United States District Court, D. Maryland
Edward Michael Nero, et al.
Marilyn Mosby, et al. Brian Scott Rice
Marilyn Mosby, et al. Alicia White, et al.
Marilyn Mosby, et al.
Catherine C. Blake, United States District Judge.
a consolidated civil action arising out of criminal
prosecutions against several police officers after the death
of Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. ("Gray") in Baltimore,
Maryland. The court has before it Defendant Samuel
Cogen's Renewed Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 9l],
which has been fully briefed by the
parties. No. oral argument is necessary to resolve the
motion. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that
follow, the motion will be granted.
court provides only a brief summary of the factual
allegations. A full discussion is contained in the Corrected
Memorandum and Order Re: Dismissal Motions [ECF No.
9:15 AM on April 12, 2015, Baltimore City police officers
detained and arrested Gray for allegedly possessing an
illegal knife under the Baltimore City Code. Corrected Mem.
& Order at 47-48. The officers placed him in the back of
a police wagon. Id. at 48. At the time of the
arrest, Gray was not suffering from any medical emergency.
police wagon made four stops before reaching the police
station. Id. One block south of the arrest location,
officers removed Gray from the wagon, switched his handcuffs
for flex cuffs, and placed shackles on his legs. Id.
at 49. At both of the final two stops, Gray asked for medical
assistance. Id. at 49-51. When the wagon arrived at
the police station, Gray was unresponsive. Id. He
was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma
Unit for surgery and died a week later from a spinal cord
injury. Id. After the State Medical Examiner ruled
his death a homicide, six officers (Caesar Goodson, Edward
Nero, Garrett Miller, Brian Rice, Alicia White, and William
Porter) were suspended and arrested on charges relating to
his death. Id. at 3.
1, 2015, Major Samuel Cogen ("Cogen") of the
Baltimore City Sheriffs Office signed the Application for
Statement of Charges and corresponding probable cause
affidavits for each of the officers charged (collectively,
"Application"). Id. at 4 n.6. The
Application was submitted to a Maryland state court
Commissioner, who approved it and issued warrants for the
officers' arrests. Id. at 4.
same day, Marilyn Mosby ("Mosby"), the State's
Attorney, held a press conference to announce that she had
conducted an independent investigation of Gray's death
and planned to pursue charges against the six officers.
Id. at 4-5. She read verbatim from the Application.
Id. at 4, 23. She explained that accusations against
the six offers were not an indictment of the entire police
force and that the case would not harm the working
relationship between police and prosecutors in the state.
Id. at 5 n.8, n.9. She also called for peace.
Id. at 6 n.10.
indictments by a grand jury, none of the six officers was
convicted of any crime. Three officers proceeded to a bench
trial and were acquitted, and one officer proceeded to a jury
trial but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Id. at 7. Charges against that officer and two
others ultimately were dismissed. Id.
five of the six officers filed lawsuits against Mosby, Cogen,
and the State of Maryland in federal court. Plaintiffs'
legal theories included false arrest and false imprisonment,
malicious prosecution, abuse of process, defamation, false
light, conspiracy, Section 1983 violations of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments, and violations of the Maryland
Declaration of Rights Articles 24 & 26. The cases were
consolidated in this court with Nero as the lead
sought dismissal of all claims. Following oral argument, this
court dismissed all claims except malicious prosecution
(based on Section 1983 violations of the Fourth Amendment,
the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and state common law),
defamation, and false light. Mat 46. The court also dismissed
all claims against the State of Maryland. Id.
appealed the decision on February 3, 2017. On May 7, 2018,
the Fourth Circuit reversed this court's decision,
holding that all malicious prosecution claims against Mosby
were barred by absolute prosecutorial immunity. See Nero
v. Mosby, 890 F.3d 106, 119-24 (4th Cir. 2018). The
Fourth Circuit also found that Mosby's press conference
statements were made within the scope of her employment and
without malice or gross negligence so that she was entitled
to statutory immunity under the Maryland Tort Claims Act
("MTCA") for the defamation and false light claims.
Id. at 126-31.
Fourth Circuit did not address any of the claims relating to
Cogen or the State of Maryland. Following this decision, Cogen
moved to dismiss all remaining claims against him.
ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must
"accept the well-pled allegations of the complaint as
true" and "construe the facts and reasonable
inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff." Ibarra v. United States, 120
F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). "Even though the
requirements for pleading a proper complaint are
substantially aimed at assuring that the defendant be given
adequate notice of the nature of a claim being made against
him, they also provide criteria for defining issues for trial
and for early disposition of inappropriate complaints."
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir.
2009). "The mere recital of elements of a cause of
action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not
sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6)." Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the
factual allegations of a complaint "must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations
omitted). "To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need
not 'forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the
elements of the claim. However, the complaint must allege
sufficient facts to establish those elements."
Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (citation omitted).
"Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in
a complaint that the right to relief is 'probable,'
the complaint must advance the plaintiffs claim 'across
the line from conceivable to plausible.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
the Nero decision, Cogen is the remaining defendant
in this case. The only pending claims against him are the
malicious prosecution claims (based on Section 1983
violations of the Fourth Amendment, the Maryland Declaration
of Rights, and state common law) and the defamation and false
light claims. Corrected Mem. & Order at 46, ECF No. 54.
Section 1983 Claim
court will dismiss Plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim because
the Fourth Circuit decision leaves little room for doubt that
probable cause existed to bring charges against the
Plaintiffs. Furthermore, Cogen is entitled to qualified
Probable Cause&Lack ...