Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Burgess v. Baltimore Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 31, 2019

SABEIN BURGESS, Plaintiff,
v.
BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Sabein Burgess (“Plaintiff' or "Mr. Burgess") filed this lawsuit against, inter alia, Defendant Gerald Goldstein ("Mr. Goldstein"), other individual officers of the Baltimore Police Department ("BPD"), and the BPD itself, alleging various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Human Rights, and Maryland common law (ECF Nos. 1, 141.) Of relevance here, Mr. Burgess alleged in Count V of the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 141) that the BPD had instituted an unconstitutional policy or practice, as prohibited by Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978). On March 23, 2016, this Court bifurcated Count V and stayed discovery pending the outcome of the remaining claims. (ECF No. 68.) Eventually, four claims proceeded to trial as to one Defendant, Mr. Goldstein.[1] Ultimately, the jury found in Plaintiffs favor and awarded him a $15, 000, 000.00 Judgment against the sole remaining Defendant, Mr. Goldstein, who appealed the verdict. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal, without prejudice, holding that it lacked jurisdiction because the Monell claim remained pending before this Court.

         Now pending is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Remaining Monell Claim (ECF No. 427). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 427) is GRANTED. Count V of the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 141) is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         The background of this case has been discussed previously in several Memorandum Opinions of this Court. (See ECF Nos. 55, 311, 413). This Memorandum Opinion focuses on the procedural posture of this case, as this Court now faces an essentially procedural issue. On March 23, 2015, Plaintiff Sabein Burgess commenced this lawsuit against, inter alia, Defendant Gerald Goldstein and other individual officers of the Baltimore Police Department ("BPD") alleging various claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Human Rights, and Maryland common law (ECF Nos. 1, 141.) Among these, Mr. Burgess alleged in Count V of the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 141) that the BPD had instituted an unconstitutional practice or policy, as prohibited by Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978). On March 23, 2016, this Court bifurcated Count V and stayed discovery pending the outcome of the remaining claims. (ECF No. 68.) Ultimately, as a result of both Orders of this Court and agreements between the parties, only four claims against one Defendant, Mr. Goldstein, proceeded to the jury. (See ECF Nos. 56, 311, 312, 320, 333, 356.) Specifically, the following claims were submitted to the jury:

1. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Goldstein withheld (a) evidence that Brain Rainey was an exculpatory witness and (b) other exculpatory information provided by die FBI as recited in Plaintiffs Trial Exhibits 121, 122, and 372, in violation of the principles of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963);
2. Plaintiffs due process claim that Defendant Goldstein fabricated a police report;
3. Plaintiffs claim that Defendant Goldstein maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff through the suppression and/or fabrication of evidence other than the gas tank test; and
4. Plaintiffs intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

(Final Pretrial Order, ECF No. 332; 11/21/2017 Trial Tr. 11, 179.) On November 21, 2017 the jury returned a verdict in Plaintiffs favor on all four claims and awarded Burgess $15, 000, 000.00. On that date, this Court entered an Order of Judgment memorializing the jury's verdict. (ECF No. 366.) The Order stated that it was to be construed as a Final Judgment within the meaning of Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id.)

         Subsequently, on March 9, 2018, this Court denied Mr. Goldstein's Renewed Motion Under Federal Rule 50 (ECF No. 376) for Judgment as a Matter of Law and his Motion for New Trial and/or to Alter or Amend Judgment Under Federal Rule 59 (ECF Nos. 374, 411). Having disposed of these motions, only Plaintiffs Monell claim remained pending before this Court. To facilitate resolution of the claims which proceeded to the jury, this Court stayed the entire case pending the resolution of any and all appellate proceedings related to the jury's verdict of November 21, 2017.

         On March 29, 2018, Mr. Goldstein appealed from the Judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 415.) While the appeal was pending, counsel for Defendant BPD submitted an informal letter to this Court requesting a telephone conference, arguing that the pending Monell claim rendered this Court's Judgment unripe for appellate review, and seeking dismissal of the pending Monell claim without prejudice. (ECF Nos. 421, 423.) On May 2, 2018, this Court conducted the requested telephone conference. During the conference, this Court expressed concerns about dismissing the Monell claim on the force of arguments presented in the parties' letters without "further briefing." (Pl.'s Resp. Ex. A, 5/2/2018 Telephonic Hearing Tr. 21:16-21, ECF No. 430-1.) In a subsequent Letter Order, this Court allotted the parties one week to submit a Joint Motion for Certification under Rule 54(b), including a Joint Proposed Order that would certify the Judgment against Mr, Goldstein as a "final judgment" for purposes of Rule 54(b) in order to mitigate concerns that the pending appeal was not yet ripe for adjudication by the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 424.) The Order further specified that, in the absence of such submission, the Court would not exercise its discretion to issue a certification under Rule 54(b). The parties did not submit a proposed Rule 54(b) certification, and this Court did not exercise its discretion to issue such certification.

         On April 2, 2019 the Fourth Circuit dismissed Goldstein's appeal, finding that the predicate November 21, 2017 Judgment was not a "final decision" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 because the Monell claim asserted in Count V remained pending. (ECF No. 68, Burgess v. Goldstein, 18-1352 (4th Cir. April 2, 2019).) In its Opinion, the Fourth Circuit instructed this Court to resolve Count V "as soon as practicable." (Id. at 4.) On April 5, 2019, the Baltimore Police Department filed a Motion to Dismiss Count V. (ECF No. 427.) Heeding the Fourth Circuit's instructions, this Court issued a Letter Order requiring Plaintiff to file a response by April 29, 2019 and indicated that this Court would issue its ruling by the end of May. (ECF No. 428.)

         STANDARD ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.