Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Felder v. Leggett

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 26, 2017

ISIAH LEGGETT, County Executive for Montgomery County MARCUS JONES, Captain, Montgomery County Police Department Montgomery County Police Officer TIMOTHY BETTIS, Montgomery County Police Officer ROBERT JOHNSON, Montgomery County Police Officer EDWARD DREW, Montgomery County Officer CHRIS MURRAY, In their individual and official capacities, Defendants[1]


          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Maurice Felder, who is self-represented, filed suit against a host of defendants, asserting multiple claims, including for damages, declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief. In particular, Felder claims that defendants have used or allowed the use of excessive force, in violation of plaintiff‘s rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.[2]

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim. ECF 16 (''Motion''). They also submitted exhibits with their Motion. On February 16, 2017, a Rule 12 notice was sent to plaintiff, pursuant to the dictates of Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). See ECF 17. In the notice, Felder was advised of his right to respond within seventeen days, and that failure to respond could result in dismissal of the case. Felder has not responded, and the time to do so has expired.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion in part and deny it in part.

         I. Factual Background[3]

         On July 15, 2014, a member of the Montgomery County Police Department (''MCPD'') met with the victim of an armed robbery, in Silver Spring, Maryland, who reported that someone with a handgun had accosted her and stolen her pursue and iPhone. The robber was described as an African-American male wearing dark clothing and a mask. The phone‘s features included a global positioning system to track the device. With permission of the victim, an officer activated the ''Find My iPhone'' application, which indicated the phone was a few miles away in the District of Columbia. The location of the stolen phone was radioed to other MCPD officers. Ultimately, several MCPD officers converged on a vehicle driven by Maurice Felder, located in Washington, D.C.

         While the vehicle was stopped, Corporal Haak ordered Felder to halt. When Felder ran, Haak and other MCPD officers pursued him. During the chase, Haak saw Felder reaching for his waistband before stopping, turning, and ''squared up'' on the officers who, with guns drawn, ordered him to the ground. Felder paused, then ran again before being apprehended. In plain view, through the car window, the police saw the victim‘s purse. A handgun was found where Felder ''squared up'' during the chase. A search of Felder‘s person led to the recovery of the victim‘s credit cards. However, the iPhone was never recovered.

         In the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Felder moved to suppress the evidence recovered upon his arrest, on the basis that the arresting officers violated the Uniform Act on Fresh Pursuit[4] by arresting him in the District of Columbia, despite the fact that the robbery occurred in Maryland, and that the police did not have probable cause to make a warrantless arrest. The motion was denied. Following a jury trial in that court, Felder was convicted of robbery and, on April 1, 2015, sentenced to fifteen years‘ imprisonment, with all but eight years suspended, and five years of supervised probation.[5] He remains incarcerated within Maryland‘s Division of Correction and is currently housed at Jessup Correctional Institution.

         In this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Felder complains that MCPD officers at the scene of his arrest - Bettis, Johnson, Drew, and Murray - improperly pursued him from Montgomery County, Maryland into the District of Columbia. Further, he claims the officers used excessive force during his arrest, broke his jaw, and failed to intervene to stop the alleged beating. ECF 1 at 6-7, Causes of Action III through VI. Felder also names Montgomery County Executive Leggett and MCPD Captain Jones for failing to train and supervise these officers to prevent violation of the ''fresh pursuit'' doctrine and curtail the use of excessive force during arrest. ECF 1 at 5-6, Causes of Action I and II. Felder, who is self-represented, has sued defendants in both their official and individual capacities, alleging they violated his Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.[6] As the court is unable to glean a Fifth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendment violation from the narrative set forth in the Complaint, it shall confine its examination of Felder‘s claims to the Fourth Amendment.[7]

         Defendants have filed an unopposed motion to dismiss on behalf of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, MCPD Captain Marcus Jones, and four MCPD officers involved in Felder‘s arrest. ECF 16.[8] The motion is 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 in part and deny in part defendants‘ Motion.

         II. Standard of Review

         The pending motion filed by defendants seeks dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. 12(b)(6). A defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v. Young, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1709 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the well-pleading allegations are true, the complaint fails as a matter of law ''to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.'' Whether a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It provides that a complaint must contain a ''short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'' The purpose of the rule is to provide the defendants with ''fair notice'' of the claims and the ''grounds'' for entitlement to relief. Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

         To survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain facts sufficient to ''state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'' Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (''Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions‘ . . . .'' (citation omitted)); see also Hall v. DirecTV, LLC, ___ F.3d ___, No. 15-1857, 2017 WL 361065, at *4 (4th Cir. Jan. 25, 2017). But, a plaintiff need not include ''detailed factual allegations'' in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading rules ''do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted.'' Johnson v. City of Shelby, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).

         Nevertheless, the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than ''labels and conclusions'' or ''a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '' it is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the complaint must set forth ''enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest'' a cognizable cause of action, ''even if . . . ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.