United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Staten and Keith Kimbrough brought this action against the
City of Dickson, Tennessee, Detective Diane Moore, and
Sergeant Michael Phillips, asserting claims for malicious
prosecution and municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. No. 40.) Before the Court is Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 46.) For the following
reasons, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.
October 11, 2014, Adam Marsh contracted with Staten, a bail
bondsman, to act as a surety on Marsh's criminal
appearance bond. (Doc. No. 40 at 3; Doc. No. 54 at 2; Doc.
No. 55 at 2.) Marsh agreed to pay Staten a bond premium of
$100.00 plus $37.00 in fees for a total of $137.00. (Doc. No.
55-2 at 2.) Marsh paid a portion of the amount owed up front
and agreed to pay Staten additional money each week.
(Id.) Ultimately, Marsh fell behind on his payments.
(Id.) On November 22, 2014, Kimbrough, who worked
for Staten, and Michael Story, a bounty hunter who lived
across the street from Marsh, went to Marsh's house,
placed him in handcuffs, and transported him in Story's
vehicle to Staten's workplace at McDonalds, which was in
the opposite direction as the jail. (Id. at 2-3;
Doc. No. 51-1 at 2.) Marsh asked Kimbrough if Staten would
agree not to surrender Marsh if he could pay some of the
money owed to Staten. (Doc. No. 55-2 at 3.) Staten agreed,
and Marsh paid Kimbrough $35.00. (Id.) Staten also
stated that he hoped Marsh “took[ ] care of” the
charges he filed against Staten after an incident the
previous night. (Doc. No. 51-1 at 2.)
Kimbrough released Marsh, Story called the Dickson Police
Department to report Staten and Kimbrough for arresting Marsh
without a warrant. (Doc. No. 49-2 at 6-7.) Story told Officer
Katrena Pulley that he initially believed they were going to
take Marsh to the jail and turn him over to the Sheriff's
Office, but instead went to the McDonald's. (Doc. No.
51-6.) Story “didn't feel right about what he
witnessed, ” and “what just happened should not
have happened, ” so he decided to notify the police
department. (Id.) Pulley instructed Story to come to
the police station and give a statement. (Id.) In
his statement, Story told Pulley that Marsh owed Staten
$50.00 on his bond, and that Marsh gave $35.00 to Kimbrough
to give to Staten to avoid going to jail. (Id. at
7.) Pulley called Detective Moore to the police station to
investigate the incident. (Id.)
came to the police station and interviewed Story, Marsh, and
Marsh's wife Kayla Marsh. (Doc. No. 51-1 at 2-3.) Moore
averred that Marsh did not tell her that he owed money to
Staten, but only that Marsh had not missed any court dates
and did not have any outstanding warrants. (Id. at
3.) For the purposes of summary judgment, however,
Marsh's affidavit establishes that he told Moore that he
owed Staten the $35.00 as part of a bonding agreement. (Doc.
No. 55-2 at 2-3.) Moore also checked for outstanding warrants
against Marsh and found none, which indicated his bond had
not been revoked. (Doc. No. 51-1 at 4.) As a result of
Moore's investigation, she believed Staten hired
Kimbrough to arrest Marsh for a revoked bond when his bond
had not been revoked, and used extortion to obtain the
$35.00. (Id. at 5.) Moore contacted District
Attorney Ray Crouch, Jr., who, based on the facts Moore
provided, recommended that Moore bring charges against Staten
and Kimbrough for false imprisonment and extortion.
(Id. at 5-6.) Moore then wrote and signed an
Affidavit of Complaint, stating that the confinement of Marsh
was “illegal, ” and that Staten and Kimbrough
“used coercion to obtain funds that are a civil matter
between [Staten] and [Marsh] from a bonding
transaction.” (Doc. No. 55-1 at 3.)
Dickson Police Department then contacted Magistrate Mike
Fizer to issue warrants for Staten and Kimbrough.
(Id.) Fizer wrote for each defendant, “Based
on the affidavit of complaint, I find that there is probable
cause to believe that on the date set forth above in Dickson
County, Tennessee, the defendant committed the offense
of” extortion. (Doc. No. 51-3 at 1-2.) Fizer signed the
“Probable Cause Determination” stating that an
arrest warrant shall issue. (Id.)
18 and 19, 2015, the Dickson County General Sessions Court
held a preliminary hearing on the charges against Staten and
Kimbrough. (Doc. No. 49-4 at 1.) At the preliminary hearing,
Marsh, the only witness, testified that he owed Staten the
$35.00 under the bonding agreement. (Id. at 2.)
Based on that statement, Judge Holly dismissed the extortion
charge for lack of probable cause. (Id.) However,
Judge Holly found that probable cause existed on the false
imprisonment charges against both defendants, and bound those
charges over to the Grand Jury. (Id. at 4.) Moore
did not testify before the Grand Jury, and the Grand Jury
indicted both defendants for false imprisonment.
(Id.; Doc. No. 55-1 at 5.) The State eventually
dismissed the charges against both defendants. (Doc. No. 49-4
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, this Court will only
consider the narrow question of whether there are
“genuine issues as to any material fact and [whether]
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A motion for summary judgment
requires that the Court view the “inferences to be
drawn from the underlying facts . . . in light most favorable
to the party opposing the motion.” Matsushita Elec.
Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)
(quoting United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S.
654, 655 (1962)). The opponent, however, has the burden of
showing that a “rational trier of fact [could] find for
the non-moving party [or] that there is a ‘genuine
issue for trial' ” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at
587. “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of plaintiff's position, however, will be
insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). If the evidence
offered by the nonmoving party is “merely colorable,
” or “not significantly probative, ” or not
enough to lead a fair-minded jury to find for the nonmoving
party, the motion for summary judgment should be granted.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 479-52. “A genuine
dispute between the parties on an issue of material fact must
exist to render summary judgment inappropriate.”
Hill v. White, 190 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1999)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-49).
and Phillips move for summary judgment on the malicious
prosecution claim. (Doc. No. 54 at 5-16.) In the alternative,
they move for summary judgment based on qualified immunity.
(Id. at 16.) Dickson also moves for summary judgment
on the municipal liability claim. (Id. at 20.)
Malicious Prosecution Claim against Moore
seeks dismissal because (1) Magistrate Fizer made an
independent finding of probable cause on both the extortion
and false imprisonment charges; (2) the General Sessions
Court made a finding of probable cause for the charge of
false imprisonment; (3) the Grand Jury made a finding of
probable cause for the charge of false imprisonment; (4)
intervening decisions broke the chain of causation so that
Staten and Kimbrough cannot recover from Moore; and (5)
probable cause for the ...