Baltimore judge avoids Gun Trace Task Force indemnity issue at motions hearing

Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//August 15, 2018

Baltimore judge avoids Gun Trace Task Force indemnity issue at motions hearing

By Heather Cobun

//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

//August 15, 2018

A Baltimore judge on Wednesday did not address whether two former Gun Trace Task Force officers were acting within the scope of their employment when they allegedly falsely arrested a man for handgun possession last year, instead denying a motion to dismiss a civil conspiracy claim against them.

The scope of employment question before Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams is a major issue for multiple plaintiffs in lawsuits against members of the corrupt police unit because the city has taken the position that they were not, which allows the city to decline to indemnify them in the event of judgments against them.

In the case before Williams, Ryan Brown alleges Evodio C. Hendrix and Marcus Taylor unlawfully stopped and detained him then falsely charged him with illegal possession of a firearm. The civil conspiracy count claims the two conspired with each other and unknown third parties on the scene to detain and falsely imprison Brown.

Hendrix filed a motion to dismiss the claim last month, arguing he could not conspire with Taylor because of the intra-corporate conspiracy doctrine, which holds there can be no conspiracy between employees of the same entity acting within the scope of their duties.

Christopher C. Jeffries, a lawyer for Hendrix, said the complaint refers to the officers as duly authorized agents and claims they were acting within the scope of their employment during the incident.

“They said acting within the scope of their employment,” said Jeffries, of Kramon & Graham P.A. in Baltimore. “That’s what they said.”

But Williams ruled the intra-corporate conspiracy doctrine does not appear to apply to the facts of the case as pleaded. There are exceptions to the doctrine if, as alleged, the officers had an independent personal stake in the illegal objective or their acts were unauthorized.

Williams noted that the doctrine has been applied in civil rights cases but is generally not favored in this context.

Hendrix and Taylor are unique in that they are represented by counsel in a lawsuit filed after they were indicted on federal racketeering charges. In other lawsuits filed in the last year, the officers often have not yet been served because plaintiffs do not know where they are serving their sentences.

Domenic R. Iamele, of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore, Brown’s lawyer, said Hendrix and Taylor were served in person at their sentencing in the federal courthouse.

A trial is scheduled for December, according to online court records.

The case is Ryan Brown v. Marcus Taylor et al., 24C17006621.


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