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Boyle v. Reed

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 31, 2014

JAMES EDWARD BOYLE
v.
WALTER REED, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE 22nd JUDICIAL DISTRICT, SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

HELEN G. BERRIGAN, District Judge.

This matter comes to the court on defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), or alternatively 12(c). Rec. Doc. 12. The plaintiff, James Boyle, opposes. Rec. Doc. 13. Having considered the record, the law, and the submissions of both parties, the court hereby GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of the arrest and detention of plaintiff, James Boyle ("Boyle"), the proprietor of James E. Boyle, CPA, L.L.C. ("Boyle, L.L.C.") on or about April 16, 2013. Rec. Doc. 1 ¶14, at 5; ¶16 at 5. The following facts are alleged by Boyle in his Complaint and Amended Complaint.

Boyle, L.L.C. hired Daniel Harper as a subcontractor in 2008. Id. ¶3 at 2. Following Harper's term of employment, Boyle L.L.C. issued two checks totaling $2, 500 in exchange for Harper's services. Id. ¶ 6, at 3. Harper waited over a year to attempt to cash or deposit the checks, by which time the account that the checks had been drawn on had been closed. Id. ¶11, at 4; ¶8 at 3. Harper wrote to Boyle, L.L.C. about the refused checks, and in its reply letter, Boyle L.L.C. offered to reissue payment if Harper executed a release agreement. Id. However, Harper never responded. Id. ¶12, at 5. Harper subsequently filed a complaint with the District Attorney or a third party who involved the District Attorney. Id. ¶6 at 3. These actions led to Boyle's arrest at his business office in Mandeville, LA on or about April 16, 2013. Id. ¶ 16, at 5. The District Attorney later refused or dismissed the charges against Boyle based on information that Boyle provided. Id. ¶ 18, at 6.

Boyle and Boyle, L.L.C. initiated this action on April 11, 2014, claiming violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and state law causes of action for defamation, libel, slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Rec. Doc. 1 ¶20, at 7. In the initial complaint filed on April 11 ("Initial Complaint"), Boyle named as defendants the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office and Walter Reed in his individual and official capacity as District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District. Rec. Doc. 1. Boyle alleged that the defendants failed to adequately investigate Harper's claims before seeking a warrant for Boyle's arrest. Id., ¶13, 15 at 5. Boyle also claimed that the defendants established customs and policies for obtaining and evaluating evidence and investigating potential crimes prior to seeking an arrest warrant that inadequately guarded against constitutional violations. Id. ¶24 at 8. In a prior order, the Court dismissed the District Attorney's Office and Boyle LLC as parties to the action. Rec. Doc. 10 at 3-4. In addition, the Court found that none of the parties had properly addressed the requirements for stating a claim of municipal liability under §1983, and granted Boyle, the remaining plaintiff, leave to amend his complaint to plead facts showing that his arrest violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Id. at 6. Finally, the Court denied defendants' claim of absolute immunity and deferred ruling on the question of qualified immunity until after Boyle had amended his complaint. Id. at 9-10.

Following the Court's ruling, Boyle filed an amended complaint on September 12, 2014, which alleged that Reed had acted as an affiant in securing an arrest warrant and that Reed's actions and omissions in the investigation of Harper's statements violated Boyle's Fourth Amendment rights and led to the issuance of an invalid arrest warrant. Rec. Doc. 11 ¶39, 40, 43 at 4-5.

On October 3, Reed, the sole remaining defendant, moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or 12(c). Rec. Doc. 12. In the current motion, Reed, in his official and individual capacity, raises several grounds for dismissal: 1) that Boyle has failed to allege the elements needed to establish municipal liability under Section 1983; 2) that Boyle has failed to allege Reed's personal involvement in his claims against Reed in his individual capacity; and 3) that Reed is entitled to either absolute or qualified immunity. Rec. Doc. 12.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) may be granted when a complaint fails to allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable interference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, taken as true, must raise the plaintiff's right to recover above the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56. Facts from which the court could infer the mere possibility of liability will not suffice. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). However, "a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of these facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

On a motion to dismiss, the court must take all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). Nevertheless, "conclusory allegations and unwarranted deductions of fact are not admitted as true, especially when such conclusions are contradicted by facts disclosed by document appended to the complaint." Associated Builders, Inc. v. Alabama Power Company, 505 F.2d 97, 100 (5th Cir. 1974).

ANALYSIS

Reed argues that Boyle fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Reed in both his ...


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