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JEFFREY BURDICK v. BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT

This appeal has its origins in a 2003 lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Burdick, appellant, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, against the Baltimore City Police Department (“BCPD”), appellee, its Police Commissioner, the Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, and Unidentified Baltimore City Police Officers (the “unidentified officers”). In 2008, Mr. Burdick obtained a default judgment against “Defendant Unknown Police Officers” in the amount of $41,516.56. In 2013, Mr. Burdick filed the litigation at issue on appeal, a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment against BCPD. Mr. Burdick alleged that BCPD had an obligation to satisfy the default judgment entered against the unidentified officers pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act. The court determined that a default judgment should not have been entered against non-existent parties, and even if the default judgment could be deemed valid, it would be unenforceable against BCPD because Mr. Burdick did not prove that the unidentified officers acted within the scope of their employment and without malice.

On appeal, Mr. Burdick presents two questions for this Court’s review, which we have rephrased, as follows:

1. Did the court err in granting summary judgment on the ground that the default judgment against fictitious parties, the unidentified officers, was void?

2. Did the court err in finding, as an alternative ground, that the unidentified officers were not acting within the scope of their employment, and therefore, BCPD could not be compelled to pay the default judgment under the LGTCA?

Read the unreported opinion.