Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Crowell v. Anne Arundel County Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 17, 2018

KEON CROWELL, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge

         Currently 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.[1] (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 GRANTED.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         In 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).

         On 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[3] 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.)

         Two 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).[4] (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 response.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 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. at 555.

         In 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.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Claims against Anne Arundel County Police Department

         Defendants 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.

         II. Claims against Anne Arundel County, Maryland a. Constitutional claims (Counts I-III)

         Defendants 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.