United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Memorandum Opinion addresses the parties' Cross-Motions
for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 113, 122, 123) as to Count I
(42 U.S.C. § 1983 Liability) and Count IV (False
Imprisonment) of plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint
(ECF No. 37). This Court conducted a Motions Hearing on the
parties' Cross-Motions on June 27, 2017. (ECF No. 142.)
While this Court rendered its decisions as to Counts II, III,
V, VI, and VII on the record,  it reserved judgment on Counts I
and IV and took these matters under advisement. (ECF Nos.
reasons stated below, plaintiff Justin Mills' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 113) is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART. Specifically, it is GRANTED as to defendants
PPE Casino Resorts Maryland, LLC (“PPE”) and
Coulter's false imprisonment liability (Count IV), and it
is DENIED as to defendants' § 1983 liability (Count
I). Summary judgment shall be ENTERED on liability in favor
of Mills on Count IV (False Imprisonment). In addition,
defendants Bilter and Shapelow's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 122) is DENIED. Finally, defendants'
PPE and Coulter's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 123) is DENIED IN PART.
on the foregoing and the prior decisions of this Court, the
following claims shall proceed to trial beginning on
September 5, 2017: Count I (§ 1983 liability - Bilter,
Shapelow, PPE, Coulter); Count II (Negligence - PPE and
Coulter); Count III (Assault - PPE and Coulter).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
pertinent factual and procedural background is set forth in
this Court's May 8, 2017 Memorandum Opinion (ECF No. 133)
and incorporated herein by reference.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A material fact is one that “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718
F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A
genuine issue over a material fact exists “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. When considering a motion for summary
judgment, a judge's function is limited to determining
whether sufficient evidence exists on a claimed factual
dispute to warrant submission of the matter to a jury for
resolution at trial. Id. at 249.
undertaking this inquiry, this Court must consider the facts
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Libertarian Party of Va., 718
F.3d at 312; see also Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007). Where, as here, both parties have filed motions
for summary judgment, this Court “must consider each
motion separately on its own merits to determine whether
either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of
law.” Bacon v. City of Richmond, 475 F.3d 633,
637-38 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).
This Court “must not weigh evidence or make credibility
determinations.” Foster v. University of
Md.-Eastern Shore, 787 F.3d 243, 248 (4th Cir. 2015)
(citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French, 499
F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007)); see also Jacobs v. N.C.
Administrative Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569
(4th Cir. 2015) (explaining that the trial court may not make
credibility determinations at the summary judgment stage).
Indeed, it is the function of the fact-finder to resolve
factual disputes, including issues of witness credibility.
See Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866-68 (2014).
However, this Court must also abide by its affirmative
obligation to prevent factually unsupported claims and
defenses from going to trial. Drewitt v. Pratt, 999
F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993).
Plaintiff's Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I)
Defendants Bilter and Shapelow Are Not Entitled to Qualified
Officers Bilter and Shapelow argue that they are entitled to
summary judgment on Count I, the sole claim against them,
because they are entitled to qualified immunity based on
their official actions. (ECF No. 122-1 at 11-12, ECF No. 132
at 8-12.) Specifically, Bilter and Shapelow assert that
because they entered the secured, back hallway with a
“reasonable suspicion” that Mills was illegally
counting cards, their misunderstanding of the legal status of
card counting and of Mills' actions does not subject them
to liability under § 1983. (Id.)
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
explained that, “[q]ualified immunity shields
government officials performing discretionary functions
‘from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.'” Henry v. Purnell, 501 F.3d 374,
376-77 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald,457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727 (1982)).
“Because an official who performs an act clearly
established to be beyond the scope of his discretionary
authority is not entitled to claim qualified immunity, the
defendant bears the initial burden of demonstrating that the
conduct of which the plaintiff complains falls within the
scope of the defendant's duties.” Henry,
501 F.3d at 377, n. 2 (emphasis added). See Drury v.
Dziwanowski, MJG-15-3845, 2017 WL 1153890, at *4, n. 4
(D. Md. Mar. 28, 2017) (“Although Maryland police
officers are entitled to qualified immunity when performing
their official duties, they lose such protection when they