United States District Court, D. Maryland
DAVID MCCLURE, ET AL. Plaintiffs
JAMES PORTS, ET AL. Defendants
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Garbis United States District Judge
Court has before it Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Or in
the Alternative, For Summary Judgment [ECF No. 29], and
Plaintiffs' Motion for Discovery in Response to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 33]. The
Court has held a hearing and has had the benefit of arguments
David McClure (“McClure”) is the
President-Business Agent of Plaintiff Amalgamated Transit
Union (ATU) Local 1300 (“Local 1300”), a local
labor organization representing certain employees of the
Maryland Transit Administration
(“MTA”). McClure was an employee of the MTA who is
on leave from active service so that he can serve as union
president. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) ¶
54, ECF No. 25. Defendants are officers of the Maryland
Department of Transportation (“MDOT”) and/or
agents of the MTA: James Ports (Deputy Secretary of MDOT),
Earl Lewis (Deputy Secretary of MDOT), Louis Jones (Director
at MDOT), and Kevin Quinn (Acting Administrator of MTA). FAC
¶¶ 10-13. Defendant Kevin Quinn replaces Paul
Comfort, who was named as a Defendant in the original
Complaint but has since left his position. Id.
Plaintiffs bring several claims under Section 1983 for
unlawful reprisal of protected speech and denial of their
freedom of association. McClure alone asserts a Fourth
Amendment unlawful seizure claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment and injunction,
compensatory and punitive damages, and legal fees.
Facts as Alleged in the Complaint
and Local 1300 have engaged in two public campaigns
“aimed at improving Baltimore's public
transit.” FAC ¶ 1. The first campaign began in
July 2016, when Plaintiffs issued a report and a press
release on safety hazards in Baltimore's subway system
and criticized Defendants for “endangering the safety
of the public riding the Baltimore Metro.” Id.
alleges that Defendant Ports, Deputy Secretary of Operations
for MDOT, “got into a heated discussion with
McClure” about this campaign and stated “I can
get you.” Id. ¶¶ 29-30.
second campaign began in September 2016, when Plaintiffs
issued a “People's Plan for Baltimore
Transit” which criticized Maryland's Department of
Transportation and Governor for implementing the
“BaltimoreLink” program instead of investing more
in Baltimore's transit systems. Id. ¶¶
1, 19. Plaintiffs have “leafleted, ”
“circulated petitions, ” and “hosted town
hall meetings” to allow members of the public to
express their opinions about BaltimoreLink. Id.
addition to managing these public campaigns, McClure
regularly participates in disciplinary due process hearings
on behalf of his members.
September 15, 2016, McClure attended one of these hearings.
Id. ¶ 39. Because the employee who was the
subject of the hearing had retired, McClure sought to
withdraw the employee's grievance and forgo the hearing
on his behalf. Id. ¶ 42. The hearing officer,
Ms. Vastina Holland-Brown (“Holland-Brown”),
refused to allow McClure to withdraw the grievance.
Id. ¶ 48. McClure and Holland-Brown then had a
verbal exchange about her competency to hold the hearing.
Id. ¶¶ 50-51. McClure's statements
offended her and caused her to stop the
hearing. Id. After the incident,
Holland-Brown filed an internal EEO charge with the MDOT
Office of Diversity and Equity alleging that McClure
“harass[ed]” her verbally. Id.
instant case, Plaintiffs contend that the Defendants engaged
in two sets of reprisals against them in response to the two
public campaigns and to McClure's statements to
Holland-Brown at the September 15, 2016 hearing.
first set of alleged reprisals was directed at McClure alone.
On December 8, 2016, Defendant Lewis Jones
(“Jones”) wrote a letter to ATU International
President Lawrence Hanley (“Hanley”) requiring
McClure to obtain permission prior to entering union property
to conduct union business. Def.'s Mot. Ex. K, ECF No.
29-12. The letter also stated that McClure's badge access
to various MTA facilities was being suspended. Id.
February 21, 2017, Defendant Earl Lewis (“Lewis”)
wrote another letter to Hanley reiterating the access
restrictions in the December 8, 2017 letter, citing
McClure's “unprofessional and threatening
behavior.” FAC ¶ 65. This letter referred to
Article (5) of a long-standing Collective Bargaining
Agreement between MTA and Local 1300, which states:
UNION business shall not be conducted on MTA property, or on
MTA's paid time without the permission of a department
head or a representative authorized by him/her. However, it
is understood that every effort shall be made to cooperate
with such UNION representative when and if such permission is
sought for the purpose of legitimate UNION business.
The UNION further agrees that its officers, while on leave of
absence, shall comply with all MTA regulations pertaining to
entry into any part of the MTA's premises, vehicles or
other MTA property.
Def.'s Mot. Exs. C, M, ECF Nos. 29-4, 29-14.
McClure tried to attend grievance hearings held on MTA
business property on March 31, April 26, May 4, and May 11
(which included hearings conducted by Holland-Brown), he was
told to leave and in two instances escorted off the premises
by the police. Id. ¶¶ 80-98. However,
on June 1, 2017 - one month after Plaintiffs filed their
original Complaint in this action - the Defendants notified
McClure that Holland-Brown had retired so that the
requirement for him to ask permission to enter the MTA
facilities would no longer be in effect. Williams Decl.
¶ 16, ECF No. 29-2 (“On this date, I notified
David McClure and Local 1300 by letter that prior permission
from me or Deputy Administrator Tollini to enter nonpublic
MTA property was no longer required”). However,
McClure's ability “to open the doors of locked
offices and facilities” was not reinstated.
second set of alleged reprisals applies to McClure as well as
to “other Local 1300 officers.” Id. at
¶ 4. Specifically, whereas McClure had access to
“all” areas of MTA property where Local 1300
members work by use of his identification card, his open
access privileges have now been revoked. Id. McClure
now has the “same access as any other non-employee of
MTA-that is, less access even than a rank-and-file member of
Local 1300.” Id. ¶ 123. Plaintiffs fear
that the access ability of other full-time Local 1300
officers will also be revoked or reduced by Defendants.
Id. ¶¶ 4, 124. However, they do not allege
that the access privileges of other full-time Local 1300
officers have actually been revoked or reduced.
argue that certain actions taken by Defendants support their
contention of retaliatory intent. For example, in May 2017,
Local 1300 requested that eight of its members be granted
leave from MTA to conduct union business. Id. ¶
129. MTA originally granted that request, but then rescinded
it after the members on leave distributed a leaflet that was
critical of the MTA and its officers. Id.
¶¶ 129-133. Plaintiffs allege that since that time,
the MTA has refused routine requests for union leave by Local
1300. Id. ¶ 134.
have filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative a
motion for summary judgment, and have submitted materials in
addition to the Complaint regarding these motions. The Court
has not excluded these materials from consideration.
“matters outside the pleading are presented to and not
excluded by the court, the [12(b)(6)] motion must be treated
as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Laughlin v. Metro. Washington
Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 260- 61 (4th Cir. 1998).
Because the Court has relied upon supplemental affidavits and
documents filed outside of the pleadings, it will treat the
pending motion as a motion for summary judgment.
motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings
and supporting documents “show 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.
well-established principles pertinent to summary judgment
motions can be distilled to a simple statement: the Court may
look at the evidence presented in regard to a motion for
summary judgment through the non-movant's rose-colored
glasses, but must view it realistically. After so doing, the
essential question is whether a reasonable fact finder could
return a verdict for the non-movant or whether the movant
would, at trial, be entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Shealy v.
Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1012 (4th Cir. 1991). Thus, in
order to defeat a motion for summary judgment, “the
party opposing the motion must present evidence of
specific facts from which the finder of fact could reasonably
find for him or her.” Mackey v. Shalala, 43
F.Supp.2d 559, 564 (D. Md. 1999) (emphasis added).
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must bear
in mind that the “summary judgment procedure is
properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut,
but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a
whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy
and inexpensive ...