United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ronea Teasheke Posey (incapacitated adult), and Ronald Posey
(her guardian), have sued Defendants the Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Karlo Francis
Centeno, Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager, and Michael D.
Barnes (alleged Board Chairman), in connection with a car
accident that left Posey with lasting injuries. After the
Court dismissed all claims as to WMATA, Wiedefeld and its
Board, and granted Posey thirty days to amend the Complaint
and allege malice or gross negligence as to Centeno, ECF No.
20, she filed an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 23. On November
8, 2018, Defendant Centeno moved to dismiss the Amended
Complaint. ECF No. 24. For the following reasons, the Court
will GRANT Centeno's motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Teasheke Posey was a thirty-four-year-old resident of Prince
George's County at the time of the accident. ECF No. 23
at 1 -2. Karlo Francis Centeno is a Metro Transit Police
Officer and WMATA employee. Id. at 2.
April 8, 2017, at approximately 12:27 a.m., Centeno driving a
Chevy Tahoe, owned by WMATA struck. Posey, who was crossing
the street in the middle of the intersection at Branch Avenue
and Naylor Road, in Hillcrest Heights, Prince George's
County, Maryland. Id. at 2. Posey alleges she
crossed the intersection carefully, that passengers often
used this intersection to board the Metrorail or bus, as she
had, and that no crosswalk or traffic controls governed the
intersection. Id. at 2-3.
result of the accident, Posey sustained serious injuries to
her head, body, and limbs. Id. at 3. She now resides
in a nursing home with considerable brain injuries.
Id. She asserts that Centeno breached a duty in
failing to take adequate care at this intersection, which
many pedestrians use often, and that he had a duty of extra
care in his capacity as a Metro Transit Police Officer.
Id. She further avers that Centeno's gross
negligence proximately caused her injuries. Id.
originally filed a complaint for simple negligence in the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County on April 4, 2018
against WMATA, Karlo Francis Centeno, Paul Wiedefeld, General
Manager, and Michael D. Barnes (alleged Board Chairman). ECF
No. 2. WMATA filed a Notice of Removal on May 16, 2016. ECF
No. 1. On May 29, 2018, Centeno answered, ECF No. 14, and
WMATA and Wiedefeld filed Motions to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim and for Lack of Jurisdiction. ECF No. 15.
Motions Hearing on October 1, 2018, in addition to discussing
WMATA's immunity, the parties referenced facts that might
be pertinent to Centeno's individual liability for gross
negligence, such as his rate of speed, whether he used
headlights, and whether street lamps illuminated the area.
The Court also urged Posey to confer with her two witnesses
to gather additional facts. The Court then granted
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, dismissed all claims as to
WMATA's Board members, but granted Posey thirty days to
amend her Complaint and allege malice or gross negligence as
to Centeno. ECF No. 20. The Court dismissed WMATA, Wiedefeld,
and Barnes as parties. Id.
October 30, 2018, Posey filed an Amended Complaint which
asserts, "Defendant Centeno operated his vehicle in a
grossly negligent and careless manner when he entered the
intersection of Branch Avenue and Naylor Road knowing, or
should have known, that the intersection is where potential
passengers would be crossing to board the metro-rail or
bus." ECF No. 23 at 2. Apart from removing portions of
the complaint that concern terminated defendants, and
describing Centeno's negligence as "gross",
Posey made no other changes. See Id. at 1-3.
Court now considers Centeno's Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim filed on November 8, 2018. ECF No.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint
must contain '"a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
While detailed facts are not required, the pleader must
provide "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Though a
court must assume the truth of all factual allegations, this
deference "is inapplicable to legal conclusions,"
and "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Id. (citations omitted). Maryland law
also provides that those asserting claims of gross negligence
"are held to a high pleading standard that may not be
satisfied by conclusory allegations." Traversa v.
Ford, 718 F.Supp.2d 639, 648 (D. Md. 2010) (citation
Maryland, ''two separate statutes immunize fire,
rescue, and law enforcement personnel from civil damages for
errors and omissions made while acting in the scope of their
duties.'" McCoy v. Hatmaker, 763 A.2d 1233.
1240 (Md. 2000). Neither statute protects malicious or
grossly negligent conduct. Id.