United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action arises out of the prosecution of SK Jalal Ahmed for a
hot check written by another individual. Authorities arrested
Ahmed with a warrant in New York and transported him to
Conway County, Arkansas, where prosecutor Tom Tatum II
dismissed the case. Ahmed commenced this action on May 5,
2017, for a violation of his rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He
alleges six claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tatum
and deputy prosecutor Marcus Vaden, and Does 1-10; one section
1983 claim against Conway County; and a state-law negligence
claim against all the defendants. Ahmed is a resident of New
York. Warehouse Distributing Company is a privately-held
company with offices in Morrilton, Arkansas. Tatum is the
Prosecuting Attorney for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
which encompasses Scott, Logan, Yell, and Conway counties.
Vaden is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Fifteenth
Judicial Circuit. Conway County and the prosecutors have
filed motions to dismiss. Documents #3 and #12. For the
following reasons, the motions are granted.
alleges the following facts in the complaint. In March 2012,
a grocery-store owner named Noor Ali issued a check in the
amount of $7, 262.51 to Warehouse Distributing as payment for
cigarettes, tobacco, and grocery items. Ali submitted the
check in person to Tom Foster, a Warehouse Distributing
employee. The check was drawn on a Bank of the Ozarks account
in the name of Amina Investment, Inc., which Ali owned. The
account did not contain sufficient funds and the check
bounced. Meanwhile, Ahmed was living in New York.
2012, Ahmed moved to Arkansas to manage a store. He remained
there until August 2012. While managing the store, Ahmed
obtained an Arkansas Driver's License and did business
with Warehouse Distributing.
to the complaint, the prosecutor's offices of the
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit and Conway County have hot check
divisions, which are operated as one division by Tatum and
Vaden. If a merchant deposits a check and the check bounces,
the merchant may ask the prosecutor to investigate. If the
maker of the check is convicted and restitution is made, the
prosecutor's offices receive a portion of the recovery.
Distributing employee Carl Hill met with Tatum and Vaden in
September 2012. He told them that Ali presented a hot check
to Warehouse Distributing in March 2012. He gave the check to
Tatum and Vaden and filled in the blanks of an affidavit
template for hot check cases. The affidavit for warrant of
arrest and information is attached to the complaint. Document
#1 at 30. Hill stated that Ali was the maker of the check and
listed Ali's home address, sex, race, height, weight, and
phone number, but he listed Ahmed's driver's license
number. Id. The information associated with
Ahmed's driver's license on file with the Office of
Motor Vehicle did not match the information in the affidavit.
Tatum and Vaden did not contact Foster, the Warehouse
Distributing employee to whom Ali presented the hot check.
and Vaden filed a felony information charging that Ahmed
violated Ark. Code Ann. § 5-37-305(b)(2)(A) and
presented the information, along with a request for an arrest
warrant, to Judge Daniel McCormick. Judge McCormick ordered
that an arrest warrant for Ahmed be issued. The deputy county
clerk issued the warrant and notice of it was subsequently
put into various national law enforcement databases.
2014, Ahmed was standing in the customs line at JFK
International Airport when police officers approached him and
placed him under arrest. Law enforcement officials
transported Ahmed from New York to Arkansas, incarcerating
him at several detention facilities along the way. Once in
Arkansas, he appeared in court several times in defense of
the hot check charge. Tatum filed a motion to dismiss the
charge against Ahmed and Judge Jerry Don Ramey dismissed the
case in August 2014.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although
detailed factual allegations are not required, the complaint
must set forth “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173
L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). The Court accepts as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Gorog v. Best Buy Co., Inc., 760 F.3d 787, 792 (8th
Cir. 2014). The complaint must contain more than labels,
conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action, which means that the court is “not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555,
127 S.Ct. at 1965.
and Vaden are sued in their official and individual
capacities. They contend that they are officers or employees
of the State of Arkansas, which means that the claims against
them in their official capacities are claims against the
State of Arkansas, which is entitled to sovereign immunity.
They also argue that the claims against them in their
individual capacities are barred by absolute prosecutorial
The Official Capacity Claims ...