United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.
pending and ready for resolution is a motion to dismiss filed
by Defendants Ronald A. Pavlik, Jr., Kevin P. Gaddis, Adam
Fields, Emily Woodward Deutsch, and A. Thompson
(collectively, the “Defendants”). (ECF No. 33).
The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no
hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the
following reasons, the motion to dismiss will be granted.
are employees in various positions in the Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”).
WMATA operates a police unit called the Metro Transit Police
Department (“Transit Police”). Defendant Pavlik
is the Chief of the Transit Police, and Defendant Gaddis is
the Deputy Chief. (ECF No. 25, at 1). Defendant Thompson is a
police officer for the Transit Police. (Id.).
Defendants Deutsch and Fields are an attorney and a
paralegal, respectively, in WMATA's Office of General
Counsel. (ECF No. 36, at 5).
alleges that, on two separate occasions, he was unlawfully
pulled over by Transit Police officers and issued traffic
citations. (ECF No. 25, at 2). First, Plaintiff was stopped
by three Transit Police officers, including Defendant
Thompson, on July 22, 2011 (the “2011 Stop”).
(Id.). Second, he was stopped by several
unidentified officers on July 30, 2013 (the “2013
Stop”). (Id.). Plaintiff contends that the
Transit Police officers who pulled him over were acting
outside the geographic and legal scope of their authority.
(Id. at 3-4).
September 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed suit in this court
against the General Manager of WMATA, Richard Sarles, and
three unnamed officers from the 2013 Stop, alleging
violations of 18 U.S.C. § 241, 18 U.S.C. § 242, 42
U.S.C. § 14141, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1,
at 1). Plaintiff alleged that the 2013 Stop
occurred outside Transit Police jurisdiction and that the
citations he was issued during the stop were false charges.
(Id. at 3). Plaintiff appears to have contested the
citations, and he attached a trial summary from the District
Court of Maryland for Prince George's County showing that
the citations were dismissed. (ECF No. 1-1, at
Although he made no allegations related to the 2011 Stop in
his initial complaint, he also attached a similar trial
summary issued by the same court for the 2011 Stop.
(Id. at 2). On November 3, Defendant Sarles filed a
motion to dismiss the case against him. (ECF No. 6). The
court found that Defendant Sarles had been sued in his
official capacity and that, in that capacity, he was immune
from suits for torts committed by Transit Police officers
performing governmental functions. (ECF No. 9, at 4). Because
Plaintiff had failed to name or serve any of the other
defendants, the court also ordered Plaintiff to show cause
why the case against the three unnamed officers should not
also be dismissed. (Id. at 8).
responded, describing issues he was having identifying the
unnamed officers (ECF No. 11), and the court granted him
sixty days to identify the defendants by name, amend his
complaint, and provide addresses for the service of process
on these officers. (ECF No. 12, at 3). Over the next several
months, Plaintiff filed multiple motions for discovery, which
were denied because there were no defendants in the case to
serve with discovery requests, and multiple motions for
extension of time, which the court granted. (See ECF
Nos. 13; 14; 16; 18; 20; 21). Plaintiff eventually filed an
amended complaint naming Defendants Pavlik, Gaddis, and
Fields, but the court ordered that no summons should be
issued on the amended complaint. (ECF No. 21, at 2). Because
there were no factual allegations pertaining to these three
defendants in the body of the complaint, it appeared that
Plaintiff was suing these Defendants in their official
capacities and that the amended complaint “suffer[ed]
from the same defects as his initial complaint against Mr.
Sarles.” (Id.). Plaintiff was granted another
extension of time to identify defendants, describe what each
allegedly did wrong, and file a second amended complaint.
(Id.). Plaintiff then moved for injunctive relief,
seeking records related to the 2013 Stop from WMATA under the
Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. (ECF No.
22). The court denied that motion, explaining that WMATA was
not a named defendant in this case and that Plaintiff must
name WMATA as a defendant and serve it with process if he
sought to allege his substantive claims against it or to
challenge its response to his records requests. (ECF No. 24,
at 3). Plaintiff then instituted a new civil action against
WMATA for their alleged violations of public records laws.
(See ECF No. 30). That case has been dismissed for
failure to exhaust administrative remedies. See Gray v.
WMATA, No. DKC-16-1792, 2017 WL 511910, at *3 (D.Md.
Feb. 8, 2017).
9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, naming
Defendants Pavlik, Gaddis, Fields, Deutsch, and Thompson.
(ECF No. 25). For the first time, he alleged that the 2011
Stop was unlawful, and that Defendant Thompson was one of the
officers who pulled him over in the 2011 Stop. (Id.
at 2). The second amended complaint failed to identify any of
the three officers involved in the 2013 Stop. (Id.).
for WMATA accepted service on behalf of all Defendants on
June 8 (ECF No. 31, at 2), and Defendants filed the instant
motion to dismiss on August 3 (ECF No. 33). Plaintiff
responded, and Defendants replied. (ECF Nos. 36; 37).
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to test
the sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). A complaint need only satisfy the standard of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a
‘showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 n.3 (2007). That showing must
consist of more than “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” or “naked
assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
stage, all well-pleaded allegations in a complaint must be
considered as true, Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 268 (1994), and all factual allegations must be
construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 176
F.3d 776, 783 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Mylan
Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134
(4th Cir. 1993)). In evaluating the complaint,
unsupported legal allegations need not be accepted.
Revene v. Charles Cnty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870,
873 (4th Cir. 1989). Legal conclusions couched as
factual allegations are insufficient, Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678, as are conclusory factual allegations devoid ...