United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICK J. HANNA, JUDGE.
before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted (Rec. Doc.
18), and the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
Upon Which Relief Can be Granted Regarding Plaintiff's
First Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 25) filed on behalf of
Defendants, Officer Cary James Burton (individually), Officer
Payton Lee Hardy (individually), and the City of Kaplan.
Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims on the
grounds of prescription, and, further, dismissal of
Plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims, claims
for malicious prosecution, Monell claims, and state
law claims. Plaintiff opposed the motion(s) (Rec. Doc. 27),
and Defendants replied (Rec. Doc. 29). The motions were
referred to this Court for report and recommendation in
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636 and the
standing orders of this Court. For the following reasons, it
is recommended that Defendants' first Motion to Dismiss
(Rec. Doc. 18) be DENIED AS MOOT, and that the second Motion
to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 25) be GRANTED IN PART to the extent it
seeks dismissal of all federal law claims for false
arrest/imprisonment with prejudice, and DENIED IN PART to the
extent it seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's state law claims
for malicious prosecution with prejudice. It is recommended
that Plaintiff's state law claim for malicious
prosecution be dismissed without prejudice.
original Complaint asserted claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983 and §1988 for alleged violations of his
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights
following his arrest on August 29, 2016. Plaintiff alleged
that on that date Kaplan Police Officer Burton pulled him
over for an alleged traffic violation. Upon coming to a stop,
Plaintiff alleged that his passenger, DeAndrus Mitchell,
jumped out of the vehicle and shouted that Plaintiff had a
gun and tried to pull it on him. Officer Burton then forced
both Plaintiff and Mitchell at gunpoint to lie on the ground.
Kaplan Officer Hardy arrived on the scene and handcuffed
Plaintiff and Mitchell. Officer Burton then searched the
vehicle and discovered a handgun and magazine in the grass
approximately four feet from the passenger side of the
vehicle. Officer Hardy transported both Mitchell and
Plaintiff to the Kaplan Police Department. They were both
later charged for various gun-related offenses. (Rec. Doc. 1,
¶22-25; Rec. Doc. 16, ¶22-25).
his arrest, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Vermilion
Parish Jail until January 26, 2017, when a state court judge
conducted a preliminary examination and concluded that there
had been no probable cause for Plaintiff's arrest.
Nonetheless, the charges were not formally dismissed until
nearly eighteen months later on June 11, 2018. (Rec. Doc. 1,
¶29-30; Rec. Doc. 16, ¶29-30).
filed his original Complaint on January 23, 2019, in which he
asserted claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution
and Monell claims, and sought “general and/or
special and/or punitive damages.” (Rec. Doc. 1, at 12).
In the original Complaint, Plaintiff named Officer Burton and
Officer Hardy “individually in [their] official
capacity[ies] as  sworn officer[s] of the Kaplan Police
Department, acting under Color of Law…” (Rec.
Doc. 1, ¶4(B) and (C)).
filed their first Motion to Dismiss on March 8, 2019. (Rec.
Doc. 18). On that same date, Plaintiff filed a First Amended
Complaint for Damages, wherein Plaintiff named Officer Burton
and Officer Hardy “in [their] individual capacity[ies],
for actions as  sworn officer[s] of the Kaplan Police
Department, acting under Color of Law…” (Rec.
Doc. 16, ¶4(B) and (C)). Plaintiff also added the
transcript of the January 26, 2017 preliminary examination in
state court as Exhibit D and adjusted the remaining exhibit
designations accordingly. Otherwise, Plaintiff's factual
allegations and causes of action remained the same.
Defendants then filed a Motion to Dismiss regarding the First
Amended Complaint, to which they attached as exhibit the
police report. (Rec. Doc. 25). Given this procedural history,
the Court recommends denying Defendants' first Motion to
Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 18) as moot. Therefore, the Court will
consider Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended
Complaint on the merits.
move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims on the grounds of
prescription and on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to
state claims under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments,
Monell claims, and Louisiana state law claims.
Plaintiff concedes that he has not stated a claim for
Monell violations, and the Court will therefore not
address same. (Rec. Doc. 30, at 15). Defendants further seek
to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for malicious prosecution
as either unviable under federal law or barred by the
doctrine of qualified immunity. (Rec. Doc. 25).
The Applicable Standard
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under F.R.C.P. Rule 12(b)(6), the district court must limit
itself to the contents of the pleadings, including any
attachments thereto. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir. 2000).
The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In re
Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d
191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations
omitted) (quoting Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas
Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th
Cir. 2004)); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196
(5th Cir. 1996). However, conclusory allegations
and unwarranted deductions of fact are not accepted as true,
Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Sales v. Avondale
Shipyards, 677 F.2d 1045, 1050 (5th Cir.
1982) (citing Associated Builders, Inc. v. Alabama Power
Company, 505 F.2d 97, 100 (5th Cir. 1974));
Collins v. Morgan Stanley, 224 F.3d at 498. Courts
“are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation.”; Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic, 127
U.S. at 570. The allegations must be sufficient “to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ”
and “the pleading must contain something more . . .
than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.”
Id. at 555 (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d
ed. 2004)). “While a complaint . . . does not need
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to
relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. (citations, quotation marks,
and brackets omitted; emphasis added). See also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the plaintiff
fails to allege facts sufficient to “nudge[ ][his]
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [his]
complaint must be dismissed.” Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 127 U.S. at 570.
meets the test for facial plausibility “when the
plaintiff pleads the factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “[D]etermining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. at 679. Therefore, “[t]he complaint (1) on
its face (2) must contain enough factual matter (taken as
true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or expectation (4) that
discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of a
claim.” Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565
F.3d 228, 257 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 U.S. at 556). See also In
Re Southern Scrap, 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th
Cir. 2008). With these precepts in mind, the Court considers
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, including the exhibits
Whether Plaintiff's Claims Have
first contend that Plaintiff's claims are prescribed. 42
U.S.C. §1983 does not contain a statute of limitations.
Therefore, federal law looks to the applicable state law
statute of limitations. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 387 (2007). Specifically, the court is to apply the
state's statute of limitations applicable to personal
injury actions. Id., citing Owens v. Okure,
488 U.S. 235, 249-250 (1989), and Wilson v. Garcia,
471 U.S. 261, 279-280 (1985). In Louisiana, the prescriptive
period for personal injury actions is one year. La. C.C. art.
3492. However, the accrual date for a §1983 cause of
action is governed by federal law, rather than state law.
Wallace, 549 U.S. at 388. This is a case involving
the tort of false arrest and imprisonment.
maintain that Plaintiff's claim for false imprisonment
accrued in August 2017, one year after Plaintiff's
arrest. (Rec. Doc. 25-1, at 11). Plaintiff concedes that his
claims for false imprisonment “up to the filing of the
bill of information on November 9, 2016” have
prescribed. (Rec. Doc. 30, at 25). The Court disagrees with
the parties' determination as to the accrual date of
Plaintiff's claims for false imprisonment; although, it
is ultimately a distinction without relevance, since
Plaintiff's claims for false imprisonment are prescribed
regardless of the accrual date.
Wallace v. Kato, the United States Supreme Court
established that the appropriate accrual date for claims of
false imprisonment, “where the arrest is followed by
criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant
becomes detained pursuant to legal process, ” which in
that case was the date on which the plaintiff “appeared
before the examining magistrate and was bound over for
trial.” Wallace, 549 U.S. at 391; 397. Based
on this, district courts interpreting Wallace have
held that a plaintiff's §1983 claim for false
imprisonment accrues at the time of release from
imprisonment. See e.g. Thomas v. Gryder, No. CV
17-1595-EWD, 2018 WL 4183206, at *3 (M.D. La. Aug. 31, 2018),
and cases cited therein at footnote 38. However, that
conclusion should not be universally applied. Instead, the
court must determine the appropriate time period of false
imprisonment within the context of Wallace. In
Wallace, the Supreme Court held that a claim for
false imprisonment encompasses the time period between the
time of warrantless arrest and the time legal process
commences, such as by arraignment or appearance before a
magistrate. Wallace, 549 U.S. at 389-90. After legal
process commences, the claim becomes one for malicious
prosecution. Id. at 390.
to the minutes from the state court proceedings attached as
Exhibit C to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff was arraigned
on December 8, 2016. (Rec. Doc. 16-3). Thus, based on the
calculation mandated by Wallace, Plaintiff's
claim for false imprisonment accrued as of that date. As
Plaintiff concedes, his federal law claims for false
imprisonment, commenced by filing this suit on January 23,
2019, more than two years after his arraignment, are
federal law claims for false imprisonment, state law claims
for false imprisonment accrue on the date of arrest.
Eaglin v. Eunice Police Dep't, 2017-1875 (La.
6/27/18). Hence, Plaintiff's state law claims for false
arrest prescribed one year after his arrest, August 29, 2017.
Although the accrual periods differ, these claims are
likewise barred. Therefore, the ...