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Bailey v. Budget Rent A Car System, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 29, 2016



Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

Andrew Wayne Bailey, plaintiff, filed suit against Budget Rent A Car System, Inc. (“Budget”), defendant.[1] ECF 2. Bailey, a former employee of Budget at its location in Hanover, Maryland, alleges that another Budget employee, David Evans, a security manager, falsely reported to the police on March 20, 2013, that plaintiff stole a Toyota Corolla and was operating it without authorization. Id. ¶ 57. As a result, plaintiff alleges that he was “falsely arrested” more than 20 months later, on December 5, 2014. Id. ¶¶ 17, 22. Plaintiff also claims that, as a result of what occurred, criminal charges were filed against him, but the charges were ultimately nol prossed. Id.

Plaintiff’s complaint contains six counts. Count One alleges false imprisonment; Count Two alleges negligence; Count Three alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress; Count Four asserts a claim of defamation; Count Five contains a claim for malicious prosecution; and Count Six alleges loss of consortium. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff seeks damages in the sum of $4 million. ECF 2 at 6.

Budget has moved to dismiss, for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF 6), supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 6-1) (collectively, the “Motion”). On March 17, 2016, the Clerk advised plaintiff of his right to respond to the Motion within 17 days from the date of the Clerk’s letter. See ECF 9. No response has been filed. Moreover, the time to do so has expired.

No hearing is needed to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, I shall grant the Motion, without prejudice.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Suit was initially filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. On March 4, 2016, defendant removed the case to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446. ECF 1 (“Notice of Removal”).[2] In particular, Budget asserted that this Court has original jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. With respect to diversity, defendant represented that Budget is incorporated in Delaware and maintains its principal place of business in New Jersey (ECF 1, ¶ 8), while plaintiff is a citizen of Maryland. ECF 2, ¶ 3.[3]

Stuart E. Williams, Esquire, the attorney who filed the lawsuit in State court on plaintiff’s behalf, wrote a letter to this Court, docketed March 16, 2016. ECF 8. Williams indicated that he is not admitted to federal court and thus would not be entering an appearance in this Court on behalf of plaintiff. Further, he represented that he spoke with Mr. Bailey personally by telephone and informed him that he could not represent him in this Court. Id. In addition, he stated that he had returned all documents to Mr. Bailey, and that he had advised Mr. Bailey to obtain an “attorney who can practice in this honorable court.” Id.

Mr. Williams submitted as an exhibit to ECF 8 an undated letter to plaintiff (ECF 8-1), advising plaintiff of counsel’s inability to represent Bailey in federal court. Williams wrote: “You must seek an attorney that has a license to practice in the United States District Court of Maryland. It is imperative you make sure the next attorney you hire concerning this case is licensed to practice in the United States District Court of Maryland.” ECF 8-1 at 1. Further, counsel advised the plaintiff as to the statute of limitations concerning the case. In closing, Mr. Williams stated: “You have to actively look for an attorney. . . . Start today so you do not lose your chance to file because of the statute of limitations.” Id. at 3. In addition, Mr. Williams included as an exhibit to ECF 8 a copy of the U.S. Postal Service Receipt showing delivery of the letter to Bailey, by certified mail, on or about March 11, 2016. See ECF 8-2.

No attorney has entered an appearance on behalf of Mr. Bailey. Nor has the Court received any correspondence from plaintiff.

II. Standard of Review

The Motion tests the legal sufficiency of the Complaint. McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Whether a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to provide the defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and the “grounds” for entitlement to relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

To survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for ‘all civil actions’ . . . .” (citation omitted)); see also Simmons v. United Mortg. & Loan Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir. 2011). But, a plaintiff need not include “detailed factual allegations” in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading rules “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).

Nevertheless, the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter’s Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013). A complaint is insufficient if it provides no more than “labels and conclusions, ” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

To satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action, “even if . . . [the] actual proof of those facts is improbable and . . . recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal quotations omitted). Put another way, in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint, ’” and must “‘draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff.’” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v. Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, U.S., 132 S.Ct. 402 (2011); Monroe v. City of Charlottesville, 579 F.3d 380, 385-86 (4th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 559 U.S. 992 (2010). But, a court is not required to accept legal conclusions drawn from the facts. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). “A court decides whether [the pleading] standard is met by separating the legal conclusions from the factual allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual allegations, and then determining whether those allegations allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without A Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, U.S., 132 S.Ct. 1960 (2012).

A motion asserting failure to state a claim typically “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Edwards, 178 F.3d at 243 (quotation marks omitted); see Houck, 791 F.3d at 484; Tobey v. James, 706 F.3d 379, 387 (4th Cir. 2013). But, “if all facts necessary to the affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face of the complaint, ’” or in other material that is the proper subject of consideration under Rule 12(b)(6), such a defense can be resolved on the basis of the facts alleged in the complaint. Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th ...

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