United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander, United States District Judge
case arises from the tragic death of 38-year-old Tyree
Woodson (“Mr. Woodson” or the
“Decedent”), while at the Southwestern District
Police Station of the Baltimore City Police Department
(“BPD”). The Decedent's mother, plaintiff
Verdessa McDougald, has filed an Amended Complaint,
individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of
Mr. Woodson, asserting a variety of claims against Detective
Michael Spinnato, Sergeant Sterling Price, Detective Earl
Thompson, Detective “Mathew” Pow, Detective
“Mathew” Dzambo,  Detective Kevin Carvell,
Detective Jeffrey Converse (the “Officer
Defendants”), and former BPD Commissioner Anthony W.
Batts, individually and in their official capacities. ECF
has structured her Amended Complaint into two “Cases,
” each with multiple counts Id. Case 1
presents wrongful death claims on behalf of plaintiff, in her
individual capacity, and Case 2 presents survival claims on
behalf of plaintiff as Personal Representative of Mr.
Woodson's Estate. In Case 1, plaintiff asserts two counts.
Count I contains a claim for Wrongful Death for Gross
Negligence lodged against the Officer Defendants. Case I,
Count II asserts a “Monell Claim,
” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for
“wrongful death for negligent supervision, training,
retention and custom or policy of deliberate indifference,
” lodged against Batts as well as the Officer
Defendants. In Case 2, plaintiff, as Personal Representative
of the Decedent's Estate, asserts three counts. Count I
is a Survival Action for Gross Negligence, lodged against the
Officer Defendants under Md. Code, § 7-401 of the
Estates and Trusts Article (“E.T.”), and Maryland
Code, § 6-401 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings
Article (“C.J.”). Count II asserts a
Monell claim, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
Batts and the Officer Defendants. Count III contains a
Survival Action for funeral expenses, pursuant to E.T. §
7-401, apparently lodged against all
Officer Defendants have moved to dismiss the Amended
Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim
(ECF 25), supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 25-1
(collectively, “Officer Defendants' Motion).
Curiously, plaintiff failed to file an opposition to the
Officer Defendants' Motion. However, I will consider
plaintiff's opposition (ECF 18) to the Officer
Defendants' earlier motion to dismiss (ECF 16) as the
opposition to the second motion to dismiss. And, I shall also
consider the Officer Defendants' earlier reply. ECF 19.
Defendant Batts filed a separate motion to dismiss the
Amended Complaint (ECF 31), also for failure to state a
claim, along with a memorandum of law. ECF 31-1
(collectively, the “Batts Motion”). Plaintiff
opposes the Batts Motion (ECF 35) supported by a memorandum
(ECF 35-1) (collectively, “Batts Opposition”) and
an exhibit. Batts has replied. ECF 36 (“Batts
hearing is necessary to resolve the pending motions.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons
that follow, I will grant the Batts Motion, and I will grant
in part and deny in part the Officer Defendants' Motion.
Factual and Procedural Background
Woodson was shot in his left foot on July 25, 2014. ECF 22,
¶¶ 3, 10. On August 5, 2014, at about 10:45 a.m.,
Sergeant Sterling Price and Detective Earl Thompson, members
of the BPD Warrant Apprehension Task Force, encountered Mr.
Woodson and his mother as they exited their home in
Baltimore. ECF 22, ¶¶ 3, 7, 8. They told Mr.
Woodson that he was needed for questioning, and to provide a
victim/witness statement regarding the recent incident in
which Mr. Woodson was the victim of a shooting. Id.
asserts that the officers' claim that they needed to
obtain a statement from Mr. Woodson was a ruse, because an
arrest warrant had been issued for Mr. Woodson in connection
with the shooting of Jerome McDougald. ECF 22, ¶
In any event, Mr. Woodson and Ms. McDougald asked about the
length of time of the interview, id. ¶ 11, and
the officers “promised” that Mr. Woodson would be
returned home “safely” in just “a few hours
. . . .” Id. ¶ 12. At that point, the
officers handcuffed Mr. Woodson, without searching him for
weapons, and placed him in the back of the police cruiser.
Id. ¶¶ 13-15. The failure to search under
such circumstances violated BPD General Order J-13, which
mandated “a thorough search of all arrestees . . .
.” Id. ¶ 15.
“unmarked” police vehicle arrived at the
Southwestern District Police Station at about 11:05 a.m.
Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Woodson was removed from the
vehicle, still handcuffed, and entered the police station.
Id. ¶¶ 18, 19. Again, he was not searched,
as required by General Order J-13. Id. ¶ 19.
Woodson was placed into a prisoner holding cell in a secure
area of the station. Id. ¶ 21. Detective Kevin
Carvell handcuffed Mr. Woodson's right hand to a cement
wall. Id. ¶¶ 20, 21. While in the holding
cell, Mr. Woodson was in the presence of other inmates and
police employees. Id. ¶ 23.
about 12:15 p.m., Detective Matthew Dzambo advised Mr.
Woodson that he should use the private bathroom outside the
holding cell. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Detective
Dzambo then escorted Mr. Woodson into the private bathroom,
without a search. Id. ¶¶ 26-28. At
approximately 2:40 p.m., Mr. Woodson again asked to use the
bathroom. Id. ¶ 29. Detectives Pow and Converse
removed Mr. Woodson's handcuffs and allowed him first to
smoke a cigarette “out back, ” using a cigarette
and lighter that Mr. Woodson removed from his front pants
pocket. Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Despite the
officers' awareness that Mr. Woodson had the cigarette
and the lighter, which are contraband for a detainee, they
still did not search Mr. Woodson. Id.
the bathroom and cigarette break, Detectives Pow and Converse
escorted Mr. Woodson to a secure area for questioning,
without searching him. Id. ¶ 32. They
questioned Mr. Woodson about items recovered during the
execution of a search warrant at Mr. Woodson's home
approximately one hour earlier. Id. ¶ 33. They
also interrogated Mr. Woodson about activities of the Black
Guerrilla Family (“BGF”) gang, and acknowledged
that Mr. Woodson's “possible testimony against a
purported BGF member will put his life in jeopardy . . .
.” Id. According to plaintiff, the officers
“threatened Mr. Woodson's life and safety with the
reality that BGF gang members will retaliate against him for
purportedly snitching.” Id. ¶ 3.
interrogation “visibly change[d]” Mr.
Woodson's “demeanor and temperament from
‘very respectful' to extreme fear for his safety,
extreme fear of the BGF, extreme fear for the immediate
safety of his family, crying and fear of going away for a
long time.” Id. ¶ 34. Mr. Woodson
acknowledged that he was a BGF member, and he asked the
officers about relocating his family to protect them from
BGF. Id. ¶ 35. The officers allowed Mr. Woodson
to make a phone call to his girlfriend, during which
Detectives Pow and Converse heard Mr. Woodson crying and
telling her, “‘the police found the gun and he
was going to jail, that he would be gone for a long
time.'” Id. ¶ 36.
Mr. Woodson called his girlfriend, he again asked to use the
private bathroom. Id. ¶ 37. Detective Pow
escorted Mr. Woodson to the private bathroom, uncuffed and
without searching him, and allowed him to enter the private
stall. Id. ¶¶ 38-39. While in the bathroom
(id. ¶ 39), Detective Pow heard a
“‘pop.'” Id. ¶ 40. When
Pow opened the bathroom stall, he saw Mr. Woodson,
“slumped back on the left side of the stall.”
D. Mattingly entered the bathroom and saw Detective
“Hollinsworth, ” who was “standing at the
stall.” Id. ¶ 42. He observed that Mr.
Woodson had a single gunshot wound to his head. Mattingly
also saw a single shell casing at the right side of Mr.
Woodson's feet. Id. ¶ 43. Mr. Woodson was
“alleged to have been seated on the toilet with his
arms at his sides.” Id.
addition, Mattingly saw a single gunshot hole in the ceiling
bathroom, above the Decedent. Id. ¶ 44. And,
Mattingly observed a Glock 23 behind a trash can,
“where Detective Hollinsworth stated he had placed hit
[sic].” Id. ¶ 46; see also Id.
¶ 45. The medics who responded determined that Mr.
Woodson had a pulse. Id. ¶ 47. But,
“moments later, ” upon removing Mr. Woodson from
his seated position on the toilet to begin treatment, they
pronounced him dead. Id. ¶ 48; see also
Id. ¶ 47. An autopsy and police investigation
classified the manner of death as suicide. Id.
¶ 51. Postmortem toxicologic testing was negative for
alcohol and positive for tramadol and morphine. Id.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may
test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion
to dismiss. In re Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th
Cir. 2017); Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822
F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016); McBurney v.
Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010),
aff'd sub nom., McBurney v. Young, 569
U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178
F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion
constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the
facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as
a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted.” See In re Birmingham, 846 F.3d at
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). That rule provides that a complaint
must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of the rule is to provide
the defendants with “fair notice” of the claims
and the “grounds” for entitlement to relief.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974;
see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684
(2009) (citation omitted) (“Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for
‘all civil actions' ....”); see also
Paradise Wire & Cable Defined Benefit Pension Fund Plan
v. Weil, F.3d, 2019 WL 1105179, at *3 (4th Cir. March
11, 2019); Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93, 112 (4th
Cir. 2017). To be sure, a plaintiff need not include
“detailed factual allegations” in order to
satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Moreover, federal pleading rules “do not countenance
dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted.” Johnson v.
City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S., 135 S.Ct. 346 (2014)
(per curiam). But, mere “‘naked assertions'
of wrongdoing” are generally insufficient to state a
claim for relief. Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d
186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
other words, the rule demands more than bald accusations or
mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
see Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v.
Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint
provides no more than “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action, ” it is insufficient. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. “[A]n unadorned, the - defendant -
unlawfully - harmed - me accusation” does not state a
plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Rather, to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2),
the complaint must set forth “enough factual matter
(taken as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of
action, “even if ... [the] actual proof of those facts
is improbable and ... recovery is very remote and
unlikely.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (internal
quotation marks omitted).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “must accept
as true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint” and must “draw all reasonable
inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v.
Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Semenova v. Maryland
Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017);
Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473,
484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v. Balcerzak, 650 F.3d
515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 565 U.S. 943
(2011). But, a court is not required to accept legal
conclusions drawn from the facts. See Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986); Glassman v.
Arlington Cty., 628 F.3d 140, 146 (4th Cir. 2010).
“A court decides whether [the pleading] standard is met
by separating the legal conclusions from the factual
allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, 566 U.S. 937 (2012).
generally do not “‘resolve contests surrounding
the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses'” through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Edwards, 178 F.3d at 243 (quoting Republican
Party v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992)).
However, “in the relatively rare circumstances where
facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are
alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6).”
Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th
Cir. 2007) (en banc); accord Pressley v.
Tupperware Long Term Disability Plan, 553 F.3d 334, 336
(4th Cir. 2009). Because Rule 12(b)(6) “is intended
[only] to test the legal adequacy of the complaint, ”
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
Forst, 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993), “[t]his
principle only applies ... if all facts necessary to the
affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face
of the complaint.'” Goodman, 494 F.3d
at 464 (quoting Forst, 4 F.3d at 250) (emphasis
added in Goodman).
in evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint in connection
with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “may not consider
any documents that are outside of the complaint, or not
expressly incorporated therein . . . .” Clatterbuck
v. City of Charlottesville, 708 F.3d 549, 557 (4th Cir.
2013); see Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, Inc., 510 F.3d
442, 450 (2007). “Generally, when a defendant moves to
dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), courts are limited
to considering the sufficiency of allegations set forth in
the complaint and the ‘documents attached or
incorporated into the complaint.'” Zak v.
Chelsea Therapeutics Int'l, Ltd., 780 F.3d 597, 606
(4th Cir. 2015) (quoting E.I. du Pont de Nemours &
Co., 637 F.3d at 448). Under limited circumstances,
however, when resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may
consider documents beyond the complaint without converting
the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment.
Goldfarb v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore,
791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th Cir. 2015).
particular, a court may consider documents that are
“explicitly incorporated into the complaint by
reference and those attached to the complaint as
exhibits.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166; see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c); Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor
Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007);
Paradise Wire & Cable, supra, 2019 WL
1105179, at *4. However, “before treating the contents
of an attached or incorporated document as true, the district
court should consider the nature of the document and why the
plaintiff attached it.” Goines, 822 F.3d at
167 (citing N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City
of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 455 (7th Cir. 1998)).
may also “consider a document submitted by the movant
that was not attached to or expressly incorporated in a
complaint, so long as the document was integral to the
complaint and there is no dispute about the document's
authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166
(citations omitted); see Six v. Generations Federal
Credit Union, 891 F.3d 508, 512 (4th Cir. 2018);
Woods v. City of Greensboro, 855 F.3d 639, 642 (4th
Cir. 2017), cert. denied, U.S., 138 S.Ct. 558
(2017); Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d
195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014); U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Pa.
Higher Educ. Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 136 (4th
Cir. 2014) (citation omitted); Kensington Volunteer Fire
Dep't. v. Montgomery Cty., 684 F.3d 462, 467 (4th
Cir. 2012); Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v. Trigon
Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004),
cert. denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004); Phillips v.
LCI Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999).
To be “integral, ” a document must be one
“that by its ‘very existence, and not the
mere information it contains, gives rise to the legal
rights asserted.'” Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc.
v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 611
(D. Md. 2011) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original).
See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) (“A copy of a
written instrument that is an exhibit to a pleading is a part
of the pleading for all purposes.”).
appended several exhibits to their Opposition to the Police
Officer's prior motion to dismiss. See ECF 18.
They do not appear integral to the Amended Complaint,
however, nor are they incorporated in the suit. Therefore, I
may not consider them in regard to the merits of the motions.
“may properly take judicial notice of ‘matters of
public record' and other information that, under Federal
Rule of Evidence 201, constitute ‘adjudicative
facts.'” Goldfarb, 791 F.3d at 508;
see Fed. R. Evid. 201(b) (stating that a
“court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject
to reasonable dispute because it ... can be accurately and
readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questioned”); see also Tellabs, Inc.
v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322
(2007); Katyle v. Penn Nat'l Gaming, Inc., 6367
F.3d 462, 466 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 565 U.S.
825, (2011); Philips v. Pitt County Mem'l Hosp.,
572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, “[i]t
is not uncommon for courts to take judicial notice of factual
information found on the world wide web.”
O'Toole v. Northrop Grumman Corp., 499 F.3d
1218, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007); cf. Jeandron v. Bd. of
Regents of Univ. Sys. of Maryland, 510 Fed.Appx. 223,
227 (4th Cir. 2013) (noting that the court may take judicial
notice of information on a website, “so long as the web
site's authenticity is not in dispute”). However,
“these facts [must be] construed in the light most
favorable” to the nonmovant. Clatterbuck, 708
F.3d at 557.
resolving the motions, I have taken judicial notice of the
fact that Batts was sworn into office on November 8, 2012.
See Justin Fenton, “Batts formally sworn in as
Baltimore police commissioner, ” The Baltimore
Sun (Nov. 8, 2012), http://articles.baltimoresun.com/
discussing the defense motions, it is also helpful to review
the parameters of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
1983 provides that a plaintiff may file suit against any
person who, acting under color of state law, “subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States
or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. 42
U.S.C. § 1983; see, e.g., Filarsky v.
Delia, 566 U.S. 377 (2012); City of Monterey v. Del
Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999);
Owens v. Balt. City State's Attorney's
Office, 767 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2014), cert. denied
sub nom. Balt. City Police Dep't v. Owens,
U.S., 135 S.Ct. 1893 (2015). However, § 1983
“‘is not itself a source of substantive
rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3
(1979)); see Safar v. Tingle, 859 F.3d 241, 245 (4th
Cir. 2017). Therefore, “[t]he first step in any such
claim is to pinpoint the specific right that has been
infringed.” Safar, 859 F.3d at 245.
state a claim under § 1983, “a plaintiff must aver
that a person acting under color of state law deprived him of
a constitutional right or a right conferred by a law of the
United States.” Wahi v. Charleston Area Medical
Ctr., Inc., 562 F.3d 599, 615 (4th Cir. 2009); see
Filarsky, 566 U.S. 382-83; West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Crosby v. City of Gastonia, 635
F.3d 634, 639 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, 565 U.S. 823 (2011); Jenkins v.
Medford, 119 F.3d 1156, 1159- 60 (4th Cir. 1997). The
phrase “under color of state law” is an element
that “is synonymous with the more familiar state-action
requirement-and the analysis for each is identical.”
Philips, supra, 572 F.3d at 180 (citing
Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 929
person acts under color of state law “only when
exercising power ‘possessed by virtue of state law and
made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the
authority of state law.'” Polk County v.
Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 317-18 (1981) (quoting United
States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299, 326 (1941)). The Fourth
Circuit has said: “[P]rivate activity will generally
not be deemed state action unless the state has so dominated
such activity as to convert it to state action: Mere approval
of or acquiescence in the initiatives of a private party is
insufficient.” Philips, 572 F.3d at 181
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
1983 also requires a showing of personal fault based upon a
defendant's own conduct. See Vinnedge v. Gibbs,
550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977) (stating that for an
individual defendant to be held liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, the plaintiff must affirmatively show that the
official acted personally to deprive the plaintiff of his
rights). Thus, there is no respondeat superior liability
under § 1983. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676
(“Because vicarious liability is inapplicable to .
. . § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each
Government-official defendant, through the official's own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”);
see also Wilcox v. Brown, 877 F.3d 161, 170 (4th
Cir. 2017); Love-Lane v. Martin, 355 F.3d 766, 782
(4th Cir. 2004); Trulock v. Freeh, 275 F.3d 391, 402
(4th Cir. 2001).
of a supervisory official under § 1983 “is
premised on ‘a recognition that supervisory
indifference or tacit authorization of subordinates'
misconduct may be a causative factor in the constitutional
injuries they inflict on those committed to their
care.'” Baynard v. Malone, 268 F.3d 228,
235 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Slakan v. Porter, 737
F.2d 368, 372 (4th Cir. 1984)). With respect to a supervisory
liability claim in a § 1983 action, a plaintiff must
(1) That the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge
that his subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed a
pervasive and unreasonable risk of constitutional injury to .
. . the plaintiff; (2) that the supervisor's response to
that knowledge was so inadequate as to show deliberate
indifference to or tacit authorization of the alleged
offensive practices; and (3) that there was an affirmative
causal link between the supervisor's inaction and the
particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 813
(1994); see also Wilcox, 877 F.3d at 170.
“Jurisdiction” Section of the Amended Complaint
(¶¶ 1-3 at 3-6), plaintiff asserts that the Police
Officers “made an unreasonable seizure” of Mr.
Woodson, “thereby violating his rights under the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution .
. . .” Id. ¶ 3 at 5. Other than a few
cursory references to the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments
(ECF 22, ¶¶ 1, 3), there are no other references to
any constitutional provisions. Plaintiff has not articulated,
in the Monell counts, the alleged constitutional
The Batts Motion
has lodged the following claims against Batts. Case I, Count
II: a wrongful death action, brought by plaintiff in her
individual capacity, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), alleging negligent
supervision, training, retention, as well as a custom or
policy of deliberate indifference. See ECF 22,
¶¶ 72-80; Case 2, Count II: a survival action,
brought by plaintiff as Personal Representative of the
Decedent's estate, pursuant to Monell and §
1983, and asserting the same alleged conduct. Id.
not entirely clear from the Amended Complaint, plaintiff also
appears to assert claims against Batts in his personal
capacity for supervisory liability under § 1983, as well
as in his official capacity, for the policies and customs of
the BPD. ECF 22, ¶¶ 66-67, 70, 72-80. According to
plaintiff, the violation of the Decedent's rights
occurred because, inter alia, Batts breached a duty
“to implement General Orders regarding the mandatory
search of all arrestees coming into and moving throughout the
various police precincts in Baltimore City.”
Id. ¶ 74; see also Id. ¶ 76.
Moreover, plaintiff claims that Batts failed to train,
supervise, and discharge the defendant Police Officers
“for their failure to [conduct] proper searches . . .
.” Id. at ¶ 75.
asserts § 1983 claims against Batts based on three
theories of liability. First, plaintiff theorizes that the
BPD-through Batts, in his official capacity as Commissioner-
implemented a policy or custom of condonation or deliberate
indifference. ECF 22, ¶¶ 75, 77. Second, plaintiff
asserts that the BPD-through Batts, in his official capacity
as Commissioner- had a custom or policy of failing to train
its officers adequately. Id. And, the third theory
is that Batts is liable in his personal capacity for failing
adequately to supervise the BPD officers, including as to
those involved in the incident with Mr. Woodson. Id.
to plaintiff, the Officer Defendants “made an
unreasonable seizure” of Mr. Woodson, in violation his
rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, by use of a
ruse, claiming they needed Mr. Woodson to provide a
victim/witness statement. ECF 22, ¶ 3. And, plaintiff
alleges that on August 5, 2014, the Police Officers were
“intentionally and/or grossly negligent in their
decision to forego searching Mr. Woodson for any
weapons” when he was taken into custody and throughout
the time that he was held at the police station. Id.
In this regard, plaintiff contends that Batts failed to
implement or enforce a policy requiring the search of
arrestees (id. ¶¶ 74, 75), and he failed
to properly train the officers concerning the
“treatment of custodial persons outside and inside a
district police station where other police officers and
civilians are in close proximity and able to cause harm to
the person in custody or be harmed by the person in custody .
. . .” Id. ¶ 3.
Motion (ECF 31), Batts contends that the Amended Complaint
has not stated a predicate constitutional violation by any
defendant; has not sufficiently alleged “the necessary
elements for a plausible Monell claim under any
theory”; and fails to allege a § 1983 supervisory
liability claim against Batts in his individual capacity. ECF
31-1 at 2-3.
noted, Batts was sued in his official capacity. A suit
against Batts in his official capacity is, in effect, a suit
against the BPD. In Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S.
159, 166 (1985), the Court said: “As long as the
government entity receives notice and an opportunity to
respond, an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other
than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity. It is
not a suit against the official personally, for the real
party in interest is the entity.” (internal citation
to Monell, 436 U.S. 658, a municipality is subject
to suit under § 1983. See Id. at 690
(permitting a § 1983 claim against a municipality for
money damages, based on an unconstitutional policy or custom
of a municipality, resulting in a violation of a
plaintiff's constitutional rights). But, liability
attaches “only where the municipality itself
causes the constitutional violation at issue.” City
of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989) (emphasis
viable § 1983 Monell claim contains two
elements: (1) the municipality had an unconstitutional policy
or custom; and (2) the unconstitutional “policy or
custom” caused a violation of the plaintiff's
constitutional rights. See, e.g., Bd. of
Comm'rs of Bryan Cty. v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403
(1997); Kirby v. City of Elizabeth City, 388 F.3d
440, 451 (4th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 547 U.S.
1187 (2006); Lytle v. Doyle, 326 F.3d 463, 471 (4th
Monell, 436 U.S. 658, the Supreme Court determined
that local governmental bodies may be liable under §
1983 based on the unconstitutional actions of individual
defendants, but only if those defendants were executing an
official policy or custom of the local government that
resulted in a violation of the plaintiff's rights.
Id. at 690-91. The Court said that, “when
execution of a government's policy or custom, whether
made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may
fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the
injury that the government as an entity is responsible under
§ 1983.” Id. at 694; see also
Love-Lane, 355 F.3d at 782.
plaintiff may demonstrate the existence of an official policy
in three ways: (1) a written ordinance or regulation; (2)
certain affirmative decisions of policymaking officials; or
(3) in certain omissions made by policymaking officials that
“manifest deliberate indifference to the rights of
citizens.” Carter v. Morris, 164 F.3d 215, 218
(4th Cir. 1999). “Locating a ‘policy' ensures
that a municipality is held liable only for those
deprivations resulting from the decisions of its duly
constituted legislative body or of those officials whose acts
may fairly be said to be those of the municipality.”
Bd. of Comm'rs of Bryan Cty., 520 U.S. at
official policy often refers to ‘formal rules or
understandings ... that are intended to, and do, establish
fixed plans of action to be followed under similar
circumstances consistently and over time,' and must be
contrasted with ‘episodic exercises of discretion in
the operational details of government.'” Semple
v. City of Moundsville, 195 F.3d 708, 712 (4th Cir.1999)
(alteration in Semple and citations omitted).
“In addition, the governmental unit may ...