Bailey v. City of Annapolis

Decision Date01 September 2021
Docket NumberNo. 2311, Sept. Term, 2019,2311, Sept. Term, 2019
Citation252 Md.App. 83,258 A.3d 894
Parties James E. BAILEY v. CITY OF ANNAPOLIS, et al.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland

Argued by: Paul J. Weber (Adam G. Smith, Hyatt & Weber, PA on the brief) Annapolis, MD, for Appellant.

Argued by: Kerry E. Berger (City of Annapolis Office of Law on the brief) Annapolis, MD, for Appellee

Reed, Beachley, Sally D. Adkins (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

Adkins, Sally D., J.

James Elmer Bailey was twice arrested—based on two separate warrants—for a crime he did not commit. The suspect just happened to share his name and date of birth. After the second arrest, Bailey filed suit against Sergeant Christopher Kintop, the officer who applied for both warrants. He also filed suit against Jamekica Mackall, Kathleen Buchanan, and Britney Lane, police personnel involved at varying levels, as well as the City of Annapolis (collectively "Appellees"). The circuit court dismissed some charges and granted summary judgment against Bailey on the rest.

Bailey presented us with three questions,1 which we rephrased and separated:

1. Did the circuit court err by dismissing the malicious prosecution claims against Kintop?
2. Did the circuit court err by dismissing the gross negligence claims against Kintop, Buchanan, Mackall, and Lane?
3. Did the circuit court err by granting summary judgment on the negligence claim against Kintop by applying public official immunity?
4. Did the circuit court err by granting summary judgment on the negligence claims against Buchanan and Mackall by finding that they did not owe a duty to Bailey?

For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The First Warrant

On March 14, 2007, a man assaulted Kimberly Sharper in Annapolis, injuring her eye. She went to the Anne Arundel Medical Center two days later to seek treatment. Kintop interviewed her about the incident on March 16, 2007. Sharper knew her assailant; she told Kintop that James Elmer Bailey assaulted her. She described him as a Black male born on October 15, 1962, approximately 5’5" and 145 pounds, living at 26 College Creek Terrace in Annapolis.

Kintop prepared an incident report and filed an application for statement of charges within a few days. After consulting with dispatch on height and weight, Kintop described the suspect2 (hereinafter "Suspect Bailey") on the application as a 6’3" Black male weighing 195 pounds. He assumed Sharper was confused, and explained the discrepancy in a later deposition that "a description given by a witness may not be accurate on height and weight."

Little did he know that there were two people named James Elmer Bailey born on October 15, 1962, living in the Annapolis area. The court issued a warrant on March 23, 2007 ("2007 Warrant"). A police dispatcher who entered the warrant into the National Crime Information Center ("NCIC") database informed Kintop that there was only one James Elmer Bailey—and he was white. Later, Kintop initialed the warrant to change the suspect's race to white, believing that Sharper was once again mistaken.

In July 2010, Annapolis City Police Officers arrested Bailey at his home in Edgewater. Bailey insisted that he was not the right person—he had been mistaken for Suspect Bailey in the past due to their date of birth and name. Back at the station, an officer quickly realized that they had the wrong Bailey after looking at the warrant file. The department released him shortly after.

Bailey filed suit against Kintop and the officers involved in November 2011. The parties went to trial on February 19, 2013. The court held the civil suit for deliberation,3 but on the day of its trial, expressed its desire for the administrative commissioner to strike the 2007 Warrant and reissue a new, correct warrant with Suspect Bailey's information.

The Second Warrant

On the very same day as trial, Kintop filed a new application for statement of charges using the correct height, weight, and race of Suspect Bailey. The district court issued a warrant later that evening ("2013 Warrant").

About three years went by; the mishap appeared to be over. In 2016, Mackall entered the warrant for Suspect Bailey into the NCIC database. To do so, Mackall had to "find identifiers""[n]ame, date of birth, two identifiers is all you needed." According to her testimony, Mackall "look[s] for the warrant itself on the computer" in their in-house record system, InPursuit. Then, she "click[s] on the name and it pops up" and she verifies the "name and date of birth" of the individual. While InPursuit has other information, "the only part that [she] really check[s] is ... the name, date of birth, the address."

When Mackall entered the information into the NCIC database, she verified "[h]is name and date of birth." To her recollection, there were no notes or special instructions; she did not see the 2007 Warrant or any reference to it. Because the 2013 Warrant was already in InPursuit, she "didn't have to look for" anything else. She then went into the Motor Vehicle Administration ("MVA") records and entered "the name and date of birth." Only one Bailey came up—and it was not Suspect Bailey. She entered the MVA records into the NCIC database in connection with the warrant. Once Mackall finished entering the information, she "made a packet, because it [had] to have all the information to go with the warrant, and [she] gave it to [her] supervisor," Buchanan.

Buchanan reviewed the information for the 2013 Warrant. Buchanan looked over the packet Mackall gave her to verify the name and date of birth. Satisfied that the "name and the date of birth matched," Buchanan "never gave James Elmer Bailey another thought[.]"

The 2013 Warrant, unfortunately, gave Bailey more than another thought. On April 21, 2017, Maryland Transportation Authority officers stopped Bailey on the Bay Bridge. The officers notified him that "he had been stopped because there was an active warrant for his arrest[.]" Bailey insisted that he was not the person described in the warrant—emphasizing the stark differences in physical appearances between the two James Elmer Baileys. The officers called the Annapolis Police Department to verify the validity of the warrant, and Lane confirmed that the warrant was still active and faxed it over. Officers proceeded to arrest Bailey, transport him to the Maryland Transportation Authority, and place him in a holding cell.

One of the officers who detained Bailey was confused about the warrant—he noticed that it was for a Black male, and Bailey was white. He called Lane back, asking about the discrepancy. Lane contacted Kintop, who told her that if the detainee was white, they had the wrong James Elmer Bailey. She then explained the discrepancy to the officers at the Maryland Transportation Authority and told them to release him.

Bailey provided notice to the City of Annapolis and State of Maryland of his claims under the Local Government Tort Claims Act and the Maryland Tort Claims Act. The Maryland Treasurer and Annapolis both promptly denied his claims after investigation. Bailey filed suit in September 2018. The trial court dismissed eight of Bailey's twelve counts in June 2019, and granted summary judgment against Bailey on the other four in January 2020. This appeal followed, challenging both the dismissals and grants of summary judgment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When reviewing the grant of a motion to dismiss, our standard of review is whether the trial court was legally correct: "we must determine whether the complaint, on its face, discloses a legally sufficient cause of action. In reviewing the complaint, we must presume the truth of all well-pleaded facts in the complaint, along with any reasonable inferences derived therefrom." Schisler v. State , 177 Md. App. 731, 742–43, 938 A.2d 57 (2007) (cleaned up).

When reviewing the grant of a motion for summary judgment, we "focus on whether the trial court's grant of the motion was legally correct." Laing v. Volkswagen of America, Inc. , 180 Md. App. 136, 152–53, 949 A.2d 26 (2008). We analyze "whether a fair[-]minded jury could find for the plaintiff in light of the pleadings and the evidence presented, and there must be more than a scintilla of evidence in order to proceed to trial." Id. at 153, 949 A.2d 26 (cleaned up). In a situation where "the facts are susceptible to more than one inference, [we] must view the inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Id.

DISCUSSION
Malicious Prosecution

Bailey argues that the circuit court erred by dismissing his claim of malicious prosecution against Kintop because he properly asserted a legally sufficient cause of action. Appellees respond that Bailey failed to state a claim for malicious prosecution because criminal proceedings were never instituted against him personally.

A claim for malicious prosecution requires: "1) a criminal proceeding instituted or continued by the defendant against the plaintiff; 2) without probable cause; 3) with malice, or with a motive other than to bring the offender to justice; and 4) termination of the proceeding in favor of the plaintiff." Candelero v. Cole , 152 Md. App. 190, 199, 831 A.2d 495 (2003) (cleaned up). Bailey argues that Kintop instituted and continued proceedings against him. Appellees respond that Bailey failed to sufficiently plead "that he was the subject of the 2013 Arrest Warrant."

To address these contentions properly, we look at malicious prosecution in more depth. Malicious prosecution is distinguished from other related torts, such as false arrest and false imprisonment, by the actions underlying the claim:

Traditionally at common law, actions of malicious prosecution and false imprisonment have been directed at different interests. "False imprisonment is the invasion of the interest in freedom from unlawful confinement, while a malicious prosecution is the unlawful use of legal procedure to bring about a legal confinement ."

Montgomery Ward v. Wilson , 339...

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2 books & journal articles
  • I. [§ 3.109] Malicious Prosecution
    • United States
    • Maryland State Bar Association Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland (MSBA) (2022 Ed.) Chapter 3 Torts
    • Invalid date
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    • Maryland State Bar Association Pleading Causes of Action in Maryland (MSBA) (2022 Ed.) Chapter 3 Torts
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