United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
litigation arises from the unfortunate death of 38-year-old
Tyree Woodson on July 25, 2014. He died of a self-inflicted
gunshot wound to the head while in the custody of the
Baltimore City Police Department (“BCPD”).
See ECF 2 (“Complaint”). Woodson's
mother, Verdessa McDougald, individually and as the personal
representative of the Estate of Tyree Woodson, initiated this
suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, § 1985, and § 1988 and Articles 24 and
26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, alleging violations
of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution,
and asserting wrongful death and survival actions under
Maryland law. She named as defendants BCPD Detectives Michael
Spinnato, Earl Thompson, Mathew Pow, Mathew Dzambo, Kevin
Carvell, and Jeffrey Converse, as well as Sergeant Sterling
Price. Id. Additionally, plaintiff alleges a claim
of negligent supervision, training, and retention against
former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Id.
removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
See ECF 1 (Notice of Removal). Thereafter,
defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to
state a claim (ECF 16), supported by a memorandum of law (ECF
16-1) (collectively, the “Motion”). Plaintiff
opposes the Motion (ECF 18), supported by a memorandum of law
(ECF 18-1) (collectively, the “Opposition”), and
several exhibits. See ECF 18-3 through ECF 18-7. In
the Opposition, plaintiff requested, inter alia,
that the Court deny the Motion or, in the alternative, grant
leave to amend the Complaint. Defendants have replied. ECF 19
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint. Accordingly, I shall
deny the Motion, without prejudice to the right of defendants
to renew their Motion as to the Amended Complaint, if
Complaint is not a model of clarity. In the section title
“Jurisdiction, ” ECF 2 at 3, plaintiff asserts
that the claims are founded, inter alia, on 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1988, as well as the
Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
However, the actual causes of action in the Complaint appear
to present claims under Maryland law.
I, ” Count I is a claim titled “Wrongful Death
For Gross Negligence.” ECF 2 at 14. “Case 2,
” Count 1 is titled “Survival Action For Gross
Negligence.” Id. at 17. Case 2, Count 2
is titled “Survival Action For Negligent Supervision,
Training and Detention.” Id. at 20. Case 2,
Count 3 is a “Survival Action For Funeral
Expenses.” Id. at 22. All four claims appear
to be predicated on the Estates and Trusts Article or the
Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code;
common law; and Baltimore Police Department Guidelines.
Although the Complaint was removed on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction, it is not immediately clear that it
raises claims under federal law. To the extent plaintiff
intended to raise federal claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985, 1988, the Fourth Amendment, and the
Fourteenth Amendment, those claims are difficult to discern
in the Complaint.
indicated, defendants have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) to dismiss the Complaint. See ECF 16. They
argue, inter alia, that plaintiff does not allege
any conduct of defendants that led to Woodson's suicide.
ECF 16-1 at 7. Moreover, they contend that plaintiff does not
allege facts giving rise to a special relationship between
the police officers and Woodson, so as to create a duty of
care. Id. at 8. Further, they claim that plaintiff
has not alleged facts showing deliberate indifference.
Id. at 9. In addition, they claim that they are
entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 10.
Opposition requests, inter alia, that the Court deny
the Motion, or in the alternative, grant plaintiff leave to
amend the Complaint. See ECF 18 at 1. Plaintiff does
not explain what she seeks to amend, nor did she file a
proposed amended complaint. Although plaintiff did not file a
formal motion to amend the complaint,  defendants'
Reply provides no reason as to why it would be improper for
the Court to grant plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint.
See ECF 19.
15(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a
party to amend a pleading once “as a matter of course,
” without leave of the court or the consent of any
opposing party, if done within 21 days of service of a motion
filed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). Further, Rule 15(a)(2)
instructs that a court should “freely” grant
leave to amend “when justice so requires, ” and
commits the matter to the discretion of the district court.
See Simmons v. United Mortg. & Loan Inv.,
LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 769 (4th Cir. 2011). A district court
may deny leave to amend “when the amendment would be
prejudicial to the opposing party, the moving party has acted
in bad faith, or the amendment would be futile.”
Equal Rights Center v. Niles Bolton Assocs., 602
F.3d 597, 603 (4th Cir. 2010); see also Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962); Laber v.
Harvey, 438 F.3d 404, 426-29 (4th Cir. 2006) (en banc).
view, plaintiff has satisfied Rule 15(a)(1)(B). Plaintiff
timely filed the Opposition thirteen days after the Motion
was filed. In the Opposition, she seeks leave to amend the
Complaint. See ECF 18.