United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
HAROLD D. WEBSTER, JR.
CITY OF FERRIDAY, et al.
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff Harold D. Webster, Jr. (Docs.
1, 31). The remaining Defendants are Derrick Freeman
(“Freeman”) (Chief of Police for the Town of
Ferriday), John G. Hawkins (“Hawkins”) (a police
officer employed by the Town of Ferriday), Chris Goad
(“Goad”) (a police officer employed by the Town
of Ferriday), the Town of Ferriday, and Charter Oak Fire
Insurance Company (liability insurer for the Town of
proposed amending complaint (Doc. 37), Webster alleges he was
stopped by the police for driving recklessly. Webster admits
he did not pull over until he arrived at his sister's
residence. When he finally stopped, he got out of his vehicle
and waited, but did not comply with the order to get down on
the ground. Webster was handcuffed and assisted to the ground
by Officer Goad. Goad claims Webster bit Goad's hand.
Webster contends Officer Goad “responded” with
"two brachial blows" to Webster's neck, causing
injury. Webster further contends that Officer Goad and
Officer Hawkins delayed taking him to the hospital.
is suing the officers for use of excessive force and delay in
medical care. Webster is suing the City for failure to train
the officers in the appropriate use of force to be employed
during an arrest, and for failure to discipline the officers
for their use of excessive force (Doc. 37). Webster also
alleges state law claims for excessive force, denial of
medical care, assault, battery, and negligence.
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P rule
12(b)(6) (Doc. 6) and answered the complaint (Doc. 7). The
District Judge granted Defendants' motion to dismiss in
part, ordered Webster to amend his complaint, and reserved
Defendants' right to re-urge their motion to dismiss
amended his complaint (Doc. 31) and Defendants filed a second
motion to dismiss (Doc. 33). In response, Webster filed a
Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint (Doc. 37). The parties then
filed a Joint Motion to Stay (Doc. 42).
their Joint Motion to Stay, the parties contend this §
1983 lawsuit arises from the arrest of Webster by Officers
Goad and Hawkins in Ferriday, Louisiana. The parties contend
that, pursuant to that arrest, Webster was charged with
multiple felonies, some of which are still unresolved.
Although the parties did not specify the charges against
Webster, Defendants stated in their first motion to dismiss
(Doc. 6-1) that Webster was charged with flight from police
officers, resisting arrest, and battery on police officers.
The parties contend that Webster's charges are directly
related to the incident that forms the basis of this lawsuit.
parties further contend in their motion that the Defendants
recently tried to depose Webster for this lawsuit. But, on
advice of counsel, Webster claimed his Fifth Amendment right
against self-incrimination, and the deposition did not go
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court to control the disposition of the causes on
its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for
counsel, and for litigants. Landis v. North American
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). A district court has the
inherent power to regulate the flow of cases and
“control the disposition of the causes on its docket
with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants.” Fed. C. Civ. P. rule 41;
Landis, 299 U.S. at 254. Pursuant to the United
State Supreme Court's decision in Heck v.
Humphrey, a district court may stay a § 1983 action
until a related criminal case, or the likelihood of a related
criminal case, is ended. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 393-394 (2007) (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477 (1994)). The Heck analysis applies to bar
civil rights suits that call into question the validity of
pending criminal charges, as well as convictions. See
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 393-94 (citing
Heck, 512 U.S. at 487-88, n.8); Mackey v.
Dickson, 47 F.3d 744, 746 (5th Cir. 1995).
Mackey v. Dickson, the plaintiff filed a pro se
complaint that appeared to attack the constitutionality of
his arrests. The Fifth Circuit explained that the court could
not determine whether the alleged illegality of Mackey's
arrests would be implicated by a conviction or by the
evidence presented in the criminal proceedings until the
pending criminal case was concluded. Mackey, 47 F.3d
at 746. The court held that, where it is premature to
determine whether or not a plaintiff's § 1983 claim
is barred by Heck, the better course is to stay
proceedings in the § 1983 case until the pending
criminal case has run its course, as until that time it may
be difficult to determine the relation, if any, between the
two. See Mackey, 47 F.3d at 746; see also Adame
v. Stroman, 2016 WL 5390913 (W.D. Tex. 2016), and five
related cases (court stayed the plaintiffs' §
1983 actions for false arrest pending the outcomes of their
criminal charges); McNeill v. Dailey, 2012 WL
5060866, *1 (E.D. La. 2012) (court stayed plaintiff's
§ 1983 excessive force suit pending resolution of the
parallel state criminal proceedings for aggravated flight
from an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, and
possession of a controlled dangerous substance, since it
could not determine the relation between them); Knowlton
v. Office of District Attorney, 2009 WL 4718905 (W.D.
La. 2009) (court stayed plaintiff's § 1983 action
because it implicated the validity of his pending criminal
charges); Guillory v. Wheeler, 303 F.Supp.2d 808,
811 (M.D. La. 2004) (court stayed plaintiff's § 1983
suit for false arrest and excessive force pending resolution
of his charge for simple battery of a police officer).
case, Webster contends the excessive force occurred during
the same incident in which he allegedly committed battery on
an officer. The specific charges against Webster are not
included in the parties' motion. Without more
information, it is impossible to engage in the
“fact-intensive” analysis required by the Fifth
Circuit to determine if Webster's excessive force claims
are barred by Heck. Moreover, according to the
parties' motion (Doc. 42), discovery in the § 1983
case may violate Webster's right against
self-incrimination in his criminal case. Therefore, a stay of
Webster's § 1983 case is appropriate until his
criminal charges have concluded. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED
that the parties' Joint Motion to Stay (Doc. 42) is
FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are to notify the Court, in
writing, within 30 days of the disposition of each
of the criminal charges pending against Webster that arise