United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge
pending before this Court is Defendants Anne Arundel County
Police Department, Anne Arundel County, Maryland ("the
County"), Officer Angela Thomas, and Officer William
Selander's Motion to Dismiss pro se Plaintiffs
Keon Crowell and Tina Crenshaw's Amended
Complaint. (ECF No. 13.) The submissions have been
reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule
105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons,
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13) is
ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court "accept[s] as
true all well-pleaded facts in a complaint and construe[s]
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."
Wikimedia Found, v. Nat'l Sec. Agency,
857 F.3d 193, 208 (4th Ck. 2017) (citing SD3, LLC v.
Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc., 801 F.3d 412, 422 (4th
Ck. 2015)). Further, & spn se Plaintiffs, this
Court has "liberally construed" the pleadings and
held them to "less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Alley v. Yadkin
County Sheriff Dept., No. 17-1249, 698 Fed.Appx. 141
(4th Ck. Oct. 5, 2017).
October 5, 2017, Plaintiff Keon Crowell filed a Complaint on
behalf of himself and the other Plaintiff in this case,
Plaintiff Tina Crenshaw. (ECF No. 1.) The Complaint contained
two allegations relating to ah incident that occurred two
years prior on October 4, 2015. Specifically, it is alleged
that Plaintiff Crowell was falsely arrested by Officer
Selander and Officer Thomas was negligent in her duties as to
Plaintiff Crenshaw. (Id.) On October 16, 2017, this
Court entered an Order dismissing two of the defendants named
in the Complaint and dkecting that, if Tina Crenshaw wished
to enter this case as a Plaintiff, she sign a copy of the
Complaint and return it within twenty-one days. (ECF No. 3.)
Thereafter, Plaintiff Crenshaw filed a supplemental complaint
with her signature. (ECF No. 5.)
weeks later, the remaining Defendants filed a Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 9.) In response, Plaintiffs filed an
Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 12.) The Amended Complaint,
however, does not contain any additional allegations and
asserts the same claims as the Original Complaint: violations
of Plaintiffs' Fkst, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights (Counts I-III), false arrest (Count IV), malicious
prosecution (Count V), defamation (Count VI), and police
misconduct (Count VII). (ECF No. 12.) On December 13, 2017,
Defendants filed the pending Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint. (ECF No. 13.) Despite notice from this Court to
both Plaintiffs, ECF Nos. 14, 16, Plaintiffs did not file a
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 entided 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); Asbcroft 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.
p. 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). A pro se plaintiffs pleadings are
"to be liberally construed" and are "held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Alley v. Yadkin County Sheriff Dept., No.
17-1249, 698 Fed.Appx. 141 (4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017). However,
even a pro se litigant's complaint must be
dismissed if it does not allege a "plausible claim for
relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Claims against Anne Arundel County Police Department
argue that Plaintiffs' claims cannot proceed against the
Anne Arundel County Police Department because it is not a
legal entity that can be sued. Under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 17(b)(3), whether an entity can sue or be sued is
question of state law where the court sits. Fed.R.Civ.P.
17(b)(3). "Under Maryland law, it is well-established
that county police departments are agents of the county and
not treated as separate legal entities." Games v.
Maryland, No. RDB-17-1430, 2018 WL 276425, at *4 (D. Md.
Jan. 3, 2018); Taylor v. Uggett, No. PX46-115, 2017
WL 1001281, at *2 (D. Md. Mar. 25, 2017). Accordingly, the
Anne Arundel County Police Department is not a separate legal
entity and Defendants' Motion is GRANTED as to Defendant
Anne Arundel County Police Department, which is DISMISSED
WITH PREJUDICE as a party in this proceeding.
Claims against Anne Arundel County, Maryland a.
Constitutional claims (Counts I-III)
argue that Plaintiffs have failed to state any claims against
the County for violations of their First, Fourth, or
Fourteenth Amendment rights. Construing Plaintiffs'
Amended Complaint liberally, they have brought these
constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658
(1978), a § 1983 cause of action may lie against a local
government or municipality when execution of the
government's unconstitutional policy or custom causes a
plaintiff injury. Walker v. Prince George's Cty.,
Md.,575 F.3d 426, 431 (4th Cir. 2009) (stating that the
liability of the municipality only arises where the
employees' unconstitutional actions are taken in
furtherance of a municipal policy or custom). In order to
support a Monell claim, "(1) the municipality
must have actual or constructive knowledge of the custom and
usage by its responsible policymakers, and (2) there must be
a failure by those policymakers, as a matter of specific
intent or deliberate indifference, to correct or terminate
the improper custom and usage." Randall v. Prince
George's County,302 F.3d 188, 210 (4th Cir. 2002)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover, there must be a
"direct causal link" between the policy or custom
and the deprivation of rights. See Bd. Of the Cnty,
Comm'rs v. Brown,520 U.S. 397 (holding that there
must be a "direct causal link ...