United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
WILLIAM J. HAYNES, JR., Senior United States District Judge
Talisa Hood, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the Defendants Melinda Brewer, William Taylor, Jr.,
Lawrence County, Tennessee ("Lawrence County").
Plaintiffs claims arise from her arrest by Defendant Brewer
pursuant to a warrant for aggravated assault, aggravated
kidnapping, and vandalism. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Brewer violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment by
maliciously prosecuting Plaintiff despite a lack of probable
cause for such criminal prosecution by arresting her without
probable cause. Plaintiff also asserts state law claims
against Defendant Brewer for outrageous conduct, malicious
prosecution, and false imprisonment. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant Lawrence County has a custom, policy, or practice
of consciously disregarding the need to train and supervise
its employees on unreasonable seizures of persons and such
failure constitutes deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs
the Court is Defendants' the motion for summary judgment
(Docket Entry No. 20), to which Plaintiff filed a response
(Docket Entry No. 32), and the Defendants filed a reply
(Docket Entry No. 35).
reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the
Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No.
20) should be granted as the undisputed facts show ample
proof to justify Plaintiffs arrest and subsequent
prosecution. Plaintiff has failed to submit proof for a
judgment on her claims.
Findings of Fact
September 27, 2014, Defendant Brewer was dispatched to 654
Rabbit Trail Road in Lawrence County, Tennessee based on a
report of a female holding a male at gunpoint. (Docket Entry
No. 25, Brewer Declaration, at ¶ 3). Defendant Brewer
and Deputy Tracy Odom, Investigator Gary Mills, and
Investigator John Myers of the Lawrence County Sheriffs
Department arrived at the residence. Id. at
¶¶ 3-4. With the officers' arrival, Brewer
approached the south side of the residence and saw an unarmed
female, Plaintiff, exiting from the back door. Id.
at ¶ 4. The officers seized Plaintiff and Plaintiff then
allowed the officers to enter her residence where they
searched for the male victim, David Johnston. Id.
Johnston was not in the residence. Id. Plaintiff
stated that Johnston had gotten involved with a woman named
Tina Smith and had been at her house earlier that day.
Id. at ¶ 5. Brewer observed a holstered
revolver lying on top of a chest of drawers that matched the
caller's description of the incident. Id. at
and Odom went to Smith's house to investigate further.
Id. at ¶ 6. Smith reported the incident to a
dispatcher. Id. at ¶ 5. Brewer interviewed
Smith who provided a written statement of the events.
Id. at ¶ 6. According to Smith, on the evening
of September 26, 2014, Johnston arrived at her house in a
"frightened state" and told Smith that Plaintiff
had held him at gun point for several hours and forced him to
make threatening calls to Smith. (Docket Entry No. 25-1,
Smith Statement). Smith described Johnston as pale and
"almost in [a] panic attack." Id.
According to Smith, Johnston stated that Plaintiff held a .22
caliber pistol to his head during his calls to Smith and
that, at one point, Plaintiff pulled the hammer. Id.
Johnston spent the night at Smith's residence and left
the next day around 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. to pick up his
clothes from Plaintiffs house. Id. Smith received
another call from Johnston that Plaintiff was "making
[Johnston] say bad things to her" and this prompted
Smith to call the police about Johnston. Id.
Reaves, who resides with Smith, also gave a written statement
that Johnston called Smith on September 26, 2014, and
Johnston and Plaintiff were rude and "using foul
language." (Docket Entry No. 25-2, Reaves Statement).
According to Reaves, about thirty minutes later, Johnston
arrived at Smith's house "noticabely shaking and
shakin up [sic]." Id. Johnston told Reaves that
Plaintiff held a gun to his head to explain why he was
speaking rudely to Smith. Id. On September 27, 2014,
after Johnston returned to Plaintiffs house to pick up some
clothes, Plaintiff later telephoned Reaves "cussing and
making demands." Id. Plaintiff then hung up on
Reaves and Smith decided to call the police. Id.
then interviewed Johnston and asked Johnston to provide a
written statement. (Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 7). Because
Johnston was visible shaken, Brewer wrote the statement on
his behalf. (Docket Entry No. 25-3, Statements of David
Johnton). Accordingto Johnston, onFriday, September 26, 2014,
Plaintiff and Johnston were at Plaintiffs house when
Plaintiff began cursing at him and calling him names.
Id. Plaintiff then retrieved her father's gun, a
.22 caliber with a black and yellow handle, and pointed the
gun at Johnston's head. Id. Johnston told Brewer
that the gun was a revolver. Id. Plaintiff then told
Johnston to call Smith and demand the payment of money that
Johnston loaned to Smith by Monday. Id. Plaintiff
then took the telephone from Johnston and argued with Smith.
Id. Plaintiff returned the telephone to Johnston and
told him to tell Smith to get he the money "ASAP"
or Plaintiff would have Johnston "beat Tina's
butt." Id. When Plaintiff was on the telephone
with someone else and walking near the back of the house,
Johnston left through the front door and drove his vehicle to
Smith's house where he remained for the night.
next morning, Johnston spoke to Virginia "Ginny"
Foust, a friend of Plaintiff s, on Facebook. Id.
Johnston told Foust to tell Smith that he had stayed the
night at her cabin on the creek because Plaintiff would be
upset if she knew he had stayed the night at Smith's
house. Id. Later, Johnston returned to Plaintiff s
house to talk to the Plaintiff and to retrieve some of his
clothes. Id. Johnston and Plaintiff walked outside
where Plaintiff showed him where she had "beat" the
windows out of his truck. Id. Plaintiff then told
Johnston he could not leave and pointed her .22 caliber gun
at Johnston. Id. Plaintiff began tearing things off
Johnston's vehicle and called someone to "come and
beat [Johnston] up." Id. Johnston was then able
to enter his vehicle and drive to Smith's house.
Id. Brewer had Johnston read and review his
statement for verification of the facts. (Docket Entry No. 25
at ¶ 7). Johnston told Brewer that the written statement
was accurate and signed the statement. Id. Brewer
then returned to Plaintiff s house and had Plaintiff provide
a written statement of the events. (Docket Entry No. 25 at
¶ 10; Docket Entry No. 25-4, Hood Statement). Foust, who
was at Plaintiffs residence, also gave a written statement.
(Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 10; Docket Entry No. 25-5,
contacted Chief Crouch to inform him about the events and
completed an incident report when she returned to the
Sheriffs department. (Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 11;
Docket Entry No. 25-6, Incident Report). Based upon her
investigation, Brewer believed that probable cause existed to
charge Plaintiff with two counts of aggravated assault under
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102; two counts of aggravated
kidnapping under Tenn. Code An.. § 39-13-304; and one
count of vandalism over $500.00 under Tenn. Code Ann. §
39-14-406. (Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 12). Brewer
prepared an affidavit stating that she had probable cause to
believe these offenses had been committed by Plaintiff and
presented her other affidavit to the magistrate in Lawrence
County General Sessions Court. (Docket Entry No. 25-7). Based
on the affidavits, the magistrate determined that probable
cause existed and issued warrants for Plaintiffs arrest on
September 27, 2014. Id. Brewer contacted Plaintiff
and advised her to report to the Sheriffs department to be
served with the warrants. Id. Plaintiff was arrested
preliminary hearing on December 12, 2014, Johnston testified,
consistent with his written statement prepared by Brewer,
that he read and signed the statement as an accurate
statement of the events that day. (Docket Entry No. 25 at
¶¶ 13 -14). At the conclusion of Johnston's
testimony, the judge found that probable cause existed for
both counts of aggravated assault, both counts of aggravated
kidnapping, and vandalism. Id. at ¶ 15. On
January 30, 2015, a grand jury returned indictments on all
charges against Plaintiff. (Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 16;
Docket Entry No. 25-8, Indictments Grand Jury).
was later informed that she would not be called to testify at
Plaintiffs trial because the charges against Plaintiff were
being dismissed due to Johnston's refusal to testify at
trial. (Docket Entry No. 25 at ¶ 17). On August 18,
2015, the charges against Plaintiff were dismissed, and later
expunged. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18.
Conclusions of Law
very mission of the summary judgment procedure is to pierce
the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether
there is a genuine need for trial." Advisory Committee
Notes on Rule 56, Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules
(West Ed. 1989). Moreover, "district courts are widely
acknowledged to possess the power to enter summary judgment
sua sponte, so long as the opposing party was on
notice that she had to come forward with all of her
evidence." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett. 477 U.S.
317, 326 (1986). Accord. Routman v. Automatic
Data Processing. Inc.. 873 F.2d 970, 971 (6th Cir.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc.. 477 U.S. 242
(1986), the United States Supreme Court explained the nature
of a motion for summary judgment:
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides
that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law." By its very terms, this standard
provides that the mere existence of some alleged
factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
As to materiality, the substantive law will identify
which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual
disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be
477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in original and added in part).
Earlier the Supreme Court defined a material fact for Rule 56
purposes as "[w]here the record taken as a whole could
not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving
party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'"
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citations omitted).
motion for summary judgment is to be considered after
adequate time for discovery. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
326. Where there has been a reasonable opportunity for
discovery, the party opposing the motion must make an
affirmative showing of the need for additional discovery
after the filing of a motion for summary judgment. Emmon ...