United States District Court, D. Maryland
MARK COULSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
suit arises from injuries sustained by David Koontz
(“Plaintiff or “Mr. Koontz”) during an
altercation between Mr. Koontz, eight employees of the
Washington County Sheriffs Office, and two employees of
Meritus Hospital. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff asserts claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution, violations
of Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights,
and various common law tort claims. The parties consented to
proceed before a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c) and Local Rule 301.4.
August 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF
No. 67). Pending before this Court are three
dispositive motions. First, Defendants Julia Kimberley, Greg
Alton, Howard Ward, Daniel Monn, Bryan Glines, Spencer Shank,
Clayton Stottlemeyer and Ben Jones, all of whom are employees
of the Washington County Sheriffs Office (collectively
“Defendant Deputies”) filed a Motion to Dismiss
All Claims for Failure to State a Claim, or in the
Alternative for Summary Judgment in their
favor. (ECF No. 49). Second, Defendant Board of
Commissioners of Washington County (the
“Commissioners”) filed its own Motion to Dismiss,
or in the Alternative to Bifurcate. (ECF No. 48). Finally,
Defendant State of Maryland (the “State”) has
filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 54). The issues have been
fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to resolve this
motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that
follow, this Court will:
1. GRANT IN PART and DENY in PART the
Defendant Deputies' Motion to Dismiss or in the
Alternative for Summary Judgment;
2. GRANT the Commissioners' Motion to
Dismiss and DENY the Commissioners'
Motion to Bifurcate as moot; and
3. GRANT the State's Motion to Dismiss.
to the Amended Complaint, on January 4, 2018, Plaintiff was
driving a two-door gray Hyundai Sonata and running errands in
Hagerstown, Maryland. (ECF No. 67 at p. 6). At some
point during these errands, Plaintiff noticed that he was
being surveilled by Defendant Deputies Monn, Kimberley and
Ward. Id. at p. 7-8. For their part, the Defendant
Deputies explain they were engaged in a directed enforcement
operation targeting an area pawn shop, which was believed to
be patronized by drug addicted individuals pawning stolen
goods to obtain drug money, and began surveilling Plaintiff
when he was observed exiting that pawn shop. (ECF No. 49-1 at
explains that eventually he pulled over at a Super 8 Hotel,
16805 Blake Road, and parked his vehicle in the gravel
parking lot to urinate in a bottle that he kept in his
vehicle. (ECF No. 67 at p. 8). To that point, Mr. Koontz had
not been seen or alleged to be under the influence, or in
possession of drugs or alcohol, issued any citation, or
accused of committing or attempting to commit any crime.
Id. at 7.
parties agree that Defendant Deputy Alton, using binoculars,
allegedly observed Mr. Koontz lean forward in the
driver's seat of his vehicle. (Id. at p. 8; ECF
No. 49-1 at p. 13). By way of supporting affidavit, Defendant
Deputy Alton states that this behavior “was similar to
individuals who Alton had previously observed injecting
drugs.” (ECF No. 49-2 at p. 2). Defendant Deputy
Alton then instructed Defendant Deputy Kimberley, by radio,
to approach Plaintiff's vehicle. (ECF No. 67 at p.
8). Defendant Deputy Kimberley, by way of her own
affidavit, corroborated that Defendant Deputy Alton radioed,
and said that she should perform a well-being check on
Plaintiff. (ECF No. 49-3 at p. 2).
to Plaintiff, Defendant Deputy Kimberley approached the
driver's side of his vehicle and falsely stated to
Plaintiff that his car matched the description of a
suspicious vehicle in the area, asking for Plaintiff's
identification. (ECF No. 67 at p. 8). Plaintiff did not
provide identification but instead rolled up his window,
locked his car, and began to cover his windshield and windows
with sun shades, to, according to Plaintiff, “prevent
Defendant Kimberley from seeing Mr. Koontz urinate and to
avoid a situation involving indecent exposure.”
(Id.; ECF No. 49 Ex. A (body camera footage), at
0:45-1:14). While Plaintiff was covering his windshield,
Defendant Deputy Kimberley radioed her colleagues and noted
that Plaintiff had locked himself inside his vehicle and was
putting up sun shades. (Id; ECF No. 49 Ex. A, at
0:50-1:04). According to Plaintiff, Defendant Deputy Ward, in
plain clothes, then rushed towards Plaintiffs vehicle with
his gun drawn and aggressively screamed at Plaintiff to
“[o]pen the fu**ing window or it's getting
busted!” (ECF No. 67 at p. 8). However, the body camera
footage indicates that Defendant Deputy Ward instructed
Plaintiff to open his window three times (all of which were
ignored by Plaintiff) before he drew his weapon. (ECF No. 49
Ex. A, at 1:47-1:55).
point, the parties' description of events, while somewhat
consistent on key points, differ in the amount of detail
provided. According to Plaintiff, he removed the sun shades,
and upon command from Defendant Deputy Ward, slowly raised
his hands. (ECF No. 67 at p. 9). He then “unlocked the
driver side door, opened the door, ” and began exiting
voluntary, but Defendant Deputy Ward grabbed him and pulled
him from the car. Id. According to Plaintiff,
because he was frightened by Defendant Ward's aggressive
demeanor, Plaintiff tried to free himself of Defendant Deputy
Ward's grasp by pulling away. However, he was tackled to
the ground by Defendant Deputies Ward, Monn, and Glines,
while Defendant Deputy Kimberley stood to the side and
observed. Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff contends that
Defendant Deputy Ward wrapped Plaintiffs legs together and
Defendant Deputies Glines and Monn “took control of Mr.
Koontz's arms and upper body.” Id. While
restrained, Plaintiff stated that he was on medication and
that he wanted to go retrieve the medication, but the
Defendant Deputies did not respond to his request.
Id. at p. 10. Next, Plaintiff was ordered to put his
hands behind his back (while being restrained by Defendants
Ward, Monn, and Glines) and “less than three seconds
after the command, Defendant Kimberley deployed her taser and
struck Mr. Koontz once in the middle of the back.”
Id. Plaintiff was then “further physically
restrained, ” and placed into handcuffs. Id.
version of these events, supported by affidavit and body
camera footage, adds important detail to Plaintiff's
recital. Defendants state that after refusing Defendant
Deputy Ward's third command to lower his window,
Plaintiff had to be instructed twice to show his hands. (ECF
No. 49-1 at p. 15; Ex. A, at 1:55-2:09). He was ordered twice
to open the car door and, because he had his keys in his
hand, was further ordered not to put the keys in the ignition
but to exit the vehicle. Id. He was again ordered to
show his hands, and then ordered four times to exit his
vehicle. (Ex. A, at 1:55-2:21). Although Plaintiff opened the
door and placed one foot outside the vehicle, he did not exit
the vehicle completely, but instead twisted to reach back
inside the vehicle towards the console. (ECF No. 49-1 at p.
15; Ex. A, at 2:11-2:34). At this point, Defendant Deputy
Ward grabbed him to pull him out of the vehicle. Id.
A struggle ensued between Plaintiff and Defendant Deputies
Glines, Monn and Ward, resulting in Plaintiff and Defendant
Deputy Ward falling to the ground. Id. The footage
demonstrates that Plaintiff was actively noncompliant with
requests to present his hands behind his back for
handcuffing. (ECF No. 49 Ex. A, at 2:40- 2:50). At that
point, Defendant Deputy Alton who had arrived at the scene,
instructed Defendant Deputy Kimberley to use her taser on
Plaintiff. (ECF No. 49-1 at p. 16; Ex. A, at 2:50-3:05).
custody, Plaintiff was charged with one count of common law
obstructing and hindering and one count of resisting arrest
in violation of Maryland Criminal Code § 9-408(b).
Id. However, before booking, pursuant to the
Washington County Sheriff's Office's Policy,
Plaintiff was transported by EMS to Meritus Medical Center
for an evaluation and removal of the taser probe.
to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was temporarily admitted
to Meritus Medical Center for evaluation. (ECF No. 67 at p.
11). During this time, he was under the supervision and
custody of Defendant Deputies Shank and Stottlemyer and
“his hands and wrists” were handcuffed to the
hospital bed. Id. At Defendant Deputy
Stottlemeyer's request, Defendant Deputy Jones joined the
other Defendant Deputies to assist in transporting Plaintiff
from the hospital to the Washington County Detention Center.
Id. Around 8:27 P.M. the hospital cleared Plaintiff
for release. Id. At this time, Plaintiff contends
that he was vulnerable, in severe pain from the previous
altercation, and “confused and frightened by the
presence and dominance being exerted by Defendants Jones,
Shank, and Stottlemeyer.” Id. Due to this
confusion and “upon a legitimate concern for his
physical safety following the violent interaction near his
vehicle, Mr. Koontz refused to leave Meritus Medical with the
Defendant Deputies by holding on to the railings along the
hospital bed.” Id.
impasse, because Plaintiff refused to leave with the
Defendant Deputies, Defendant Deputy Jones tried to pry
Plaintiff's hands from the bed rail by pressing on
various pressure points in his jaw. Id. at p. 12.
Plaintiff contends that despite his legs being shackled and
his being physically restrained by three law enforcement
officers (Defendant Deputies Jones, Shank and Stottlemeyer),
they also asked for additional assistance from two agents of
Defendant Meritus Medical Center. Id. Because
Plaintiff refused to let go of the bed, Defendant Shank asked
Defendants Stottlemyer and Jones, “should I tase
him?” Id. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant
Deputies in the room expressly or tacitly encouraged the
discharge of Defendant Shank's taser. Consequently,
around 8:45 p.m., Defendant Shank tased Plaintiff once in the
abdomen. Id. At this time, Plaintiff was also
allegedly being restrained by agents of Meritus Medical
Center, Jones, and Stottlemyer, and his legs were bound by
shackles. Id. “As an immediate and involuntary
result of being tased for the second time that evening, Mr.
Koontz fell back into the hospital bed and his legs flew
upwards, allegedly striking Defendant Shank in the
face.” Id. at p. 13. This resulted in him
being tased a third time. Id. Plaintiff was examined
by another physician and the taser probes were removed, which
caused Plaintiff to further scream out in pain and to break
down in tears and cry. Id. Then, Plaintiff
“wearing only his tattered boxer-briefs, was
aggressively and forcibly dragged from the Hospital, down a
hallway and outside to the patrol vehicle.” (ECF No. 67
at p. 13).
version of these events- supported both by affidavit and
additional body camera footage (ECF No. 49 Ex. D and E) -
does not significantly depart from Plaintiffs basic
narrative, other than to emphasize Plaintiffs continued
hostility towards the Defendants and his active resistance
towards being moved from the hospital into custody, despite
repeated instructions and warnings. Id. at pp. 16
-17. Charges of second degree assault, resisting arrest and
disorderly conduct were added to his existing charges.
Id. at pp. at p. 18-19.
upon these encounters, Plaintiff asserts thirty claims (and
claims within claims) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the
Federal Constitution, violations of Articles 24 and 26 of the
Maryland Declaration of Rights, and various common law torts
including false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious
prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Defendants' Motions are predicated on Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and, as to the Defendant Deputies,
alternatively Rule 56. (ECF No. 49). The purpose of Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “is to test the
sufficiency of a complaint and ‘not to resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses.'” Presley v. City
of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006) (quoting 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 plaintiff are true, the complaint fails
as a matter of law, to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Jones v. Chapman, 2015 WL 4509871,
at *5 (D. Md. July 24, 2015).
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed in
accordance with the pleading requirements of FRCP 8(a)(2). To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss “detailed
factual allegations are not required, but a ‘plaintiff
must provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief'
and this requires ‘more than labels and conclusions, or
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.'” Petry v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,
597 F.Supp.2d 558, 561- 62 (D. Md. 2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007)). In
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, “the Court
must accept the complaint's allegations as true, and must
liberally construe the complaint as a whole.”
Humphrey v. National Flood Ins. Program, 885 F.Supp.
133, 136 (D. Md. 1995). Further, the Court must draw all
reasonable inferences “derived therefrom in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ibarra v. United
States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997).
resolving a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court considers
matters only within the pleadings. If matters outside the
pleadings are presented, and are considered, the motion shall
be treated as one for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56.
Humphrey, 885 F.Supp at 136. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure Rule 56(a) requires the Court to “grant
summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears
the burden “to demonstrate the absence of any genuine
dispute of material fact.” Jones v. Hoffberger
Moving Servs, 92 F.Supp.3d 405, 409 (D. Md. 2015). A
“dispute as to a material fact ‘is genuine if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.'” J.E. Dunn
Const. Co. v. S.R.P. Dev. Ltd. P 'ship, 115
F.Supp.3d 593, 600 (D. Md. 2015) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).