United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the court is the motion to dismiss penalty, punitive,
or exemplary damages claims (Rec. Doc. 9), which was filed by
defendants City of Youngsville, Youngsville police officer
Sergeant Jason Brown, and Youngsville Police Chief Rickey
Boudreaux. The motion is opposed. The motion was referred to
the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
the standing orders of the court. For the following reasons,
it is recommended that the motion be granted in part and
denied in part.
plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defendants are
liable for violations of her constitutional rights and for
violations of Louisiana state law. The following factual
allegations are set forth in the plaintiff's complaint.
on January 1, 2017, nineteen-year-old Courtney Fondren was
riding in a GMC Yukon with five friends in a residential area
of Youngsville. When the driver stopped the vehicle to
recover a cell phone for one of the passengers and to swap
seats with a passenger, Sgt. Jason Brown, a Youngsville city
police officer, stopped his vehicle behind the Yukon and
requested that the driver exit the Yukon. The driver exited
on the passenger side of the vehicle, and one of the
passengers also exited the vehicle. Sgt. Brown allegedly
became irate and called for backup.
police officers approached the vehicle with lights flashing
and guns drawn, causing Ms. Fondren to experience fear and
panic. More officers arrived on the scene along with a large
police dog. All of the vehicle's occupants were ordered
to exit, and Sgt. Brown began interrogating the passengers
about who had been driving. When Ms. Fondren and others
refused to answer his questions, Sgt. Brown began using loud,
abusive, and threatening language. Sgt. Brown handcuffed Ms.
Fondren and the other passengers. He ignored Ms.
Fondren's complaint that the handcuffs were painful. He
grabbed Ms. Fondren's purse but had to remove one of the
handcuffs in order to access it. Sgt. Brown searched Ms.
Fondren's purse without consent, and he also searched the
vehicle without consent. After Ms. Fondren was handcuffed and
her purse was searched, she was read her Miranda
rights. She was then arrested and taken to the police
Fondren was not permitted to make a telephone call for
several hours. She was charged with obstruction of justice
under La. R.S. 14:130.1 and fake identification under La.
R.S. 14:70.5. She was released from custody at approximately
10:00 a.m. on New Year's Day.
result of the arrest and the charges, Ms. Fondren lost her
position on the executive board of her college sorority, she
was suspended from certain sorority activities, and
embarrassing information about her was published. She also
had pain and bruising due to the forceful manner in which she
was grabbed, handcuffed, and shoved by Sgt. Brown. She
suffered nightmares and other adverse emotional effects as a
result of the incident.
Fondren contends that her Fourth Amendment right to be free
of unreasonable searches and seizures was violated, and she
contends that she was arrested without probable cause in
retaliation for asserting her constitutional right to refuse
to answer Sgt. Brown's questions. She also contends that
Sgt. Brown and the other unnamed officers used excessive
force in arresting her. She contends that she was falsely
arrested, maliciously prosecuted, and falsely imprisoned, and
she seeks compensation for these claims under both federal
and state law. Ms. Fondren also asserted a claim against
Chief Boudreaux for his alleged failure to train and
supervise Sgt. Brown and the other officers involved in her
arrest. Ms. Fondren asserted negligence claims, and a claim
for aggravated assault and battery under Louisiana law.
Finally, Ms. Fondren asserted state-law claims for negligent
and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
complaint, Ms. Fondren expressly indicated that she was
seeking to recover punitive damages. The defendants responded
to the complaint with the instant motion to dismiss the
penalty, punitive, and exemplary damages claim.
The Motion Will be Construed Under Fed.R.Civ.P.
the movants did not designate their motion as arising under
any particular federal rule of civil procedure or set forth
the standard to be used in resolving the motion, this Court
will construe the motion as governed by Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). Under that rule, a district court may dismiss a
complaint, or any part of it, for failure to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted if the plaintiff has not set
forth factual allegations in support of her claim that would
entitle her to relief.In this motion, the movants are seeking to
have certain claims dismissed because the plaintiff has not
established the factual underpinnings entitling her to
relief. Accordingly, the motion will be construed as a Rule
The Applicable Standard
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is properly granted when a defendant
attacks the complaint because it fails to state a legally
cognizable claim. When considering such a motion, a district
court must limit itself to the contents of the pleadings,
including any attachments thereto,  accept all well-pleaded
facts as true, and view the facts in a light most favorable
to the plaintiff. However, conclusory allegations and
unwarranted deductions of fact are not ...