United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Tia Giles, Nicole Jackson, Sgt. Oliver, and Tiara Thomas
filed a motion to dismiss the above-entitled civil rights
complaint on November 27, 2017. ECF No. 51. Defendant Betty
Johnson was served with the complaint on December 19, 2017,
but has not answered or otherwise responded to the
complaint. ECF No. 57. Plaintiff opposes the motion
to dismiss. ECF No. 56. No. hearing is necessary to resolve
the matters pending. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons stated below Defendants' motion
will be denied as to the claims against Oliver, Thomas and
Giles and granted as to Jackson.
Christina Thomas, who at all times relevant to the complaint
was incarcerated at the Baltimore City Detention Center for
Women, alleges that she was assaulted on July 8, 2015, by
correctional officers. She explains that Officer Tiara Thomas
became angry when the dormitory “T.V. Card was
misplaced.” ECF No. 33 at p. 2. Officer Thomas demanded
to know where the card was and threatened the entire dorm
that if they did not tell her where it was they would not get
the card back. The “dorm rep.” gave Officer
Thomas the TV card, but Officer Thomas angrily accused the
entire dorm of playing games and threatened that if no one
told her who took the card, it would not be given back to the
dorm. Id. The dorm rep. then told Officer Thomas
that Plaintiff had taken the card. Id.
Thomas ordered Plaintiff to put her hands on the wall and
spread her legs so she could search Plaintiff even though
Officer Thomas was already in possession of the TV card.
Officer Tia Giles arrived to assist in searching Plaintiff,
as well as Plaintiff's bed area and property. Giles
claimed that she found something that Plaintiff was not
supposed to have and Sgt. Oliver placed Plaintiff in
handcuffs and left the area. ECF No. 33 at p. 2.
claims that after Sgt. Oliver left, Officer Thomas became
disrespectful and called her names. Plaintiff states that
Officer Thomas then grabbed her and began shaking her
violently, stating that now she had a real reason to put
Plaintiff on lock up. Officer Thomas then allegedly pushed
her hand into Plaintiff's face and Plaintiff “came
out of the handcuffs to block her from hitting” her.
ECF No. 33 at p. 2. Plaintiff maintains that she was
defending herself. Id.
claims that Officer Thomas began violently striking Plaintiff
with a closed fist and Officer Giles began to attack
Plaintiff by hitting her in the head, neck, and back. She
further alleges that Officer Giles held Plaintiff's arms
while Officer Thomas hit her numerous times, “digging
and scratching me in my eyes.” ECF No. 33 at p. 2.
Plaintiff asserts that, “it was then that Ofc. Thomas
slammed me on the ground, banged my head several times”
and then “took her handcuffs and began beating me in my
head numerous times repeatedly.” Id. Plaintiff
states that she bled severely from the right and middle side
of her head, and sustained bruises to her eyes and face, as a
result of the beating. Id., see also ECF
No. 37-2 at pp. 1-7 (medical records).
states that, following the assault, she was placed in the
medical dorm and claims that she was never sent to an outside
hospital for treatment. She further claims that pictures were
not taken of her injuries until five days after the assault,
after the scratches to her face had healed. ECF No. 33 at p.
2. As relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id.
at p. 1.
was charged with assaulting a correctional officer in a
Notice of Inmate Rule Violation written by Officer Thomas.
ECF No. 37-1 at p. 6. In addition, Officer Thomas pursued
criminal charges against Plaintiff and an investigation of
the matter was referred to the Internal Investigation
Division (IID). Id. Questions arose from supervisory
officers after reports written by Oliver, Thomas and Giles
were reviewed and Plaintiff's injuries, which required
sutures to her scalp, were noted. Further investigation was
ordered because Plaintiff's injuries did not match the
description of the events provided by the officers; the
conclusion was that excessive force was used against
Plaintiff. See ECF No. 37-6.
avers that Warden Betty Johnson is liable because she was
responsible for protecting Plaintiff from malicious behavior
of the officers; Facility Administrator Nicole Jackson was
responsible for protecting Plaintiff from the violence of
officers; and Sgt. Oliver was the superior officer
responsible for the officers involved in the assault. ECF No.
33 at p. 3. Officers Thomas and Giles are named as Defendants
for their alleged actions in assaulting Plaintiff.
Tia Giles and Tiara Thomas move to dismiss the Eighth
Amendment claim raised in the amended complaint because
Plaintiff was a pre-trial detainee at the time of the alleged
assault and as such the claim is governed by the Fourteenth
Amendment. ECF No. 51-1 at pp. 3-4. They conclude that the
Eighth Amendment claim must be dismissed with prejudice as a
matter of law with respect to all of the Defendants.
Id. at p. 4. Defendants Oliver and Jackson aver that
the amended complaint fails to state a claim against them as
neither of them were present during the alleged assault. ECF
No. 51-1 at pp. 4-5.
reviewing a complaint in light of a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6), the court accepts
all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true and
construes the facts and reasonable inferences derived
therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Venkatraman v. REI Sys., Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420
(4th Cir. 2005) (citing Mylan Labs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)); Ibarra
v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 473 (4th Cir. 1997).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires
only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Migdal v.
Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26
(4th Cir. 2001); see also Swierkiewicz v. Sorema
N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002) (stating that a complaint
need only satisfy the “simplified pleading
standard” of Rule 8(a)).
Supreme Court of the United States explained a
“plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitlement to
relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted).
Nonetheless, the complaint does not need “detailed
factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. Instead, “once a claim has been
stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of
facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Id. at 563. To survive a motion to
dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”