United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bruner brings Bivens claims against U.S. Navy Law
Enforcement Officer Scott Brown for alleged violations of
Bruner's Fourth Amendment rights. Brown moves to dismiss
Bruner's claims, or in the alternative, for summary
judgment. The Court finds that Bruner's allegations,
taken as true, cannot overcome Brown's qualified immunity
from suit. Accordingly, Brown's motion to dismiss is
following facts are taken from plaintiff John Bruner's
complaint. Bruner alleges that on the afternoon of August 19,
2015, he was driving on the U.S. Naval Air Station in Belle
Chasse, Louisiana, when he was stopped by defendant Scott
Brown, a U.S. Navy law enforcement officer. Brown told Bruner
that Bruner had been stopped for failing to wear a
seatbelt. Bruner put his seatbelt on, apologized to
Brown, thanked Brown, and told Brown to have a nice
Brown responded by swearing at Bruner and demanding
Bruner's license and registration.
Bruner provided his license, Brown asked Bruner for his
social security number. Bruner refused to answer. Brown then
informed Bruner that he was under arrest. Bruner did not
resist, but told Brown that he had a pre-existing shoulder
injury. Bruner told Brown not to handcuff
Bruner's hands behind his back, because doing so would
severely aggravate the injury and harm Bruner. According to
Bruner, Brown then “maliciously injured [Bruner] while
improperly handcuffing [Bruner] to cause [Bruner] pain and
was released from Brown's custody at approximately 3:00
p.m. the same day. He was issued two citations, one for
Failure to Obey a Direct Order and one for Failure to Wear a
Seatbelt. The citation for Failure to Obey a
Direct Order was later dismissed. Following an MRI, Bruner
was diagnosed with tears of the 360-degree periphery of the
cartilaginous lip of the glenoid labrum. Bruner
alleges that Brown caused this injury when he handcuffed
Bruner, and Bruner will require surgery to repair his
shoulder.Bruner sues Brown in his individual
capacity. Bruner asserts that Brown's alleged
actions constitute false imprisonment and excessive force
under the Fourth Amendment. Bruner seeks damages including
medical expenses, disability, pain and suffering,
attorney's fees, and punitive damages.
now moves to dismiss Bruner's claims and argues in part
that Bruner's claims are barred by qualified
immunity. Brown also moves, in the alternative,
for summary judgment on the same issues. Because the
Court finds that Bruner's alleged facts, taken as true,
cannot support a claim, the Court does not consider the
parties' summary judgment evidence.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially
plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that allow the
court to “draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. at 678. A court must accept all well-pleaded
facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff. See Lormand v. U.S. Unwired,
Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 239 (5th Cir. 2009); Baker v.
Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996).
legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a
“sheer possibility” that the plaintiff's
claim is true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. It need not
contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond
labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the
elements of a cause of action. Id. In other words,
the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter
to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim.
Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. If there are insufficient
factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level, or if it is apparent from the face of the
complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, the
claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
is a federal law enforcement officer, and may therefore be
liable for damages for certain violations of the Fourth
Amendment. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics
Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 389 (1971). Brown is, however,
protected by qualified immunity. See Wilson v.
Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 609 (1999). Qualified immunity
under Bivens is identical to the immunity granted to
individual defendants sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Id. Accordingly, Brown is immune unless Bruner's
allegations, taken as true, demonstrate that (1) Brown
violated Bruner's constitutional rights and (2)
Brown's actions were objectively unreasonable in light of
clearly established law at the time of the alleged violation.
Hinojosa v. Livingston, 807 F.3d 657, 669 (5th Cir.
2015). “A Government official's conduct violates
clearly established law when, at the time of the challenged
conduct, the contours of a right are sufficiently clear that
every reasonable official would have understood that what he
is doing violates that right.” Ashcroft v.
al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011) (internal quotations
and modifications omitted); see also Manis v.
Lawson, 585 F.3d 839, 845 (5th Cir. 2009)
(“Qualified immunity shields from civil liability
‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly
violate the law.'” (quoting Malley v.
Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341, (1986)).