United States District Court, D. Maryland
DR. MICHAEL HILL
CBAC GAMING LLC d/b/a The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution in this civil rights case
are the motion for entry of default filed by Dr. Michael Hill
(“Plaintiff”), (ECF No. 16), and the motion to
dismiss filed by Defendant Baltimore Police Department
(“Defendant BPD”), (ECF No. 19). The issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, the motion for entry of default will be denied and
the motion to dismiss will be denied in part and granted in
otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed and
construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.
case arises out of a gambling dispute at the Horseshoe Casino
Baltimore. The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore is the business
name of Defendant CBAC Gaming LLC (“Defendant CBAC
Gaming”). Defendant Caesars Baltimore Management
Company, LLC (“Defendant Caesars”) supervises,
manages, and operates casinos throughout the United States,
including the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Mr. Thomas Cassella
(“Defendant Cassella”) is the Director of
Security and Mr. Jermaine Wright (“Defendant
Wright”) is the Manager of Security for the Horseshoe
March 6, 2016, Plaintiff visited the Horseshoe Casino
Baltimore. Plaintiff and another individual, Mr. Stephen
McLaurin, were pooling their money and placing bets together.
When a casino employee (“the dealer”) began to
pay out the winning bets, one casino patron, an unidentified
male, did not receive his winnings. The casino patron
complained, and the dealer called for assistance. Another
casino employee instructed the dealer to pay the last winning
pile, which belonged to Mr. McLaurin and Plaintiff. Mr.
McLaurin and Plaintiff divided their winnings and Plaintiff
went for refreshments. Plaintiff's share totaled $105.
Plaintiff returned to the table, an unidentified, uniformed
Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) officer
(“BPD Officer A”) approached Plaintiff and
instructed Plaintiff to accompany him to an
office. BPD Officer A indicated that his superior,
later identified as Defendant Wright, instructed him to take
Plaintiff to the office. Plaintiff asked “what he had
done to justify being detained, and [BPD Officer A] directed
Plaintiff to go down a hallway into a back room[.]”
(ECF No. 3, at 5 ¶ 18).
Plaintiff reached the designated room, he encountered
Defendant Wright and a second, unidentified, uniformed BPD
Officer (“BPD Officer B”). Defendant Wright
requested identification and Plaintiff produced his passport.
Defendant Wright “accused Plaintiff of stealing another
player[']s money.” (ECF No. 3, at 5 ¶ 22).
While Defendant Wright questioned Plaintiff, Plaintiff
believed Defendant Wright had the authority to have him
arrested based on BPD Officer B's presence and BPD
Officer A's identification of Defendant Wright as a
superior. Defendant Cassella subsequently entered the room
and asked for Plaintiff's version of the events.
Defendant Wright, through BPD Officer B, conducted a criminal
warrant check on Plaintiff. Defendants Cassella and Wright
left the room to review video tape footage, leaving Plaintiff
with BPD Officer B. When Defendant Wright returned, he
demanded that Plaintiff surrender his winnings and suggested
Plaintiff “would have ‘problems'” with
BPD Officer B if he did not do so. (Id., at 6 ¶
29). Plaintiff gave Defendant Wright his winnings.
asked to review the video tape footage, but Defendants
Cassella and Wright refused his request. Plaintiff asked
Defendants Cassella and Wright to accompany him to speak to
Mr. McLaurin, but they refused. “Plaintiff was directed
to go to a larger public room, that had a receptionist,
security guard, ” and another BPD officer. (ECF No. 3,
at 7 ¶ 32). In the larger room, Plaintiff observed
“African Americans being arrested by various
Caucasian” BPD officers. (Id.).
Wright brought Plaintiff a letter, barring him from the
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, and asked Plaintiff to sign it.
Plaintiff received a receipt for the money he relinquished to
Defendant Wright, despite Defendant Wright's initial
refusal to provide one. Defendants Cassella and Wright
escorted Plaintiff to an exit, followed by two Caucasian BPD
officers. While exiting, they encountered Mr. McLaurin. He
attempted to explain the incident and asked that Defendant
Wright speak to another couple that was present at the table.
Defendant Wright continued to escort Plaintiff to the exit
and Plaintiff left the building “around 4:50 a.m.,
without criminal charges, but with” a barring notice.
(ECF No. 3, at 8 ¶ 37).
March 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant
CBAC Gaming, LLC, Defendant Caesars, Defendant Cassella, and
Defendant Wright (collectively, the “Casino
Defendants”). (ECF No. 1). The complaint asserted nine
causes of action. That same day, Plaintiff filed a first
amended complaint to add Defendant BPD as a defendant and to
assert three additional causes of action. (ECF No. 3).
Motion for Entry of Default
10, 2019, Plaintiff filed the presently pending motion for
entry of default. (ECF No. 16). Plaintiff contends that
Defendant BPD “was served with the [s]ummons and
[c]omplaint on May 17, 2019” and failed to file a
responsive pleading by the due date - June 7, 2019.
(Id., at 1).
12, 2019, Defendant BPD responded to Plaintiff's motion.
(ECF No. 18). Defendant BPD contends that Plaintiff's
service was deficient because Plaintiff served the summons
and complaint by certified mail return receipt requested and
not by certified mail requesting restricted delivery, as
required for serving local or state governmental
organizations under Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(j)(2) and Md. Rule
2-121(a). (Id., at 1-2 ¶¶ 2- 9). Defendant
BPD elaborates that Plaintiff did not seek “a waiver of
service[.]” (Id., at 2 ¶ 10).
Nonetheless, Defendant BPD waived service and filed its
motion to dismiss. (Id., at 2).
did not reply to Defendant BPD's response. The motion for
entry of default will be denied. The court need not address
Defendant BPD's argument regarding effectuation of
service because Plaintiff seemingly concedes it. Moreover,
even if Plaintiff did effectuate service properly, Defendant
BPD filed its motion to dismiss only five days after the
initial due date and there is a “strong policy that
cases be decided on their merits” within the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. United
States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453
(4th Cir. 1993).