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service of process on February 11, 2014. (ECF No. 16). Due to his improper service, Plaintiff was ordered to re- effect service of process on Defendants Perrett and Rustin. (ECF No. 24). Plaintiff failed to effect service promptly on these Defendants, which resulted in the issuance of another order on August 27, 2014, instructing Plaintiff to complete summonses for Defendants Perret and Rustin within fourteen days and warning him that a failure to do so would result in dismissal of these Defendants. (ECF No. 28). Plaintiff failed to comply with this order, and on October 2, 2014, Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Perret and Rustin were dismissed. (ECF No. 30). Accordingly, the County is the only remaining Defendant in this suit.

Plaintiff's complaint contains a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging various civil rights violations involving several different state actors in connection with his allegedly unlawful arrest on September 12, 2013. (ECF Nos. 1, at 2 and 1-1). First, Plaintiff alleges that his arresting officers never read him his Miranda rights. (Id. at 3). In addition, he states that the probable cause statement issued by Officer Perret "was full of lies" and led to "false criminal charges" being brought against him. (ECF No. 29, at 1). Plaintiff further alleges that he was falsely arrested as some sort of "preplanned" conspiracy in which the Commissioner was involved. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff also appears to be alleging that his treatment while in jail was cruel and inhumane. Lastly, Plaintiff alludes to the fact that there may have been "some level of coordination" between the police and his defense attorney, by stating that someone "asked that [Plaintiff] not be properly represented."[3] (Id. at 1, 3).

The County filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on July 31, 2014. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff opposed the motion on September 30, 2014. (ECF No. 29). In his opposition, Plaintiff also requests to amend his complaint to add as a defendant, "Commissioner Brian" (ID No. 5138), who presumably is a district court commissioner.

II. Standard of Review

The purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). A plaintiff's complaint 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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 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] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted).

At this stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be considered as true. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994). Further, all factual allegations must be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176 F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (internal citations omitted). While courts generally should hold pro se pleadings "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, " they may nonetheless dismiss complaints that lack a cognizable legal theory or that fail to allege sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Errivares v. Transp. Sec. Admin., No. DKC 09-1138, 2010 WL 610774 (D.Md. ...

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