The Estate of Kendall Arnaz Green et al v. Pinkerton

Filing 28

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 8/18/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)

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FILED u.s. j"T ' :T r"":':T IN TIlE UNITED STATES IlISTRICT COUR:G i,~:~ ,:: ,i L;"::) (~ .. ,.FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLANI> SOUtIl em Dil'ilioll ZOIl AUG18 P I: It.l C' .-"" -, EST A TE OF KENI>ALL ARNAZ GI{EEN, et tli., * Plaintiffs, . ... , * v. Case No.: G.JH-16-2!l96 * I\IATTIIEW PINKERTON, * I>cfendant. * * * * * * * * * MEMORANI>UM * * * * * OPINION Thc Estate of Kendall Arnaz Green brings this \\Tongful death and survival action against Defendant Sergcant Scptcmbcr 15.2013. Matthcw Pinkerton for thc 1(ltal shooting of Grecn by Pinkcrton The action \vas originally Illcd in thc Circuit Court for Princc Gcorgc's County. and Dcfendant removed jurisdiction. pending before the Court is Dcfendant's Defendant's I Prcsently Motion lor Summary the action to this Court. invoking thc Court's Judgment. on diversity Motion to Stay. ECF No. 20. and ECF No. 26. No hearing is necessary. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For thc lollowinl.t~reasons. Defendant's See Loc. R. Motion IlJr Summarv . Judl.tment is ~ granted. and the Motion to Slay is denicd as moot. or 1 The decedent. at all Iimcs relevant to the action. was a resident of the state Maryland. ECF No. I ~i S'(}t' 4. ../lls/u/e I/IS. Cu. \'. ('hen: •.. No. eIV.A. EI.II-II.2898. 2012 WI. 1425158. at *4 (I). Md. Apr. 23. 2(12) (""a decedent's estate must be sued through the estate"s personal repn:sclltalive. who is statutorily 'deemed (0 be a citizen only of the same State as the decedent. "') (citing 28 U.S.c. 1332(c)(2». Defendant Pinl\crton was. at the time the action was tiled. rind at rill times thcreafter. a resident of the state of Florida. lei. ~i ECF No. 10 4-5: 5: see Rmr/antl \'. Palla.wn1. 852 F.2d 108. 112 (4th Cir. 1988) (noting that diversity of citizenship is determined whcn the complaint is liIed). PfrlintiITseeks damagcs in cxcess of $75.000. Thereforc. diversity jurisd ictioll over this action is propcr. .'-illl..' 28 U.S.c. ~ 1332. * 'i~ I. BACKGROUNJ)2 Kendall Arnaz Green. an acquaintance relationship with Jessica Pinkerton. Matthew also ECF No. 2 ~ 5. During the relationship towards Jessica. striking. throwing. learned about Green's assaulted home because of his aggressive assaulted. Pinkerton's was engaged in an extramarital wife. See ECF No. 26-1 'i'll-l0: and their interactions see together. Green was violent and pushing her. ECF No. 26-1 ~~ 102-106. violent tendencies drank. that he had previously of the Pinkertons. Jessica also in other respects - that Green became violent when hc his father. that Green's mother had kicked him out of her behavior. and that Green had boasted about other people hc had See itl. 'i~ 11-18. 107-110. Green allegedly stood at a height of six leet. six inches tall. See ECF No. 26 at 53 In the early morning hours ofSeptembcr phone. See ECI' No. 26-1 '1'133-40. Grccn was intoxicated. Jessica. "111bc at your house waiting"'/d ld. ~~ 40-43. Green continued going to pick up'" /d ~'146-49. 15.2013. 'i 40. Green was texting Jessica on hcr cell Id. '119. At 1:23 a.Ill .. Green texted Jcssica respondcd. "no" and "don't to text Jessica. stating. "Pick up da phonc'" Jcssica did not respond to Green's so [sicl that." and "Ok you not Illessages. At 1:48 a.Ill .. Green then stated. "if you pick up I wont go the door if you don't 1'111 doing Illorc [thanl knocking'" /d ~~ 51-53. Shortly thercatlcr. Drive. Glcn Burnic. Maryland. Grecn callle to thc Pinkcrton house at 424 Arbor /d 'i'i 19-21. 26-66. No one had invited Grcen to cOllle to the house. /d ~ 67. about March 2. 2017. Defendant served upon Plaintiffs written Requests for Admission of Fact. .\~(!l'ECF Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 36. each matter of which an admission is requested is deemed to be admitted unless. within 30 days aller service of the request. the receiving party serves upon the requesting part.y a written answer or objection addressed to the matter. Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3). In this case. PlaintilTs did not serve Defendant \!"'ithan answer or objection: thus. each request j()f admission is deemed admitted. Accordingly, the facts stated herein are taken from the Requests fc.lrAdmission. l1nles~ otherwise noted. ,l Pin cites to documents filed on the Court's electronic tiling system (CM/ECF) refer to the page nUl11ber~generated by that system. 2 On Of No. 26-1. 2 When Green arrived at the house, he spoke brietly with Matthew Pinkerton. I 'i 120. Pinkerton shut the door with Green still outside the house, and did not reopen the door for Green. !d. ~ 120-121. result.!d. ~'lln-131. td. ~~ 68-72. aggrcssively, ECF No. 26- Green then forccd his way into the house, cracking the Ii"<mtdoor as a One or more persons inside the house repeatedly Onec inside the house. Green began cursing at Matthcw directed Green to leave. Pinkerton, acting td. '1'180-84. Green started to approach and using racial slurs towards Pinkerton. Pinkerton. !d. ~ 85. Pinkerton told Grcen to stop. !d. n 85-87. Pinkcrton, allegedly a handgun in front of Green. See ECF NO.2 ~'18-9. even after Pinkerton In fact. PlaintilTalleges Green. See id. approached 'i 9. Pinkerton Pinkerton. with the handgun, '1'1 88-90. Green. !d. Pinkerton 'I'i 91-95. to approach he "did not have it in him" to shoot backed away li"<JmGreen. and continued ECF No. 26-1 to back away as Green then shot Green twice in the chest Both shots were lired from within the blood and shell casings were found inside thc home. !d. ~~ 92-99. being shot. Green staggered immediately that Green told Pinkerton I~Jlally wounding home, and Green's brandished Green continued onto the porch. td. after the shooting. !d. ~',i112-113. '1 100. Matthew Pinkerton After called 911 dead on the scene. See id. Green was pronounecd ~~ 115-118. The State of Maryland 2013. See ECF Nos. 26-2-26-3: pursued criminal charges against Matthew S/(Ile \'. Pinker/on. 02-K-13-1930 A jury trial was held. See id. At the conclusion Court li.Jr Anne Arundel acquitting Pinkerton Grccn's Complaint Pinkerton in October of (Cir. Ct. Anne Arundel Cty.). of the Statc's case, Judge MulfiJrd of the Circuit County granted Defendant's Motion lor Judgment of Acquittal. of all charges. See ECF No. 26-1 ~ 138; ECF No. 26-3 at 7. estatc. by and through Green's mother. Felicia Letitia Carroll, tiled this in the Circuit Court lor Prince George's 3 County. Defendant removed the action to this Court on August 17. 2016. Plaintiff brings a survival action and dcath action. alleging claims ofnegligencc and battery. Scc Md. Code. Cts. & .Iud. Proc. ~ 3-902: Md. Codc. Est. & Trusts ~ 7-40I(y). Plaintiff seeks damages in excess ofS2 million dollars. On December 22, 2016. Defendant moved Ii))'a stay of proceedings because Pinkerton was to be deployed for military serviee on or about January 9. 2017. and then "Ii,r a period of no less than 6 months:' ECF No. 20 ~~ 4-5. Plaintiffs opposed the Motion to Stay. ECF No. 21. On March 17.2017. counsellilr Delendant indicated that '"Sergeant Pinkerton's present deployment is scheduled to conclude. subject to change in July 01'2017:' ECF No. 25 at 1. The Court has received no further inlimnation regarding Pinkerton's availability. In this status report. counsel lilr Defendant also indicated that hc had propounded written discovery to the Plaintiffs. which had not been returned. Id Delendant liled his Motion lor Summary Judgment on April 17.2017. ECl' No. 26. Plaintiffs have not responded to the Motion. and the time tilr doing so has passed. On June 23. 2017. the Court issued a paperless Order. stating that while the Motion for Summary Judgment was ripe tilr resolution. because Plaintiffs may have incorrectly belin'ed the case had been stayed. the Court would allow the Plaintiffs an additional seven days to respond to the dispositive motion. ECF No. 27. To date. Plaintiffs have not done so. Now. more than lill.ty live days have elapsed. and the Court is ready to render its Decision. Upon consideration of the uncontroverted facts set lilrth in Delendant's Motion lilr Summary Judgment. and related authorities. the Motion is now granted. The Motion to Stay is denied as moot. II. STANDARD OF REVIEW The court '"shall grant summary judgment iI'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:' Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A material l~lCtis one that '"might alkct the outcome of the suit under the 4 governing law:' Andcrson \'. Uhcrl)' I.ohhy. Ine.. 477 U.S. 242. 248 (1986). A genuine issue over a material fact exists "if the evidcnce is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict Itlr thc nonmoving party:' !d In undertaking this inquiry. the Court must consider the lacts and all reasonable inferences in the light most 1~lvorableto the nonmoving party. Scoll \'. Ilarris. 550 U,S, 372, 378 (2007). But this Court must also abide by its affirmative obligation to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses Ii'om going to trial. f)rC\l'ill \'. !'rOll. 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993). The burden is on the moving party to show ,.that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. However. no genuine issue of material fact exists if the nonmoving party t~lilsto make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his or her case as to which he or she would have the burden of proof:' Bemon \'. Princc Gcorgc 's Cm/)'. Co/l .. No. CIV.A. DKC 12-1577. 2013 WL 4501324. at * 3 (D. Md. Aug, 2 I. 2(13) (citing Cclo/cx Corp. \'. C(lIrCII,477 lJ .S. 317. 322-23 (1986», Thus. upon a motion ftlr summary judgment. the opposing party "may not rest upon. , , mere allegations or denials:' but rather. "must set ftlrth specific I~lctsshowing that there is a genuine issue tt)r trial. II'the [opposing] party does not s'o respond. summary judgment. if appropriate. shall be entered against the [opposing] party." (I'll!/' \'. Princc (lcorgc '.\'Cly .. Ml/Iyland. 16 F, App'x 191. 192 (4th Cir. 2(01) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e». Of note. hO\vcvcr. if thc nonmoving party does not respond to the summary judgmcnt motion. the failure to respond. in and of itself: "does not fulfill the burdens imposed on moving parties by Rule 56. Section (c) of Rule 56 requires that the moving party establish. in addition to the absence of a disputc over any material f~lCt. hat it is 'cntitled to a judgmcnt as a mallcr of t law:" Cuslcr )'. Pan Alii. Life Ins. Co.. 12 F.3d 410.416 (4th Cir. 1993) (citinl! Fcd, R, Civ, P. . ~ 56(c)). Although the nonmoving party's failure to rcspond "may Icave uncontrovcrtcd those facts 5 established by the motion. the moving party must still show that the uncontrovertcd facts entitle the party to 'ajudgment as a matter of law .... Ill. Thus. the Court must revicw a summary judgment motion. "evcn if unopposed. and determine from what it has before it whether the moving party is entitled to summary judgment .. :. !d" III. ANAL YSIS In this wrongful death action. the Court applies the law of Maryland. \\'here the alleged homicide occurred. See Kielar \'. Granile COIISI. Co .. 647 F. Supp. 2d 524. 526 (D. Md. 2009) ("Maryland generally follows the principle of lex loci delicli. which applies the law of the state where the injury occurred"). Maryland's wrongful death statute provides that "laIn action may be maintained against a person whose wrongful act causes the death of another:' Md. Code. Cis. & .Iud. I'roc. ~ 3-902(a)5 Under the common law. "lolrdinarily a person who is attacked is required to retreat if the means of doing so are within his power and consistent with his safety:' (iaill('/' \'. Slale. 40 Md. App. 382. 386 (1978): see also Bar/Oil \'. .'lillIe. 46 Md. App. 616.618 (1980). Ilowever. with respect to this "so-called 'retreat rule.' a universally recognized exception exists: there is no duty to retreat ifone is attacked in his own home. ifin other respects he brings ~ As an initial matter. Defendant argues that Pinkerton's acquittal in the state COUl1 criminal case collaterally estops liability in this civil action. Hmvever. the Maryland Court of Appeals has explicitly declined "to npply collateral estoppel in civil proceedings follO\\'ing acquittals on criminal charges" In re Neil C. 308 Md. 591. 596 (1987). This is in part because .'the lower burden of proof in the subsequent civil proceeding [as opposed to the burden of proof in a criminal case] precludc[sl the application of collateral estoppel. Id. (citations omitted). Therefore, Plaintiffs' wrongful death action is not barred by collateral estoppel. .<; In a survival action, Maryland law provides that "[3] personal representative ma.y prosecute, defcnd, or submit 10 arbitration actions, claims, or proceedings in an)' appropriate jurisdiction for the protection or henelit of the estate, including the commencement ora personal action which the decedent might have cOlllmenced or prosecuted:' Md. Code, Est. & Trusts ~ 7--10 I. "Under Maryland law, claims for survival and \\Tongful death, although both arising upon a person's death, differ importantly. In a survival action, claims arc prosecuted fiJrthe benefit orthc estate, and the measure of damages is the harm to the decedent. A \"'fOngful death claim is for the benefit of the spouse, parent. or child and includes damages for pecuniary loss and emotional harm to the survivors arising out of the loss ofa family member:' .\'Ia,.,.", Uniled Slall.'s, 262 F, Supp. 2d 605, 607 (D. Md. 20(3) (citations omitted). These differences arc, however, irrelevant to this Court's resolution orthe dispositive motion ill this casco as the Cfll'\; of tile dispute is thc wrongfulness or justifiability of the killing. 6 himself within the ordinary premised rules of sell~defense:' Caill('r. 40 Md, App. at 368, This exception on the idea that "a man's home is his castle. indeed his ultimate sanetuarv is .. :. Iti. at 388. As Maryland courts have recognized, "[iJ I' the peri I-the attack-occurs sI in [the defendant' home. his dwelling place. he need not retreat Irom it. but may stand his ground and usc whatever force is reasonable (including. himself." /Jar/all if necessary. fatal force) in order to repel the attack and defend \'. S/(/I('. 46 Md. App, at 618 (1980): .1'('('a/so Crall/im/ 361 (1963) (agreeing \'. SIo/('. 231 Md. 354. that "a man faced with the danger of an attack upon his dwelling need not retreat tr(lln his home to escape the danger. but instead may stand his ground and, iI' necessary repel the attacK. may kill the attacker."): Caill('/'. 40 Md. App. at 390 (adopting reasoning .. [iJt is not now and never has bccn the law that a man assailed in his own dwelling retreat. If assailed there. he may stand his ground and rcsistthe take to thc lields and the highways. upon a bascless apprehension Maryland degree of i()rcc used to repel 21 Md, App, 13. 31 (1974) (noting that "we do to be so absolute as to sanction promiscuous by an unreasonablc Md. App. 382. 388 n.5 (1978) ("One of the most important excessivc:'). is bound to attack. lie is under no duty to and .. [tlhe permissible Loll' \'. S/(//('. not find the right to detCnd onc's habitation shooting that a fugitive Irom his own home ... ). To be sure. this right is not absolute. an intruder must not be excessive:' to pcrson:'): .\'('(' a/so Gaill(,/, \'. S/a/(', 40 elcments is that the force used not be courts. and most American jurisdictions havc further clarified: [IJf an assault on a dwelling and an attcmpted forcible entry arc made under circumstances which would create a reasonable apprehension that it is the design of the assailant to commit a fCiony or to inflict on thc inhabitants injury which may result in loss of life or great bodily harm. and that the danger that thc dcsign will be carried into eflect is imminent. a lawful occupant of the dwelling may prevent the cntry even by the taking of the intruder's life. 7 Lalt'. 2 I Md. App. at 27 (citing Crau:timl. 231 Md. at 360). In Pinkcrton' s casc. thc facts. uncontrovcrtcd in this unopposcd mot ion for summary judgmcnt. dcmonstrate that Pinkcrton was acting in rcasonable defense of his own homc. In the middle of the night on Septcmbcr 15. 2013. Kendall Grccn arrivcd at thc Pinkcrton home uninvited. See ECF No. 26-1 ~~ 60. 67. Grecn eamc to scc Jessica. Pinkerton's wifc. who had exprcssly directcd him not to come to the house. III. ~~ 39-58. At the time. Grecn had a blood alcohol content 01'0. I7 perccnt. morc than twice the legal limit for opcrating a motor \'chiclc in Maryland. III. 'i'i 19-22. Alier Pinkcrton closed the door on Grcen. Green forccd his way into the 'i'i 127-131. One or morc persons in the home told Grecn to leavc. Grccn rcfuscd. Id. 'i'i 68-72. Grccnuscd racial slurs towards cursed at him. and bcgan to approach him. Id. 'i~ 84-87. Pinkerton told Grcen to stop. Pinkerton home. cracking thc front door. Id. rcpcatedly Pinkerton. but Green continued to approach Pinkcrton. Id. ~'I 87-90. Pinkcrton backcd away li'0111 Grcen as he continued to approach him. Id. Even alicr Pinkcrton brandishcd his firearm. Green refused to cease his aggrcssivc bchavior and leavc thc homc. See ill.: see also ECF No. 26 at 5. Under thesc facts. no reasonablc juror could tind that Grccn did not forcibly enter thc Pinkerton dwelling. and commit an assault or attack upon thc dwclling. The circumstanccs described creatcd a reasonable apprehcnsion that Grecn was about to commit a felony upon the housc. and inflict scrious bodily harm upon Pinkcrton or upon other inhabitants ofthc homc. Thcreforc. Pinkerton actcd reasonably in using dcadly force to repel thc attack. whcrc an intoxicated Green forccd his way into Pinkcrton's house in thc middlc ofthc night. cngagcd in an altcrcation with Pinkerton. refused to leave. and continued to approach Pinkcrton alier several directivcs to stop. See Crmffiml \'. Slale. 231 Md. 354. 364 (f963) (finding that appcllant had mct his "burdcn of proving by a prepondcrancc ofthc evidcnce that he acted reasonably in 8 defense of his habitation against lilrcible entry" where decedent forced his way into appellant's home seeking to beat and rob appellant). Pinkerton. as lawful occupant of the dwelling. was under no duty to retreat in his own home. and therelilre cannot be held liable tilr acting in reasonable defense of his home. See BartOli \'. State. 46 Md. ApI'. 616. 621 (1980) (Iinding defendant had no duty to retreat and was acting in sell~defense when decedent charged at him with a knife in a dwelling where defendant resided): cj." (jailler \'. State. 40 Md. ApI'. 382. 384 (1978) (linding that trial court erred in lailing to instruct on "castle doctrine" where defendant and decedent had verbal altercation in defendant's home and decedent's "blood aleoholle\'el was .1T). Moreover. under these lacts. Pinkerton is allorded civil immunity under Maryland law. Md. Code. Cts. & .Iud. Proc. * 5-808 provides civil immunity lilr persons using tilrce against individuals entering the person's dwelling. It states: (b) A person is not liable lor damages lor a personal injury or death of an individual \\ho enters the person's dwelling or place of business if: (I) The person reasonably believes that force or deadly lill"Ceis necessary to repel an attack by the individual: and (2) The amount and nature of the lorce used by the person is reasonable under the circumstances. Md. Code. CIs. & .Iud. Proc. * 5-808. Accordingly. as the Court reasoned earlier. because Pinkerton reasonably believed that deadly li)fce was necessary to repel Green's attack on his home. his person. and his family - and because the usc of this lilfce was feasonable under the totality of the circumstances -Pinkerton is not liable for damages in this action. 9 IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons. Defendant"s Motion for Summary Judgment. Eel' No. 26. is grunted. und the Motion to Stuy. Eel' No. 20. is dcnied as moot. A scparatc Ordcr shall issuc. /Z~- Datc: AU1!ust 1¥".2017 GEORGE.J. HAZEL Unitcd Statcs District Judgc 10

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