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Ealy v. Toey

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 18, 2016

LARRY E. EALY, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
TOEY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant’s, Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Christopher Toey, Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17) and Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s, Larry E. Ealy, Sr., First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23). Also pending are Defendant’s, City of Cumberland (“Cumberland”), Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 18) and Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 24). The Motions are ripe for disposition. Having considered the Motions and supporting documents, the Court finds no hearing necessary pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2014). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Toey’s Motions, grant Cumberland’s first Motion to Dismiss, and deny Cumberland’s second Motion to Dismiss as moot.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

On August 16, 2012, Ealy, a resident of Ohio, and his companion were driving in a 2012 GMC Cheyenne along Route 68, a Maryland State highway. That day, Toey, a Maryland State Police officer, was conducting traffic enforcement in Allegany County, Maryland in a marked police vehicle on Route 68. Toey’s vehicle was equipped with a license plate scanner that issued alerts when a vehicle associated with a scanned license plate has been reported stolen.

At or around 10:48 a.m., Toey received an alert regarding a stolen vehicle matching the vehicle description of and license plates on Ealy’s car. Toey initiated a traffic stop. During the stop, Toey also confirmed that Ealy’s driver’s license was suspended. Toey placed Ealy and his companion under arrest and transported them to the Maryland State Police Barracks in Cumberland, Maryland for processing. Ealy was charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, driving without a license, and driving with a suspended license. After being held on $5, 000 bail, Ealy was sent to the Allegany County Detention Center in Cumberland, where he was strip searched.

Ealy was held in the detention center from August 18, 2012 until October 23, 2012, when the unlawful taking of a vehicle charge against him was nol-prossed. See State of Maryland v. Ealy, No. 3W00062569 (D.Ct. Allegany Cty. Oct. 23, 2012). As to the charge for driving without a license, the District Court for Allegany County found Ealy guilty and sentenced him to sixty days of incarceration, but credited him for time served in the detention center. State of Maryland v. Ealy, No. 01K12014812 (Cir.Ct. Allegany Cty. Feb. 8, 2013). On appeal to the Circuit Court for Allegany County, Ealy’s license-related charges were nol-prossed on February 8 and June 24, 2013. Id.

On February 4, 2015, Ealy filed a Complaint in this Court regarding his arrest and detention, alleging violations of the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3) (2012) (Counts 2–5) and the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count 6); false arrest (Count 1); malicious prosecution (Count 5); and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts 7– 9). (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff invokes this Court’s federal question and diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332 (2012), respectively.

On May 27, 2015, Toey and Cumberland filed Motions to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 17, 18). On July 29, 2015, rather than oppose the Motions, Ealy filed an untimely First Amended Complaint without seeking the Court’s leave in an apparent attempt to address the Defendants’ arguments in their Motions. (ECF No. 22). On August 11, 2015, Toey filed a Motion to Strike the First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23). On August 19, 2015, Cumberland filed a Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 24). On October 6, 2015, the Court granted Ealy an extension of time to file responses to the pending Motions to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. To date, however, the Court has no record that Ealy has filed responses to the Motions. The Court will deem the Motions unopposed.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Strike First Amended Complaint

1. Standard of Review

A “court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). “[Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 12(f) motions are generally viewed with disfavor ‘because striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic remedy and because it is often sought by the movant simply as a dilatory tactic.’” Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc. v. Gilmore, 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1380, 647 (2d ed. 1990)). “[F]ederal courts generally require the moving party to establish that the materials to be struck prejudice the moving party in some way.” Asher & Simons, P.A. v. j2 Glob. Can., Inc., 965 F.Supp.2d 701, 705 (D.Md. 2013) (citing 5C Wright & Miller, supra, § 1381 n.34).

Toey argues the First Amended Complaint should be stricken because Ealy failed to seek leave from the Court to amend his Complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a)(2). Rule 15(a) states, however, the court should freely give leave to amend when justice so requires. “This liberal rule gives effect to the federal policy in favor of resolving cases on their merits instead of disposing of them on technicalities.” Laber v. Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426 (4th Cir. 2006). According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, “leave to amend a pleading should be denied only when the amendment would be prejudicial to the opposing party, there has been bad faith on the part of the moving party, or the amendment would have been futile.” Id. (quoting Johnson v. Oroweat Foods Co., 785 F.2d 503, 509 (4th Cir. 1986)).

“Futility is apparent if the proposed amended complaint fails to state a claim under the applicable rules and accompanying standards: ‘[A] district court may deny leave if amending the complaint would be futile-that is, if the proposed amended complaint fails to satisfy the requirements of the federal rules.’” Katyle v. Penn Nat. Gaming, Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 471 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States ex rel. Wilson v. Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 525 F.3d 370, 376 (4th Cir. 2008)). The Rule 12(b)(6) standard, therefore, governs futility arguments. Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Coach Works Auto Collision Repair Ctr., Inc., No. WMN-07-CV-2918, 2010 WL 889543, at *2 (D.Md. Mar. 4, 2010) (citing Openshaw v. Cohen, Klingenstein & Marks, Inc., 320 F.Supp.2d 357, 359 (D.Md. 2004)).

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must set forth “a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); accord Brown v. N.C. Dep’t of Corr., 612 F.3d 720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). “In considering a motion to ...


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