Jones v. PO-1 Ashford et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Theodore D. Chuang on 1/18/2017. (c/m 1/18/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
SIDNEY ALEXANDER JONES,
OFFICER ADRIAN ASHFORD,
In Both His Official and Individual Capacities,
TRANS WORLD ENTERTAINMENT
CORP., d/b/afy.e., and
WESTFIELD, LLC, d/b/a Wheaton Mall,
Civil Action No. TDC-14-3639
Sidney Alexander Jones has filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
1983 against Officer
Adrian Ashford of the Montgomery County Police Department, Trans World Entertainment
Corporation ("Trans World"), and Westfield, LLC ("Westfield") for alleged violations of his
federal constitutional rights arising from an incident during which he was ordered to leave a
shopping mall by a police officer and mall security officer.
Jones also asserts that Defendants
violated his state constitutional rights under Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights,
Md. Const. art. XXVI, and committed the common law torts of false arrest, battery, and false
Pending before the Court are Ashford's
Motion for Summary
Judgment, Trans World's Motion for Summary Judgment, and Westfield's Motion for Summary
Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the three Motions are granted.
The following facts are presented in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
On March 20, 2013, Jones, who was then 79 years old, entered the f.y.e. ("for your
store at the Westfield Wheaton Mall in Wheaton, Maryland ("the Wheaton
Mall") with his adult daughter, who has disabilities relating to speech and hearing.
operates the Wheaton Mall, and Trans World is the company that operates the f.y.e. chain of
Shortly after entering the store, Jones asked an f.y.e. employee whether the store had
changed its policy on whether it would accept a check as payment.
Jones asked because in the
past, f.y.e. had not accepted checks. The employee appeared to recognize Jones from a previous
incident at the f.y.e. store during which Jones had engaged in a loud discussion about the check
The employee asked Jones if he was making trouble, told him he was trespassing, and
told him to leave the store. Jones responded, "Why should I leave when I am shopping" and
went to find his daughter within the store. Jones Dep. 79, Trans World Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B,
ECF No. 65-3.
An f.y.e. employee called Steven Olson, Security Director for Wheaton Mall, and
requested assistance in dealing with a disruptive individual.
According to Olson, when he
arrived at f.y.e., the store manager informed him that Jones had gotten upset when f.y.e. would
not accept a check as payment.
When the manager explained the store's policy not to accept
checks, Jones became more disruptive, and the manager asked him to leave the store multiple
times. According to Olson, when he intervened and began speaking with Jones directly, Jones
grew increasingly upset, leading Olson to ask him to leave the store and the mall, which Jones
refused to do. Olson then called for a police officer to arrive to assist with an "irate individual."
Olson Dep. 38, Trans World Mot. Summ. J. Ex. A, ECF No. 65-2.
Jones, who had spent
approximately half an hour in the f.y.e. store, paid cash for items selected by his daughter, then
left the store.
Officer Ashford then arrived on the scene. Olson informed Ashford that he wanted Jones
to be issued a trespass notification form. Ashford told Jones that he had been asked several times
to get out, that he was trespassing, and that Ashford wanted him "out of the mall." Jones Dep.
When Jones stated that he was not trespassing but instead had made a purchase in the
store, Ashford shouted at Jones to leave the mall or he would be arrested.
explaining that his wife was still in the mall. Ashford repeated the order to leave the mall, and
Jones reiterated his concern about leaving without his wife. In total, Ashford ordered Jones to
leave the mall at least four times.
Ashford then asked Jones where his wife was within the mall. When Jones reported that
they had planned to meet in front of the Macy's department store, Ashford then escorted Jones to
Ashford did not touch Jones as he walked with him to Macy's.
Jones and Ashford
waited outside Macy's for a few minutes and, when his wife did not appear, Jones was escorted
to the mall security office with Olson walking in front of him and Ashford behind him.
According to Olson, Jones was taken to the security office in order to issue him a trespass notice.
When Jones slowed down occasionally and asked why he was being taken to the security office,
Ashford gave him a "nudge" or "push" and occasionally held his pants. Id. at 93-94. The push
was hard enough for Jones to perceive it, but not so hard that he ever stumbled or lost his
balance. Olson did not touch Jones during the walk to the mall security office.
At the security office, a trespass notification form was completed to memorialize that
Jones had been barred from returning to the Wheaton Mall for one year, and Jones was
photographed to facilitate his identification in the event he returned in violation of the notice.
Jones showed his driver's license as identification, but he refused to sign the trespass notification
form. The photograph and a copy of the trespass notification form were filed in a storage cabinet
to be accessed only by security personnel and discarded upon the expiration of the notice.
According to Ashford, Jones was detained during this procedure in that he had to remain within
the vicinity of Ashford and security personnel.
The interaction in the security office lasted less
than 20 minutes.
After providing Jones with the trespass notification form, Ashford again asked Jones to
leave the mall. Jones reiterated that he would not leave without his wife. Ashford asked Jones to
leave the mall at least once more. According to Ashford, he told Jones that if he did not leave,
he would be arrested, to which Jones responded, "Then arrest me."
Ashford Dep. 52, Trans
World Mot. Summ. J. Ex. C, ECF No. 65-4. According to Ashford, he then told Jones that he
did not want to arrest him, and he or security office personnel requested or ordered that he leave
several more times, without success.
remove Jones from the mall.
At that point, Ashford decided that he had to physically
Ashford grabbed Jones's left arm, elbow, and wrist in what he
described as a "C-c1amp." Id. at 54. When Ashford felt Jones become tense in response, which
based on his experience could be a precursor to an assault, he then pulled Jones's arm behind his
back. When Jones told Ashford that he was hurting him, Ashford immediately released Jones's
arm. Ashford then physically pushed Jones through the mall and into the parking lot. In pushing
Jones out of the mall, Ashford used enough force for Jones to feel it, but not so much that Jones
ever stumbled, tripped, or fell. Jones did not suffer any physical injury as a result of the incident.
Jones sat on the curb in the parking lot area to wait for his wife. Ashford remained with
Jones as he was waiting but did not tell Jones whether he was free to leave. When Jones's wife
and daughter arrived, Ashford explained to the wife what had occurred and that Jones had to
leave the mall. Jones and his family then left the premises.
To Jones's knowledge, the only other individuals who learned about the incident at
Wheaton Mall were his wife, his two daughters, and, indirectly, his dentist, who only knew that
Jones had to cancel an appointment to attend a deposition about "an incident that happened at
Jones Dep. 103-04. While walking him to the mall security office, neither Ashford
nor Olson announced to mall patrons that Jones was detained for trespassing.
Jones did not
know anyone who was at the Wheaton Mall that day who might have seen any part of these
There is no evidence that Jones's photograph was ever publicly displayed at the
Wheaton Mall, and no one has ever informed Jones that his photograph was seen on display
In this action, Jones has alleged violations
of his constitutional
rights against an
unreasonable seizure and excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ~ 1983 (Count I) and Article 26
of the Maryland Declaration of Human Rights (Count IV), and the common law torts of false
light/invasion of privacy (Count II), battery (Count III), and false arrest (Count V). In separate
motions, Defendants seek summary judgment on a variety of grounds, including that Defendants
did not unlawfully seize or detain Jones, that any detention was justified because Jones had
violated Maryland law against trespassing, that Ashford did-not use excessive force against him,
that Ashford is entitled to qualified immunity because he did not violate a clearly established
federal right, and that Defendants did not engage in any behavior that publicly portrayed Jones in
a false light
As an initial matter, the Court notes that in his October 26,2016 Response to Defendants'
Motions for Summary Judgment, Jones requests leave to amend Count I of his Complaint to add
claims under: "(a) the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, (b) the Public Accommodation Section
of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, (c) the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, and (d) the 14th
as well as the 4th Amendment."
Resp. Mots. Summ. J. 3-4, ECF No. 71.
Generally, "[t]he court should freely give leave to amend when justice so requires." Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a)(2). Here, however, as set forth in the December 17,2015 Scheduling Order, the Court
set a deadline of February 1, 2016 for motions to amend the pleadings.
Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 16(b) provides that a party must establish "good cause" to modify a deadline in a
Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4).
In seeking leave to amend in late October 2016,
Jones missed this deadline by almost nine months. He has provided no explanation for the delay
in seeking to amend the Complaint, and an amendment at this stage of litigation, following the
completion of discovery, would prejudice the Defendants. See Tawwaab v. Va. Linen Serv., Inc.,
729 F. Supp. 2d 757,768-69
(D. Md. 2010). Accordingly, Jones's request is denied. The Court
considers each count 'as presented in the operative Amended Complaint, filed on March 27,
2015. ECF No. 11.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), the Court grants summary judgment if the
moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S~ 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court views the facts in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, with all justifiable
inferences drawn in its favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court may rely only on facts
supported in the record, not simply assertions in the pleadings.
Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514,522 (4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to
show a genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
under the governing law."
A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
A dispute of material fact is only
"genuine" if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of fact to return
a verdict for that party. Id. at 248-49.
42 U.S.C. ~ 1983
1983 allows individuals to file suit against government officials who violate
their constitutional rights. 42 U.S.C.
1983 (2012). A plaintiff alleging a violation of
"must prove that (1) a person (2) acting under color of state law (3) subjected the plaintiff or
caused the plaintiff to be subjected (4) to the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or
laws of the United States."
S 1983 claim,
City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 829 (1985). In his
Jones asserts that Ashford deprived him of his Fourth Amendment rights to be free
from unreasonable seizures and the use of excessive force to effect a seizure.
The Fourth Amendment provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be
U.S. Const. amend. IV.
categories of police-citizen interactions:
The United States Supreme Court has identified three
(1) an arrest, which requires probable cause; (2) a brief
investigatory stop, which requires reasonable suspicion; and (3) brief encounters, which do not
implicate the Fourth Amendment.
United States v. Weaver, 282 F.3d 302, 309 (4th Cir. 2002).
The first two categories constitute Fourth Amendment "seizures."
See. id. A seizure occurs
when, under the totality of the circumstances, "a reasonable person would not feel free to leave
or otherwise terminate the encounter."
Id. "(T]he crucial test is whether, taking into account all
of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would 'have communicated
to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his
Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 437 (1991) (quoting Michigan v. Chesternut,486
U.S. 567, 568 (1988)). Circumstances indicative of a seizure include "the threatening presence
of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the person
of the citizen, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the
officer's request might be compelled."
United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554 (1980);
see Weaver, 282 F3d at 310.
Ashford argues that his interactions with Jones fall under the third category and did not
constitute a seizure. The initial encounter outside f.y.e. cannot easily be characterized as either
an arrest or an investigatory stop under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Although Jones has
asserted that Ashford confronted him when he left the store, at one point shouting at him, he has
not claimed that Ashford sought to detain or question him at that point.
Rather, Ashford told
Jones, multiple times, to leave the mall, the opposite of detention. See Kernats v. 0 'Sullivan, 35
F.3d 1171, 1180 (7th Cir. 1994) (noting that no seizure occurs when an officer bars an individual
from a limited area, such as an accident scene, but otherwise permits movement anywhere else).
Although Ashford told Jones, who refused to leave, that he would arrest Jones ifhe did not leave
the mall, an oral threat to arrest does not necessarily rise to the level of a constitutional seizure.
See id. at 1180-81 (granting qualified immunity to an officer where it was not clearly established
that his threat to arrest tenants if they did not vacate their residence effected a seizure in part
because the circumstances
of the encounter were "much looser than those that typically
characterize Fourth Amendment seizures").
Where Ashford was the only law enforcement
officer present, he displayed no weapon, and he did not physically touch Jones, the orders to
leave the premises did not necessarily constitute a seizure of Jones under the Fourth Amendment.
Likewise, it is not clear that Jones had been seized when, after he explained that he was supposed
to meet his wife in front of Macy's, Ashford walked with him to Macy's to find his wife. Jones
acknowledged that Ashford was "gracious enough to walk to Macy's," that he was "polite"
during the walk, and that there was "no altercation" at that time. Jones Dep. 90, 98. Up to this
point, it appears likely that had Jones simply told Ashford that he would just leave the mall,
Ashford would have permitted him to do so.
The evidence plainly establishes, however, that when Ashford and Olson escorted Jones
from Macy's to the mall security office, he was no longer free to leave.
Jones was not
handcuffed or otherwise restrained, but he was effectively guarded by both Ashford and Olson.
Ashford specifically instructed him to walk behind Olson and in front of Ashford.
Ashford physically pushed or nudged Jones forward when he slowed down and occasionally held
him by the pants.
Although Ashford's nudges were not particularly forceful, they served to
compel Jones to follow a certain route through the mall to the security office.
In fact, Olson
recalled that Ashford took Jones by the arm as he escorted him to the security office.
these circumstances, Jones reasonably would have concluded that his liberty was restrained and
that he was no longer free to simply walk out of the mall. Olson effectively confirmed that Jones
was no longer free to leave when he stated that Jones was brought to the security office for the
purpose of issuing a trespass notice, which would help mall security personnel identify Jones in
the event that he later returned.
Finally, Ashford acknowledged that once Jones was at the
security office and being processed for a trespass notice, he was "detained" and had to remain
"in the vicinity of myself and security."
Ashford Dep. 41. Thus, the evidence establishes that
Jones was subjected to a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.
even when viewed in the light most favorable to Jones, the evidence
establishes that the detention of Jones was reasonable.
Reasonableness of a seizure "depends on
a balance between the public interest and the individual's right to personal security free from
arbitrary interference by law officers."
United States v. Brignoni-Ponce,
422 U.S. 873, 878
Here, the detention was reasonable because Officer Ashford had probable cause to
believe that Jones had committed the crime of trespass. Under Maryland law, a trespass occurs
when a person "remain[ s] on private property ... after having been notified by the owner or the
owner's agent not to do so." Md. Code Ann. Crim. Law
Jones has acknowledged that an f.y.e. employee told him that he was trespassing and that
he had to leave the store, and that he did not leave the store immediately but instead decided to
wait until he could make a purchase.
Jones admitted that he remained inside f.y.e. for
approximately half an hour. Olson confirmed that Jones got into a dispute with the f.y.e. store
manager about the store's policy not to accept checks and that the manager asked Jones to leave
the store multiple times. When Jones refused to leave and was disruptive, Olson asked him to
leave the mall, but Jones did not comply. Olson called for a police officer and told Ashford that
the f.y.e. manager had asked Jones to leave the store, and that Olson had told him to leave the
mall and now wanted him to be issued a trespass notification form. Ashford then told Jones that
he had been asked several times to leave, that he was trespassing, and that he had to leave the
mall. Although Ashford ordered him to leave the mall multiple times, Jones refused, even when
threatened with arrest.
At that point, Ashford had probable cause to arrest Jones for trespass,
because he was aware that the store manager had asked Jones to leave f.y.e., that Olson, a mall
had asked Jones to leave the mall, and that Jones had refused to do so. See
Johnson v. State, 740 A.2d 615, 621-22 (Md. 1999) (concluding that an officer had probable
cause to arrest for trespass where it was reasonable for him to believe that the individual "was
duly notified not to remain upon, enter or cross over" the property).
Moreover, acting on behalf
of Olson, a mall official, Ashford had made additional requests to Jones to leave the mall that
See Keene v. Hagerstown YMCA, No. JFM-03-994, 2004 WL 2885365, at *2
(D. Md. Dec. 10, 2004) (acknowledging that the plaintiff could have reasonably been charged
with trespass when she refused "to leave the premises despite [officers'] insistence that she do
so" following a verbal altercation at a YMCA).
Jones's objections to the decisions by f.y.e. and the Wheaton Mall to order him to leave,
and their refusals of his entreaties to remain, do not refute this conclusion.
Jones may have
believed that f.y.e. ' s order that he leave the store for having challenged its policy not to accept
checks was unreasonable.
He may have had a legitimate reason to be reluctant to leave that store
because his disabled daughter was still in the store. And he may have legitimately believed that
he should not leave the mall without connecting with his wife, who was shopping at Macy's.
But none of those arguments is a defense to statutory trespass, because Maryland law does not
require that a private business owner or its representative meet a particular standard in deciding
to revoke a patron's right to remain on its premises.
See Ward v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No.
2014 WL 279678, at *3 (D. Md. Jan. 22, 2014) (stating that evidence that' a
defendant refused to leave a store after being asked to leave is sufficient to establish criminal
trespass); cf United States v. Ambrose, 942 A.2d 755, 764 (Md. 2008) ("The underpinning of
private property is that the owner controls and restricts the access and use of the property.").
any event, even if Jones had a plausible defense, none of his explanations refutes the conclusion
that Ashford had at least probable cause to believe that Jones had committed trespass. Because
Ashford had probable cause to arrest Jones for trespass, his initial detention of Jones, transport of
Jones to the mall security office, and processing of him for a trespass notification form were
lawful and reasonable. See Karadi v. Jenkins, 7. F. App'x 185, 194 (4th Cir. 2001) (holding that
the movement of a suspected shoplifter to a department store security office constituted an arrest,
but it was justified by probable cause to arrest for obstructing a police officer in discharging
Jones also claims that he was subjected to excessive force, in violation of his Fourth
Amendment rights, when Ashford touched him during the encounter and twisted his arm behind
his back as he physically removed him from the mall. A claim of excessive force used during an
investigatory stop or arrest invokes the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989).
To assess whether the force used was reasonable and not
excessive, a court must balance the governmental interests and "the nature and quality of the
intrusion on the individual's
Fourth Amendment interests."
Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 8 (1985)).
Id. at 396 (quoting Tennessee v.
The test is an objective one: whether the officer's actions are
objectively reasonable under the facts and circumstances, recognizing that officers often must
make "split-second judgments."
Id. at 397. Relevant considerations include the seriousness of
the crime, whether the individual poses an immediate threat to others' safety, and whether the
individual is actively resisting or attempting to evade arrest. Id. "Not every push or shove, even
if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's
chambers" will rise to a Fourth
Id. (quoting Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir. 1973)).
Notably, "the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to
use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it." Id. at 396.
As recounted by Jones, there were two occasions when Ashford used varying degrees of
force against him. As they walked from Macy's to the mall security office, Ashford nudged or
pushed him along when he slowed down and occasionally held him by his pants.
that these nudges were not hard enough to cause him to stumble.
discussed above, Ashford was justified in conducting an investigatory stop and bringing Jones to
the mall security office to issue a trespass notification form, he was entitled to use some force to
do so. Id. The limited pushes or nudges to cause Jones to proceed to the mall security office
were reasonable under the circumstances.
See Karadi, 7. F. App'x at 194 (concluding that an
officer acted lawfully when he grabbed the arm of the plaintiff, who was suspected of shoplifting
in a department store, "for the purpose of effectuating his investigative detention" and to move
her away from the store exit).
Ashford's later act of pulling Jones's arm behind his back to escort him out of the mall
was markedly more forceful. It is undisputed that after Jones was processed for a trespass
notification form, he still would not leave the mall. Ashford asked him multiple times to do so,
but he refused. When told he would be arrested if he did not leave, Jones said, "Then arrest me."
Ashford Dep. 52. Even then, Ashford asked Jones to leave several more times rather than arrest
Jones. 'Some use of force was therefore appropriate to remove him from the premises.
According to Jones, Ashford twisted Jones's arm behind his back in a manner that caused
pam. Ashford has explained that he initially grabbed Jones by the arm but pulled his arm back
when Jones tensed up, which Ashford considered to be an indicator that Jones might assault him.
Regardless of whether Jones, a 79-year-old man, posed a significant threat to Ashford, it is
undisputed that as soon as Jones said that the pulling of his arm was causing pain, Ashford
immediately released the pressure on Jones's arm, and Jones did not suffer any physical injury as
a result of Ashford's actions. He then pushed Jones out of the security office, through part of the
mall, and into the parking lot. Jones acknowledged that he could feel Ashford pushing but that it
did not cause him to stumble or fall. Where Jones's steadfast refusal to leave the mall justified
some use of force, Ashford immediately released the hold he employed upon learning that it hurt
Jones, and there was no physical injury, the Court concludes that the limited use of force was
objectively reasonable under the circumstances.
See Brown v. Gilmore, 278 F.3d 362, 369 (4th
Cir. 2002) (holding that when the plaintiff refused to move her vehicle when ordered to do so, a
police officer did not use excessive force when he handcuffed her and dragged her to a police
cruiser, causing her wrists to swell, where there was "no injury of any magnitude"); Karadi, 7 F.
App'x at 195 (granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant on an excessive force claim
even though the officer grabbed and squeezed a shoplifting suspect's arm, causing bruises, and
handcuffed her when she resisted); Darnell v. Phillips, 914 F.2d 247, at
(4th Cir. 1990)
(unpublished) (holding that when the plaintiff refused an order to leave the site of a field sobriety
test, a police officer did not use excessive force when he handcuffed the plaintiff tightly and
shoved him against a cruiser in effecting the arrest); see also Mensh v. Dyer, 956 F.2d 36, 40 (4th
Cir. 1991) (considering
the lack of physical injury in concluding that officers did not use
excessive force when they handcuffed and pushed the plaintiff into a wall before realizing that
they had arrested the wrong individual).
Because the Court has found that there are not sufficient facts for a jury to find a Fourth
Amendment violation, a qualified immunity analysis is unnecessary.
See Pearson v. Callahan,
555 U.S. 223, 232, 236 (2009).
The Court grants summary judgment on the excessive force
Maryland Declaration of Rights
In Count IV, Jones asserts that Ashford violated his rights under Article 26 of the
Maryland Declaration of Rights. Maryland courts construe Article 26 in para materia with the
Fourth Amendment, such that its comparable provisions are essentially equated to the Fourth
protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
862, 873 & n. 2 (Md. 2001). Accordingly, the resolution of Jones's
Scott v. State, 782 A.2d
1983 claim dictates the
outcome of his claim under Article 26. See Mazuz v. Maryland, 442 F.3d 217, 231 (4th Cir.
2006), abrogated on other grounds by Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009).
therefore entitled to summary judgment on Count IV.
In Count V, Jones alleges that Ashford, Trans World, and Westfield falsely arrested him.
The elements of a false arrest claim are "1) the deprivation of the liberty of another; 2) without
consent; and 3) without legal justification."
Heron v. Strader, 761 A.2d 56, 59 (Md. 2000).
Whether legal justification exists depends on whether the officer acted with legal authority to
arrest. Montgomery Ward v. Wilson, 664 A.2d 916, 926 (Md. 1995). A private party may be
liable for false arrest if it wrongfully detains an individual or knowingly gives false information
to a law enforcement officer to cause another's arrest. Id. at 926-27; Carter v. Aramark Sports &
Entm 't Servs., Inc., 835 A.2d 262, 284 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2003).
Although Jones was not formally arrested by Ashford, he was deprived of his liberty
when he was briefly detained in the mall.
As discussed above, however, Ashford had legal
justification to detain Jones because there was probable cause to arrest him for trespassing in
violation of Maryland law. See supra part ILA. Consequently, Ashford is entitled to summary
judgment on the false arrest claim. To the extent that Jones's false arrest theory derives from any
assistance that Olson or other mall security personnel provided to Ashford during the lawful
detention, Westfield is entitled to summary judgment on the false arrest claim as well.
Although Trans World and Westfield could be liable if their personnel knowingly
provided Ashford with false information that led to Jones's detention, there is no evidence to
support that theory. Both the f.y.e. store manager and Olson witnessed a dispute involving Jones
and asked Jones to leave the premises, but he refused.
Jones acknowledges that he had an
altercation with an f.y.e. employee and that he refused to leave when asked. These facts alone
were sufficient to cause Ashford to ask Jones to leave the mall and to detain him when Jones
repeatedly refused to do so. Even if the degree to which Jones was disruptive remains in dispute,
no identified communication from Trans World or Westfield personnel to Ashford, directly or
indirectly, could be characterized as "knowingly false." Since there is no evidence in the record
that an individual from f.y.e. or Wheaton Mall knowingly provided false information to Ashford
that led to Jones's detention, Trans World and Westfield are entitled to summary judgment on
the false arrest claim.
In Count III, Jones alleges that Ashford committed the common law tort of battery
against him. Under Maryland law, battery is the "unlawful application of force to the person of
Snowden v. State, 583 A.2d 1056, 1059 (Md. 1991).
An officer is not liable for
battery, however, for using a reasonable amount of force when effectuating a lawful detention or
arrest. See Ashton v. Brown, 660 A.2d 447, 471 n.24 (Md. 1995); Busch v. State, 426 A.2d 954,
958 (Md. 1981); Hines v. French, 852 A.2d 1047, 1055-56 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2004) (holding
that officers were entitled to judgment
as a matter of law on claims of battery, false
imprisonment, and false arrest where they had legal justification to arrest the plaintiff).
Ashford's first physical contact with Jones occurred after he had probable cause to arrest him for
trespass. See supra part II.A. Having already concluded that Ashford had legal justification to
detain Jones before he touched him, and that Ashford did not use excessive force during the
encounter, the Court finds that Ashford is entitled to summary judgment on the battery claim.
False Light/lnvasion of Privacy
Finally, Jones claims that all three defendants are liable for false light/invasion
privacy. The elements of a false light/invasion of privacy claim under Maryland law are: (1) the
defendant gave "publicity to a matter concerning another that places the other before the public
in a false light," (2) "the false light in which the other person was placed would be highly
offensive to a reasonable person," and (3) the defendant "had knowledge of or acted in reckless
disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which the other would be
Bagwell v. Peninsula Reg'l Med. Ctr., 665 A.2d 297,318
(quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts
(Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1995)
(Am. Law Inst. 1977)). Satisfying the publicity
requirement necessitates proof that the disclosure was "communicated to the public at large or to
so many persons that the matter must be regarded as substantially certain to become one of
Holt v. Camus, 128 F. Supp. 2d 812, 817 (D. Md. 1999); see also
Henderson v. Claire's Stores, Inc., 607 F. Supp. 2d 725, 733 (D. Md. 2009).
Jones asserts that Defendants'
and actions" "contained
both explicit statements and implicit suggestions" that placed Jones in a false light, because they
created the impression that he was "a trouble maker, criminal or otherwise undesirable."
CompI. ~~ 16-17, ECF No. 11. The potentially offending statements or actions include:
f.y.e. staff, Olson, and Ashford ordering Jones to leave the store or mall and calling him
disruptive or irate; (2) Ashford and Olson escorting Jones through the mall to the mall security
office; and (3) the photographing of Jones at the mall security office.
Regardless of whether
there is evidence sufficient to create a genuine dispute on whether any of these statements or
actions placed Jones in a false light, his claim fails because there is no evidence to establish the
First, no evidence has been offered to show that that any member of the public in the
vicinity of the f.y.e. store overheard any statements or representations exchanged between Jones
and f.y.e. personnel, Olson, or Ashford that might portray Jones in a negative light.
individuals in or near the store had heard or witnessed the encounter, that small group of
individuals cannot reasonably be deemed to constitute the public for purposes of the publicity
See Henderson, 607 F. Supp. 2d at 733 (holding that the publicity requirement was
not satisfied when, in the presence of other customers, a mall store employee accused the
plaintiff of stealing merchandise and called the police to examine the plaintiff s credit card and
Second, the escorting of Jones through the Wheaton Mall to the mall security office did
not place Jones before the public in a false light. Although Jones asserts that he was "paraded
through the mall ... in front of dozens of patrons, as if he had committed a crime," Am. Compl.
~ 11, Jones was not handcuffed.
While Olson walked in front of Jones and Ashford behind,
Ashford did not maintain a hold on Jones during the walk, and there was no evidence that
Ashford or Olson announced to the patrons why they were walking with Jones through the mall.
See Hill v. Abercrombie & Fitch, No. ELH-ll-00910,
10, 2011) (dismissing
2011 WL 4433573, at *11 (D. Md. Sept.
false light claim based on security guards escorting the plaintiff, a
shoplifting suspect, through a mall where the plaintiff was not handcuffed, the guards did not
broadcast insults or publicly accuse him of a crime, and he was not "forcibly dragged out of the
More importantly, no evidence has been offered to show that Jones's detention during the
walk to the mall security office was publicized more broadly. Jones has acknowledged, first, that
he did not know anyone in the mall that day who may have seen what occurred and, second, that
only his immediate family and his dentist, to whom he told generally that he had had an incident
at Wheaton Mall, had any knowledge of what transpired that day.
These undisputed facts
establish that the publicity element of Jones's false light claim has not been satisfied. See Holt,
128 F. Supp. at 817 (dismissing
a false light claim where there was no allegation that the
allegedly defamatory statement was disseminated "to the public at large, or to so many persons
that the matter must be regarded as substantially certain to become one of public knowledge").
Finally, Jones's assertion that his reputation has been damaged because of the possibility
that the photograph taken for the trespass notification form was later posted publicly in the mall
is unsupported by evidence. Olson has stated that such photographs are placed in a filing cabinet
and later discarded, and Jones has conceded that he has no knowledge that his photograph was
ever displayed publicly or that anyone saw his photograph posted in the mall. Mere speculation
that the photograph might be posted for public viewing does not constitute actual publicity as
required to establish a false light claim.
Where the record shows no undesirable disclosure
sufficiently broad in nature to establish "publicity," the Court grants summary judgment on the
false light/invasion of privacy claim in favor of all Defendants.
For the foregoing reasons, Ashford's Motion for Summary Judgment, Trans World's
Motion for Summary Judgment, and Westfield's Motion for Summary Judgment are granted.
Jones's Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice. A separate Order shall issue.
Date: January 18,2017
THEODORE D. C
United States Distri
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