United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
William M. Nickerson Senior United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Third
Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, for Summary
Judgment and Motion to Strike. ECF No. 157. The motion is
fully briefed. Upon review of the parties’ submissions
and the applicable law, the Court determines that no hearing
is necessary, Local Rule 105.6, and that the motion will be
granted in part and denied in part.
action relates to an incident that occurred more than seven
years ago, on October 7, 2008, in Frederick, Maryland.
Aspects of Plaintiff’s claims have been addressed by
several decisions of this Court, the case was appealed to the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and now has been remanded on
a single narrow issue. Santos v. Frederick Cty. Bd. of
Comm’rs, 725 F.3d 451 (4th Cir.
2013). Because the factual and procedural
background of this action has been detailed in those previous
opinions of this Court and by the Fourth Circuit, and because
this Court finds that additional discovery is needed before
the merits of the pending motion can be fully resolved, that
background will not be repeated here in any significant
detail. The factual and procedural background relevant to the
Court’s finding is as follows.
is a native of El Salvador and, on the day in question, was
sitting on a curb eating her lunch behind her place of
employment. She was approached by two deputies of the
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), Deputies
Jeffrey Openshaw and Kevin Lynch (the Deputies), who detained
her and then arrested her after learning that she had an
outstanding civil warrant for removal issued by Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She was transferred to a
Maryland detention center where she was later turned over to
ICE. After being detained by ICE for a little over a month,
she was released on supervised release on November 13, 2008.
November 10, 2009, Plaintiff filed this action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against the Deputies, Frederick County
Sheriff Charles Jenkins, the Frederick County Board of
Commissioners (Board), and several individuals from ICE and
the Department of Homeland Security. Plaintiff asserted that
the Deputies violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable seizures and violated the Fourteenth
Amendment by targeting her because of her perceived race,
ethnicity, or national origin. The Complaint also included
allegations concerning Sheriff Jenkins’s anti-immigrant
rhetoric and asserting that, during Jenkins’s tenure as
sheriff, Frederick County devoted an increasingly greater
share of its resources to the enforcement of federal
immigration laws. Specifically, Plaintiff noted that the FCSO
entered into a Section 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement (287(g)
MOA) with ICE under which certain deputy sheriffs were
permitted to carry out certain limited functions of federal
the Defendants moved to dismiss the original complaint under
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On
August 25, 2010, Judge Legg granted the motion, concluding
that the Complaint was alleging that the Deputies were acting
under color of federal and not state law and, therefore, that
Plaintiff’s suit should have been brought as a
Bivens action,  and not as an action under § 1983.
ECF No. 50. Plaintiff was given leave to conduct discovery to
determine whether Defendants were acting under color of
federal law or state law, after which Plaintiff would be
permitted to file an amended complaint.
initial Motion to Dismiss, the Board also requested, in the
alternative, that the discovery and resolution of the merits
of the claims against the Board be bifurcated from the claims
against the individual defendants. In a telephone conference
held on February 4, 2011, which was memorialized in a Letter
Order issued that same date, ECF No. 66, Judge Legg granted
the request for bifurcation, concluding that discovery and
anticipated dispositive motions would be initially limited to
claims against the individual defendants. Thus, only after
liability of the individual defendants was determined would
discovery on the claims against the Board be permitted. Judge
Legg also held that all discovery on the issue of damages
would be deferred.
filed her Second Amended Complaint on February 18, 2011, ECF
No. 75, which removed the claims against the federal
defendants, deleted some of the allegations related to the
287(g) MOA, but was again brought under § 1983. After a
period of limited discovery, Defendants moved for summary
judgment on the claims against the individual defendants. ECF
No. 84. This Court granted the motion, concluding that the
Deputies violated neither Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment
rights nor the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. Santos v. Frederick Cty. Bd. of
Comm’rs, 884 F.Supp.2d 420, 428-30 (D. Md. 2012).
Finding no violation on the part of the Deputies, the Court
also dismissed the claims against Sheriff Jenkins and the
Board. Id. at 432.
moved for reconsideration, citing a number of recent federal
court decisions holding that state and local governments lack
inherent authority to enforce civil federal immigration law.
ECF No. 101. Judge Legg denied Plaintiff’s motion,
observing that even if those decisions represented a growing
consensus, the Deputies would still be entitled to qualified
immunity. Plaintiff filed a timely appeal.
appeal, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the Deputies did
violate Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights when they
detained and arrested her based solely on an outstanding
federal civil immigration warrant. Santos, 725 F.3d
at 465. Nevertheless, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the
dismissal of the individual capacity claims against the
Deputies based on qualified immunity “because the right
at issue was not clearly established at the time of the
encounter.” Id. at 469. The court, however,
concluded that this Court erred in dismissing the claims
against the Board because qualified immunity does not extend
to municipal defendants. Id. at 470. In addition,
because “qualified immunity from suit under Section
1983 does not extend to municipal defendants or government
employees sued in their official capacity, ”
id., the court held it was also error to have
dismissed the official capacity claims against the Deputies
and Sheriff Jenkins.
Having (erroneously) determined that the deputies did not
violate Santos's constitutional rights, the district
court did not have occasion to address whether the municipal
defendants were “responsible” for the
deputies' conduct. Therefore, on remand, the district
court should determine whether the deputies'
unconstitutional actions are attributable to an official
policy or custom of the county or the actions of a final
the case returned to this Court on remand, Plaintiff argued
in her status report that discovery was necessary to develop
the factual record in support of her municipal liability
claim because, under this Court’s bifurcation order,
discovery had, thus far, been limited to the claims against
the individual defendants. ECF No. 130. She also stated that
she might seek leave to amend her complaint. Defendants
suggested in their status report that Plaintiff’s
municipal liability claims “are subject to decision as
a matter of law or on the basis of the significant discovery
that already has taken place.” ECF No. 129. Defendants
expressed an intent to file a “preliminary motion to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, ”
and the Court approved that request. ECF No. 131.
filed their preliminary motion on December 16, 2014. ECF No.
132. Plaintiff opposed that motion, ECF No. 137, but also
sought leave to file a Third Amended Complaint. ECF No. 136.
In opposing Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend,
Defendants argued that her request was untimely, that they
would be prejudiced by this late amendment, and that
amendment would be futile. ECF No. 140. After those motions
were fully briefed, Judge Quarles issued a Memorandum and
Order on August 26, 2015, granting in part and ...