United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG JUDGE.
Amended Complain,, Plaintiff Roxana Maria Cuellar alleges
seven causes of action against Defendants Prince Georgess
County, Maryland ("the County") and Police Officer
Lamm ("P.O. Lamm") of the Prince Georgess County
Police Department stemming from her arrest and prosecution
for Second Degree Assault: five common law,
non-constitutional torts; a state constitutional tort claim
pursuant to Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights;
and a federal civil rights claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. S 1983
("S 1983"). Cuellar failed timely to serve P.O.
Lamm, who has accordingly been dismissed from this action.
The County now seeks partial dismissal of Cuellarss claims.
Specifically, the County seeks dismissal of Cuellarss S 1983
claim and her five non-constitutional tort claims. It mounts
no challenge to her state constitutional tort claim. Having
reviewed the Amended Complaint and the briefs, the Court
finds no hearing necessary. See D. Md. Local R.
105.6 (2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
GRANTED and, because Cuellarss only remaining claim is a
state constitutional tort, the case is REMANDED to state
19, 2013, Cuellar was arrested without a warrant by P.O. Lamm
based on her alleged assault of Genner Guerra. Upon her
arrest, Cuellar was handcuffed, searched, and taken into
police custody for an unspecified period of time. Cuellar was
subsequenlly charged with Second Degree Assault, Md. Code
Ann., Crim. Law 93-203 (West 2002), and proceeded to trial.
When called to testify, Guerra stated that he had not been
assaulted by Cuellar. The State's Attorney presented no
other witnesses and no other evidence. On June 27, 2013,
Cuellar was found not guilty.
19, 2016, Cuellar filed suit against P.O. Lamm, the County,
the Prince Georgess County Police Department ("the
Department"), and 10 unnamed police officers ("Does
1-10"). She asserted eight causes of action against all
Defendants: (I) malicious prosecution, (II) intentional
infliction of emotional distress, (III) false arrest and
false imprisonmen,, (IV) assault, (V) battery, (VI) gross
negligence, (VII) a violation of Cuellarss state
constitutional rights under Articles 24 and 47 of the
Maryland Declaration of Rights, and (VIII) a violation of
Cuellarss federal constitutional rights under the Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendmenss to the United States
Constitution, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9 1983. On June 6, 2016,
the Complaint was served on the County and on the Departmen..
The case was removed to this Court on July 5, 2016 on the
basis of federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 9 1331
14, 2016, pursuant to this Court's Case Management Order,
the County filed a Notice that it intended to move for
dismissal of all of Cuellarss claims. On July 28, 2016, the
Court held a Case Management Conference to discuss the
Countyss proposed Motion. Based on that Conference, and with
the mutual consent of the parties, the Court granted Cuellar
leave to amend her Complaint to cure pleading deficiencies
asserted by the County, and the parties agreed that any
counts in the Amended Complaint that failed to state a
plausible claim for relief would be dismissed with prejudice.
August 22, 2016, Cuellar filed an Amended Complaint, which
removed the Department as a Defendant and asserted the
following seven causes of action against P.O. Lamm and the
County: (I) malicious prosecution, (II) intentional
infliction of emotional distress, (III) false arrest and
false imprisonmen,, (IV) battery, (V) gross negligence, (VI)
a violation of Cuellarss state constitutional rights under
Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and (VII) a
violation of Cuellarss federal constitutional rights under
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. 9 1983.
Motion, the County seeks dismissal of Counts I-V of Cuellarss
Amended Complaint on the basis that, as a local governmen,,
it is immune from suit for non-constitutional torts. The
County also seeks dismissal of Count VII on the basis that
Cuellar fails to plead any facts that would support the
inference that the County had a custom, policy, or practice
that led to P.O. Lammss alleged violation of Cuellarss
federal constitutional rights.
defeat a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must allege enough
facts to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is plausible
when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.
Legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice and
are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. In
evaluating the sufficiency of a plaintiff s claims, the Court
must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, and view the factual
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994);
Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Davidson Cty., 407
F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005). However, the complaint must
still contain more than "legal conclusions, elements of
a cause of action, and bare assertions devoid of further
factual enhancement." Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc.". 591 F.3d 250, 255 (4th
County asserts that it is immune from suit for the various
non-constitutional torts asserted in Counts I-V. The County
is correct. In Maryland, counties and municipalities, as
instrumentalities of the State, are immune from suit on
common law, non-constitutional torts that stem from the
exercise of a governmental, rather than proprietary,
function. Bd. of Educ. of Prince George's Cty. v.
Town of Riverdale, 578 A.2d 207, 210 (Md. 1990). A
function is governmental if it is "performed ... for the
common good of all" rather than "for the special
benefit or profit" of the local governmen.. Tadjer
v. Montgomery Cty., 479 A.2d 1321, 1325 (Md. 1984). The
"exercise of the police power to promote the safety,
health, and welfare of the public" is a quintessential
government function. E. Eyring and Sons Co. v. City of
Bait., 252 A.2d 824, 826 (Md. 1969); see also Port
Deposit v. Petetit, 688 A.2d 54, 64 (Md. Ct. Spec. App.
1997) (holding that acts taken by a Chief of Police pursuant
to his law enforcement authority were "clearly" an
exercise of a government function). Here, Cuellar has sued
the County based on her arrest and prosecution, acts that
plainly fall within the scope of the police power. Because
Cuellarss state common law, non-constitutional tort claims
against the County arise from the Countyss exercise of a
government function, the County is immune from suit on those
effort to avoid dismissal, Cuellar observes that the Maryland
Local Government Tort Claims Act ("LGTCA",, Md.
Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. SS 5-301-304 (West 2011),
requires local governmenss to provide a defense to employees
in tort actions arising from acts taken within the scope of
employment and to indemnify, with some exceptions, employees
for any tort judgmenss against them. See Md. Code
Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. SS 5-302(a), 5-303(b). But the
LGTCA obligation to defend and indemnify does not render a
local governmen,, such as the County, itself liable in tort
for the acts or omissions of its employees. "The only
liabilities created by the LGTCA or expressly dealt with in
the LGTCA concern tort suits against government
employees." Edwards v. Mayor and City Council of
Bait.,933 A.2d 495, 502 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2007)
(quoting Horn. Auth. of Bait. City v. Bennett, 754
A.2d 367, 376 (Md. 2000)). Thus, to the extent that Cuellar
may be suggesting that the LGTCAss duty to defend and
indemnify exposes the County to direct liability for her
non-constitutional tort claims, she is incorrect. See
Edwards, 933 A.2d at 502 (stating that under the LGTCA,
a tort ...