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.

Tibbs v. Bryan

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 16, 2018

SHONN TERRENCE TIBBS, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT C. BRYAN, Sheriff of Wilson County, Tennessee, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A.TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court are plaintiff Shonn Tibbs' Objections (Doc. No. 66) to the magistrate judge's January 5, 2018 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 64) recommending (1) that the plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 49) and Motion “[t]o schedule a hearing on plaintiff's existing application for a temporary restraining Order” (Doc. No. 20, at 1) be denied; and (2) that judgment be entered sua sponte in favor of defendant Robert C. Bryan, Sheriff of Wilson County Tennessee, even though Bryan has not filed his own dispositive motion.

         For the reasons discussed herein, the court will overrule the plaintiff's Objections and accept the magistrate judge's recommendations that the plaintiff's motions be denied and that judgment be entered in favor of the defendant.

         I. Standard of Review

         The Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 authorizes the district courts to “designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, ” except for those matters deemed “dispositive.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). A magistrate judge may be designated to hear and consider dispositive motions, but, with respect to such motions, the magistrate judge must submit to the district court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of the motion by the district judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         When an objection is lodged against a magistrate judge's report and recommendation on a dispositive matter, the district court applies a de novo standard of review to any portion of the R&R to which the moving party objects. In conducting this review, courts reexamine the relevant evidence previously reviewed by the magistrate judge to determine whether the recommendation should be “accept[ed], reject[ed], or modif[ied], in whole or in part[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         II. Procedural History

         Tibbs filed his Complaint initiating this action on February 8, 2017.[1] The Complaint incorporated a request for an “instant temporary restraining order” prohibiting Bryan from taking certain actions, as discussed below. In April 2017, the plaintiff filed his Motion requesting a hearing on his application for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”). (Doc. No. 20.) It does not appear that the defendant ever filed a response to that motion.

         In May 2017, the plaintiff filed his Motion for Leave to Amend (Doc. No. 24) to which he attached as an exhibit his proposed First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 24-1), which also incorporates a request for a TRO. The defendant did not oppose the Motion to Amend.

         The plaintiff filed his Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on October 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 49), along with a supporting Memorandum, Statement of Undisputed Facts, and the plaintiff's Affidavit (Doc. Nos. 50-52). This motion has been fully briefed, the defendant having filed a Response and Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. Nos. 57, 61), a Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts (Doc. No. 58), and the Affidavits of Lt. Steve Gatlin and Sheriff Bryan (Doc. Nos. 59, 60). The plaintiff filed a Reply. (Doc. No. 62.)

         On January 5, 2018, the magistrate judge entered his R&R (Doc. No. 64) recommending that the plaintiff's pending motions be denied and that judgment be entered in favor of the defendant. On the same day, the magistrate judge entered an Order granting the plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 63), and the First Amended Complaint was filed as a separate document. (Doc. No. 65.)

         The plaintiff filed timely Objections to the R&R, to which the defendant has responded, and the plaintiff filed a Reply. (Doc. Nos. 66, 67, 68.)

         III. Factual Allegations

         The basic facts are undisputed, though the parties dispute the legal implications of the facts.

         The plaintiff alleges that Judge John Wootten, Wilson County Circuit Judge, issued an Attachment Order for Tibbs' arrest for contempt when Tibbs was late for a hearing scheduled to be conducted in a civil matter over which Judge Wootten presided, even though Tibbs had called the clerk of court to give notice that traffic was heavy and he would be running “slightly late” and that opposing counsel was willing to wait. (Am. Compl., Doc. No. 65, at 4.)[2] Tibbs alleges that Bryan, as Wilson County Sheriff, is the governmental officer charged with the responsibility of executing the attachment order. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) Tibbs does not allege that he has been arrested on the attachment, and he seeks a TRO barring Bryan from serving or executing it on the basis that it is void as a matter of law.

         In addition, Tibbs alleges that, from April 2017 through August 2017, Bryan caused Tibbs' name and photograph to be added to the official website of the Wilson County Sheriff's Office on the county's “Most Wanted” list, on which Tibbs was characterized as “considered armed and dangerous.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 24; Tibbs Aff. at 2, 3; Doc. No. 20, at 8, 12.) Tibbs alleges that being included on the “Most Wanted” list is “tantamount to a ‘shoot on sight' characterization, ” because it portrays Tibbs as a dangerous criminal. The Wilson County Sheriff's Department, however, had actual knowledge that Tibbs has no known history of violence and is not a danger to the community. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.)

         Tibbs claims that this publication is per se defamatory and casts Tibbs in a false light. He asserts that he suffered damages in that the publication placed Tibbs' life in danger and caused grave and permanent emotional suffering. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) In his Affidavit, Tibbs further asserts that he has been “severely damaged” by the publication through the loss of business income and damage to his reputation in the community. (Tibbs Aff. at 3.)

         Tibbs also claims that the intentional acts of including Tibbs on the “Most Wanted” list was “motivated in whole or in part by racial animus” and served to deprive him of his federal constitutional rights as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26, 27.)

         IV. Motion for Summary Judgment

         In his Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, the plaintiff seeks judgment in his favor on his defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims, on his claim that Bryan violated his constitutional rights, and on a claim that Bryan engaged in a conspiracy with Judge Wootten to violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights.[3] He acknowledges that 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242 do not confer a private right of action but argues that “a per se criminal violation serves to exemplify just how egregious was Bryan's conduct.” (Doc. No. 50, at 5.)

         In his Response in opposition to the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Bryan, through his own Affidavit and that of Lt. Steve Gatlin, acknowledges that Judge Wootten issued an Attachment Order for Shonn Tibbs in early February 2016 and that, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-8-201, the Wilson County Sheriff's Department has the responsibility of serving the attachment. (Doc. No. 61, at 4.) The Sheriff's Department made several efforts to serve the attachment but was unsuccessful. (Gatlin Aff. ¶ 10.)

         After being unsuccessful in serving the Attachment Order on the plaintiff at his home, Lt. Gatlin, as Supervisor of Civil Process and Criminal Warrants, selected Tibbs to be included on the “Most Wanted” page of the Wilson County Sheriff's Department website. The Lebanon County Democrat, a local newspaper, ...


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.