Osborne v. Giordades et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Richard D Bennett on 1/20/2015. (c/m 1/21/15 bmhs, Deputy Clerk) Modified on 1/21/2015 (bmhs, Deputy Clerk).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
ANGELLO A. D. OSBORNE,
Civil Action No. RDB-14-182
CORPORAL PETER GIORDADES,
LGSW DIONE WHITE, and
MEREDITH LYNN PIPITONE,
Plaintiff Angello Osborne (“Plaintiff” or “Osborne”) brings this action against
Defendants Corporal Peter Georgiades (“Corporal Georgiades”), 1 LGSW 2 Dione White
(“White”), and Meredith Lynn Pipitone (“Pipitone”), alleging violations of his constitutional
rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Specifically, Osborne contends that
Defendants, in the process of investigating the Plaintiff for alleged sexual abuse of a minor
child, conspired to subject him to unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth and
In his Complaint, Plaintiff incorrectly named “Corporal Peter Giordades” as a defendant in the present action. Compl.
¶ 4, ECF No. 1. The defendant at issue is actually Corporal Peter Georgiades, thus the Clerk of Court is directed to recaption this matter to reflect the correction.
2 Osborne named Defendant Dione White as “LGSW Dione White.” Maryland issues four social worker licenses,
including the “Licensed Graduate Social Work,” or LGSW certification. Md. Code Ann., Health Occupations, § 19101(h).
Currently pending before this Court are Defendant White’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 7) and Defendant Corporal Georgiades’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10). 3 The
parties’ submissions have been reviewed and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D. Md. 2014). For the reasons that follow, Defendant White’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 7) is GRANTED and Defendant Corporal Georgiades’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
10) is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART. Specifically, Corporal Georgiades’s
Motion to Dismiss is denied as to Count I and granted as to Count II.
This Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint. See Aziz v.
Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). This case arises out of the investigation and
subsequent imprisonment of Plaintiff Angello Osborne for alleged sexual assault of a minor
child. Osborne is the father of two minor children – a daughter, aged five years, and a son,
aged two years. Compl. ¶ 6. On November 1, 2010, Defendant Meredith Pipitone, the
mother of the two children, contacted the Harford County Child Advocacy Center to report
the alleged sexual assault of the five-year old daughter (“the minor child”). Id. ¶¶ 6, 8.
Defendants Corporal Georgiades, 4 an employee of the Harford County Sheriff’s
Department, and White,5 a licensed social worker for the Harford County Child Advocacy
Center, interviewed Pipitone. Pipitone allegedly acted “in a manner that would cause
[Corporal Georgiades and White] to be sympathetic to her and biased against” Osborne. Id.
Defendant Pipitone filed an Answer (ECF No. 6) on May 23, 2014.
Police Corporal (now Sergeant) Peter Georgiades is an agent of the State of Maryland. Id. ¶ 4. Corporal Georgiades
does not dispute his employment nor his role as an agent of the State of Maryland. See Mem. in Supp. of Def. Corporal
Georgiades’s Mot. to Dismiss, 1, 4, ECF No. 10-1.
5 Dione White is an agent of the State of Maryland. Id. ¶ 5. She does not dispute her employment nor her role as an
agent of the State of Maryland. See Mem. in Supp. of Def. White’s Mot. to Dismiss, 1, ECF No. 7-1.
Following the meeting with Pipitone, White questioned the minor child regarding her
mother’s allegations. Id. ¶ 10. Corporal Georgiades observed the interview from an adjoining
room, and was in contact with White throughout the questioning. Id. ¶ 11. In response to
White’s interrogation, the minor child “consistently denied” Pipitone’s allegations of sexual
abuse. Id. ¶ 12. Despite this repeated refutation, Osborne alleges that White and Corporal
Georgiades constructed questions “that were unduly suggestive and leading in nature[,] . . .
designed and intended to cajole the minor child into making up a story to support”
Pipitone’s accusations. Id. ¶ 13. The minor child finally described a “story” in which
Osborne, her father, “used his penis, his hands, his mouth[,] and his foot to penetrate her
vagina.” Id. ¶ 14.
After White completed her examination of the minor child, Pipitone called Osborne
to accuse him of sexually assaulting their daughter. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. With Pipitone’s consent,
Corporal Georgiades listened in on the call to Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 15. During the telephone
conversation, Osborne consistently denied Pipitone’s accusations. Id. ¶ 16.
On January 24, 2011, Corporal Georgiades applied for an arrest warrant, allegedly
using only “selected excerpts” from White’s interview of the minor child. Id. ¶ 17. The
application omitted the child’s earlier denials of sexual abuse, as well as any information
regarding a medical examination of the child for signs of the alleged abuse. Id. On the basis
of Corporal Georgiades’s selective application, he received an arrest warrant for Osborne. Id.
¶ 18. The Plaintiff was arrested the following day, January 25, 2011. Id. Osborne was
incarcerated without bond for over eight months, until October 3, 2011, after which date a
bond was set for $25,000. Id. ¶ 19. Finally, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Harford
County declined to prosecute Osborne on December 13, 2011. Id. ¶ 20.
Osborne subsequently initiated the present action against Defendants Pipitone,
Corporal Georgiades, and White on January 23, 2014. In his Complaint (ECF No. 1),
Osborne levies two claims. First, he alleges that the Defendants, acting under color of state
law, violated his Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights in contravention of
42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I). Id. ¶¶ 27-30. Second, Osborne asserts that Defendants
conspired to construct false accusations of sexual assault against him, thereby denying him
the equal protection of the laws under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) (Count II). Id. ¶¶ 31-35.
Regarding both counts, Osborne argues that Pipitone, Corporal Georgiades, and White
“knowingly and intentionally” induced the minor child to fabricate a story of sexual abuse
that led directly to his “unjustifabl[e] arrest . . . [and] imprisonment.” Id. Osborne denies
ever assaulting or even attempting to assault the minor child. Id. ¶ 26. His arrest and ensuing
incarceration thus were allegedly “without justification, without probable cause, and were
motivated by [Defendants’] wanton, malicious[,] and reckless desire to inflict great emotional
and physical distress and pain and suffering upon” Osborne. Id. ¶ 25.
In response, Defendant White moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rules
12(b)(2), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (ECF No. 7).
Defendant Corporal Georgiades then filed a separate Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10),
asserting the defenses of absolute and qualified immunity.6
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Defendant Pipitone filed her Answer (ECF No. 6) and has not moved to dismiss the Complaint.
Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain
a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.
R. Civ. P 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the
dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
purpose of Rule 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).
The Supreme Court’s recent opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), “require that complaints in civil actions be
alleged with greater specificity than previously was required.” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d
435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). In Twombly, the Supreme Court articulated “[t]wo
working principles” that courts must employ when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to
dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must accept as true all the factual
allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not
afforded such deference. Id. (stating that “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to plead a claim); see also
Wag More Dogs, LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012) (“Although we are
constrained to take the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need not accept
legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
Second, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a plausible claim for
relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Under the plausibility standard, a complaint must contain
“more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although the plausibility requirement does not impose a
“probability requirement,” id. at 556, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Robertson v. Sea
Pines Real Estate Cos., 679 F.3d 278, 291 (4th Cir. 2012) (“A complaint need not make a case
against a defendant or forecast evidence sufficient to prove an element of the claim. It need only
allege facts sufficient to state elements of the claim.” (emphasis in original) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted)). In making this assessment, a court must “draw on its judicial
experience and common sense” to determine whether the pleader has stated a plausible
claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. “At bottom, a plaintiff must nudge [its] claims across
the line from conceivable to plausible to resist dismissal.” Wag More Dogs, LLC, 680 F.3d at
365 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff Osborne’s Complaint asserts two federal causes of action against the
Defendants – a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. In their
respective motions to dismiss, Defendants White and Corporal Georgiades raise a variety of
issues, including various immunity doctrines, failure to state a plausible claim under Iqbal and
Twombly, and procedural defects. This Court will address the issues raised by the parties in
the following manner. First, this Court will examine Count I as applied to White. Second,
this Court will consider Count I as applied to Corporal Georgiades. Finally, this Court will
address Count II as applied to White and Corporal Georgiades.
Count I – Constitutional Violations Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – as Applied to
In moving to dismiss the subject Complaint, Defendant White contends that
Osborne has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to both counts.7
Osborne asserts his first claim against Defendant White under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation
of his Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Regarding this claim, White
argues that Osborne neglects to include sufficient facts demonstrating a constitutional
violation or a causal link between any alleged violation and White’s actions, as required by 42
U.S.C. § 1983.
Section 1983 creates a private right of action for any United States citizen seeking to
remedy alleged constitutional violations. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under Section 1983:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom,
or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the
United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation
of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other
proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a
judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity,
injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated
or declaratory relief was unavailable.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 does not create “substantive rights;” rather, it provides “a
method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.” Thompson v. Dorsey, Civ. A. No.
White raises two additional arguments in support of her Motion to Dismiss. First, she contends that Osborne failed to
effectuate proper service of the summons and the Complaint, thereby precluding this Court from exercising personal
jurisdiction over her. Second, White argues that Osborne’s claims are barred by the relevant statute of limitations. Since
both counts fail to meet the pleading standard of Twombly and Iqbal with respect to the claims made against White, this
Court need not reach either additional argument.
ELH-10-1364, 2011 WL 2610704, at *3 (D. Md. June 30, 2011) (quoting Albright v. Oliver,
510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)).
In his Complaint, Osborne identifies the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments as the
underlying sources of his § 1983 claim. Essentially, he alleges that White (and her codefendants) acted to “unjustifiably arrest Plaintiff . . . imprison Plaintiff; and . . . commit
the other illegal and malicious acts,” thereby infringing on “rights guaranteed to Plaintiff
under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution[.]” Compl.
In moving to dismiss Count I of Plaintiff’s Complaint, White identifies two
purported deficiencies under the standard set forth by Twombly and Iqbal. First, she argues
that Osborne has alleged insufficient facts indicating a violation of his Fourth Amendment
and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Second, the Complaint does not establish any causal
connection between a conceivable constitutional violation and White’s involvement in the
investigation. Alternatively, White contends that she is entitled to qualified immunity for any
alleged violations. Since the Complaint fails under the pleading requirements of Twombly and
Iqbal, this Court need not consider whether White is eligible for the protection of qualified
immunity. Rather, this Court will examine each alleged deficiency of the Complaint in turn.
First, White argues that Osborne has failed to allege facts signifying a constitutional
violation under the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments. In his Complaint, Osborne
identified two alleged constitutional violations – false arrest and false imprisonment. The
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has explained that § 1983 incorporates
common law torts, such as false arrest and false imprisonment, so as to create a “’special
species of tort liability,’ founded on rights originating in the Constitution[.]” Lambert v.
Williams, 223 F.3d 257, 262 (4th Cir. 2000) (quoting Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 417
(1976)). Section 1983 claims for false arrest or false imprisonment are thus “properly
analyzed as unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment.” McPhearson v. Anderson,
873 F. Supp. 2d 753, 756 (E.D. Va. 2012) (quoting Day v. Milam, Civ. A. No. 1:11-cv-97,
2011 WL 5190809, at *4 (E.D. Va. Oct. 28, 2011)). If a plaintiff alleges that police officers
seized him “pursuant to legal process that was not supported by probable cause and that the
criminal proceedings terminated in his favor,” then he has sufficiently stated a claim for
unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Brooks v. City of Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d
178, 183 (4th Cir. 1996); see also Miller v. Prince George’s County, 475 F.3d 621, 630 (4th Cir.
In this case, Osborne’s allegations are sufficient to plead a plausible violation of his
Fourth Amendment rights. Osborne claims that the story upon which his arrest and
subsequent imprisonment were based was forcibly fabricated and unsupported by any
known medical examination. At the motion to dismiss stage, this Court must accept as true
the facts alleged by Osborne in the subject Complaint. See Aziz, 658 F.3d at 390. If true,
these allegations demonstrate a false foundation for an arrest that does not constitute
probable cause for purposes of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable
seizures. Furthermore, the criminal proceedings against Osborne terminated in his favor
when the Office of the State’s Attorney declined to prosecute him for the alleged sexual
abuse. Accordingly, Osborne has adequately pled the requisite constitutional violations.
Yet, the sufficiency of his claim falters as applied to White. As White contends, even
if Osborne succeeded in pleading violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, the
Complaint fails to show a causal connection between the alleged violations and White’s
participation in the sexual abuse investigation. White is only mentioned in the Complaint in
connection with the initial questioning of the minor child. Osborne alleges no facts
indicating White’s participation in removing exculpatory evidence from the materials for the
arrest warrant. Although Osborne claims that White actively conspired with Defendants
Corporal Georgiades and Pipitone to arrest and incarcerate him in violation of the Fourth
Amendment, Osborne’s allegations are merely conclusory. Evan if an indirect actor who
“set[s] in motion a series of acts by others” may be held liable under § 1983, that actor must
“know or reasonably should know [his actions] would cause others to inflict the
constitutional injury.” Sales v. Grant, 158 F.3d 768, 776 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting GutierrezRodriguez v. Cartagena, 882 F.2d 553, 560-61 (1st Cir. 1989)). Osborne has alleged no facts
demonstrating that White knew or reasonably should have known of his alleged
constitutional injuries. Iqbal requires more than mere “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action” when pleading a claim for relief. 556 U.S. at 678. While Osborne alleged
facts sufficient to establish violations of his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable
seizures, he failed to connect the violations to the investigatory conduct of White.
Accordingly, White’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to Count I.
Count I – Constitutional Violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – as Applied to
Defendant Corporal Georgiades
Like Defendant White, Defendant Corporal Georgiades moves to dismiss Count I of
the subject Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.8
Rather than attack the sufficiency of the pleading of Count I, Corporal Georgiades contends
that he is entitled to absolute immunity, or, in the alternative, qualified immunity, for any
alleged constitutional violations. This Court will consider each defense in turn.
Only a narrow range of officials receives the protection of absolute immunity. These
officials, such as judges, legislators, and prosecutors, receive absolute immunity because they
must be able to execute certain official duties without the constant fear of lawsuits. See, e.g.,
Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731, 751-52 (1982) (discussing presidential immunity); Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 363 (1978) (dismissing judicial immunity); and Imbler, 424 U.S. at
430 (discussing prosecutorial immunity). In recognition of the severe effect of absolute
immunity on § 1983 lawsuits, the Supreme Court has explained that the “presumption is that
qualified rather than absolute immunity is sufficient to protect government officials in the
exercise of their duties.” Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 487 (1991).
As a general rule, police officers receive only the protection of qualified, not absolute,
immunity. See, e.g., Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) (explaining that police officers are
afforded qualified immunity in suits for damages). When a police officer is acting as a
witness in a trial or a grand jury proceeding, however, he is entitled to absolute immunity for
any claim resulting from his testimony. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325 (1983) (applying
absolute immunity to police officers testifying at trial); Rehberg v. Paulk, 132 S. Ct. 1497, 1506
8 Generally, motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) address the legal sufficiency of a complaint rather than the
existence of meritorious affirmative defenses; however, when the existence of such a meritorious defense—such as
qualified immunity— is apparent on the face of the complaint, dismissal is appropriate. Occupy Columbia v. Haley, 738
F.3d 107, 116 (4th Cir. 2013). Thus, this Court will address the issues of absolute immunity and qualified immunity by
examining the allegations contained in the Complaint.
(2012) (extending Briscoe to include claims from officers’ testimony at grand jury
proceedings). This absolute immunity ensures that “the truth-seeking process at trial would
[not] be impaired.” Rehberg, 132 S. Ct. at 1505 (citing Briscoe, 460 U.S. at 333).
Corporal Georgiades contends that he is entitled to the absolute immunity extended
to police officers under Rehberg, as he styles Osborne’s claim as arising from Corporal
Georgiades’s grand jury testimony. This characterization, however, ignores the plain
language of the Complaint. Osborne is suing Corporal Georgiades not for his grand jury
testimony, but rather for his allegedly misleading questioning of the minor child, omission of
relevant exculpatory evidence from the arrest warrant application, and other alleged
improper investigatory actions. In fact, Osborne does not even mention a grand jury
proceeding, nor Corporal Georgiades’s participation in that proceeding. The Supreme Court
has drawn a clear line between prosecutorial and investigative functions of prosecutors,
affording only the former absolute immunity. See Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 521 (1985);
see also Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431 n.33 (1976). This line indicates that, at the investigative stage,
absolute immunity is inappropriate for police officers, as it is for prosecutors. Corporal
Georgiades’s investigative decisions, rather than his testimonial actions, form the basis of
Osborne’s § 1983 claim. He thus is not entitled to absolute immunity.
Qualified immunity affords a government officers protection from suits for monetary
damages when the officers have acted in good faith. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818
(1982). This brand of immunity is “an affirmative defense that shields government officials
performing discretionary functions from personal-capacity liability for civil damages under §
1983, insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Occupy Columbia v. Haley, 738 F.3d
107, 118 (4th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Harlow, 457 U.S. at 818
(1982). The doctrine is intended to apply to “gray areas, where the law is unsettled or
murky,” rather than situations where the government actors were “plainly incompetent or . .
. knowingly violate[d] the law.” Occupy Columbia, 738 F.3d at 118. Thus, qualified immunity
shields government officials from § 1983 claims unless “(1) the allegations underlying the
claim, if true, substantiate a violation of federal statutory or constitutional right; and (2) this
violation was of a clearly established right of which a reasonable person would have known.”
Corporal Georgiades claims he is entitled to qualified immunity because Osborne
fails to allege a violation of a clearly established constitutional right. Specifically, Corporal
Georgiades identifies the Office of the State’s Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Osborne
as the sole fact supporting a claim that the investigation violated Osborne’s constitutional
rights. Yet, this argument ignores the remainder of Osborne’s Complaint. As discussed
above, Osborne claims that Corporal Georgiades’ actions subjected him to false arrest and
false imprisonment, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. These claims
are properly construed under § 1983 as unreasonable seizures, in violation of the Fourth
Amendment itself. McPhearson, 873 F. Supp. 2d at 756 (quoting Day, 2011 WL 5190809, at
*4). The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizures could not be any
more established, as this protection is found in the plain language of the Amendment. U.S.
Const. amend. IV, cl. 1. Further, Osborne’s allegations that Corporal Georgiades knowingly
omitted relevant exculpatory evidence from his arrest warrant application and actively
pressured the minor child into fabricating the underlying sexual abuse, if true, support a
finding that probable cause did not exist for Osborne’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment.
Osborne thus has sufficiently pled a violation of his constitutional rights.
Even if Osborne has alleged a plausible violation of a clearly established
constitutional right, Corporal Georgiades contends that the prosecutor’s independent
decision not to seek an indictment broke the causal chain between the alleged unreasonable
seizure and Corporal Georgiades’s investigation. Generally, successful constitutional tort
claims “require a demonstration of both but-for and proximate causation.” Evans v. Chalmers,
703 F.3d 636, 647 (4th Cir. 2012). As with common law torts, the “subsequent acts of
independent decision-makers (e.g., prosecutors, grand juries, and judges) may constitute
intervening superseding causes that break the causal chain between a defendant-officer’s
misconduct and a plaintiff’s unlawful seizure.” Id. Yet, the presence of an independent
decision-maker does not automatically sever this connection. The offending police officer
remains the cause of the unreasonable seizure when, for example, he “fail[s] to disclose
exculpatory evidence to the prosecutor . . . or unduly pressure[s] the prosecutor to seek the
indictment.” Id. at 648.
In this case, the prosecutor’s decision was to dismiss the case. Osborne specifically
alleges that Corporal Georgiades withheld exculpatory evidence, such as the minor child’s
repeated denials of sexual abuse or any medical examination records, when applying for an
arrest warrant. As the Fourth Circuit explained in Evans, such misleading actions preserve
the causal chain between a plaintiff’s unreasonable seizure and the officer’s offending
actions. Corporal Georgiades is thus not entitled to qualified immunity. Accordingly, his
Motion to Dismiss is DENIED as to Count I.
Count II – Conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 – as Applied to Defendants
White and Corporal Georgiades
Osborne’s second claim against White and Corporal Georgiades asserts a violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). Specifically, Osborne, as an African-American, contends that the actions
of White and Corporal Georgiades were based on racial animus. Section 1985(3) creates a
private cause of action where “two or more persons . . . conspire . . . for the purposes of
depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person . . . of the equal protection of the law, or
of equal privileges and immunities under the law.” In order to establish a claim under §
1985(3), the plaintiff must prove that:
(1) a conspiracy of two or more persons, (2) who are motivated
by a specific class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus to
(3) deprive the plaintiff of the equal enjoyment of rights secured
by the law to all, (4) and which results in injury to the plaintiff as
(5) a consequence of an overt act committed by the defendants
in connection with the conspiracy.
A Society Without A Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing Simmons
v. Poe, 47 F.3d 1370, 1376 (4th Cir. 1995)). Furthermore, a plaintiff must demonstrate “an
agreement or a meeting of the minds by [the] defendants to violate the [plaintiff’s]
constitutional rights.” Id. (quoting Simmons, 47 F.3d at 1377); see also, Simmons, 47 F.3d at
1377 (noting that this is a “relatively stringent” standard).
Here, despite Osborne’s assertion in his response brief, there is no plausible
allegation of an “invidiously discriminatory” racial animus. Instead, Osborne merely recites
the protections of § 1985(3) and restates his allegations regarding the alleged violations of his
Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Compl. ¶¶ 32-34. Nowhere in
the Complaint does Osborne mention racial or class-based animus. Although Osborne
argues in his response brief that he is African American, whereas Defendants are Caucasian,
the mere presence of different races does not indicate racial animus.
Moreover, conspiracy claims must fail if they are pled in a conclusory manner and
devoid of “concrete, supporting facts.” See A Society Without a Name, 655 F.3d at 346-47
(affirming dismissal of § 1985 claim accompanied by only conclusory allegations); see also
Gooden v. Howard Cnty., 954 F.2d 960, 970 (4th Cir. 1992) (en banc) (“To avoid of the
purposes of qualified immunity, courts have thus required that plaintiffs alleging unlawful
intent in conspiracy claims under § 1985(3) or § 1983 plead specific facts in a nonconclusory
fashion to survive a motion to dismiss.”). Here, Osborne merely relies on the pleadings
recitations he used in his § 1983 claim, rather than pleading facts relevant to § 1985(3). Due
to his omission of a threshold element of a § 1985(3) claim and the conclusory manner in
which he presented these allegations, Osborne has failed to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. Accordingly, Defendant White’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to
Count II and Defendant Corporal Georgiades’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED as to
For the reasons stated above, Defendant White’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7) is
GRANTED and Defendant Corporal Georgiades’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10) is
DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART. Specifically, Corporal Georgiades’s
Motion to Dismiss is denied as to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim (Count I) and granted as to the
42 U.S.C. § 1985 claim (Count II).
A separate Order follows.
Dated: January 20, 2015
Richard D. Bennett
United States District Judge
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