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Ratliff v. City of Shannon Hills

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

September 16, 2014

DIONY RATLIFF, PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF SHANNON HILLS, et al., DEFENDANTS

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For Diony Ratliff, Plaintiff: Evelyn L. Moorehead, LEAD ATTORNEY, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, AR.

For City of Shannon Hills, Bobby Hale, Individually, and as Chief of Police for the City of Shannon Hills, Joe Lucky, Mike Kemp, as Mayor of the City of Shannon Hills, Scott Bennett, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, Toni Cobb, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, James Frala, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, Gervous Lambright, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, Brenda McCann, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, Sue Skipper, Council Member for the City of Shannon Hills, Defendants: Michael Allen Mosley, LEAD ATTORNEY, John Lennon Wilkerson, Arkansas Municipal League, North Little Rock, AR.

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OPINION AND ORDER

KRISTINE G. BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

On March 22, 2013, plaintiff Diony Ratliff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (" ACRA" ), Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123-101 et seq., alleging that she was arrested based on her race in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Arkansas Constitution (Dkt. No. 1). Ms. Ratliff also alleged several state law claims. Specifically, Ms. Ratliff brings claims against Bobby Hale, the former chief of the Shannon Hills Police Department (the " Department" ), and Joe Lucky, a police officer with the Department, alleging (1) violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to § 1983; (2) violations of her rights under the Arkansas Constitution pursuant to the ACRA; and (3) malicious prosecution, false arrest, and outrage under Arkansas law. Ms. Ratliff brings claims against the City of Shannon Hills, Arkansas (the " City" ); Mike Kemp, mayor of the City; and current or former members of the City Council, alleging (1) violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment based on a municipal custom; (2) violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment based on deficient hiring, training, and supervising police officers; and (3) vicarious liability stemming from her state law claims of malicious prosecution, false arrest, and outrage.

On July 22, 2014, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 19). Ms. Ratliff filed a response (Dkt. No. 35), to which defendants filed a reply (Dkt. No. 46). Ms. Ratliff also filed a motion to strike four of the eight exhibits that defendants filed in support of their motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 31). Defendants filed a response to Ms. Ratliff's motion to strike (Dkt. No. 33). For the

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following reasons, the Court denies Ms. Ratliff's motion to strike and grants defendants' motion for summary judgment in its entirety.

I. Factual Background

Unless otherwise noted and specified by citation, the following facts are undisputed and taken from defendants' amended statement of uncontested facts (Dkt. No. 22), Ms. Ratliff's response to defendants' statement of uncontested fact (Dkt. No. 32), and defendants' reply (Dkt. No. 46).

Ms. Ratliff resides with her husband, grandson, and parents in Shannon Hills. At around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. on May 6, 2012, Officer Lucky investigated two unidentified persons on four wheelers who fled from him when he activated his emergency lights and siren. One person, who was riding a yellow four wheeler, left the city street and traveled down a rocky trail where Officer Lucky could not follow. Officer Lucky contacted Chief Hale, who joined Officer Lucky in the search for the persons and four wheelers.

During their search, Chief Hale and Officer Lucky made multiple visits to Ms. Ratliff's home. The only person who could speak English in the home at that time was Ms. Ratliff's 11-year-old grandson. Chief Hale and Officer Lucky questioned the boy, who attempted at some point during that exchange to translate for his Spanish-speaking great-grandparents. The questioning upset the boy and his great-grandparents. The boy admitted that the four wheelers belonged to his uncle. Officer Lucky left the boy the non-emergency phone number for the Saline County dispatch center and told him to have an English-speaking adult call as soon as possible.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on May 6, 2012, Officer Lucky contacted Ms. Ratliff, who had left her number for Officer Lucky with Saline County dispatchers. Ms. Ratliff requested Officer Lucky return to her home so that they could discuss in person the earlier investigation. Before Officer Lucky arrived at Ms. Ratliff's home, Ms. Ratliff had made four calls to the non-emergency dispatch number and one call to 911. Saline County dispatchers, who field both the non-emergency and 911 calls, advised Chief Hale and Officer Lucky of the calls. Officer Lucky states in his police report regarding the incident that dispatchers also told him that Ms. Ratliff " was being placed on hold due to emergency calls coming in, and would hang up and call again" (Dkt. No. 19-1, at 2-3). Though Ms. Ratliff admitted in her deposition that, before she made the 911 call, dispatchers told her she was being put on hold because she was " disrupting and destructing" incoming 911 calls (Dkt. No. 19-1, at 7), Ms. Ratliff's moves to strike Officer Lucky's police report. The Court will resolve this issue below.

That night, Officer Lucky returned to Ms. Ratliff's home and began to explain the earlier investigation to Ms. Ratliff. Chief Hale arrived a short time after. When Chief Hale asked Ms. Ratliff if she had called 911, she replied, " Yes." Chief Hale instructed Officer Lucky to arrest her. She was placed under arrest and booked at the county jail in Benton, Arkansas. She bonded out approximately three to five hours later. On July 2, 2012, Ms. Ratliff pleaded not guilty to the charge of interfering with emergency communications, Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-60-125. On August 21, 2012, the Court granted a Motion to Nolle Prosequi.

Before being hired by the City and before the events described above occurred, Chief Hale and Officer Lucky satisfactorily completed certain coursework at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, though apparently they did not complete

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training in racial profiling before this incident. As of May 6, 2012, the City had in a place a policy prohibiting police officers from violating any person's constitutional rights and ...


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