United States District Court, D. Maryland
Frederick Motz, United States District Judge
Rye'Keisha Jeffers brings suit against defendants Raquel
Harrison-Bailey, Neisha L. Brown, Sergeant Neile Hicks, and
the Maryland Transit Administration, for various torts and
constitutional violations stemming from an incident on April
19, 2013. Now pending is defendants' motion to dismiss
all counts in Jeffers' third amended complaint. (ECF No.
21). The motion is fully briefed, and no oral argument is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set
forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in
part, and Counts 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13 are dismissed.
motion to dismiss stage, this court accepts as true the facts
alleged in the complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc.,
658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff Rye'Keisha
Jeffers (“Jeffers”) “is a natural person
residing in Baltimore County, Maryland.” (ECF No. 19,
¶ 7). Defendants Raquel Harrison-Bailey
(“Harrison-Bailey”) and Neisha L. Brown
(“Brown”) were police officers employed by
defendant Maryland Transit Administration (“MTA”)
during the events alleged in Jeffers' complaint.
Id. at ¶ 8. Defendant Sergeant Neile Hicks
(“Sgt. Hicks”) supervised Harrison-Bailey and
Brown during these alleged events. Id. at ¶ 8.
alleges that on April 19, 2013, she “was seated on the
subway platform of the Rogers Station in Baltimore City . . .
listening to music on her cell phone” through her
earphones. While at the platform, Jeffers' “cell
phone began to ring, indicating she was receiving a text
message.” Id. at ¶ 11. Jeffers'
“ring tone was a popular song that play[ed] until she
complete[d] a response to the text message.”
Id. at ¶ 12. While responding to the text
message, Jeffers alleges she noticed Harrison-Bailey
“standing directly in front of her.” Id.
at ¶ 13. Jeffers “removed one of the ear pieces
and asked [Harrison-Bailey] if she could help her.”
Id. at ¶ 14. In response, Harrison-Bailey
notified Jeffers “it was against the law to play music
without head phones and there was signage stating as
much.” Id. at ¶ 15. Jeffers indicated she
was not playing music and “further advised that she was
within the limits of the law as she was wearing head
phones”; despite this, Harrison-Bailey insisted Jeffers
turn off her phone. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.
Instead of turning off her phone, Jeffers alleges she
requested that Harrison-Bailey call her supervisor.
Id. at ¶ 19. When Harrison-Bailey declined to
do so, Jeffers called “911” and “reported
the harassing conduct of Defendant Harrison-Bailey.”
Id. at ¶¶ 20.
this interaction, Jeffers alleges “Harrison-Bailey
proceeded to place Plaintiff under arrest by grabbing her by
her sweatshirt  and twisting it around her neck.”
Id. at ¶ 21. Subsequently, “Brown arrived
and aided Defendant Harrison-Bailey” with placing
Jeffers in custody. Id. at ¶¶ 22-23.
Jeffers alleges this incident left her clothing in disarray
“and her breast and stomach were exposed.”
Id. at ¶ 23. Jeffers further alleges she
requested defendants allow her to fix her clothing, but
Harrison-Bailey and Brown “refused and walked [Jeffers
through] the station with her private areas exposed to the
general public.” Id. at ¶¶ 24-25.
alleges she was led to the women's bathroom where three
female officers, including Harrison-Bailey and Brown,
“accosted her, first by tripping her to the floor,
punching her in the face and back of the neck and head, [and
then] stomping and jumping on her leg and ankle.”
Id. at ¶ 27. Subsequently, Jeffers was
criminally charged with “Disorderly Conduct, Failure to
Obey [the] Lawful Order of [a] Law Enforcement Officer, and
Resisting Arrest.” Id. at ¶ 28. The
criminal case “went to trial in the District Court for
Baltimore City” on September 16, 2013, where the state
“entered a Nolle Prosequi on the docket.”
Id. at ¶¶ 29-30.
December 31, 2015, Jeffers filed her original complaint in
the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against Harrison-Bailey
and Brown, in their individual capacities, alleging various
torts and violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 2; ECF No. 21, p. 1).
Jeffers amended her original complaint on May 19, 2016,
omitting the federal claims included in her first complaint.
(ECF No. 21, p. 1). Jeffers again amended her complaint,
filing a second amended complaint on November 2, 2016, where
she added the MTA as a defendant, and reasserted the federal
claims against all defendants. Id. at 1-2.
Defendants removed that action to the U.S. District Court for
the District of Maryland and responded with a motion to
dismiss. Id. at 1-2. Jeffers filed a third amended
complaint (“TAC”) on November 19, 2016, adding
several claims and naming Sgt. Hicks as a defendant for the
first time. Id.
against Harrison-Bailey and Brown, Jeffers alleges: false
arrest (Count 1); unreasonable seizure pursuant to Article 26
of the Maryland State Declaration of Rights (Count 2);
battery (Count 3); false imprisonment (Count 4); unreasonable
seizure and excessive force pursuant to § 1983 (Count
6); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 10);
and Fourth Amendment violations pursuant to § 1983
(Count 11). Against the MTA, Jeffers alleges: a violation of
the Maryland State Declaration of Rights for having a
“policy custom, or usage” that resulted in the
incident (Count 7); a claim for inadequate supervision and
discipline under § 1983 (Count 8); and a violation of
civil rights under § 1983 for having improper policies
or customs “which caused the violation of Plaintiff
rights” (Count 9). Next, against Sgt. Hicks, Jeffers
alleges “supervisory liability” pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988 (Count 12). Jeffers also
alleges malicious prosecution against all defendants (Count
5). Lastly, against Sgt. Hicks, Harrison-Bailey, and Brown,
Jeffers alleges a “conspiracy to violate [her] civil
rights” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1985 (Count 13).
response, defendants Harrison-Bailey, Brown, Sgt. Hicks, and
the MTA filed this instant motion on November 28, 2016, to
dismiss all counts asserted against them. (ECF No. 21).
Harrison-Bailey, Brown, Sgt. Hicks, and the MTA filed this
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). “[T]he
Court's consideration of the 12(b)(6) motion [is] limited
to the pleadings and exhibits that are both integral and
authentic, or matters of public record.” Chesapeake
Bay Found., Inc. v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794
F.Supp.2d 602, 612 (D. Md. 2011). To adequately state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint, relying on only well-pled
factual allegations, must state at least a “plausible
claim for relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679 (2009). The “mere recital of elements of a
cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, is
not sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6).” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012). In order to determine whether
Jeffers' claims have crossed “the line from
conceivable to plausible, ” the court must employ a
“context-specific inquiry, ” drawing on the
court's “experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680. When performing this
inquiry, the court accepts “all well-pled facts as true
and construes these facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff in weighing the legal sufficiency of the
complaint.” Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th Cir.
2009). The court need not, however, accept unsupported legal
allegations, Revene v. Charles Cnty.
Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir. 1989), nor must
it agree with legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, or conclusory
factual allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,
United Black Firefighters v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844,
847 (4th Cir. 1979); see also Francis v. Giacomelli,
588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009).
move to dismiss the thirteen counts asserted against them
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 21). I address their
arguments in turn.
Timeliness of claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985, and 1988
argue they are entitled to dismissal of Jeffers' claims
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and
1988, because these claims were not timely filed. Below, I
address: (a) whether the claims against the MTA and Sgt.
Hicks were timely, and (b) whether the § 1985 claim
against Harrison-Bailey, Brown, and Sgt. Hicks was timely.
Claims against the MTA and Sgt. Hicks
argue Jeffers' federal claims against the MTA and Sgt.
Hicks brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1983,
and 1988, are untimely. (ECF No. 21, p. 5-6). Both sides
agree a three-year statute of limitations period applies to
these claims. (ECF No. 21, p. 5-6; ECF No. 23, p. 12-13).
What is in dispute, however, is whether these claims were
timely filed given that Jeffers repeatedly amended her
complaint, adding and removing claims and parties in each
alleged events giving rise to this action occurred on April
19, 2013. (ECF No. 19, ¶ 9). Jeffers filed her original
complaint on December 31, 2015. (ECF No. 2; ECF No. 32, p.
12). This original filing was timely; it was filed before the
three-year limitations period lapsed on April 19, 2016.
However, this original filing did not name the MTA or Sgt.
Hicks as defendants, nor did it allege any federal claims
against defendants. (ECF No. 21, p. 6). Rather, the claims
against the MTA were added in Jeffers' second amended
complaint on November 2, 2016, id. at 6, and Sgt.
Hicks was added as a defendant for the first time in
Jeffers' TAC on November 19, 2016, id. at 1-2.
Therefore, the relevant question is whether these claims
against the MTA and Sgt. Hicks, added after the expiration of
the limitations period, “relate back” to the
timely original complaint. I agree with defendants and find these
claims do not relate back.
determining whether an amended complaint relates back, we
look to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1).”
See Wilkins v. Montgomery, 751 F.3d 214, 224 (4th
Cir. 2014). Rule 15(c)(1) provides, in relevant part:
(1) When an Amendment Relates Back. An amendment to
a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading
when: . . .
(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out
of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out-or
attempted to be set out-in the original pleading; or
(C) the amendment changes the party or the naming of the
party against whom a claim is asserted, if Rule 15(c)(1)(B)
is satisfied and if, within the period provided by Rule 4(m)
for serving the summons and complaint, the party to be
brought in by amendment:
(i) received such notice of the action that it will not be
prejudiced in defending on the merits; and
(ii) knew or should have known that the action would have
been brought against it, but for a mistake concerning the