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Wilson v. Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 16, 2017

CHRISTOPHER WILSON, Prisoner Identification No. 3514268, Plaintiff,


          Theodore D. Chuang United States District Judge

         Christopher Wilson ("Plaintiff), currently confined at Stevens Correctional Center in Welch, West Virginia, filed this action pro se against the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office, former Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Wilson ("ASA Wilson"), and the Internal Affairs Division of the Baltimore City Police Department ("BCPD".. Plaintiffs claims arise from his alleged cooperation pursuant to a plea agreement and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment for violating the terms of his probation. Pending before the Court are a Motion to Dismiss, filed by the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office and ASA Wilson, and a Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by BCPD. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions are granted.


         In late 2009, Plaintiff entered into a "contract, " or a plea agreement, with the Baltimore City State's Attorney Office relating to criminal charges for which he was arrested. Compl. 2, ECF No. 1. As part of the plea agreement, Plaintiff was to assist the State's Attorney's Office to "catch a dirty cop, " but he would "not be asked to do anything ... that would put me in knowing danger." Id. He was deemed to have fulfilled his part of the agreement, but the allegedly corrupt police officer was not arrested. Plaintiff was then sentenced in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland to five years of probation with a IS-year suspended sentence.

         Within one week of the sentencing, Plaintiff was arrested for a violation of probation. According to Plaintiff, ASA Wilson "had changed his mind" about Plaintiffs fulfillment of the plea agreement and thus had Plaintiff arrested under false pretenses in order to "force" his continued cooperation. Compl. 3; Suppl. Compl. 1, ECF No.5. Plaintiff expressed concern that the additional cooperation requested to facilitate the arrest of the "dirty cop" would expose his identity, and that "the people I had snitched on would know it was me who was snitching and they would kill me." Compl. 3. Unmoved, ASA Wilson told Plaintiff to cooperate fully or "go to prison." Id.

         Plaintiff cooperated as requested, leading to the arrest of the "dirty cop." Id; see Suppl. Compl. 1-2. About two weeks later, Plaintiff was shot four times by two unnamed parties who told him to "stop snitching" and threatened to harm his family. Compl. 3-4. Plaintiff gave the names and addresses of the shooters to ASA Wilson, the Internal Affairs Division of BCPD, and Drug Enforcement Administration investigators. ASA Wilson, however, declined to arrest the shooters and told him to "leave it alone" and keep his "mouth shut, " or he would be put in jail. Id. at 4; Suppl. Compl. 2-3.

         In his Complaint as supplemented, Plaintiff, who was incarcerated at Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland at the time he filed this action, seeks relief for wrongful endangerment, wrongful imprisonment, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. He alleges that he is in prison on the probation violation, the shooters are free, and he suffered mental distress due to his fear that his children would be harmed. Plaintiff initially sought $1 million in damages. In his Supplement to the Complaint, he now seeks $3 million in damages.


         Defendants seek dismissal of the Complaint or summary judgment in their favor on several grounds, including that: (1) the Complaint does not sufficiently allege facts that establish subject matter jurisdiction; (2) the Baltimore City State's Attorney Office is not a legal entity that can be sued; (3) ASA Wilson is entitled to prosecutorial immunity; (4) Defendant's are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and state sovereign immunity; (5) Plaintiffs claims are barred by the statute of limitations; and (6) the Complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief.

         I. Legal Standards

         It is the plaintiffs burden to show that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., Div. of Standex Int'l Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(I) allows a defendant to move for dismissal when it believes that the plaintiff has failed to make that showing. When a defendant asserts that the plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, the allegations in the complaint are assumed to be true under the same standard as in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, and "the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction"" Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). When a defendant asserts that facts outside of the complaint deprive the court of jurisdiction, the Court "may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. The court should grant a Rule 12(b)(1) motion based on a factual challenge to subject matter jurisdiction "only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law." Evans, 166 F.3d at 647 (quoting Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991)).

         To defeat a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the 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 facts pleaded allow "the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Although courts should construe pleadings of self-represented litigants liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), legal conclusions or conclusory statements do not suffice, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The Court must examine the complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the complaint as true, and construe 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).

         II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         The Court must first determine whether it has jurisdiction over this action. "Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction"" Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Consequently, this Court may exercise subject matter jurisdiction only over "civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, " 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (2012), or civil actions wherein there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy requirement is met, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. There is no presumption that jurisdiction is vested in a federal court. Pinkley, Inc. v. City of Frederick, 191 F.3d 394, 399 (4th Cir. 1999). The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests on the party invoking the jurisdiction of the court. Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). Here, Plaintiff has failed to identify any federal constitutional or statutory right allegedly violated. Moreover, the parties appear to be either Maryland citizens or are not considered to be citizens for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction. See O'Neill v. Early,208 F.2d 286, 289 (4th Cir. 1953) ("[T]here is no diversity of citizenship in a suit which, although nominally against state agencies and officers, is in reality a suit against a state."); Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. Clark, 944 A.2d 1122, 1131 (Md. 2008) ("[T]he Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency."). ...

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