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Guillot v. Castro

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 19, 2018


         SECTION "F"



         Before the Court is the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.


         Police officers arrested a sex worker after an undercover officer had solicited her services. She alleges that the officers assaulted her and violated her Fourth amendment rights during the arrest. This litigation follows.

         Shentell Guillot met a man online. She was soliciting her services as a sex worker on a site dedicated to such activities. Guillot spoke to the man, Detective Castro, for several days on the phone. She was unaware that Castro was a police officer. They agreed to meet at Guillot's home on June 24, 2016, where Castro would receive one-half hour of Guillot's services at the rate of $150. When Castro arrived at Guillot's home, she greeted him at her front door, dressed only in a towel, and was smoking marijuana. Castro gave her $150 in authorized vice funds. Shortly thereafter, Detectives Abadie, Meetze, and Olivier entered Guillot's residence, and searched her home. Guillot was arrested for, and later charged with, prostitution in violation of La. R.S. 14:82, and possession of marijuana in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(C).[1]She pled guilty to prostitution and no contest to possession of marijuana on October 12, 2016.

         Guillot sued Detectives Castro, Meetz, and Abadie on June 23, 2017 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In her complaint, she states that when she greeted Castro at the door in a towel, she excused herself to go get dressed. According to Guillot, he asked her to see what was underneath the towel, and squeezed her breast without permission. When the other officers entered her home, they searched her room without her permission. She states that they made her remove her towel so she was completely naked and watched her get dressed before they took her to the police station, despite her requests that they call a female officer. She also states that she was not read her Miranda rights until after she was handcuffed. Guillot alleges that she was sexually assaulted, that the police effectuated an illegal search and seizure, forcibly entered her home, failed to inform her of her Miranda rights, and watched her get dressed naked. She alleges that as a result, she has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme depression, and panic attacks, and seeks $2 million in damages.

         The defendants moved for a judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), and in the alternative for summary judgment, pursuant to Rule 56, on June 12, 2018. Local Rule 7.5 of the Eastern District of Louisiana requires that memoranda in opposition to a motion be filed eight days prior to the noticed submission date, which was June 27, 2018. The plaintiff failed to submit an opposition, but because she is a pro se claimant, the Court continued the submission date, and ordered her to submit a memorandum in opposition by July 17, 2018. The plaintiff opposed the motion on July 16, 2018.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits any party to move for a judgment on the pleadings, provided the motion is made early enough to avoid delaying trial. A court may grant a Rule 12(c) motion only if the pleadings evince no disputes of genuine material fact and questions of law alone remain. Great Plains Trust Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002)(citations omitted). Courts should thus adhere to the same standard in reviewing a 12(c) motion as they do in reviewing motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), accepting all well-pleaded facts as true and drawing all factual inferences in favor of the non-movant. See id. at 313 n.8; Thompson v. City of Waco, Texas, 764 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Doe ex rel. Magee v. Covington Cnty. Sch. Dist. ex rel. Keys, 675 F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2012)(en banc)); Doe v. Myspace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008); 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1368 (3d ed. 2004).

         “‘[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009))(internal quotation marks omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(citations and footnote omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotations omitted) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         Finally, just like when it reviews a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), when reviewing a Rule 12(c) motion, “a district court ‘must consider the [pleadings in their] entirety, as well as other sources ordinarily examined when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, in particular, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.” Funk v. Stryker Corp., 631 F.3d 777, 783 (5th Cir. 2011)(quoting Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007)).


         Section 1983, which was enacted pursuant to Congress's authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits interference with federal rights under color of state law. Rendell-Baker v. Kohn, 457 U.S. 830, 838 (1982). It creates a private right of action for violations of federally-secured rights under color of state law:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State..., subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured ...

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