United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29) filed by
Defendants Deputy Brian Anderson (“Anderson”),
Deputy Scott Wyatt (“Wyatt”), and Unknown Sabine
Parish Sheriff's Deputies (“SPSDs”)
(collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff Kendall E.
Melvin (“Melvin”) alleges an unconstitutional
search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with
state law claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Defendants assert qualified immunity. Defendants argue that
because the execution of the warrant issued for Melvin was
reasonable, summary judgment should be granted in their
Defendants were not objectively unreasonable in relying upon
the arrest warrant, and Defendants' actions were not
otherwise tortious or taken in bad faith, summary judgment
should be granted.
September 30, 2015, Krystal Claybrook
(“Claybrook”) and Rachel Cordova
(“Cordova”) arrived at the home of Melvin and
Chad Hiner (“Hiner”) on Quail Road in Sabine
Parish to pick up Claybrook's 19-month-old daughter.
(Doc. 29-2, p. 1). Hiner is the father of Claybrook's
daughter. Claybrook knocked on the front door. (Doc. 29-2, p.
2). Melvin did not answer. (Doc. 29-2, p. 2). As Claybrook
was returning to the vehicle, Melvin exited the house with
Claybrook's daughter and her own children. (Doc. 29-2, p.
2). Melvin put all of the children in a vehicle and sped
away. (Doc. 29-2, p. 2). Claybrook and Cordova followed. At
some point during this “chase, ” Hiner appeared
from bushes and jumped in Melvin's vehicle. (Doc. 29-2,
p. 2). While in pursuit, Cordova called the Sabine Parish
Sheriff's Office to report the incident. (Doc. 29-2, p.
was on duty at the time and responded. (Doc. 29-2, p. 2).
When Anderson met with Claybrook and Cordova, he requested
from dispatch any outstanding warrants on Hiner. (Doc. 29-2,
p. 2-3). There were no active warrants for Hiner at the time.
(Doc. 29-2, p. 3). Anderson requested Claybrook and Cordova
fill out voluntary statements. (Doc. 29-2, p. 3). Anderson
then called Detective Lowe (“Lowe”), who advised
Anderson to tell Claybrook and Cordova to arrive at the CID
at 9:00 a.m. the next morning to discuss the incident. (Doc.
29-2, p. 3). Anderson relayed this information to Claybrook
and Cordova, and also informed them that he would be
periodically checking Hiner's residence throughout the
night and following day. (Doc. 29-2, p. 3). Anderson also
advised Claybrook and Cordova to contact the Sheriff's
Office if they found out Hiner and Melvin had returned to the
area. (Doc. 29-2, p. 3). Anderson then returned to his patrol
duties, taking no further action. (Doc. 29-2, p. 3).
met with Mike Tarver (“Tarver”), Justice of the
Peace for Sabine Parish, on October 8, 2015. (Doc. 29-2, p.
3). She relayed the incident to Tarver and swore an affidavit
for an arrest warrant for Melvin. (Doc. 29-2, p. 3). Tarver
issued a warrant for Melvin's arrest (Doc. 29-2, p. 3-4),
citing the offense of Interference with Child Custody under
La. R.S. 14.45.1.
same day, Wyatt received a radio call informing him of the
active arrest warrant for Melvin. (Doc. 29-2, p. 4). Wyatt
went to Melvin's residence on Quail Road to execute the
warrant. (Doc. 29-2, p. 4). Several other deputies
(presumably, the SPSDs included in this lawsuit) were
present, as Melvin had called in an unrelated burglary. (Doc.
29-2, p. 4). Wyatt arrested Melvin and escorted her to the
Sabine Detention Center for booking. (Doc. 29-2, p. 4). Wyatt
was not involved in the events of September 30, 2015. (Doc.
29-2, p. 4). Neither Anderson nor Wyatt provided Tarver with
any information regarding the incident. (Doc. 29-2, p. 4).
Anderson was not involved in Melvin's October 8, 2015
arrest. (Doc. 29-2, p. 4).
Melvin was arrested, the warrant was found to be invalid.
Specifically, the offense of Interference with Child Custody
requires that the offender be a parent of the child, and that
a custody order be in place. (Doc. 35-1, p. 2).
Claybrook's affidavit clearly indicated that Melvin was
not the child's mother, and did not indicate that there
was a custody order in place. (Doc. 35-1, p. 3-4).
42 U.S.C. §1983, Melvin claims Defendants violated her
right to be free from an unreasonable seizure pursuant to the
Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Doc.
35-1, p. 6). Melvin further argues qualified immunity should
be denied because Defendants did not act reasonably in
executing an invalid arrest warrant. Finally, Melvin argues
qualified immunity should be denied because Defendants
“interjected themselves” into a civil matter.
Law and Analysis A. Standards
governing the motion for summary judgment.
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court must
grant summary judgment if the movant shows “that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Paragraph (e) of Rule 56 also provides the
If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or
fails to properly address another party's assertion of
fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may:
(1) give an opportunity to properly support or address the
(2) consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion;
(3) grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting
materials--including the facts considered undisputed--show
that the movant is entitled to it; or
(4) issue any other appropriate order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (e)
Rule 56.2W (formerly 2.10W) provides that all material facts
set forth in a statement of undisputed facts submitted by the
moving party will be deemed admitted unless the opposing
party controverts those facts. A dispute of material fact
exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). “When a fact question controls the disposition
of a summary judgment motion, we must ‘review the facts
drawing all inferences most favorable to the party opposing
the motion.'” Herrera v. Millsap, 862 F.2d
1157, 1159 (5th Cir. 1959) (quoting Reid v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 784 F.2d at 578). A mere scintilla
of evidence is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary
judgment. See Stewart v. Murphy, 174 F.3d 530, 533
(5th Cir. 1999).
Supreme Court has held that “[w]here the defendant
seeks qualified immunity, a ruling on the issue should be
made early in the proceedings . . . where the defense is
dispositive.” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194,
200 (2001). “Qualified immunity is ‘an
entitlement not to stand trial or face the other burdens of
litigation.'” Credeur v. Martin, No.
06-0858, 2007 WL 1467087, *3 (W.D. La. May 17, 2007) (quoting
Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985));
see also Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 227 (1991)
(“[W]e repeatedly have stressed the importance of
resolving immunity questions at the earliest possible stage
a movant's assertion of qualified immunity has important