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Hemphill v. Lopez

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 9, 2015

RICHARD ANTHONY HEMPHILL
v.
MARCO LOPEZ, et al., Section

ORDER AND REASONS

NANNETTE JOLIVETTE BROWN, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff Richard Anthony Hemphill's ("Plaintiff") objection[1] to the June 23, 2014, Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge assigned to the case.[2] Plaintiff, a state prisoner in the St. Tammany Parish Jail, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Detective Marco Lopez ("Lopez"), Pearl River Chief of Police Benny Raynor[3] ("Raynor"), the Pearl River Police Department, Detective Daniel Buckner ("Buckner"), Detective Mike Rummell ("Rummell") and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, [4] alleging that he was harassed by the detectives.[5] The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's complaint.[6] Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.[7] After reviewing the complaint, the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff's objections, the record, and the applicable law, for the following reasons, the Court will sustain Plaintiff's objections in part, overrule Plaintiff's objections in part, reject the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation in part, adopt the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation in part, and dismiss Plaintiff's claim with prejudice.

I. Background

A. Factual Background [8]

Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on June 14, 2013.[9] He alleges that he was accused of crimes that he did not commit and that he was allegedly placed in the newspaper for the same crimes before the investigation was complete.[10] He asserts that when he was arrested on February 9, 2012, the detectives harassed him and his family.[11]

Plaintiff alleges that law enforcement took some of his tools on February 9, 2012, and took a DNA sample in March 2012.[12] He asserts that in April 2012, law enforcement claimed that his DNA was on tools at a crime scene.[13] He also alleges that all of the detectives on the case harassed him and his family, and that they searched his brother James Moore's out of state home.[14]

Plaintiff asserts that he was again arrested on January 28, 2013, and was held in the St. Tammany Parish Jail by Lopez.[15] He contends that his fiance spoke with Raynor, who allegedly told her that Detective Lopez had a hold on Plaintiff for questioning.[16] As a result, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the Pearl River Police Department for the return of his personal property and for the charges against him to be dropped.[17]

Plaintiff alleges that he was summoned for arraignment on March 18, 2012, and that the charges were dismissed on May 21, 2012.[18] He contends that after he filed a complaint for the return of his property, the charges that were dismissed were allegedly brought "back up."[19] Further, he alleges that on June 4, 2013, Lopez came to the jail and placed more charges on him due to his complaint.[20] He asserts that his company has been ruined due to advertisements in the newspaper about the charges and investigation of him, and that his family has since been evicted from their home.[21]

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for his alleged loss of property, for slander, defamation of his character, lost wages, and for pain and suffering.[22] He also seeks injunctive relief in that he requests that his criminal record to be cleared, and for disciplinary action to be taken against all parties so that this type of situation will not occur to other people.[23]

On February 18, 2014, the Magistrate Judge conducted an evidentiary hearing, pursuant to Spears v. McCotter. [24]

B. Report and Recommendation Findings

On June 23, 2014, the Magistrate Judge recommended that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed as frivolous.[25] She recommended that the claims against Defendants the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and the Pearl River Police Department be dismissed because neither named defendant is a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[26]

The Magistrate Judge also recommended that the claims against Raynor be dismissed, finding that supervisory officials, like Rayner, cannot be held liable pursuant to § 1983 under any theory of respondeat superior simply because an employee or subordinate at the prison allegedly violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights.[27] She noted that the supervisory officials may only be liable under § 1983 if they were "personally involved in the acts causing the deprivation of his constitutional rights or a causal connection exists between an act of the official and the alleged constitutional violation."[28] While Plaintiff alleged that his fiance contacted Raynor regarding the hold placed on him by Detective Lopez in January 2013, the Magistrate Judge found that Lopez worked for the Pearl River Police Department and was not an employee of St. Tammany Parish, or Raynor.[29] She also found that Plaintiff did not allege that Raynor himself was personally involved in the alleged unconstitutional acts of Lopez, noting that Plaintiff indicated during the Spears hearing that Raynor prevented Lopez from having him transferred from St. Tammany Parish to Pearl River, because Plaintiff was fearful of his safety.[30] Further, she found that Plaintiff had not alleged that "he suffered any injury as a result of any directive, supervised training or activity, or other policy set forth by the Sheriff or Warden which would create vicarious liability."[31] Accordingly, she found Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against Rayner were frivolous and otherwise failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.[32]

The Magistrate Judge also recommended that the claims against Lopez, Buckner and Rummell be dismissed because they were barred from review pursuant to the Heck doctrine.[33] She found that Plaintiff should pursue any habeas corpus claims in a properly filed state ...


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