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Schannette v. Doxey

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

February 10, 2015

NIKKI SCHANNETTE, ET AL., Plaintiff,
v.
ROBYN DOXEY, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM RULING

PATRICIA MINALDI, District Judge.

Before the court is David Doucette's ("Doucette") Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Doc. 24], to which the plaintiffs have filed a Response [Doc. 27]. For the following reasons, the Motion [Doc. 24] is DENIED, IN PART, and GRANTED, IN PART.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In May of 2011, the Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") received an anonymous report, which prompted an interview with the plaintiffs concerning one of their children.[1] On May 31, 2011, Barry Schannette, Sr., and Nikki Schannette's children were removed from their home by DCFS.[2] Nikki Schannette was subsequently arrested and informed by her lawyer that there were allegations that Mr. and Ms. Schannette were sexually abusing the children.[3] Ms. Schannette was bonded out the day after her arrest by her sister.[4] Barry Schannette, Sr., was also arrested, but was detained in jail because he had been unable to pay child support for his older children.[5] There were also allegations that Mr. Schannette was abusing drugs.[6]

On or about July 14, 2011, after Barry Schannette, Sr., was released from jail, and after Nikki Schannette lost visitation with her children, Nikki Schannette received a phone call from Doucette, a deputy with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, stating that he wanted Mr. Schannette to come to his office to make a statement.[7] Mr. Schannette was working on the day in question, so Ms. Schannette told Doucette that she would bring Mr. Schannette to Doucette's office as soon as Mr. Schannette got off work.[8] A short time after this phone call, Ms. Schannette was driving with her sister and noticed a "caravan of officers" following them.[9]

Ms. Schannette was afraid, so she drove to the police station.[10] The officers followed Ms. Schannette into the parking lot and blocked her car, so she could not leave.[11] She tried to leave, but the deputies ordered her to pull back into the parking space and further blocked her in.[12] A uniformed deputy gave her no reason for the stop but instead ordered her to produce her driver's license, car registration, and proof of insurance.[13] There was "no compelling reason" for the stop.[14]

Doucette came up to Ms. Schannette's passenger window and told her that he wanted Mr. Schannette in his office immediately to give a statement regarding the sexual allegations against him.[15] Ms. Schannette again explained that Mr. Schannette was at work but that she would give him the message.[16] Ms. Schannette and her sister were detained for at least thirty minutes.[17]

Ms. Schannette picked up Mr. Schannette after work and took him to Doucette's office, where Mr. Schannette made a statement.[18] No criminal charges were ever filed against Mr. and Ms. Schannette, and their children were subsequently returned.[19]

The plaintiffs filed suit against the defendants on May 29, 2012, alleging a litany of causes of action.[20] Doucette is alleged to have acted under the authority of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office at all times relevant to this case.[21] Only Ms. Schannette's 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and state law tort claims against Doucette are relevant to this ruling. The claims against the DCFS defendants were dismissed in a separate ruling.[22] Doucette filed the instant Motion [Doc. 24] on December 5, 2014.

LAW & ANALYSIS

I. Motion to Dismiss

Motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seek the dismissal of an action for failure to state a claim and challenge the sufficiency of a plaintiff's allegations. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). The Fifth Circuit has stated that motions to dismiss are generally viewed with disfavor and should rarely be granted. Harrington v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 563 F.3d 141, 147 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Gregson v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 322 F.3d 883, 885 (5th Cir. 2003) (additional citations omitted)).

In ruling on motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), courts "must consider the complaint in its entirety, as well as other sources courts ordinarily examine... in particular, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice." Jackson v. NAACP, No. 12-20399, 2013 U.S.App. LEXIS 20493, at *9 (5th Cir. Oct. 8, 2013) (citing Funk v. Stryker Corp., 631 F.3d 777, 783 (5th Cir. 2011) (additional citation omitted)). "The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true, and it must view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Herbert v. Delta Airlines, Inc., No. 11-cv-1574, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93848, at *6 (W.D. La. Jun. 5, 2012) (citing In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted)). However, conclusory allegations are not to be accepted as true, and courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual conclusion." Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted)).

A plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The allegations must "raise the right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief... [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on ...


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