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Cofield v. City of Baltimore

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 30, 2015

DR. KEENAN K. COFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
THE-CITY OF BALTIMORE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III, District Judge.

Pending before the Court are Defendants', Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and City of Baltimore Maryland Police Department (the "BPD"), Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28); Defendant's, Officer Anthony Brown, Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 48); and Defendants', City of Baltimore, City Board of Estimates, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Baltimore City Council and its members (collectively, the "City Defendants"), Motion to Reconsider the Court's Order Denying their Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 58).[1]

Plaintiff, Keenan Cofield, filed this action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, on October 23, 2014. (See ECF No. 2). The Complaint, as amended, alleges false arrest/false imprisonment, excessive use of force, assault, battery, negligence, and unlawful detention (Count I); Failure to Train and/or Properly Train and Supervise (Count II); Malicious Prosecution (Counts III & IV); and Denial of Medical Care in Violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment (Count V). (See Am. Compl., ECF No. 7). Cofield, acting pro se, has filed a series of motions confusing the procedural posture of this case including: a Motion to Strike (ECF No. 52); Motion to Strike the Clerk's Rule 12/56 Letter (ECF No. 54); Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 56); Motion to Vacate and/or Set Aside Order Dated February 12, 2015 (ECF No. 59); Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 62); Motion to Add Defendants (ECF No. 70); Motion for Leave to File Amended/Supplemental Complaint (ECF No. 72); Motion for Remand (ECF No. 76); Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 78); Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 81); and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 86).

Having reviewed the pleadings and supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2014). For the reasons outlined below, Cofield's Motions will be denied and the Defendants' Motions will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

On April 7, 2009, Officer Brown arrested Cofield at his home in Baltimore County, Maryland, pursuant to an arrest warrant. During the arrest, Officer Brown handcuffed Cofield behind his back and allegedly caused injury to Cofield's shoulder, back, neck, arm, and face. Cofield allegedly complained of his injuries, but was ignored. Moreover, Officer Brown allegedly refused to allow Cofield to use the restroom for four to six hours, causing Cofield to urinate on himself.

I. Discussion

A. Procedural Posture

Preliminarily, Cofield has filed a number of motions seeking to prohibit the City Defendants and Brown from filing pleadings with this Court on the basis that the Court is without jurisdiction over these Defendants because they failed to file independent Notices of Removal in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The City Defendants, along with Commissioner Batts and the BPD, were served with a copy of the Summons and initial Complaint on November 20, 2014. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446 (2012), Commissioner Batts and the BPD removed the action to this Court on December 19, 2014, predicated upon the Court's original jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1). Commissioner Batts and the BPD represented unambiguously that the other Defendants consented to the removal. (See Notice of Removal ¶ 2); (see also, Def.'s Joint Statement Concerning Removal ¶ 5, ECF No. 29). "[A] notice of removal signed and filed by an attorney for one defendant representing unambiguously that the other defendants consent to the removal satisfies the requirement of unanimous consent for purposes of removal." Mayo v. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's Cnty., 713 F.3d 735, 742 (4th Cir. 2013), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 901 (2014). Accordingly, Cofield's Motion to Strike (ECF No. 52), Motion to Strike the Clerk's Rule 12/56 Letter (ECF No. 54), and Motion for Remand (ECF No. 76) will be denied.

Further, Cofield argues Officer Brown failed to Answer or timely consent to removal in this case. In support of his contention that Officer Brown was properly served, Cofield has filed an executed summons indicating that Brown was served at 12:20 pm on November 20, 2014 at 100 N. Holliday Street. (See Summonses 13-14, ECF No. 6); (see also Mot. Summ. J. Exs. A-B, ECF No. 56-1).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e)(1) provides, in pertinent part, that "an individual... may be served in a judicial district of the United States by... following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made." Maryland Rule 2-121(a), in turn, provides:

Service of process may be made... (1) by delivering to the person to be served a copy of the summons, complaint, and all other papers filed with it; (2) if the person to be served is an individual, by leaving a copy of the summons, complaint, and all other papers filed with it at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with a resident of suitable age and discretion; or (3) by mailing to the person to be served a copy of the summons, complaint, and all other papers filed with it by certified mail requesting: "Restricted Delivery-show to whom, date, address of delivery."

Md. Rules 2-121(a) (West 2015). Thus, to date, neither Officer Brown, nor any person with the legal authority to accept service on his behalf, have been properly served. Officer Brown was first informed of the existence of this matter through counsel on January 23, 2014. (See Def. Brown's Removal Statement ¶ g, ECF No. 47). On February 10, 2015, within 30 days of the acceptance of service by counsel on his behalf, Officer Brown contemporaneously filed his Motion to Dismiss and consented to removal. (See Brown's ...


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