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Crockett v. Hays Food Town

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

June 12, 2017

JAMES CROCKETT JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
HAYS FOOD TOWN and LAWRENCE ZAMORA, Individually and Officially, as a law enforcement officer for the Marianna Police Department in Marianna, Arkansas DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

         Defendants' motion to dismiss [Doc., 9] is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For the record, I shop at defendant Hays Food Town and have known plaintiff James Crockett, Jr. and Bobby Bailey aka Pooh Bear for many years. I have also known for years and greatly respect plaintiff's counsel JF Valley and defense counsel Kirkman Doughterty. Now that the pleasantries and disclosures have been made, the facts are as follows.

         Zamora was a police officer with the Marianna, Arkansas Police Department and worked for Hays part-time as a security guard. Hays is the last free-standing super market in West Helena, Arkansas which is 25 miles away from, and in a totally different county than, Marianna. Crockett is a six foot nine inch former high school All-American basketball player at Helena-West Helena Central High School who started at center for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the late seventies. Pooh Bear is a six foot six inch former all-state high school basketball player at the same school who also played college basketball in the early eighties.

         Crockett went into Hays on March 21, 2014, and Zamora asked him if he was Pooh Bear. Crockett denied he was Pooh Bear but Zamora did not believe him and told him to leave the store. Crockett refused to leave, so Zamora spoke harshly to Crockett and tried to physically remove him from the store. When Crockett refused to be physically removed, Zamora told Crockett that Zamora was going to get a police officer, and then went outside and located a police officer. Upon returning, the officer immediately recognized and identified Crockett and the conflict ended. Crockett completed his shopping and went on his way.

         Crockett filed suit in the Phillips County Circuit Court on March 4, 2016, asserting claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, outrage, defamation, a violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, and federal claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. Defendants removed based on federal question jurisdiction and defendants now move to dismiss.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. To meet the 12(b)(6) standard, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to entitle the plaintiff to the relief sought. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, are insufficient. Id. In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, materials embraced by the pleadings, as well as exhibits attached to the pleadings and matters of public record, may all be considered. Mills v. City of Grand Forks, 614 F.3d 495, 498 (8th Cir. 2010).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Assault, Battery, Defamation Claims

         Defendants' motion to dismiss Crockett's assault, battery, and defamation claims is granted because the claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Assault, battery, and defamation claims must be filed within one year of the day they accrue. See Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-104. Crockett's claims accrued on March 21, 2014 but suit was not filed until March 4, 2016. See Compl. ¶ 5.

         B. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Outrage Claims

         Defendants' motion to dismiss Crockett's intentional infliction of emotional distress and outrage claims is granted. “Intentional infliction of emotional distress” and “outrage” are synonymous; therefore, these claims are considered as one claim. See Chandler v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 498 S.W.3d 766, 772 (Ark. 2016). To establish an outrage claim, Crockett must prove the following elements:

(1) the actor intended to inflict emotional distress or knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of his or her conduct; (2) the conduct was extreme and outrageous, was beyond all possible bounds of decency, and was utterly intolerable in a civilized community; (3) the actions of the defendant were the cause of the plaintiff's distress; and (4) the emotional distress ...

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