Randall v. Prince George's County, 081402 FED4, 01-1347
|Party Name:||Randall v. Prince George's County|
|Case Date:||December 03, 2001|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit|
Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. Alexander Williams, Jr., District Judge. (CA-96-2296-AW)
Before WIDENER, MICHAEL, and KING, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded by published opinion. Judge King wrote the opinion, in which Judge Widener and Judge Michael joined. Judge Michael wrote a concurring opinion.
ARGUED: Jay Heyward Creech, Laura Jean Gwinn, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, for Appellants.
Kenneth Everett McPherson, Riverdale, Maryland, for Appellees.
ON BRIEF: Sean D. Wallace, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, for Appellants.
David P. Olslund, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for Appellees.
KING, Circuit Judge:
These appeals arise from a jury verdict rendered against five law enforcement officers in the District of Maryland in October 2000. The verdict awarded compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs, pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 19831 and Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.2 The five officers have appealed the judgment of the district court, and the plaintiffs have cross-appealed certain pre-verdict rulings and the attorneys fee award made to them. As explained below, we affirm the judgment as to two of the officers and the courts pre-verdict rulings. We vacate the judgment against the other three officers, however, and we vacate and remand the award of attorneys fees.
On the evening of April 26, 1995, Corporal John Novabilski, a police officer in Prince Georges County, Maryland, was murdered as he sat in his police cruiser. This event resulted in an extensive search and investigation by the Countys Police Department (the "County Police"), during which they encountered the fourteen plaintiffs (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") in this proceeding.3 The Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit in the state court of Prince Georges County and, on July 19, 1996, their case was removed to the District of Maryland. After resolution of several procedural issues, the Plaintiffs, on April 29, 1998, filed their fifty-five count final amended complaint (the "Complaint"). They therein asserted various claims against several County Police officers, and against the County itself, pursuant to § 1983, Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights ("Article 24"), and Maryland tort law. They contended in substance that the County Police had assaulted and unlawfully detained them during the Novabilski investigation.
Following discovery, the defendants sought summary judgment on the Plaintiffs claims and, on September 13, 1999, the court awarded summary judgment to them on the Maryland tort claims and on the Monell claims against Prince Georges County.4 The case thereafter proceeded to trial on claims of police misconduct during the Novabilski investigation, in contravention of the Plaintiffs state and federal constitutional rights. The trial consumed nearly three weeks, from October 10 through October 27, 2000, and before the case was submitted to the jury, twenty of the twenty-seven defendants were dismissed. At the conclusion of its deliberations, the jury found three supervisory officers, Lieutenant F. Michael McQuillan, Sergeant George Swope, and Corporal Stephen Ricker (the "Supervisors"), liable to twelve of the Plaintiffs (the "Appellees"). The verdict against the Supervisors was based on the indirect liability concepts of "bystander" and "supervisory" liability, and the Appellees were awarded both compensatory and punitive damages under § 1983 and Article 24. The jury found two other officers, Corporals David Rosser and James Silvers (the "Corporals"), liable to Plaintiff Randall for a violation of Article 24. In post-trial proceedings, the district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, awarded the Plaintiffs the sum of $195,000 for attorneys fees and costs.5
The Supervisors and the Corporals, plus Prince Georges County (collectively, the "Appellants"), have appealed the adverse judgment, challenging both the liability of the Supervisors and the damage awards made to the Appellees.6 The Appellants maintain that the evidence was insufficient to warrant a verdict against the Supervisors on any theory of indirect liability, and they contend that the damage awards are excessive.
The fourteen Plaintiffs have cross-appealed, contending that the evidence was sufficient to defeat summary judgment on their Monell claims, and also maintaining that the award of attorneys fees was insufficient and erroneously calculated.7 After first reviewing the factual underpinnings of these claims, we address the issues in turn.
In order to properly assess the issues on appeal, we must first understand the events that occurred in Prince Georges County in the thirty-six hour period following the murder of Corporal Novabilski. In describing the evidentiary predicate for these events, we utilize four sub-parts: (1) The Parties; (2) the April 26-27, 1995 Search (the "First Search"); (3) the April 27-28, 1995 Detentions (the "Detentions"); and (4) the April 28, 1995 Search (the "Second Search").8
1. The Parties
The fourteen Plaintiffs are connected in varying ways to the residence located at 7211 East Forest Road in Landover, Maryland ("7211"). Between April 26 and April 28, 1995, the following thirteen persons were either living or present at 7211:
Eloise Jones, the owner of 7211, lived there with her adult children: Edward Jones, Carlos Marshall, and Tamara Marshall;
Tamara Marshalls two children, Carlton and Shanequia, lived at 7211, and Tamaras boyfriend, David Randall, was staying there;
Eloises brother, John Williams, and her first cousin, Jerry Vance, lived in the basement of 7211;
Eloises nephew, Dana Williams, and Danas friend, Steve McAbee, slept at 7211; and
Carlos Marshalls girlfriend, Yolanda Hamlet, and her baby, were also staying at...
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