United States District Court, D. Maryland
THERESA D. STAFFORD, Plaintiff,
SERGEANT JEFFREY SMITH, et al, Defendants.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
Theresa D. Stafford ("Plaintiff or "Stafford")
has filed this four-count complaint against Defendants
Sergeant Jeffrey Smith ("Sgt. Smith") and Patrol
Officer Joshua Guiles ("Officer Guiles"),
individually and in their official capacity, and the City of
Cambridge, Maryland ("Cambridge") (collectively,
"Defendants"). She alleges violations of her Fourth
Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Sgt. Smith and Officer Guiles in their individual capacities
(Count I) and against them in their official capacities and
the City of Cambridge pursuant to Monell v. Department of
Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) (Count II). In
addition, she claims battery against Officer Guiles (Count
III), and false imprisonment and false arrest against Sgt.
Smith and Officer Guiles (Count IV). (Compl., ECF No. 1.)
Currently pending are Defendants Sgt. Smith and
Cambridge's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 8) and Defendant
Guiles' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 11) Counts I and II of
the Complaint. The parties' submissions have been
reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
Defendants Sgt. Smith and Cambridge's Motion to Dismiss
(ECF No. 8) and Defendant Officer Guiles' Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 11) Counts I and II of die Complaint are
Court accepts as true the facts alleged in Plaintiffs
complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388,
390 (4th Cir. 2011). Dr. Theresa D. Stafford is an
African-American female, a retired supervisor from the
Maryland public school system, and is retired after twenty
years service with the Maryland National Guard. (ECF No. 1 at
¶ 4.) Soon after midnight on April 1, 2017, she drove to
the Cambridge Walmart where her nephew was being held by
Cambridge Police. (Id. at ¶ 9.) When Stafford
arrived, she was met by Officer Guiles and Sgt. Smith.
(Id. at ¶¶ 10, 16.) Both officers were
wearing body cameras. (Id.) Officer Guiles told
Stafford that her nephew was being detained. (Id. at
¶ 11.) In fact, he was handcuffed in the back of a
police car. (Id. at ¶ 11.) When Stafford asked
why, if her nephew was only being detained, he was handcuffed
in the back of a police car, Officer Guiles became agitated
and yelled, “You want to talk Maryland law?"
(Id. at ¶12.)
then turned to talk to her niece who was also present.
(Id. at ¶ 13.) As she turned, she was allegedly
struck by Officer Guiles in the back. (Id.) Stafford
responded by attempting to call the Cambridge Police
Department, but Sgt. Smith "accosted [Stafford], used
his own cell phone radio to intercept the call, and
instructed the dispatcher not to send anyone to the scene
because he was already there." (Id. at ¶
15.) Sgt. Smith then asked Officer Guiles if Stafford was
interfering with the investigation of her nephew.
(Id. at ¶ 18.) When Officer Guiles responded in
the affirmative, Sgt. Smith instructed Officer Guiles to
arrest Stafford. (Id.) Officer Guiles then ordered
Stafford to put her hands behind her back, handcuffed her,
and placed her in a police car. (Id. at ¶ 20.)
Another officer, Private First Class Officer Beans
("Officer Beans"), who is "multi-racial,
" was in the front seat. (Id. at ¶ 21.)
Stafford then asked Officer Guiles to loosen her handcuffs.
(Id. at ¶ 23.) In response, Officer Guiles
tightened them further. (Id. at ¶¶ 22-23.)
When Stafford complained again, Officer Guiles allegedly
struck Stafford in the back for a second time before slamming
the car door. (Id. at ¶ 24.) Finally, after
Officer Beans spoke with Officer Guiles, Officer Guiles
returned and loosened the handcuffs. (Id. at ¶
Beans took Stafford to the Cambridge Police Department.
(Id. at ¶ 26.) At the station, Stafford
remained handcuffed to a railing. (Id. at ¶
27.) Stafford claims that she heard Sgt. Smith and Officer
Guiles discuss charging her with resisting arrest.
(Id. at ¶ 30.) Officer Beans, however, stepped
in and stated that he saw Stafford do everything she was
asked. (Id.) Officer Guiles and Sgt. Smith
ultimately charged Stafford with obstruction and hindering
and disorderly conduct in violation of Maryland law.
(Id. at ¶ 34.) However, the State's
Attorney for Dorchester County subsequently dismissed all
charges. (Id. at ¶ 38.) Stafford then filed the
instant four-count complaint against Sgt. Smith and Officer
Guiles in their individual and official capacities and
against the City of Cambridge. Defendants moved to dismiss
Counts I and II of the Complaint.
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must contain a "short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of
a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule
12(b)(6) is "to test the sufficiency of a complaint and
not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of
a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley
v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Or.
satisfy Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint need not include
"detailed factual allegations." Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, a plaintiff
must plead more than bald accusations or mere speculation.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A complaint must set forth
"enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest"
a cognizable cause of action, "even if . . . [the]
actual proof of those facts is improbable and . . . recovery
is very remote and unlikely." Id. at 556
(internal quotations ] omitted).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court "'must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'" and must "'draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'" E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d
757, 765 (4th Cir. 2017); Kendall v. Balcerzak, 650
F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 565 U.S. 943
(2011); Monroe v. City of Charlottesville, 579 F.3d
380, 385-86 (4th Cir. 2009), cert, denied, 559 U.S.
991 (2010). However, a court is not required to accept legal
conclusions drawn from those facts. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. "A court decides whether [the pleading] standard
is met by separating the legal conclusions from the factual
allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer" that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
A Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011),
cert, denied, 566 U.S. 937 (2012).
Individual Capacity Claims
asserts a claim against Officer Guiles and Sgt. Smith in
their individual capacities, alleging they violated her
Fourth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
guarantees "[t]he right of the people to be secure in
their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures." Stafford alleges
that Sgt. Smith and Officer Guiles violated her clearly
established Fourth Amendment rights by arresting and
detaining her without probable cause and by using excessive
and unreasonable force. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 53-56.)
Motions to Dismiss the "deficient due process
claim" focus, however, not on Stafford's Fourth
Amendment claims but rather her references to not receiving
Miranda warnings, damage to her reputation, and
denial of medical care. In Plaintiffs Opposition to the
Motions to Dismiss, Stafford clarifies that that she is not
bringing a claim under the Due Process Clause or Eighth
Amendment. Rather, the allegations Defendants reference were
to "further evidence . . . Defendants' wanton
disregard of her constitutional rights." (ECF No. 12-1
at 12.) Accordingly, Stafford has sufficiently ...