United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
ANDREW B. LEWIS
NICHOLAS LOCICERO, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the Position Paper
(Doc. 75) filed by Plaintiff Andrew B. Lewis and the
Position Paper Regarding Damages Recoverable for
Plaintiffs Arrest (Doc. 76) filed by Defendants,
Sheriff Jason Ard and Deputy Nicolas LoCicero. The position
papers were submitted in accordance with the Court's
instructions at the pretrial conference (Doc. 74) and
addresses the Court's Ruling on the Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. G8). Specifically, the issue is whether, in a
civil action, a plaintiff who was subjected to an unlawful
search, which led to a lawful arrest, may recover damages
resulting from that arrest. For the following reasons, the
Court concludes that, if Plaintiff proves that the search of
his vehicle was unlawful, then Plaintiff is only entitled
damages sustained as a result of the unlawful search itself,
not the arrest.
September 7, 2017, the Court issued a ruling on the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. (Doc. 68).
Plaintiff originally asserted, inter alia, a claim
for false arrest, but the Court dismissed that claim on
summary judgment, finding that probable cause existed for the
arrest. (Id. at pp. 10-12). With respect to
Plaintiffs claim for an alleged unlawful search of his
vehicle, the Court concluded that disputed issues of fact
precluded summary judgment; namely, whether Plaintiff
consented to the search and whether Plaintiff appeared
intoxicated. (Id. at pp. 9-10).
the parties dispute the type of damages Plaintiff may recover
if he prevails on his unlawful search claim at trial. (Docs.
75, 76). Plaintiff seeks a ruling from the Court establishing
that he is entitled to damages sustained as a result of the
alleged unlawful search, as well as damages sustained from
being arrested, taken to jail, and charged with a crime,
which ultimately led to him losing his job. (Doc. 75 at p.
2). Defendants seek a ruling from the Court precluding
Plaintiff from recovering damages for a valid arrest, even if
that arrest resulted from an unlawful search. (Doc. 76 at p.
1). Further, Defendants take the position that to allow
recovery for damages based on the arrest would equate to
applying the exclusionary rule in a civil case. (Doc. 76 at
Plaintiff requests that the Court allow him to produce
evidence establishing "that as a result of the unlawful
search and seizure, he suffered damages by being [lawfully]
arrested, " (Doc. 75 at p. 2) in essence, Plaintiff
requests that the Court exclude or disregard the lawfulness
of the arrest and allow him to recover damages. At bottom,
this request equates to applying the exclusionary rule in a
civil action when this rule has been restricted for use
solely in criminal cases. See United States v.
Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 447 (1976); Wren v. Towe,
130 F.3d 1154, 1158 (5th Cir. 1997). See also Townes v.
City of New York, 176 F.3d 138, 149 (2d Cir. 1999)
("The lack of probable cause to stop and search does not
vitiate the probable cause to arrest, because (among other
reasons) the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine is not
available to assist a § 1983 claimant").
Court has previously determined that Plaintiff did not suffer
a constitutional violation when he was arrested. (Doc. 68 at
pp. 10-12). Accordingly, he cannot recover damages for being
arrested. While the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit has clearly held that the exclusionary rule
does not apply in civil cases, it does not appear that the
Court has ever directly addressed whether damages may be
awarded for a lawful arrest resulting from an unlawful
search. However, the Court finds the ruling in
Townes persuasive. See Townes, supra. In
Townes, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit addressed a similar § 1983 action. In
that case, officers lacked probable cause to search the
vehicle; however, probable cause for the arrest was properly
established. Townes, 176 F.3d at 149. The
Townes court precluded the plaintiff from recovering
damages for the lawful arrest because the basic purpose of
§ 1983 damages is to compensate persons for injuries
caused by the violations to constitutional rights, and there
was "a gross disconnect" between the alleged
constitutional violations (the unlawful search) and the
injury for which plaintiff sought damages (the arrest and
incarceration). Id. at 147-48.
if Defendants are found to have violated Plaintiffs right to
be free from an unlawful search, Plaintiffs recovery is
limited to damages for the unlawful search itself. Therefore,
Plaintiff is precluded from recovering damages for the arrest
because the alleged constitutional injury (an unlawful
search) does not fit the damages sought (compensation for the
arrest, jail time, and job loss). The Court finds that
allowing Plaintiff to recover damages for the arrest would
equate to applying the exclusionary rule in a civil action,
which would permit him to recover damages for a
constitutional violation he did not suffer.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff is limited to recovering damages
for the alleged unlawful search. He may not recover damages
resulting from the lawful arrest.
The Court notes that
Plaintiffs state law defamation claim against Sheriff Ard
remains before the Court, as well as his unlawful search
claim against Deputy ...