United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Thomas and Alexandra Curbelo ("Plaintiffs") allege
constitutional and state law tort violations against a number
of entities within the State of Maryland, including Anne
Arundel County, Prince George's County. Howard County,
associated police departments. county executives, police
chiefs, and 28 individual police officers (collectively,
"Defendants").The Complaint arises out of a purported
high-speed pursuit on Route 295 that ended in
Plaintiffs" arrest. ECF No. 2. Presently pending before
the Court are motions to dismiss from defendants Anne Arundel
County. ECF Nos. 30. 31. 35. Howard County, ECF No. 29.
Prince George's County. ECF No. 36. and the State of
Maryland, ECF No. 49, and the State of Maryland's Motion
to Strike Plaintiffs Opposition, ECF No. 56. No hearing is
necessary to adjudicate the motions. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the following reasons, the State of Maryland's
motions are granted. Anne Arundel and Howard Counties'
motions are granted, in part, and denied, in part, and Prince
George's County's motion is denied as moot.
3. 2014. police officers employed by the State of Maryland.
Anne Arundel County, and/or Howard County initiated pursuit
of a speeding vehicle on Route 295. going through Prince
George's County. Anne Arundel County, and ultimately
stopping in Howard County. Maryland. ECF No. 2 ¶¶
36-37. Plaintiff Thomas operated the vehicle and Plaintiff
Curbelo was a passenger. Upon stopping the vehicle, and in
compliance with police orders. Thomas exited the vehicle and
laid face down on the ground in anticipation of arrest.
Id. ¶ 39. While on the ground, an unidentified
police officer placed Thomas' hands behind his back.
Id. ¶ 40. and additional officers punched and
kicked Thomas repeatedly as he lay helpless on the ground.
Id. ¶ 41. Prior to Thomas being handcuffed and
arrested, but while on the ground and subdued. Officer
Jeffery Rothenbecker instructed a police canine to maul
Thomas. Id. ¶¶ 42-43. 46. Thereafter.
Officer Jeremy Duncan employed a Taser gun on Thomas.
Id. ¶ 44. Plaintiffs maintain that at all times
following the police stop, Thomas was acting in full
compliance with police orders, "demonstrated no acts of
restraint or unwillingness to cooperate with police, "
and made no movements that could cause a reasonable officer
to feel threatened. Id. ¶ 45. Following
Thomas' arrest. Plaintiff Curbelo exited the vehicle from
the front passenger door in compliance with police orders.
Id. ¶ 49. Upon exit, an unidentified police
officer grabbed Curbelo and "hurled her body over a
guardrail directly adjacent to the vehicle."
Id. ¶ 49.
custody. Plaintiffs were transported to the Anne Arundel
County Medical Center for treatment. Id. ¶ 51.
Plaintiffs note that in response to a question from a nurse
as to why Thomas "was beaten so badly." an
unidentified officer commented that "he shouldn't
have ran." Id. ¶ 52. Further. Plaintiffs
allege that while Thomas was receiving treatment, an
unidentified officer was relieved of his duties by a
superior, whereby the superior officer stated that he would
"take care of the police report" and that the
relieved officer would not need "to worry about
it." Id. ¶¶ 56-57.
result of the arrest. Thomas suffered bruising to his body
and face and lacerations inflicted by the police canine,
including a large gash on his lower back. Id. ¶
61. In addition. Plaintiffs allege that while in custody,
Thomas received inadequate medical treatment, resulting in
permanent injuries including sciatic nerve damage and
scarring. Id. ¶¶ 53-55. 61. Plaintiffs
also allege that Thomas continues to suffer from severe
emotional distress, including "major depression, trouble
concentrating, recurring nightmares, distress as a result of
permanent injuries to his person, and extreme anxiety."
Id. ¶ 62. Curbelo's physical injuries
included bruises and cuts to her body, and she continues to
suffer from severe emotional distress, including "major
depression, crying spells, poor concentration, sleep
disturbance, appetite disturbance, poor energy, and fleeing
suicidal ideations." hi. ¶¶ 59, 60.
filed the instant action in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County on May 26, 2017 and bring the following
claims: Assault (Count I): Battery (Count II); Excessive
Force. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count III); Negligence (Count
IV); Conspiracy to Interfere with Civil Rights, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1985(3) (Count V); Monell Allegations. 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VI); Violation of Article 24 of the
Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count VII); Equal Protection.
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VIII); Negligent Supervision and
Training (Count IX): and Intentional Infliction of Emotional
Distress (Count X). ECF No. 2.
to filing the Complaint, Plaintiffs sent a Notice of Claim to
the County Defendants on December 1. 2014. Id.
¶¶ 31-33. Plaintiffs sent a Notice of Claim to the
Maryland State Treasurer in accordance with § 12-107(a)
of the Maryland Tort Claims Act ("MTCA") on June 1,
2015. Id. ¶ 34. Following removal to this
Court. Defendant Rothenbecker filed an answer, ECF No. 32.
and Defendants Howard County. Anne Arundel County, and Prince
George's County filed motions to dismiss on behalf of the
counties, county executives, police chiefs, police
departments, and individual police officers. See ECF
Nos. 29. 30. 31, 35. 36 On October 10, 2017, the Court denied
Plaintiffs' Combined Motion to Amend the Complaint and
Remand to State Court, ECF No. 39. See ECF No. 44.
Thereafter, the State of Maryland filed a Motion to Dismiss,
ECF No. 45. and Plaintiffs filed responses to all motions to
dismiss by the County Defendants. ECF No. 49. and the State
of Maryland. ECF No. 51. Finally, the State of Maryland moved
to strike Plaintiffs Response to its Motion to Dismiss. ECF
STANDARD OF REVIEW
may "test the adequacy of a complaint by way of a motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)." Prelich v. Med
Res.. Inc., 813 F.Supp.2d 654, 660 (D. Md. 2011) (citing
German v. Fox, 267 F. App"x 231. 233 (4th Cir.
2008)). Motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim do
"not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits
of a claim, or the applicability of defenses."
Prelich. 813 F.Supp.2d at 660 (citing Edwards v.
City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231. 243 (4th Cir. 1999)).
To overcome 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
evaluating the sufficiency of Plaintiffs' claims, the
Court accepts factual allegations in the complaint as true
and construes the factual allegations in the light most
favorable to the Plaintiff. See 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 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 Cir. 2009). The Court should not grant
a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief
unless "it is clear that no relief could be granted
under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with
the allegations." GE Inv. Private Placement Partners
II v. Parker, 247 F.3d 543. 548 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing
H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Tel. Co.,
492 U.S. 229. 249-50 (1989)).
appear to bring each individual state tort and constitutional
claim against all Defendants collectively, irrespective of
the individual defendant's status as a municipality,
state entity, supervisor, or individual police officer.
Because certain claims are dependent upon the status of the
individual defendant, the Court will first address claims
that do not state a claim for relief irrespective of the
individual defendant and will then evaluate the remaining
claims based on the status of the individual defendant.
Assault (Count I)
Maryland, assault claims are subject to a one year statute of
limitations. See Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc.
§ 5-105. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' assault claim
expired on or about June 4, 2015, almost two years prior to
filing the instant action. Plaintiffs acknowledge that
Curbelo's claim is time barred but argue that the Court
should toll Thomas" limitations period because he was
incarcerated in Connecticut during that time. See
ECF No. 49 at 13. To receive equitable tolling. Plaintiffs
bear the burden of proving that Thomas has diligently pursued
his rights and some extraordinary circumstance beyond his
control stood in his way. preventing timely filing.
United States v. Sosa, 364 F.3d 507. 512 (4th Cir.
2004). However, no such extraordinary circumstances exist.
See. eg, Dowries v. Carroll, 348 F.Supp.2d 296. 303
(D. Del. 2004) (noting that incarceration in another state is
not an extraordinary circumstance justifying equitable
tolling for petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254). Plaintiffs
fail to show that Thomas' incarceration, alone, qualifies
as an extraordinary circumstance justifying equitable tolling
or that Thomas diligently pursued his claim while
incarcerated or upon release. Moreover, Plaintiffs'
counsel represented Thomas immediately following his arrest
and pursued Plaintiffs' state law tort claims against the
County Defendants while Thomas was incarcerated. See
ECF No. 2 ¶¶ 31-33. As such. Plaintiffs do not
establish that Thomas diligently pursued his claim.
Plaintiffs' assault claim is time barred and therefore
Intentional Infliction of Emotional ...