United States District Court, D. Maryland
MATTHEW K. THALER, Plaintiff,
DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC., et al., Defendants.
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
Matthew Thaler (“Thaler” or
“Plaintiff”) originally brought this action
against Defendant Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
(“Campaign” or “Defendant”) and the
Maryland State Police, stemming from his removal from a
campaign rally in April of 2016 for then-presidential
candidate Donald Trump. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently
filed an Amended Complaint, dropping the Maryland State
Police as a defendant. (ECF No. 26.) Accordingly, the
Maryland State Police's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10) is
MOOT. Currently pending is Defendant Campaign's Motion to
Dismiss the Amended Complaint.(ECF No. 28.) The parties'
submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the
following reasons, Defendant Donald J. Trump for President,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint (ECF No.
28) is GRANTED and Plaintiff Thaler's claims are
reviewing a Motion to Dismiss, this Court accepts as true the
facts alleged in the complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac,
Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (2011). On April 20, 2016,
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (“Campaign”)
held a ticketed campaign rally for then-presidential
candidate Donald Trump. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26 at ¶ 5.)
The tickets for the event, however, were free. (ECF No. 29-1
at 3.) Thaler received a ticket for the rally. (ECF No. 26 at
¶ 5.) The ticket stated “no posters,
banners, or signs, ” “professional cameras with a
detachable lens” or “tripods, monopods, selfie
sticks, or GoPros.” (Id. at ¶ 8.) Thaler
did not bring any of these items into the event, and he did
not “at any time during the event, raise his voice, use
obscene language, disrupt the peace or engage in any
harassing or unlawful conduct.” (Id. at ¶
9.) Nonetheless, he claims he was excluded from the rally.
(Id. at ¶ 9.4.) Specifically, he asserts that
he was told to leave, and when he did not, someone associated
with the Campaign told a police officer that he was
trespassing and ordered the officer to search his person and
remove him from the rally. (Id. at ¶ 10.) The
officer subsequently searched, arrested, and detained Thaler.
(Id. at ¶ 11.) Thaler claims that the officer
used more force than necessary to remove him, causing
“a disgraceful and embarrassing scene, ”
“roughly escorting Mr. Thaler from the premises,
” and “caus[ing] bruising on Mr. Thaler's
body. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The officer also issued
Thaler a criminal citation for trespass under Md. Code, Crim.
Law § 6-403. (Id. at ¶ 12.)
21, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore County against both Donald J. Trump for President,
Inc. and the Maryland State Police. (ECF No. 2.) Maryland
State Police removed the case to this Court. (ECF No. 1.)
After the Campaign filed a Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 21,
Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 26. The Amended
Complaint alleges claims for breach of contract (Count I),
false imprisonment and arrest (Count II), battery (Count
III), and detrimental reliance (Count IV). The Campaign
subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint.
(ECF No. 28.)
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 Cir.
2006). While a complaint need not include “detailed
factual allegations, ” it 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.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff cannot rely on bald
accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S.
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). 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).
Complaint alleges two contract law claims, breach of contract
(Count I) and detrimental reliance (Count IV), and two tort
claims, false imprisonment and arrest (Count II) and battery
(Count III). Accordingly, this Court will analyze both
contract claims before proceeding to Plaintiff's tort
Breach of Contract (Count I)
claims that his ticket to the campaign rally was a contract
between the Campaign and him, and that the Campaign breached
that contract by removing him from the rally without cause.
Further, he asserts that Defendant violated the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing. “To state a
claim for breach of contract, the plaintiff must show that
the defendant owed him a contractual obligation and that the
defendant breached that obligation.” Belyakov v.
Med. Sci. & Computing, 86 F.Supp.3d 430, 437 (D. Md.
2015) (citing Taylor v. NationsBank, N.A., 365 Md.
166, 776 A.2d 645, 651 (2001)). Forming a contract
“requires mutual assent (offer and acceptance), an
agreement definite in its terms, and sufficient
consideration.” CTI/DC, Inc. v. Selective Ins. Co.
of America, 392 F.3d 114, 123 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing
Peer v. First Federal Sav. And Loan Ass'n. of
Cumberland, 273 Md. 610, 331 A.2d 299, 301 (1975)).
does not indicate how he received the ticket. Accordingly, he
does not plead how he was “offered” the
opportunity to attend the rally. This alone is fatal to the
existence of a contract. See Steinberg v. United
States, 90 Fed.Cl. 435, 446 (2009) (finding the
plaintiff's ambiguity as to who offered him a ticket to a
presidential inauguration was one reason for dismissal of his
breach of contract claim). Second, there was no bargained-for
consideration. As Thaler did not pay for the ticket, he also
does not plead consideration through a bargained-for benefit
or detriment. He argues that “in return for Mr. Thaler
waiving his right not to show up to the campaign
rally, . . . Trump promised Mr. Thaler that he could attend
the event, subject to ejection for cause, and would be
treated with dignity and respect.” (ECF No. 29-1 at 4)
(emphasis added). The Plaintiff conjectures that the
“size of the crowd” would constitute valuable
consideration to establish ...