United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Mayor & City
Council of Baltimore's (the “Mayor and City
Council”) Motion for a Declaratory Judgment Regarding
the Damage Cap (ECF No. 58). The Motion is ripe for
disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the
Court will deny the Motion.
March 3, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a 264-count Complaint in the
Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland against the Mayor
and City Council, BPD Defendants,  former Baltimore City Mayor
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the City of Baltimore, and the
State of Maryland. (ECF No. 2). Defendants removed the case
to this Court on June 19, 2017. (ECF No. 1).
March 30, 2018, the Court granted the State of Maryland's
and BPD Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. (Mar. 30, 2018
Mem. Op. at 24, ECF No. 55). The Court also granted in part
and denied in part the Mayor and City Council's Motion to
Dismiss. (Id.). Only Plaintiffs' claims under
the Maryland Riot Act (the “Riot Act”), Md. Code
Ann., Pub. Safety [“PS”] § 14-1001 et
seq. (West 2018), against the Mayor and City Council
survived the Motions to Dismiss. (Id. at
April 13, 2018, the Mayor and City Council filed a Motion for
a Declaratory Judgment Regarding the Damage Cap. (ECF No.
58). Plaintiffs filed an Opposition on May 4, 2018. (ECF No.
73). On May 16, 2018, the Mayor and City Council filed a
Reply. (ECF No. 78).
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 (2018),
grants federal district courts discretion to entertain
declaratory judgment actions. See Wilton v. Seven Falls
Co., 515 U.S. 277, 282 (1995). District courts have
“discretion to entertain a declaratory judgment action
if the relief sought (i) ‘will serve a useful purpose
in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue'
and (ii) ‘will terminate and afford relief from the
uncertainty, insecurity, and controversy giving rise to the
proceeding.'” First Nationwide Mortg. Corp. v.
FISI Madison, LLC, 219 F.Supp.2d 669, 672 (D.Md. 2002)
(quoting Cont'l Cas. Co. v. Fuscardo, 35 F.3d
963, 965 (4th Cir. 1994)).
Mayor and City Council maintain that the Local Government
Tort Claims Act's (the “LGTCA”) damages cap,
Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. [“CJP”]
§ 5-303(a)(1) (West 2016) applies to Plaintiffs' Riot
Act claims. As a result, they assert, each individual
Plaintiff's claim is limited to $200, 000.00 and all of
Plaintiffs' claims are limited to $500, 000.00 total.
Plaintiffs vigorously dispute these assertions. Plaintiffs submit
that the express language of the Riot Act dictates that they
recover full, actual damages, and therefore, the LGTCA
damages cap does not apply. The Court agrees with Plaintiffs.
Maryland law, “[t]he cardinal rule of statutory
interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the real and
actual intent of the Legislature.” State v.
Neiswanger Mgmt. Servs., LLC, 179 A.3d 941, 951 (Md.
2018) (quoting Lockshin v. Semsker, 987 A.2d 18, 28
(Md. 2010)). A court's analysis, therefore, “begins
with the plain meaning of the statute.” Id. If
the Legislature's intent is clear from the language of
the statute, the court's inquiry as to legislative intent
ends and the court “appl[ies] the statute as written,
without resort to other rules of construction.”
Lockshin, 987 A.2d at 28-29 (quoting Bd. of
Educ. of Balt. Cty. v. Zimmer-Rubert, 973 A.2d 233, 241
(Md. 2009)). The court does not “add or delete
language.” Haile v. State, 66 A.3d 600, 611
(Md. 2013) (quoting Lockshin, 987 A.2d at 29). Nor
does it “limit or extend” a statute's
application. Id. (quoting Lockshin, 987
A.2d at 29).
contend that the Riot Act, by its plain language, provides
for the recovery of “actual damages.” The Mayor
and City Council counter that the LGTCA damages cap expressly
applies to all torts. Because the Riot Act sounds in tort,
they maintain, the LGTCA damages cap applies to
Plaintiffs' Riot Act claims. The Court first examines the
plain language of the LGTCA.