United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge.
the court are (1) the Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant
the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County,
Tennessee (“Metro”) (Doc. No. 9); (2) the Motion
to Dismiss filed by defendants Scott Hull, Jaren Breece, Alan
Digruttolo, Jeffrey Brown, Larry Cahill, Matthew White, and
James Jordan (Doc. No. 12); and (3) the Motion to Dismiss
filed by defendants John B. Hatcher, Jr., Gregory Lindstrom,
and Pedro Rivera-Chapparo (Doc. No. 22). The motions have
been fully briefed by all parties and are ripe for
consideration. For the reasons set forth herein, the motions
will be granted.
purposes of reviewing the defendants' motions, the court
must accept as true the factual allegations in plaintiff
David Chase's Complaint, which states in relevant part as
Sunday, June 8, 2014, at approximately 4:00 a.m., Lauren Bull
entered Chase's home without his permission. After
repeated demands, Bull finally left Chase's home. She
then called 911 and falsely reported that Chase had assaulted
police officers, including the individuals named as
defendants in this action (collectively, the “police
officer defendants”), arrived at Chase's doorstep
shortly thereafter. At least one officer “violently
banged” on Chase's door, awakening him. (Compl.
¶ 16.) Because the officer refused to identify himself
or present his credentials, Chase declined to open the door.
police officer defendants thereafter “improperly and
unlawfully” obtained an arrest warrant for Chase for
misdemeanor domestic assault. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Chase
alleges that the police officer defendants knew, or
recklessly and maliciously failed to discover, that
Bull's charges were false, failed to perform any
investigation to corroborate Bull's allegations or
exonerate Chase, and lacked probable cause to obtain the
arrest warrant. Chase alleges “upon information and
belief” that the police officer defendants obtained the
arrest warrant, rather than simply a criminal summons, in
retaliation for his refusal to open the door the first time
they pounded on it. (Compl. ¶ 25.)
obtaining the arrest warrant, “certain of the
officers” returned to Chase's home around 6:00 a.m.
the same morning to execute it, bringing Bull with them.
(Compl. ¶ 26.) Without knocking and requesting entry,
the police officer defendants maliciously kicked in the door
and, guns drawn, “forcibly and violently rousted
[Chase] from sleep in his bed and handcuffed him on the
floor.” (Compl. ¶ 27.) The officers then
“forcibly, willfully maliciously, and criminally
removed Chase from his home, ” refusing his requests to
gather any personal effects. (Compl. ¶ 29.) Instead of
securing the premises, they unlawfully gave Chase's house
key to Bull and left her alone in Chase's home. Bull left
was released later that morning and returned to his home. He
did not know at that time that Bull had obtained a key to his
home from the officers and that she had been notified of his
release by Metro. As a result of receiving such notice, Bull
returned to Chase's home, entered illegally, and waited
for his return. When Chase entered, he demanded that Bull
leave. Bull refused and instead physically assaulted Chase
and intentionally damaged his property.
again called 911 and again falsely reported that Chase had
assaulted her. She again swore out a warrant for Chase's
arrest for charges related to felony domestic assault,
falsely reporting that Chase had choked her until she lost
consciousness and had destroyed her cell phone. Chase
alleges, “upon information and belief, ” that the
police officer defendants knew or recklessly failed to
discover that Bull's charges were false and inaccurate.
(Compl. ¶ 45.) Lacking probable cause, the police
officer defendants nonetheless obtained one or more arrest
warrants for Chase for felony domestic assault and other
serious charges, based only on Bull's sworn testimony. As
a result, Chase was arrested a second time, on June 9, 2014,
after peaceably surrendering.
alleges that, on June 16, 2014,  “based upon the false
charges asserted by Bull and the false and incorrect
statements or reports of the Officers, ” the Metro
Police Department's Chief of Police, who is not a
defendant in this action, “penned a seven page open
letter to Judge Higgins. That letter recklessly published false
and defamatory statements concerning Mr. Chase, his actions,
and the events surrounding his arrest.” (Compl. ¶
51.) Metro published the false and defamatory statements to
third parties, including the press, and the letter was
ultimately published in the Tennessean newspaper and
other local, national, and international news outlets, due to
Chase's prominence as a real estate developer.
also alleges, “upon information and belief, ”
that “Defendants published further defamatory and false
statements” about Chase for the purpose of
“clothing the Officers' unlawful and reckless
actions with credibility” and “to negatively
influence public opinion against . . . Mr. Chase while
bolstering Metro [Police Department's] reputation for
being tough on domestic violence, ” even while knowing
that the statements were false. (Compl. ¶¶ 52-54.)
As a result of the publication of false and defaming
statements, Chase's reputation and his business and
personal relationships were ruined or significantly harmed,
and he was deprived of the right to a fair and impartial jury
in Davidson County.
Chase's arrest in June 2014, defendant Cahill took
primary responsibility for investigating the charges against
him. Chase alleges that Cahill's investigation was slow
and sloppy and resulted in the loss of evidence that would
have quickly exonerated Chase. Chase alleges that
Cahill's reckless and malicious conduct directly resulted
in Chase's being falsely and maliciously prosecuted.
alleges that Metro was aware of the falsity of Bull's
allegations; it approved or acquiesced in the police officer
defendants' unlawful actions; it failed to adequately
train the police officer defendants; it maintained policies
and customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to the rights
of citizens; and its actions led to Chase's damages.
the Complaint does not allege as much, the court takes
judicial notice that the criminal charges against Chase were
dismissed on July 1, 2015. (See Chase v. Funk, No.
3:16-cv-1579 (M.D. Tenn. June 30, 2016) (the “Companion
Case”), Compl. Ex. 2, Doc. No. 1-2.)
asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law as
(1) The police officer defendants' actions violated
rights protected by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, specifically
Chase's rights (1) to be secure in his home and free from
unreasonable entry, search, and seizure; (2) to be free from
the use of excessive force; (3) not to be deprived of liberty
without due process of law; (4) to free speech; (5) to be
free from malicious prosecution; and (6) to a fair and
impartial jury. (Compl. Count I.)
(2) Metro acted with deliberate indifference to Chase's
constitutional rights when it failed to adequately train its
police officers and adopted “reckless policies,
customs, or practices.” (Compl. Count II.)
(3) Metro adopted policies or procedures that improperly
allow the use of excessive force when other less drastic
methods are available, in deliberate indifference to
Chase's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments. (Compl. Count III.)
(4) The police officer defendants, acting under color of
state law, falsely arrested Chase without probable cause and
falsely imprisoned him without due process, in violation of
his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments
and in violation of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability
Act (“TGTLA”) and Tennessee common law. (Compl.
Counts IV & V.)
(5) The police officer defendants committed assault and
battery and criminal trespass, in violation of state law,
when they knowingly and intentionally trespassed upon
Chase's property and assaulted him in his own home.
(Compl. Counts VI & VII.)
(6) The defendants willfully and maliciously published false
and defamatory statements about him. (Compl. Count VIII.)
(7) The police officer defendants negligently breached their
duty of care to Chase, and Metro negligently supervised the
police officer defendants in the conduct of their duties.
(Compl. Counts IX & X.)
(8) The defendants engaged in a civil conspiracy to carry out
the “aforesaid willful, malicious, criminal, and
tortious acts and violations of Mr. Chase's
rights.” (Compl. ¶ 116, Count XI.)
5, 2015, plaintiff David Chase instituted a federal lawsuit
(the “2015 Lawsuit”) by filing a civil rights
Complaint (“2015 Complaint”) in this court.
See Chase v. White et al., No. 3:15-cv-00631 (M.D.
Tenn. June 5, 2015, Doc. No. 1). Less than a month later,
Chase filed a Motion for Voluntary Dismissal without
prejudice. Id. (M.D. Tenn. July 1, 2005) (Doc. No.
5). The court (Haynes, S.J.) granted the motion by Order
entered July 2, 2015. Id. (Doc. No. 6).
to dismissal, the plaintiff served, or attempted to serve,
the 2015 Complaint upon each of the defendants. The returned
summonses reflect that “Jason Bo Bo / Legal
Dept.” or “Jason / Legal Dept.” accepted
service of process on behalf of Metro (Doc. No. 8), Matthew
White (Doc. No. 9), Larry Cahill, Jr. (Doc. No. 10), John B.
Hatcher, Jr. (Doc. No. 12), Jaren Breece (Doc. No. 14), Jason
Jordan (Doc. No. 15), Gregory Lindstrom (Doc. No. 17), Scott
Hull (Doc. No. 18), and Pedro Rivera Chapparo (Doc. No. 19).
Mark Longmire executed the summons served on Jeffrey S.
Brown. (Doc. No. 13.) The summons served on Alan Digruttolo
was signed by a Deputy United States Marshal, who checked the
box certifying that he had personally served the defendant on
June 30, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. (Doc. No. 16.)
summons served on Jonathan Schmidt reflects that the server
was unable to locate the defendant, as he was no longer
employed by Metro. (Doc. No. 11.) The summons served on John
Doe was returned unexecuted. (Doc. No. 4.)
30, 2016, the plaintiff initiated the present action by
filing a new Complaint in this court. The 2016 Complaint
names the same defendants and is identical in all relevant
respects to the 2015 Complaint. The defendants thereafter
filed their Motions to Dismiss under Rules 12(b)(5) and
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. Nos.
9, 12, 22), for insufficient service of process and for
failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted. The
plaintiff responded to each motion individually and with a
consolidated memorandum (Doc. Nos. 31, 34-37); the defendants
filed reply briefs (Doc. Nos. 57-59), and the plaintiff filed
surreplies (Doc. Nos. 66-68).
conjunction with their motions, the police officer defendants
submitted Declarations attesting that they were never
personally served with the 2015 Complaint and Summons, the
Motion for Voluntary ...