United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Senior Trooper
Anthony Hassan (“Sr. Tpr. Hassan”), Trooper First
Class Matthew Dull (“Tpr. Dull”), Corporal James
Lantz (“Cpl. Lantz”) (collectively, the
“Trooper Defendants”), State of Maryland (the
“State”), and Maryland State Police's
(“MSP”) Motion to Dismiss Complaint or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 11) and
Plaintiff Lawrence Mills' Cross Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment (the “Cross-Motion”) (ECF No.
23). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For
the reasons set out below, the Court will grant
Defendants' Motion and deny Mills' Cross-Motion as
after midnight on March 13, 2015, Mills was driving south on
Interstate 95, after spending the evening at the Horseshoe
Casino in Baltimore, Maryland, when Sr. Tpr. Hassan pulled
him over. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-19, ECF No. 1). According
to Sr. Tpr. Hassan's Incident Report, Mills' car was
swerving between lanes. (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Compl.
Altern. Summ. J. [“Defs.' Mot.”] Ex. 2
[“Incident Report”] at 3, ECF No. 11-4). Hassan
smelled alcohol on Mills' breath and observed his eyes
were “glassy and bloodshot.” (Id.). In
response to Sr. Tpr. Hassan's questions, Mills denied
having had “anything to drink, ” before conceding
that he “had some juice.” (Compl. ¶ 19;
see Incident Report at 3). Mills stepped out of the
car at Sr. Tpr. Hassan's request, but when Sr. Tpr.
Hassan stated he was going to conduct field sobriety tests,
Mills declined. (Compl. ¶¶ 19-21; Incident Report
at 3). While checking Mills' Maryland driver's
license, Sr. Tpr. Hassan noticed Mills had a restriction that
required him to use an Ignition Interlock System
(“Ignition Interlock”) in his car. (Incident
Report at 3). When asked why there was no Ignition
Interlock on his car's steering wheel, Mills said he had
taken it out recently. (Id.). After stating he would
“take [Mills] to jail, ” Sr. Tpr. Hassan searched
Mills' vehicle. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-22). At that
point, Tpr. Dull and Cpl. Lantz arrived at the scene.
(Id. ¶ 22). Mills complained to them about Sr.
Tpr. Hassan's search, but they declined to intervene.
(Id. ¶ 23). Sr. Tpr. Hassan then searched
Mills, placed Mills in his police cruiser, and drove him to
MSP's Waterloo Barracks. (Id. ¶¶
24-25; Incident Report at 5).
Barracks, Sr. Tpr. Hassan read Mills the “DR-15 advise
of rights” and asked him if he would submit to an
Intoximeter breath test. (Compl. ¶ 25; Incident Report
at 5). Mills requested to speak to an attorney, but Sr. Tpr.
Hassan did not honor that request. (Compl. ¶ 25). Sr.
Tpr. Hassan noted that Mills refused to take the breath test,
(id.; Incident Report at 5), which resulted in the
automatic suspension of Mills' driver's license,
(Defs.' Mot. Ex. 4 [“DR-15 Form”], ECF No.
11-6); see Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-205.1(i)
(West 2019). Sr. Tpr. Hassan charged Mills with Driving Under
the Influence of Alcohol (“DUI”), (Compl. ¶
26), as well as negligent driving, reckless driving, failure
to obey properly placed traffic control device, driving or
attempting to drive while impaired by alcohol
(“DWI”), driving or attempting to drive a vehicle
not equipped with an Ignition Interlock, and failure to obey
designated lane directions, (Defs.' Mot. Ex. 6
[“Court Records for Mar. 13, 2015 Stop”] at 2-4,
ECF No. 11-8). Sgt. Mitchell Nuzzo told Sr. Tpr. Hassan to
let Mills speak with an attorney, and Sr. Tpr. Hassan allowed
Mills call a friend to pick him up. (Compl. ¶¶
26-27). Sgt. Nuzzo took Mills' mug shot and then informed
Mills that his friend had arrived. (Id. ¶ 27).
Mills walked to the lobby to meet his friend, received
paperwork from Sr. Tpr. Hassan, and left. (Id.).
30, 2015, Mills was tried in the District Court of Maryland
in Howard County and convicted of all charges. (Court Records
for Mar. 13, 2015 Stop at 2-4; Compl. ¶
The District Court sentenced him to two years and sixty days
in prison, with all but sixty days suspended; later that day,
Mills posted bond and appealed. (Compl. ¶¶ 35-36);
see State v. Lawrence Justin Mills, Nos. 2YW0B1R,
2YX0B1R, 2YZ0B1R, 2Z00B1R, 2Z10B1R, 2Y20B1R, (Dist.Ct.Md.
filed Mar. 13, 2015),
December 15, 2015, a jury in the Circuit Court for Howard
County convicted Mills of the driving without an interlock
device charge, which had been severed from the others, and
the Circuit Court sentenced Mills to one year in prison, with
all but seventy-five days suspended. (Court Records for Mar.
13, 2015 Stop at 3-4). On February 18, 2016, another Circuit
Court for Howard County jury heard the remaining charges
against Mills. (Compl. ¶ 41; see Court Records
for Mar. 13, 2015 Stop at 2-4, 10). Sr. Tpr. Hassan testified
about the indications that Mills had been drinking, but the
friend who came to pick Mills up from the MSP Barracks that
night, Fernando Garcia, testified that Mills showed no signs
of being drunk. (Compl. ¶¶ 41-42). The jury
acquitted Mills of the reckless driving, failure to obey
properly placed traffic control device, DUI, and DWI charges,
but convicted him of the negligent driving and failure to
obey lane directions charges, for which he was fined a total
of $230.00. (Id. ¶ 43; Court Records for Mar.
13, 2015 Stop at 2-4).
also requested a hearing regarding the suspension of his
driver's license after he refused to take the alcohol
breath test. (Compl. ¶ 39); see Md. Code Ann.,
Trans. § 16-205.1. On February 4, 2016, an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing
at the Motor Vehicle Administration (“MVA”) to
determine whether Mills had refused to submit to an
Intoximeter test on the night he was stopped and arrested.
(Compl. ¶ 39; Defs.' Mot. Ex. 9 [“ALJ
Decision”] at 1, ECF No. 11-11). Sr. Tpr. Hassan
testified and was subjected to cross-examination by
Mills' attorney. (Compl. ¶ 39). The ALJ found, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that Hassan had
“reasonable grounds to believe that [Mills] was driving
or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while under the
influence of or impaired by alcohol . . . .” (ALJ
Decision at 2). The ALJ based his conclusion on Mills'
alcohol-scented breath, glassy eyes, slurred speech,
stumbling, and refusal to take field sobriety tests.
(Id.). The ALJ concluded Mills violated §
16-205.1(f) and suspended his license for 120 days.
(Id. at 3). The ALJ's Decision informed Mills of
his right to appeal the administrative decision to the
Circuit Court within thirty days. (Id.).
February 23, 2018, Mills sued Defendants. (ECF No. 1).
Mills' sixteen-count Complaint alleges: fabricated
probable cause and unreasonable seizure in violation of the
Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and false police
report and perjury in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment
(Count I); unlawful arrest and detention in
violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments (Count
III); unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth
Amendment (Count IV); wrongful conviction and deprivation of
substantive due process in violation of Article 24 of the
Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count V); unreasonable search
and seizure in violation of Article 26 of the Maryland
Declaration of Rights (Count VI); false arrest and false
imprisonment (Count VII); malicious prosecution, perjury, and
fraud (Count IX); battery, only as to Sr. Tpr. Hassan, MSP,
and the State (Count X); negligence (Count XI); gross
negligence (Count XII); negligent hiring, training,
supervision, and retention, against MSP and the State (Count
XIV); civil conspiracy (Count XV); and unlawful custom,
pattern, or practice, against MSP and the State (Count XVI).
(Compl. ¶¶ 79-205). Mills brings his federal claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2018). (Id. at 15, 17,
19, 20). He seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 17,
19-24, 26-28, 30-33, 35-36).
17, 2018, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss Complaint
or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No.
On November 7, 2018, Mills filed an Opposition, (ECF No. 24),
and a Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23).
On November 21, 2018, Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 26).
On November 30, 2018, Mills filed a Reply. (ECF No. 27).
style their Motion as motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this manner
implicates the Court's discretion under Rule 12(d).
See Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't, Inc. v.
Montgomery Cty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D.Md. 2011),
aff'd, 684 F.3d 462 (4th Cir. 2012). This Rule
provides that when “matters outside the pleadings are
presented to and not excluded by the court, the [Rule
12(b)(6)] motion must be treated as one for summary judgment
under Rule 56.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). The Court
“has ‘complete discretion to determine whether or
not to accept the submission of any material beyond the
pleadings that is offered in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion and rely on it, thereby converting the motion, or to
reject it or simply not consider it.'”
Wells-Bey v. Kopp, No. ELH-12-2319, 2013 WL 1700927,
at *5 (D.Md. Apr. 16, 2013) (quoting 5C Charles Wright &
Arthur Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004 & Supp. 2012)).
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
articulated two requirements for proper conversion of a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to a Rule 56 motion: notice and reasonable
opportunity for discovery. See Greater Balt. Ctr. for
Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor of Balt., 721 F.3d
264, 281 (4th Cir. 2013). When the movant expressly captions
its motion “in the alternative” for summary
judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the
court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on
notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur. See
Moret v. Harvey, 381 F.Supp.2d 458, 464 (D.Md. 2005).
The Court “does not have an obligation to notify
parties of the obvious.” Laughlin v. Metro. Wash.
Airports Auth., 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998).
summary judgment is inappropriate when “the parties
have not had an opportunity for reasonable discovery.”
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011). Yet, “the
party opposing summary judgment ‘cannot complain that
summary judgment was granted without discovery unless that
party had made an attempt to oppose the motion on the grounds
that more time was needed for discovery.'”
Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302
F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Evans v. Techs.
Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir.
1996)). To raise sufficiently the issue that more discovery
is needed, the non-movant must typically file an affidavit or
declaration under Rule 56(d), explaining the “specified
reasons” why “it cannot present facts essential
to justify its opposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). A Rule
56(d) affidavit is inadequate if it simply demands
“discovery for the sake of discovery.”
Hamilton v. Mayor of Balt., 807 F.Supp.2d 331, 342
(D.Md. 2011) (citation omitted). A Rule 56(d) request for
discovery is properly denied when “the additional
evidence sought for discovery would not have by itself
created a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to defeat
summary judgment.” Ingle ex rel. Estate of Ingle v.
Yelton, 439 F.3d 191, 195 (4th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Strag v. Bd. of Trs., 55 F.3d 943, 953 (4th Cir.
Mills filed a Rule 56(d) affidavit, requesting various
specific discovery, including depositions of MSP employees
related to the case. (Pl.'s Resp. & Mem. L. Opp'n
Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Altern. Summ J. at 44-48, ECF No.
24). As a result, the Court will not convert Defendants'
Motion into one for summary judgment and will instead
consider it under Rule 12(b)(6).