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Young v. City of Baltimore

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 23, 2017



          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant City of Baltimore's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) and Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Surreply (ECG No. 18), [1] and Plaintiff Joseph L. Young's Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF No 12). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant City of Baltimore's Motion to Dismiss, grant City of Baltimore's Motion to Strike, and deny Young's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Joseph Young is a federal inmate incarcerated at United States Penitentiary-McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky. He alleges Defendants Daniel Santos and Michael Boyd, both detectives with Baltimore City Police Department, improperly arrested him for a shooting. (Compl., ECF No. 1). Of particular import here, Young alleges that the City of Baltimore failed to train and supervise the detectives involved in his arrest and thereby contributed to, and proximately caused, the constitutional violations he alleges. Id.


         A. Standard of Review

         A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), or does not state “a plausible claim for relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each element. Goss v. Bank of Am., N.A., 917 F.Supp.2d 445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)) (internal quotation marks omitted), aff'd sub nom., Goss v. Bank of Am., NA, 546 F.App'x 165 (4th Cir. 2013).

         Pro se pleadings, however, are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)); accord Brown v. N.C. Dep't of Corr., 612 F.3d 720, 722 (4th Cir. 2010). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, read the complaint as a whole, and take the facts asserted therein as true. 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)).

         B. Analysis

         1.Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Young states he is unable to afford counsel, the issues involved in the case are complex, he has limited access to the prison law library, and he has limited knowledge of the law. Id. A federal district court judge's power to appoint counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) (2012) is a discretionary, and may be considered where an indigent claimant presents exceptional circumstances. See Cook v. Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975); see also Branch v. Cole, 686 F.2d 264, 266 (5th Cir. 1982). Upon careful consideration of the Motions and Young's previous filings, the Court concludes that Young has the ability to either articulate the legal and factual basis of his claims himself or the means to secure meaningful assistance in doing so. There are no exceptional circumstances present that warrant the appointment of an attorney to represent Young under § 1915(e)(1). Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel will be denied without prejudice.

         2.Motion to Dismiss

         The City of Baltimore argues the Court should dismiss Young's claims because the Baltimore City Police are not controlled, managed, or supervised by the City of Baltimore and therefore, as a matter of law, Young can prove no set of facts entitling him to judgment against the City of Baltimore for the conduct alleged.

         Young's claim against the City of Baltimore is one of supervisory liability under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs, , 436 U.S. 658 (1978). In suing a municipal government and agency under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs must prove two elements. First, he must establish the existence of a constitutional violation on the part of the police officers. See Los Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799 (1986) (jury's finding that a police officer inflicted no constitutional injury on the plaintiff removed any basis for municipal liability against city and members of police commission); Temkin v. Frederick Cty Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 724 (4th Cir. 1991) (Section 1983 claim of inadequate training or supervision requires a constitutional violation by the person being supervised); see also Dawson v. Prince George's Cty., 896 F.Supp. 537, 540 (D.Md. 1995). Second, plaintiffs must show that any constitutional violations were proximately caused by a policy, custom, or practice of the defendants. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691, 694 (1978). Municipal policy arises from the following: written ...

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