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Stephens v. Jessup

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 11, 2016

DONALD STEPHENS, PLAINTIFF
v.
LESLIE JESSUP, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Leslie Jessup. ECF No. 38. Plaintiff Donald Stephens has responded. ECF. No. 44. Jessup has filed a reply. ECF No. 45. This matter is ripe for the Court's consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         This action arises out of an incident in which Plaintiff Donald Stephens was accused of theft at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[1] On February 6, 2010, Stephens claims that he won a sum of money playing slot machines, cashed out his ticket, and left the casino. Stephens returned later that evening and purchased another gaming ticket for use in a slot machine.

         While playing the ticket, Defendant Leslie Jessup, a uniformed Hot Springs policeman, and other Oaklawn security personnel approached Stephens as he played the ticket. Jessup and the security personnel accused Stephens of stealing the cashed-out ticket from another patron who had been playing the slot machine. They detained Stephens for approximately twenty minutes while other Oaklawn employees reviewed surveillance footage to determine whether the ticket was stolen. Stephens denied stealing the ticket. Jessup told Stephens to be quiet and asked him if he understood his rights. Jessup also told Stephens that he could either go to jail or pay back the money that he received from cashing the stolen ticket. Stephens replied that he had $300 in his vehicle. Jessup escorted Stephens to his vehicle, and he retrieved the money. Stephens handed the money over to Oaklawn personnel. Jessup waited with Stephens for approximately forty-five minutes while Oaklawn employees searched for the patron whose ticket had allegedly been stolen. Jessup then told Stephens that he could go home.

         On November 4, 2010, Stephens filed suit against Oaklawn in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas, alleging that Oaklawn, through its "agents, servants and employees . . . acting within the scope and course of their employment, " committed false imprisonment, conversion, defamation, violation of civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. ECF No. 38-2, p. 5. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Oaklawn on the civil rights claim, and the remaining tort claims proceeded to trial.[2] A jury returned a verdict in favor of Oaklawn. Jessup was not a party to the state court action.

         On February 6, 2013, Stephens filed the present action against Jessup, [3] alleging the same causes of action that were alleged in state court: false imprisonment, conversion, defamation, violation of civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jessup moved the Court to dismiss the Complaint against him, arguing that Stephens's claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The Court granted the motion. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed, finding that the record before it "[d]id not conclusively show that the issues raised in the present action were actually litigated and determined in the 2010 case." Stephens v. Jessup, 793 F.3d 941, 944 (8th Cir. 2015). The case was remanded back to this Court for further proceedings. Jessup argues that he is entitled to summary judgment on all five causes of action.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that when a party moves for summary judgment:

The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Krenik v. County of LeSueur, 47 F.3d 953 (8th Cir. 1995). The Supreme Court has issued the following guidelines for trial courts to determine whether this standard has been satisfied:

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial-whether, in other words, there are genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); see also Agristor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732 (8th Cir. 1987); Niagara of Wisconsin Paper Corp. v. Paper Indus. Union-Mgmt. Pension Fund, 800 F.2d 742, 746 (8th Cir. 1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. Id. at 252.

         The Court must view the evidence and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. The nonmoving party must then demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik, 47 F.3d at 957. A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ...


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