United States District Court, D. Maryland
HARVEY C. SPENCER, Plaintiff,
PFC JESSIE GUESSFORD, et al., Defendants.
L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendants PFC Jessie Guessford and Det.
Edward Howard's (collectively, “the
Officers”) Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7). The Motion is
ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will deny the Motion.
facts of this case are not entirely clear from Plaintiff
Harvey C. Spencer's Complaint. (See Compl., ECF
No. 1). The Complaint, which consists of a 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (2018) form and a handwritten statement, names the
Officers and Ray Klekotka as Defendants but does not
identify the right or rights they allegedly violated.
(Id. at 1-2).
Court takes judicial notice of the docket from Spencer's
criminal case in the Circuit Court for Dorchester County,
Maryland, which he cites in the Complaint. (Id. at
3). According to the docket in that case, the incident that
forms the basis of the Complaint occurred on June 29, 2015.
(No. 09-K-15-015654, Docket, Cir. Ct. Dorch. Cty.). After a
trial on February 11, 2016, a jury convicted Spencer of two
misdemeanors-theft of under $1, 000.00 and resisting
arrest-and acquitted him of several other charges, including
felony counts of assaulting a law enforcement officer and
disarming a law officer. (Id.). The state court
sentenced him to four-and-a-half years in prison,
(id.), which he is serving at the Eastern
Correctional Institution Annex in Westover, Maryland, (Compl.
at 1). The Complaint's handwritten statement includes
excerpts or summaries of testimony from Spencer's
criminal trial. (Compl. at 2). As to Klekotka, the summary
concerns the location of certain pieces of evidence.
(Id.). As to the Officers, the Complaint states:
PFC Jessie Guessford:
He said I mean, he made no threats. He wasn't tr[y]ng to
fight[.] This man hit me in the face [sixteen] time[s] and
was on top of me[;] said I'll kill you dead. [illegible]
Detective Edward Howard: was choking me and said he saw my
head hit the as[phalt] so many time[s] he lost count. And my
blood was on his shirt. Mr. Spencer['s] blood. I was
acquitted of the most serious charges with them!
Id. (some capitalization altered).
January 26, 2018, Spencer sued the Officers and Klekotka.
(ECF No. 1). On September 6, 2018, the Officers filed their
Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 7). On Spencer 17, 2018, Spencer
filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 10). On October 9, 2018, the
Officers filed a Reply. (ECF No. 11).
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) is to “test[ ] the sufficiency of a complaint,
” not to “resolve contests surrounding the facts,
the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206,
214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999)). A
complaint fails to state a claim if it does not contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), or does not “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially
plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). Though the plaintiff is not required to
forecast evidence to prove the elements of the claim, the
complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish each
element. Goss v. Bank of America, N.A., 917
F.Supp.2d 445, 449 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012)),
aff'd sub nom. Goss v. Bank of America, NA, 546
Fed.Appx. 165 (4th Cir. 2013).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must examine the
complaint as a whole, consider the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, and construe the factual allegations in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Albright v.
Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 268 (1994); Lambeth v. Bd. of
Comm'rs, 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)). But,
the court need not accept unsupported or conclusory factual
allegations devoid of any reference to actual events,