Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mills v. Anne Arundel County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 31, 2016

JUSTIN MILLS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Justin Mills (“Plaintiff” or “Mills”) brings this action against Defendants Anne Arundel County, Maryland (the “County”); Officer Douglas Bilter (“Officer Bilter”) and Officer Kyle Shapelow (“Officer Shapelow”) (collectively, the “Officer Defendants”); Anne Arundel County Police Department (“AACPD”); Christopher Coulter (“Coulter”), Giorgio Isella (“Isella”);[1] The Cordish Companies, Inc. (“Cordish”); and PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC d/b/a Maryland Live! Casino (“PPE Casino Resorts”), alleging violations of the United States Constitution, the Maryland State Constitution, and various claims arising under Maryland statutory and common law. Shortly after Plaintiff filed the present Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 37), the Officer Defendants filed a Counterclaim against Plaintiff (ECF No. 41-1), alleging that Plaintiff violated Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance laws, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-402(a).

         The parties’ respective claims stem from an incident on February 21, 2014 at the Maryland Live! Casino in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in which Mills was allegedly accused of “card-counting.” Presently pending are Defendant County’s Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 39); the Officer Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 40); Defendant Cordish’s Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 47); and Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim (ECF No. 57). The parties’ submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). This Memorandum Opinion will address only the Defendants’ respective Motions to Dismiss. Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim will remain pending.[2] For the reasons that follow, Defendant County’s Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 39) is GRANTED; the Officer Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 40) is GRANTED; and Defendant Cordish’s Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, the Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 47), construed as a Motion to Dismiss, is GRANTED. All claims against the County and Cordish are dismissed, and only Count I will remain pending against the Officer Defendants.

         BACKGROUND

         At the motion to dismiss stage, 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 case arises from the alleged unlawful detention, assault, and false imprisonment of Plaintiff Justin Mills at the Maryland Live! Casino (the “Casino”) in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Second Amended Compl., ECF No. 39. On the evening of February 21, 2014, Mills alleges that he was playing blackjack when he was accused of “card-counting.”[3] Id. ¶ 7. Defendant Coulter, an employee of PPE Casino Resorts, along with two security guards, allegedly instructed Mills to “come with us.” Id. Defendant Isella, also an employee of PPE Casino Resorts, was allegedly present for the encounter and participated in Coulter’s allegedly illegal detention. Id. ¶ 31. When Mills ignored Coulter’s instruction and continued walking towards the exit, Coulter allegedly “stepped in front of him, blocking his egress.” Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff alleges that Coulter and one of the security guards then “grabbed” his arms, thereby preventing him from leaving the Casino. Id. Although he protested that he had “done nothing illegal, ” Coulter allegedly “assaulted the Plaintiff by grabbing the Plaintiff’s arm and bending it forcefully behind his back in front of the general casino public[.]” Id. ¶ 9. Coulter then allegedly removed Mills to a “security holding room, ” which Mills states is not “ordinarily accessible to patrons[.]” Id.

         In the security holding room, Coulter asked the Plaintiff to provide identification. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff refused, as he believes that the Casino intended to share his identification with other casinos “as part of their collective effort to maximize their gambling advantage by blackballing those who they think are able to count cards[.]” Id. ¶ 11. Coulter then “summoned” Anne Arundel County Police Officers Bilter and Shapelow to “force the Plaintiff to produce his identification.” Id. ¶ 12. Once the Officer Defendants arrived, Mills began to record the audio of their conversation with his cell phone. Id.

         Mills alleges that Officers Bilter and Shapelow, acting under color of law and within the scope of their employment, continued to question him for thirteen additional minutes. Id. ¶ 13. This detainment, Mills claims, was illegal and against his will. Id. Officers Bilter and Shapelow allegedly threatened him with arrest if he did not produce his identification. Id. When Plaintiff stated that he had no intention of leaving the Casino, the Defendant Officers allegedly said that Casino employees suspected that he was counting cards. Id. ¶ 14. The Defendant Officers allegedly believed that such a practice was illegal in Maryland. Id. However, Plaintiff asserts that card-counting is not illegal in Maryland or under federal law, thus the Officer Defendants were mistaken. Id. ¶¶ 14-15.

         Ultimately, Mills alleges that, due to the threat of arrest and “coerced by Coulter’s unlawful detention, ” he gave the Officer Defendants his passport. Id. ¶ 17. Coulter then allegedly provided Mills with an “eviction” letter, explaining that “as a consequence of [Mills’s] actions, [his] permission to be on the premises of Maryland Live! Casino is hereby revoked.” Id. ¶ 18. The letter further stated that he was to forfeit any winnings. Id. Plaintiff was thus allegedly unable to “cash in his chips.” Id. ¶ 19. He was then escorted from the Casino premises. Id. Following these events, Plaintiff allegedly received a letter from the Casino banning him permanently. Id. ¶ 20.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed the present action seeking compensatory damages of $500, 000 and punitive damages of $1, 000, 000, among other relief. In the subject Second Amended Complaint, he asserts seven claims for relief: violations of the United States Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count I);[4] negligence (Count II);[5]common law assault (Count III);[6] false arrest and false imprisonment (Count IV);[7] false light (Count V);[8] negligent hiring and retention (Count VI);[9] and civil conspiracy (Count VII).[10]The Officer Defendants then filed a Counterclaim against Plaintiff (ECF No. 41-1), alleging that Plaintiff violated Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance laws, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-402(a). Only the County, the Officer Defendants, and Cordish have since moved to dismiss, whether partially or in its entirety, the Second Amended Complaint.

         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 merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).

         The Supreme Court’s opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), “require that complaints in civil actions be alleged with greater specificity than previously was required.” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). In Twombly, the Supreme Court articulated “[t]wo working principles” that courts must employ when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in the complaint, the court is not so constrained when the factual allegations are conclusory or devoid of any reference to actual events. United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979). Moreover, a court need not accept any asserted legal conclusions drawn from the proffered facts. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. (stating that “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to plead a claim); see also Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012) (“Although we are constrained to take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need not accept legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         Second, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a “plaintiff need not plead the evidentiary standard for proving” her claim, she may no longer rely on the mere possibility that she could later establish her claim. McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, 780 F.3d 582, 584 (4th Cir. 2015) (emphasis omitted) (discussing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002) in light of Twombly and Iqbal). Under the plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While the plausibility requirement does not impose a “probability requirement, ” id. at 556, “[a] claim has facial plausibility 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; see also Robertson v. Sea Pines Real Estate Cos., 679 F.3d 278, 291 (4th Cir. 2012) (“A complaint need not make a case against a defendant or forecast evidence sufficient to prove an element of the claim. It need only allege facts sufficient to state elements of the claim.” (emphasis in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)). In making this ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.