United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Reginald Johnson has filed a civil rights suit against five
defendants: the Maryland Department of Transportation
(“MDOT” or the “Department”), doing
business as the Maryland Transit Administration
(“MTA”); “John Doe #1, ” a Maryland
Transportation Authority (“MDTA”) officer;
“John Doe #2, ” an MDTA supervisor; “Jane
Doe #3, ” an MDTA employee; and “John Doe #4,
” an MDTA commissioner (collectively, the “Doe
Defendants”). ECF 1 (the
“Complaint”). Johnson alleges that on May 13, 2015,
MDTA officers stopped him for speeding (ECF 1, ¶¶
15, 16) and then unlawfully detained and arrested him because
he was “a possible fugitive from Albuquerque, New
Mexico.” Id. ¶ 26.
suit was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting
violations of Johnson's Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures; his Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and
substantive due process; and his Eighth Amendment right to be
free from cruel and unusual punishment. Id.
¶¶ 50-60. Moreover, plaintiff asserts that the MTA
is liable because it maintains unconstitutional customs and
policies that led to the violation of plaintiff's
constitutional rights. See ECF 1, ¶¶ 4,
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), MDOT, MTA, and MDTA (collectively,
the “State”) have moved to dismiss (ECF 3),
supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 3-1) (collectively, the
“Motion”). The State asserts that the Eleventh
Amendment bars this suit, and that Johnson fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. ECF 3 at 3-6. Johnson
opposes the Motion. ECF 7 (the “Opposition”). He
also seeks “limited discovery” to identify the
Doe Defendants. The State has replied. ECF 17 (the
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
the Motion in part and deny it in part.
Factual Background 
13, 2015, at approximately 4:30 p.m., Johnson was driving on
Interstate 95 when he was stopped by John Doe #1, an officer
employed by MDTA. ECF 1, ¶ 15. According to the
Complaint, John Doe #1 told plaintiff that he was speeding,
and that “he would need to see [plaintiff's]
license and registration.” Id. ¶ 16.
Johnson “complied with John Doe #1's
request.” Id. ¶ 17. About three minutes
later, “John Doe #1 came back to Plaintiff's car
and asked him to step out.” Id. ¶ 18.
Again, Johnson “complied with John Doe #1's
request.” Id. ¶ 19.
Doe #1 then “ask[ed] Plaintiff if he had ever been to
New Mexico.” Id. ¶ 20. Johnson responded
that “he had not been to New Mexico.”
Id. ¶ 21. Johnson “proceeded to ask John
Doe #1 if this was about another individual named Reginald
Johnson.” Id. ¶ 22. Johnson explained
that “he had a similar problem trying to get his
passport approximately four (‘4') years before the
stop.” Id. Further, Johnson told John Doe #1
that the previous mix-up was resolved when he “brought
documentation showing who he was, and the [official] had a
picture of the ‘other' Reginald Johnson.”
Id. ¶ 23. To this, John Doe #1 allegedly
responded, “‘Ok' or something to that effect
and told Plaintiff to get back into the car.”
Id. ¶ 24.
thereafter, John Doe #1 “called for backup.”
Id. ¶ 25. After additional officers arrived at
the scene, “Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs, ”
and Johnson was told that “he was a possible fugitive
from Albuquerque, New Mexico.” Id. ¶ 26.
Johnson “asked John Doe #1 if there [was] any way to
get a picture of the ‘other' Reginald Johnson
because he believed that would clear everything up.”
Id. ¶ 27. Thereafter, Johnson was transported
to the Baltimore City Central Booking and Intake Center
(“Central Booking”). Id. ¶ 29.
Johnson was taken inside to Central Booking, “John Doe
#1 said that if plaintiff's finger prints [sic] displayed
‘no hits' that they would not hold him and that he
would take Plaintiff back to his car.” Id.
¶ 30. At Central Booking, Johnson “was
fingerprinted and the monitor showed no hits.”
Id. ¶ 31. Nevertheless, John Doe #2, a
supervisor, told Johnson that “they would have to keep
him.” Id. ¶ 32. Johnson avers that he
again “asked officials to get the picture of the
‘other' Reginald Johnson.” Id.
¶ 33. According to Johnson, Jane Doe #3 then told him
“something to the effect of ‘It is you and you
are a fugitive from New Mexico and you will see the
commissioner after 12:00AM, so you can take it up with
him.'” Id. ¶ 34.
states that his photo and additional fingerprints were taken,
and he was then placed in a jail cell with another person.
Id. ¶ 35. At approximately 1:00 a.m., Johnson
met with the commissioner, John Doe #4, and Johnson asked him
about the photo and the social security number. Id.
¶ 36. In response, John Doe #4 allegedly said
“that he could not do anything about it and Plaintiff
was a fugitive from New Mexico.” Id. ¶
37. Johnson asserts that John Doe #4 then asked Johnson
“several questions about his occupation, marital
status, income, and living arrangement.” Id.
¶ 38. “John Doe #4 indicated that plaintiff would
go before a judge in the morning at around 8:30AM to be
extradited back to New Mexico.” Id. ¶ 39.
Johnson was then placed in a group cell “with about ten
(‘10') other inmates for several hours.”
Id. ¶ 40.
Johnson “was given a psychological test, a prison suit,
and breakfast.” Id. ¶ 41. Then, he was
taken to another area of Central Booking, where he was
“placed in another cell with another person who had
multiple convictions for drugs, armed robbery, and gun
possession for the rest of the night.” Id.
morning, when Johnson was “supposed to appear before a
judge, ” court officials told him that he “was
not on the list.” Id. ¶ 43. No. one was
able to explain to Johnson why his hearing was canceled.
Id. ¶ 45. For several more hours, Johnson sat
in the holding cell “until he was called out for
officials to draw his blood for a syphilis
determination.” Id. ¶ 46. Once again,
Johnson asked when he would see a judge, “but no one
could tell Plaintiff anything.” Id. ¶ 47.
next day, on May 15, 2015, at approximately 8 p.m., Johnson
was released, “without an apology.” Id.
¶ 49. This suit followed on April 12, 2018. ECF 1.
facts are included in the Discussion.
noted, the State has moved to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. However, it also
contends that plaintiff's claims are barred by sovereign
immunity. See ECF 3-1. The Fourth Circuit recently
reiterated that the defense of sovereign immunity is a
jurisdictional bar, stating that “‘sovereign
immunity deprives federal courts of jurisdiction to hear
claims, and a court finding that a party is entitled to
sovereign immunity must dismiss the action for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction.'” Cunningham v.
Gen. Dynamics Info. Tech., Inc., 888 F.3d 640, 649 (4th
Cir. 2018) (quoting Ackerson v. Bean Dredging LLC,
589 F.3d 196, 207 (5th Cir. 2009)); see also Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (stating that a court must dismiss an action
if it lacks subject matter jurisdiction). Therefore, the
State should have also brought the Motion under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
the standards of review for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and Rule
12(b)(6) are relevant.
of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may
proceed “in one of two ways”: either a facial
challenge, asserting that the allegations pleaded in the
complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter
jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting
“‘that the jurisdictional allegations of the
complaint [are] not true.'” Kerns v. United
States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation
omitted); accord Durden v. United States, 736 F.3d
296, 300 (4th Cir. 2013). “When a defendant makes a
facial challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, ‘the
plaintiff, in effect, is afforded the same procedural
protection as he would receive under a Rule 12(b)(6)
consideration.'” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192
(quoting Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th
factual challenge, on the other hand, can also assert that
facts outside the four corners of the complaint preclude the
exercise of subject matter jurisdiction. Durden, 736
F.3d at 301. In considering a factual challenge, “the
district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact
with respect to subject matter jurisdiction.”
Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that circumstance, the
court “may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the
issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without
converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.”
Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398
(4th Cir. 2004); see also United States ex rel. Vuyyuru
v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347-48 (4th Cir. 2009)
(“Unless ‘the jurisdictional facts are
intertwined with the facts central to the merits of the
dispute,' the district court may . . . resolve the
jurisdictional facts in dispute by considering evidence . . .
such as affidavits.” (citation omitted)).
with respect to the contention that plaintiff's claims
are barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity, the Department
seems to raise a facial challenge. Therefore, I shall assume
the truth of Johnson's allegations.