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Boucher v. Johnson City Tennessee

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

September 11, 2019

CLAYTON BOUCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNSON CITY TENNESSEE, et al., Defendants.

          Steger, Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM

          CURTIS L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This dispute arises out of Plaintiff Clayton Boucher's arrest and subsequent charge for aggravated stalking. Plaintiff has sued Defendants, Johnson City, Tennessee (“Johnson City”), Shane Malone, individually and in his official capacity as a detective for the Johnson City Police Department (“Malone”), and Paul Miller, individually (“Miller”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and under state law for false arrest and/or seizure, false imprisonment, reckless infliction of emotional distress, deliberate indifference, and failure to train and/or supervise. (Doc. 1.)

         Defendants Johnson City and Malone (“Defendants”) have moved to dismiss the claims against them. (Doc. 14.) Defendants assert that the existence of probable cause defeats each legal claim alleged against them and Plaintiff is precluded from relitigating the issue of probable cause based on either the contested preliminary hearing or the grand jury indictment. (Doc. 15.) Defendants further argue that even if Plaintiff's claims are not barred by issue preclusion, Defendant Malone, in his individual capacity, is entitled to either qualified immunity or absolute witness immunity. (Id.)

         For the reasons set out below, the Court will DENY the motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff Clayton Boucher is a citizen and resident of Johnson City, Tennessee. (Doc. 1 ¶ 1.) Defendant Johnson City is a political subdivision of the state and operates the Johnson City Police Department. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Malone is a detective for the Johnson City Police Department, and Defendant Miller is a probation officer in the State of Tennessee Probation and Parole Department. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.)

         On or about March 29, 2018, Plaintiff was arrested by Defendant Malone for aggravated stalking and subsequently charged for the offense. (Id. ¶ 5.) The aggravated stalking charge was based on the statements of the alleged victim to police. (Id. ¶ 7.) The victim claimed that an individual began stalking her in November 2017. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff, however, was being held in the Washington County Detention Facility as a pretrial detainee in November 2017. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff remained there until December 18, 2017, when he was released on supervised probation. (Id. ¶ 9.) Prior to the arrest, Defendant Malone interviewed Plaintiff regarding the aggravated stalking allegations. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff denied having had any contact with the individual and suggested that this might be a case of mistaken identity given Plaintiff's incarceration from November to December 2017. (Id. ¶ 10.) Despite having information that Plaintiff was incarcerated when the stalking began, Defendant Malone arrested Plaintiff on March 29, 2018. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         On April 5, 2018, Defendant Miller filed a violation of probation warrant against Plaintiff based on the aggravated stalking charge. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff explained to Defendant Miller that Plaintiff could not be the perpetrator given his incarceration at the time the stalking allegedly began, but Defendant Miller still filed the warrant. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         On December 4, 2018, Plaintiff's charge for aggravated stalking was dismissed in open court. (Id. ¶ 12.) Upon his release, Defendant Miller commented, “looks like you just spent eight months in jail for nothing.” (Id. ¶ 13.)

         Plaintiff has brought four claims against Defendant Malone for false arrest and/or seizure, false imprisonment, reckless infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate indifference. (Id. ¶¶ 14-26.) Plaintiff filed claims against Defendant Miller for false imprisonment, deliberate indifference, and reckless infliction of emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶ 27-36). Plaintiff also filed a claim of deliberate indifference against Defendant Johnson City for failure to train and/or supervise Defendant Malone. (Id. ¶¶ 37-40.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A party may move to dismiss a claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must first accept all of the complaint's factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998). All ambiguities must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Carter by Carter v. Cornwell, 983 F.2d 52, 54 (6th Cir. 1993) (citing Jackson v. Richards Med. Co., 961 F.2d 575, 577 (6th Cir. 1992)). Bare legal conclusions, however, need not be accepted as true. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

         After assuming the veracity of factual allegations and construing ambiguities in the plaintiff's favor, the Court must then determine whether those allegations “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Sufficient factual allegations are pled when a court is able “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged” and there is “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To determine whether the complaint satisfies facial probability, the court must “draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” See Id. at 679.

         If a party presents matters outside the pleadings in connection with a pending motion to dismiss, the court must either exclude those matters from consideration or treat the motion as one for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Documents attached to the pleadings are considered part of the pleadings, Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c), and a court's consideration of documents referenced in a complaint that are integral to the claims does not convert a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335- 36 (6th Cir. 2007). A court may also consider public records attached by a defendant in resolving a motion to dismiss. ...


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