United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
Mike Middleton's motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 26] is
granted on plaintiff Cherrell Baker's official capacity
claims, denied on Baker's individual capacity claims, and
granted on Baker's state law claims.
against Middleton in his official capacity is the same as a
claim against the State of Arkansas. See Brockinton v.
City of Sherwood, Ark., 503 F.3d 667, 674 (8th Cir.
2007) (a suit against a governmental employee in his official
capacity is a suit against the government). Further, the
state of Arkansas is immune from suit by the Eleventh
Amendment unless it consents to the suit. Alabama v.
Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 781-82 (1978). An exception to this
immunity exists when a plaintiff seeks an injunction against
a state official. Monroe v. Arkansas State Univ.,
495 F.3d 591, 594 (8th Cir. 2007). Although Baker requests
injunctive relief in her prayer for relief, she cannot
receive an injunction because she has failed to show that
there is an ongoing violation of law. The state of Arkansas
is therefore immune from suit, and Middleton's motion to
dismiss is granted on Baker's official capacity claims.
motion to dismiss Baker's individual capacity claims is
denied. Baker alleges that Middleton arrested her without a
warrant and without probable cause. See Compl.
¶¶ 16, 23, 31, Doc. No. 2. She claims she asked
Middleton if she was under arrest, and he said “Yes,
” and told her to follow him to the police station.
Id. ¶16. She says Middleton threatened that she
would face federal charges if she did not give a statement.
Id. ¶¶ 17, 21. Middleton denies
Baker's claims and states that Baker was never arrested.
Doc. No. 27-1, at 5. In determining whether an individual is
under arrest, a court must look at “the totality of the
circumstances” and determine whether the
“suspect's freedom of action is curtailed to a
degree associated with formal arrest.'” Park v.
Shiflett, 250 F.3d 843, 850 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 440 (1984)). When
the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to Baker, it
is clear that Baker has sufficiently alleged that Middleton
arrested her without probable cause.
next question is whether Middleton is immune from this claim.
See Doc. No. 27, at 8. “Qualified immunity is
an affirmative defense, to be upheld in a motion to dismiss
only when the immunity can be established on the face of the
complaint.” Bradford v. Huckabee, 330 F.3d
1038, 1041 (8th Cir. 2003)).
determine whether an officer is entitled to qualified
immunity, a court considers 1) whether the facts, construed
in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, establish a
violation of a constitutional right and 2) whether that right
was clearly established at the time of the violation, such
that a reasonable officer would have known that his actions
were unlawful. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223,
232 (2009). If either question is answered in the negative,
then the officer is entitled to qualified immunity. Keil
v. Triveline, 661 F.3d 981, 985 (8th Cir. 2011). Baker
has sufficiently alleged a Fourth Amendment violation, and
the right to bee free from arrest without probable cause was
clearly established on May 13, 2014, when the incident at
issue occurred. See Stoner v. Watlingten, 735 F.3d
799, 804 (8th Cir. 2013). For these reasons, Middleton's
claim of immunity cannot be established on the face of the
complaint, and the motion to dismiss based on qualified
immunity is denied. See Bradford, 330 F.3d 1041.
common law claim for false arrest is barred by the statute of
limitations. Arkansas has a one-year statute of limitations
for false arrest and false imprisonment claims. Ark. Code.
Ann. § 16-56-104(2); Ketchum v. City of W. Memphis,
Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992); Headrick v.
Wal Mart Stores, Inc., 738 S.W.2d 418, 420 (Ark. 1987)
(explaining false arrest and false imprisonment are the same
tort). The incident Baker complains about occurred on May 13,
2014, Compl. ¶ 13, and she did not file the predecessor
lawsuit to this case until December 4, 2015. Baker's
state law claim is therefore dismissed with prejudice.
See Sanders v. Dep't of Army, 981 F.2d 990, 991
(8th Cir. 1992) (“a complaint is subject to dismissal
for failure to state a claim ‘when the affirmative
[limitations] defense clearly appears on the face of the
these reasons, Middleton's motion to dismiss [Doc. No.
26] is granted on Baker's official capacity claims,
denied on Baker's individual capacity ...