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Walker v. Jackson Parish District Attorney's Office

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

February 2, 2015

JEROME WALKER
v.
JACKSON PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, ET AL

MEMORANDUM RULING

JAMES T. TRIMBLE, Jr., District Judge.

Before the court is a "Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)" (R. #71) wherein the mover, Officer Colby Spillers, moves to dismiss the allegations made in plaintiff's Amended Complaint[1] for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

In his amended complaint, plaintiff seeks (1) to name the City of West Monroe as a defendant, [2] and (2) to assert claims for police harassment and reassert claims of defamation of character for an alleged "stop on January 27, 2013.". Plaintiff complains that after his original arrest in November 2011, Officer Spiller repeatedly called plaintiff's workplace in order to convince plaintiff's employer to press charges against him for taking merchandise out of his employer's dumpster. Plaintiff alleges that on January 27, 2013 Officer Spillers stopped plaintiff for driving "suspicious";[3] he complains that Officer Spillers detained him for about twenty minutes while he verified that plaintiff had permission to drive the vehicle which nearly cost plaintiff his relationship with his girlfriend. Plaintiff then alleges that the November 2011 arrest harmed his ability to fight for his children in a custody dispute, his work life and his personal relationships. Plaintiff further complains that he has endured teasing about "dumpster diving, " his appearance in the Justified publication and other websites relating to his arrest. Plaintiff also complains that since his arrest, Officer Spillers started shopping at his place of employment, showing up several times a day, sometimes in uniform ultimately causing plaintiff to change places of employment.

Plaintiff complains that the above mentioned incidents indicate a pattern of harassment, gross abuse of authority and malicious intent as well as a deprivation of plaintiff's liberty.

RULE 12(B)(6) STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint when it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The test for determining the sufficiency of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) is that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'"[4] Subsumed within the rigorous standard of the Conley test is the requirement that the plaintiff's complaint be stated with enough clarity to enable a court or an opposing party to determine whether a claim is sufficiently alleged.[5] The plaintiff's complaint is to be construed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, and the allegations contained therein are to be taken as true.[6] In other words, a motion to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim "admits the facts alleged in the complaint, but challenges plaintiff's rights to relief based upon those facts.[7] "In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff must plead specific facts, not mere conclusory allegations...."[8] "Legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss."[9] "[T]he complaint must contain either direct allegations on every material point necessary to sustain a recovery... or contain allegations from which an inference fairly may be drawn that evidence on these material points will be introduced at trial."[10]

Under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the pleading standard does not require a complaint to contain "detailed factual allegations, " but it demands "more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation."[11] A complaint that offers "labels and conclusions:" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do."[12] Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement."[13]

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[14]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Defendant Officer Spillers moves to dismiss all claims asserted against him in the amended complaint because (1) plaintiff's claims are prescribed, (3) they fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and/or (3) Officer Spillers is entitled to qualified immunity.

Prescription

Spillers maintains that all claims that arise from the January 27, 2013 must be dismissed because they are prescribed. A complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if from the face of the complaint, it is apparent that the applicable prescriptive period has expired.[15] The Fifth Circuit "appl[ies] federal and state law to determine whether the § 1983 limitations period has run."[16] "The limitations period for § 1983 claims in federal court is governed by state law, and [the Fifth Circuit applies] the limitations period that the state would apply in an analogous action in its courts.'"[17] Under applicable Louisiana law and Fifth Circuit precedent, a § 1983 action prescribes in one year.[18] The limitations period under federal law begins to run "the moment the plaintiff becomes aware that he has suffered injury or has sufficient information to know that he has been injured."[19] Claims arising under Louisiana Civil Code article 3492 commence "the day the injury or damage is sustained meaning when the damage has "manifested itself with sufficient certainty to support accrual of a cause of action."[20] The burden to show that prescription has been interrupted or suspended falls to the plaintiff.[21]

Officer Spillers argues that plaintiff would have been aware of any injury on January 27, 2013 when the traffic stop was alleged to have occurred. The amended complaint was filed on December 3, 2014 well after the one year statute of limitations. Plaintiff argues that the January 27, 2013 traffic stop relates back to the November 22, 2011 and had it not been for defendants' behavior and violation that plaintiff experienced, the January 27, 2013 detainment "either ...


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