Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fetty v. City of Baton Rouge

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 30, 2019

NICHOLAS A. FETTY, ET UX.
v.
THE CITY OF BATON ROUGE, CHIEF MURPHY J. PAUL, JR., CHIEF OF POLICE, BATON ROUGE CITY POLICE; SECRETARY JAMES M. LEBLANC, LA DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS; COL. KEVIN W. REEVES, SUPERINTENDENT, LA STATE POLICE; OFFICER BRIAN STRONG, BRPD; SEVEN 7 YET TO BE IDENTIFIED LA STATE TROOPERS

          RULING

          SHELLY D. DICK CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Stay Proceedings Due to Pending Criminal Charges[1] by Defendants, The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge (“City/Parish”), Chief of Police, Murphy J. Paul, Jr. (“Paul”), and Officer Brian Strong (“Strong”). Plaintiffs Nicholas A. Fetty (“Fetty” or “Plaintiff”) and Emily Fetty (“Emily”)(or collectively “Plaintiffs”) have filed an Opposition[2] to this motion, to which Defendants filed a Reply.[3] For the following reasons, the Court finds that Defendants' motion should be denied.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On November 1, 2017, Plaintiffs attended a concert at the Texas Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[4] That night, Fetty was arrested in the parking lot of the club by several officers with the Louisiana State Police Fugitive Task Force.[5] Fetty acknowledges that the arrest was made pursuant to an arrest warrant for alleged conduct that occurred about two weeks prior to his arrest, on or about October 13, 2017, in a subdivision south of the campus of Louisiana State University.[6] Fetty was arrested was for alleged false imprisonment while armed with a dangerous weapon and simple assault.[7] Fetty claims that the officers used unreasonable and excessive force in making this arrest, and, as result, he suffered significant injuries.[8] Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit asserting that Defendants violated Fetty's federal constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and violated his rights under the Louisiana Constitution and Louisiana tort law.

         Defendants now move to stay this civil proceeding pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, [9]arguing that a stay in this case is necessary due to the potential for dismissal of this lawsuit if a judgment in Fetty's favor herein would imply the invalidity of a potential conviction or sentence on the charges he faces. Defendants acknowledge that, at the time of this motion, the State of Louisiana has not brought formal charges against Fetty, and the District Attorney's Office did not provide a date that a Bill of Information would be filed.[10]

         Plaintiffs oppose Defendants' motion, arguing that Heck is inapplicable here because none of the allegations which form the basis for Plaintiff's Complaint stem from the incident on October 13, 2017. Plaintiffs maintain that the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations in their Complaint regarding excessive force during Fetty's arrest have noting to do with the facts and circumstances surrounding the events that allegedly occurred over two weeks prior. Thus, the relevant facts at issue in this litigation would not interfere with any pending state prosecution of Fetty for his alleged conduct on October 13, 2017.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Heck v. Humphrey

         It is well-settled that a Section 1983 claim for damages cannot directly attack the constitutionality of a conviction, imprisonment, or other harm caused by unlawful actions unless that conviction or sentence has been “reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”[11] This burden placed on Section 1983 plaintiffs is for the purpose of avoiding collateral attacks by plaintiffs on convictions that are “still outstanding.”[12] In the absence of this circumstance, “the maturity of a § 1983 claim depends on ‘whether a judgment in favor of the [p]laintiff ... would necessarily imply the invalidity of [the plaintiff's] conviction.'”[13] However, the alleged constitutional violation should not be barred “if the factual basis for the conviction is temporally and conceptually distinct from the excessive force claim.”[14] Thus, “if the district court determines that [the plaintiff's] action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against [the plaintiff], the action should be allowed to proceed ... .”[15]

         The Fifth Circuit has explained that “a plaintiff's claim is Heck-barred despite its theoretical compatibility with his underlying conviction if specific factual allegations in the complaint are necessarily inconsistent with the validity of the conviction.”[16] This is because “factual assertions in pleadings are ... judicial admissions conclusively binding on the party that made them.”[17] Accordingly, “when a plaintiff contends that he did not resist arrest, that is, that he committed no offense and was instead unjustly victimized, the Fifth Circuit has uniformly concluded that his excessive force claim is Heck barred because the excessive force claim necessarily attacks the validity of the conviction for resisting arrest.”[18] “Moreover, when there is no temporal and conceptual distinction between the factual basis for the conviction and the excessive force claim, that is, when the complained of use of force is applied during or simultaneously with the arrest, Heck applies.”[19] In these cases, the “[p]laintiff's claims are dismissed with prejudice to their being asserted again until the Heck conditions are met.”[20]

         B. Application

         In this case, the Court finds that the actions that form the basis of this lawsuit are temporally, conceptually, and factually distinct from the alleged conduct for which Fetty was arrested. In fact, none of the allegations which form the basis for Plaintiff's Complaint occurred on October 13, 2017. There is no suggestion, and Defendants have not argued, that the Defendants' alleged use of excessive force occurred simultaneously, or even in close proximity, to Fetty's alleged conduct on October 13, 2017.

         In Thomas v. Pohlmann, the Fifth Circuit addressed this issue.[21] Pamela Thomas and Ernest Jones (“plaintiffs”) were both charged with and pleaded guilty to resisting an officer in violation of Louisiana Revised Statute § 14:108.[22] The district court concluded that the plaintiffs' excessive force claim was barred by Heck based on these convictions. The district court reasoned that this claim was necessarily inconsistent with the plaintiffs' convictions for resisting an officer because, in making this claim, they argued that they acted innocently throughout their encounter with police. Specifically, the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that they “acted in a lawful manner” “[a]t all times during the encounter with the [police].”[23]

         On appeal, the Fifth Circuit distinguished the plaintiffs' claims from those in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.