United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge.
Barbara Spicknall (“Plaintiff” or
“Spicknall”) brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 against Defendant William
R. Spencer (“Defendant” or “Detective
Spencer”), alleging violations of her rights under the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution and Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland
Constitution. Specifically, Spicknall claims that she
suffered an unreasonable seizure when Detective Spencer
deliberately or recklessly provided false identification
information to a grand jury and the drafter of her arrest
warrant, leading to her unlawful arrest. In short, she claims
that an arrest warrant was issued in connection with the
activity of another woman in Pennsylvania, bearing a similar
name. As a result, Spicknall, an Anne Arundel County resident
of 50 years with no criminal history, was held for seven days
at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
pending before this Court are Defendant’s first and
second Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in
the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 9, 15). The
parties’ submissions have been reviewed and no hearing
is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).
For the reasons stated below, Defendant’s first Motion
to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 9) is
and second Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or
in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15),
construed as a Motion to Dismiss, is DENIED.
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 the alleged unlawful and unconstitutional seizure
of the Plaintiff, Barbara Spicknall, pursuant to an erroneous
arrest warrant. At some point between May 2012 and December
2012, officers of the Baltimore City Police Department
(“BCPD”) intercepted a phone call between Troy
Maisel and Kristen Mummert (“Mummert”), a
resident of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in which an illicit
drug transaction was planned. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 5. On
September 25, 2012, BCPD Detective William Bearde and Drug
Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) Special Agent Grob
observed Barbara Melton (“Melton”), also of
Pennsylvania, purchase nineteen gel caps containing heroin.
Id. ¶¶ 6, 22. The BCPD subsequently
conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle carrying Mummert and
Melton. Id. ¶ 7.
the traffic stop, the BCPD and DEA produced separate reports
of the incident. Id. The BCPD Report contained
Melton’s address and date of birth. Id. The
DEA Report contained Melton’s social security number,
telephone number, SID number,  NADDIS number,  FBI number,
address, and driver’s license number. Id.
Spicknall contends that Detective Spencer of BCPD was the
lead investigator into the alleged heroin dealings of Mummert
and Melton. Id. ¶ 8.
December 10, 2012, Detective Spencer allegedly provided
testimony on Melton before a Baltimore grand jury.
Id. ¶ 9. The grand jury then indicted Melton
with conspiracy to possess heroin and conspiracy to
distribute and dispense heroin. Id. ¶ 11. The
indictment, however, erroneously listed Spicknall’s
address, date of birth, and SID number underneath
Melton’s name. Id. ¶ 11. On that same
day, Piper McKeithen, Assistant State’s Attorney for
Baltimore City, filed a Motion for Issuance of Warrant that
likewise named Melton, but again listed Spicknall’s
personal information. Id. ¶ 12. The warrant
issued later that day thus contained Spicknall’s
information. Id. ¶ 13. Spicknall alleges that
Detective Spencer was responsible for providing the
State’s Attorney’s Office with this information
and that the person who drafted the warrant application
relied on the information that Detective Spencer provided.
Id. ¶ 10. She also alleges that Detective
Spencer provided false statements and omitted material facts
in his testimony before the grand jury, leading the jury to
find probable cause for her arrest. Id. ¶ 32.
Spicknall acknowledges, however, that Detective
Spencer’s testimony before the grand jury is sealed.
Id. ¶ 9.
March 14, 2013 an Annapolis Police Department officer
arrested Spicknall, an Anne Arundel County resident of fifty
years with no criminal history, pursuant to the warrant.
Id.¶¶ 15, 21. Spicknall unsuccessfully
attempted to convince the Annapolis Police Department that
she was not the person they sought to arrest. Id.
¶ 16. She allegedly explained that she had abandoned her
maiden name, “Melton”, over twenty-five years ago
when she married her current husband. Id. Spicknall
was ultimately detained for seven days at the Baltimore City
Detention Center. Id.¶¶ 18-19. She was
released on March 21, 2013 and all charges against her were
dismissed on April 10, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 19-20.
November 9, 2015, Spicknall filed the present action against
Defendant Spencer and the State of Maryland alleging
violations of her rights protected by the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Detective Spencer subsequently moved to dismiss (ECF No. 9)
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. In response, Spicknall filed a Second Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 14) naming only Detective Spencer.
Detective Spencer now moves to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint again pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
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).
Supreme Court’s recent 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). The Supreme Court’s decision in
Twombly 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 all the factual
allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions
drawn from those facts are not afforded such deference.
Id. (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.
Second Amended Complaint asserts two causes of action against
Defendant: unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments, U.S. Const. amends. IV, XIV (Count
One), and unreasonable seizure in violation of Articles 24
and 26 of the Maryland Constitution, Md. Const. art. 24 and
29 (Count Two). In his Motion to Dismiss, Defendant argues
that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to state
a plausible claim for relief because (1) Plaintiff cannot
indicate what exactly Defendant said in his testimony before
the grand jury; (2) Plaintiff cannot explain precisely how
the indictment and warrant for Melton’s arrest came to
bear Plaintiff’s identifying information; and (3)
Plaintiff cannot show that Defendant’s actions deprived
Plaintiff of her constitutional rights. Deriding
Plaintiff’s Complaint as a “request to initiate a