United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis, United States District Judge.
before the Court are Defendant Henry P. Stawinski, III's
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18) and Defendant Patrick
Shanahan's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative,
for summary judgment. ECF No. 27. The motions are fully
briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
105.6. For the following reasons, the Court grants both
Andre Jones retired from the Navy in 2003. ECF No. 1 ¶
7. Three years later, the Navy certified him as a Naval
Science Instructor (“NSI”). ECF No. 27-6 at 1.
Certification is a prerequisite to teaching in the Naval
Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (“NJROTC”).
ECF No. 1 ¶ 38. Jones began teaching at the Bowie High
School NJROTC in 2007. Id. ¶ 7.
October 2015, students broke into Jones' cellphone and
discovered a photograph of a young man wearing only
underwear. Id. ¶ 17. The students
believed the young man was a minor student attending a Prince
George's County Public School. Id. ¶ 23.
Jones, however, maintains that the young man was an adult and
not a student. Id. Based on information learned from
the students about the photograph, Detective Carpenter of the
Prince George's County Police (“the Police”)
arrested Jones, brought him to the precinct, and questioned
him for an hour and a half. Id. ¶ 42. The
Police also searched Jones' phone. Id. ¶
19. Shortly thereafter, Jones was placed administrative leave
and the Navy decertified Jones as a NSI, which rendered him
ineligible to continue serving as an NJROTC instructor.
Id. ¶¶ 49, 64.
exhausting administrative remedies, Jones filed suit against
Dr. Kevin Maxwell as Chief Executive Officer of the Prince
George's County Public School, Stawinski as Chief of
Police, and the Secretary of Defense. ECF No. 1. Jones
alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendment Act
of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. § 1681
et seq.; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq.; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.;
the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution;
“Maryland Privacy laws, and BHS Policy”;
“Maryland's Human Rights law”; negligent
supervision; and intentional infliction of emotional
answered the Complaint. ECF No. 15. However, Stawinski and
the Secretary of Defense filed dispositive motions that are
now ripe for resolution. ECF Nos. 18, 27. The Court considers
each motion separately.
to State a Claim against Stawinski
motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The
Court accepts “the well-pled allegations of the
complaint as true, ” and construes all facts and
reasonable inferences most favorably to the plaintiff.
See Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th
Cir. 1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's
factual allegations “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).
has brought claims against Stawinski in both his personal and
official capacities as Chief of Police for allegedly
violating Jones' constitutional rights during arrest. ECF
No. 21-1 at 8. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165 (1985). Jones does not aver that Stawinski was involved
in his arrest. Rather, Jones contends more generally that
“the Police” arrested and detained him, then
conducted a warrantless search of his cell phone without
probable cause, all in violation of the Fourth Amendment. ECF
No. 1 ¶ 19.
viewing the Complaint allegations as true and most favorably
to Jones, the claims against Stawinski in his personal
capacity must be dismissed. See Krumtum v. Crawford,
No. 1:16CV00007, 2016 WL 4468275, at *3 (W.D. Va. Aug. 24,
2016). The Complaint is totally bereft of any facts by which
the court could infer Stawinski's involvement. And even
though Jones' opposition generally contends that
Stawinski directed Detective Carpenter to arrest Jones
without probable cause or an arrest warrant (ECF No. 21-1 at
2), the Complaint may not be amended by his brief in
opposition to the motion. See Mathis v. McDonough,
No. ELH-13-2597, 2014 WL 3894133, at *25 (D. Md. Aug. 7,
2014). Alternatively, even if the Court did consider the
additional allegations in Jones' opposition, such
allegations are similarly bare and conclusory. Jones provides
no facts by which this Court could infer that Stawinski, as
Chief of Police, played any part in Jones' arrest.
Accordingly, the claims against Stawinski in his personal
capacity are dismissed.
claim against Stawinski in his official capacity likewise
must be dismissed. A suit against an individual in his
official capacity is “functionally equivalent to a suit
against the municipality.” Flanagan v. Anne Arundel
Cty., 593 F.Supp.2d 803, 809-10 (D. Md. 2009).
Municipalities may be held liable for only constitutional
violations committed pursuant to an official pattern,
practice, policy or custom. Hunter v. Town of Mocksville,
N.C. , 897 F.3d 538, 554 (4th Cir. 2018); Lytle v.
Doyle, 326 F.3d 463, 471 (4th Cir. 2003). “[A]
policy or custom may possibly be inferred from continued
inaction in the face of a known history of widespread
constitutional deprivations . . . .” Milligan v.
City of Newport News, 743 F.2d 227, 229-30 (4th Cir.
1984). Mere institutional inaction “in the face of
isolated constitutional deprivations by municipal employees,
” however, is insufficient to sustain such a claim
against the municipality itself. Garcia v. Montgomery
Cty., Md., No. JFM-12-3592, 2013 WL 4539394, at *4 (D.
Md. Aug. 23, 2013) (quoting Milligan, 743 F.2d at
the “official capacity” claim, the Complaint
asserts only that the Police acted “pursuant to a
policy, practice, or custom that violates the Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution.” ECF No. 1
¶ 131. The Complaint is devoid of any facts to support
this bare contention. Because bare legal conclusions couched
as factual allegations will not suffice, Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, dismissal is ...