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Love v. Rumgay

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 15, 2016

TORREY LAMONT LOVE, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM ANTHONY RUMGAY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Torrey Lamont Love (“Plaintiff” or “Love”) brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendants William Anthony Rumgay (“Rumgay”), Wade Sibley (“Sibley”), Craig Miller (“Miller”), Charles Rankin (“Rankin”) (collectively, “Defendants”), and unknown John Does, alleging violations of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const. amends. IV, XIV. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that, during an allegedly unlawful traffic stop on June 1, 2010 in Allegany County, Maryland, and his ensuing detention, Defendants conspired to, and did, subject him to unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Furthermore, he alleges that Defendants used excessive force during the course of the alleged traffic stop.

Currently pending are Defendant Rumgay’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 74); Defendants Miller and Rankin’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 75); Defendant Sibley’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 77); Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition to Defendants Miller and Rankin’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 89); and Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition to Defendant Rumgay’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 90). The parties’ submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).

For the reasons that follow, Defendant Rumgay’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 74), construed as a Motion to Dismiss, is DENIED; Defendants Miller and Rankin’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 75) is DENIED; Defendant Sibley’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 77) is DENIED; Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition to Defendants Miller and Rankin’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 89) is GRANTED; and Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition to Defendant Rumgay’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 90) is GRANTED. In sum, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as excessive force. At this early stage in the proceedings, Defendants have not yet demonstrated any entitlement to qualified immunity for their alleged actions. All counts thus remain pending against the Defendants. Discovery and pretrial dispositive motions will proceed per the parties’ Joint Motion to Modify Scheduling Order (ECF No. 92).

BACKGROUND

This Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). This action arises from an alleged unlawful and unconstitutional search and seizure of the Plaintiff, Torrey Lamont Love. On June 1, 2010, Plaintiff and an acquaintance, Cristi Elliott (“Elliott”), were traveling in a white Cadillac on Interstate 68. Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 26, ECF No. 73. Although the car was registered to Love and his wife, Elliott was driving and Love rode in the passenger seat. Id. ¶ 26. Shortly after the car came into view, [1] Defendants Craig Miller and Charles Rankin, Maryland State Troopers, [2] allegedly turned on their lights and siren to signal the car to stop. Id. ¶ 27. Once Elliott pulled over the vehicle, Miller exited his patrol car and approached the passenger side of the Cadillac. Id. ¶ 28. Miller informed Elliott that she had violated the speed limit by traveling seventy-three miles per hour in a sixty-five mile per hour zone. Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff disputes the legitimacy of this justification, asserting that Miller and Rankin had neither “reasonable articulable suspicion [n]or probable cause to believe that the car was speeding.” Id. ¶ 27.

Miller began to question Love and Elliott. Id. ¶ 29. A video recording of the interrogation allegedly shows that the questions included:

where [Elliott] and Mr. Love were coming from; . . . where they were going; . . . where Ms. Elliott lived; . . . details regarding a prior traffic stop; . . . who owned the car; . . . where the two had spent the day; . . . whether Ms. Elliott and Mr. Love were related; and . . . for Mr. Love’s identification.” Id. Plaintiff answered each question posed.

Id. He alleges that the bulk of the questions concerned matters outside of the scope of the traffic violation, effectively prolonging the traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete an investigation. Id. ¶ 31.

Miller and Rankin subsequently returned to their vehicle, where Miller was recorded to have said to Rankin that he had “probable cause for a [K-9] scan.” Id. ¶ 32. After discussing whether Defendant Wade Sibley was nearby, Miller stated, “[Sibley] can go ahead and do the [K-9] scan. I’ve got both IDs here. This name has been on cars I’ve stopped before and found narcotics.” Id. Miller then requested assistance for a scan on his radio. Id. ¶ 34. Sibley, an officer with the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office or Cumberland City Police Department, id. ¶ 19, arrived soon thereafter. Id. ¶ 34.

Defendants ordered Elliott to exit the Cadillac and stand by Miller’s trooper vehicle, which was parked “some distance away” from the Cadillac. Id. ¶ 35. Also on Defendants’ orders, Love remained in the vehicle. Id. Defendant William Rumgay, an officer with the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office or Cumberland City Police Department, [3] id. ¶ 18, then arrived at the scene. Id. ¶ 36. Sibley proceeded to walk with his service dog towards the Cadillac, passing Elliott on the way. Id. ¶ 37. Love alleges that the dog did not alert when close to Elliott. Id. Sibley circled the Cadillac with the dog, at which point the dog allegedly alerted to the presence of narcotics on the passenger side of the car. Id. ¶ 38. Sibley and the dog again approached Elliott, but the dog did not alert to the presence of narcotics on Elliott. Id. ¶ 39.

After Sibley’s service dog alerted near the Plaintiff, Miller ordered Plaintiff to exit the Cadillac. Id. ¶ 40. Six Defendants, including Miller, Rankin, and Rumgay, allegedly surrounded Love. Id. The video recording reveals that Miller asked Plaintiff, “[a]nything in your anus?” Id. ¶ 41. Love responded, “No. Listen, I don’t stick nothing in my ass.” Id. Love was ordered to remove his shoes and subjected to a search of his person.” Id. ¶ 42. The search allegedly revealed that Plaintiff possessed no “contraband or other evidence of criminal conduct on his person or otherwise within reach.” Id. ¶ 43. Nevertheless, Miller allegedly ordered Plaintiff to walk down the road, without his shoes, to Miller’s vehicle. Id. Plaintiff cooperated, following Rankin to the vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 43, 45. Rankin handcuffed Love’s hands behind his back. Id. ¶ 43. An unknown Defendant then “grabbed Mr. Love by the back of his head and slammed his face into the police car, causing pain and discomfort to Mr. Love.” Id. ¶ 44.

Over the next twenty-five minutes, Defendants Miller and Rumgay searched the entire Cadillac. Id. ¶ 46. During the search, Rumgay was recorded as saying to Miller, “It’s in here, Craig, I got a feeling.” Id. Miller responded, “I would hope so.” Id. Defendants never found narcotics, contraband, or any evidence of a crime in the Cadillac. Id. ¶ 52.

While the search continued, Rumgay paused to question Elliott briefly, but soon resumed his search of the Cadillac. Id. ¶ 47. None of the Defendants searched or frisked Elliott at the scene of the incident, although a female officer was present. Id. ¶¶ 48-49. An unnamed officer brought a service dog within feet of Elliott, but again, the dog did not alert to the presence of narcotics. Id. ¶ 50. While Plaintiff was present at the scene of the incident, Elliott was never handcuffed. Id. ¶ 51. At some later time, unspecified Defendants took her to the Allegany County Detention Center, where a search revealed eighty-four capsules of suspected heroin, fifty vials of suspected crack cocaine, and two clusters of suspected crack cocaine. Id. ¶ 54. Elliott allegedly admitted that the narcotics belonged to her alone, as Love had no knowledge of the narcotics. Id.

Later that day, Rumgay allegedly swore to a “Statement of Probable Cause” and a “Statement of Charges” in State of Maryland v. Torrey Lamont Love, District Court Case No. 4W00054527 (2010). Id. ¶ 55. In the “Statement of Probable Cause, ” Rumgay stated that he was “able to determine . . . [that Mr.] Love and [Ms.] Elliott conspired with each other to distribute crack cocaine and . . . heroin.” Id. ¶ 56. Rumgay went on to explain that he was “able to determine . . . [that Mr. Love and Ms. Elliott] possessed the crack cocaine and heroin . . .” and that he observed “a large bulge on the left front thigh area of [Ms. Elliott’s] leg.” Id. ¶¶ 57-58. Love alleges that neither the video recording nor the contemporaneous radio transmissions indicated such an observation, as Defendants did not “pat down” Elliott or question her about the “bulge.” Id. ¶ 58. Love asserts that the statements were false and made with a reckless disregard for the truth. Id. ¶¶ 56-58. Through the “Statement of Charges, ” Love was charged with possession of controlled dangerous substances and conspiracy to possess controlled dangerous substances. Id. ¶ 55.

Plaintiff remained in detention after his initial arrest on June 1, 2010. On the basis of Rumgay’s testimony in the “Statement of Probable Cause, ” Plaintiff was detained without bond on July 2, 2010. Id. ¶¶ 59-60. A preliminary hearing in the District Court of Maryland for Allegany County ensued. Id. ¶ 61. Love claims that Rumgay testified to the same falsehoods of the “Statement of Probable Cause.” Id. ¶ 61. Rumgay also allegedly stated that Elliott was in the vehicle when Sibley’s service dog alerted. Id. The presiding judge found probable cause to continue to hold Plaintiff and set bail at $200, 000. Id. ¶ 62.

Later that month, Michael Twigg, the State’s Attorney for Allegany County, filed a Criminal Information charging Plaintiff with all nine counts recommended by Defendant Rumgay in the “Statement of Charges.” Id. ¶ 64. On November 3, 2010, the State’s Attorney entered a nolle prosecui on all charges.[4] Id. ¶ 65. Unable to make bail, Plaintiff remained incarcerated from his initial arrest on June 1, 2010, until his release on November 3, 2010. Id. In sum, he spent 156 days at the Allegany County Detention Center. Id.

Although Love originally filed the subject action pro se, this Court appointed pro bono counsel on January 1, 2014. Order, ECF No. 25. Under the direction of his present counsel, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 73) on July 10, 2015. Defendants Rumgay, Miller, Rankin, and Sibley subsequently moved for dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint in its entirety. See Def. Rumgay’s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 74; Defs. Miller and Rankin’s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 75; Def. Sibley’s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 77. Finally, Love filed the pending Motions for Leave to File Surreply in Opposition (ECF Nos. 89 & 90), arguing that Defendants Miller, Rankin, and Rumgay raised certain arguments in their respective Replies (ECF Nos. 87 & 88) that were absent from the original Motions to Dismiss.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the ...


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