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Liscomb v. Boyce

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

January 9, 2018

BLAKE LISCOMB PLAINTIFF
v.
HENRY BOYCE, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

         Defendants' motions to dismiss [Doc. Nos. 31, 36, 34] are granted. Defendant Boyce's motion for a protective order [Doc. No. 42] is denied as moot. Plaintiff Liscomb's motion to amend the amended complaint [Doc. No. 47] is denied as futile.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Although the facts are somewhat difficult to understand, it appears that plaintiff Blake Liscomb, a former employee of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office brings this lawsuit against defendants Henry Boyce, the Prosecuting Attorney for the Third Judicial District of Arkansas; Jeff Floyd; and Tony Anglin. Liscomb alleges that Boyce retaliated against him after Liscomb filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office seeking overtime pay. Specifically, Liscomb claims that Boyce (1) prevented Liscomb from being hired for a position on the Drug Task Force, and (2) improperly filed criminal theft charges against Liscomb. Liscomb asserts that Floyd and Anglin conspired with Boyce to falsely implicate Liscomb in that criminal case. The facts, as alleged in the complaint, are as follows:

         Liscomb was employed by the Sheriff's Office as a canine officer between March 2010 and August 2013. Two years after his termination in August 2013, Liscomb filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office and Lawrence County seeking overtime pay. Liscomb v. Yates, Case No. 3:15-CV-00280-JLH, ECF No. 1 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 11, 2015).

         While the lawsuit was pending, Liscomb met with Boyce concerning a new position on the Drug Task Force. Boyce told Liscomb that if the overtime lawsuit against the county was dismissed, Liscomb would be hired for the position. Acting on this promise, Liscomb agreed to settle the case. Boyce, however, still refused to hire Liscomb after the settlement.

         Boyce also charged Liscomb with criminal theft when an automotive transmission worth $1, 200, belonging to defendant Floyd, was found in a car allegedly owned by Liscomb. Liscomb asserts that this criminal case was meritless and merely “an attempt to intimidate the Plaintiff from pursuing his claims, acting in concert with the Lawrence County Sheriff.” Second Am. Compl., Doc. No. 28, ¶ 14. Boyce asked the state police to inform his current and prospective employers about the criminal charge and contacted the media to publish the charging instruments.

         Moreover, defendants Floyd and Anglin conspired with Boyce to falsely implicate Liscomb in the theft. At Floyd's urging, Anglin trespassed on Liscomb's land to observe the allegedly stolen transmission and later “present[ed] false testimony simply to smear Plaintiff's name and his lawsuit” at Liscomb's trial. Id. at ¶ 59. Liscomb was ultimately acquitted.

         Liscomb asserts that defendants violated a number of his constitutional and statutory rights, including those under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. section 201, et seq.; the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (“AMWA”), Ark. Code Ann. section 11-4-210, et seq.; and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (“ACRA”), Ark. Code Ann. section 16-123-101, et seq. He further alleges that defendants conspired, in violation of 42 U.S.C. sections 1985 and 1986, to falsify testimony in a criminal proceeding. Liscomb also complains that defendants committed abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and trespass.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 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); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 55 U.S. 544 (2007). Although detailed factual allegations are not required, threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, all well-plead allegations in the complaint must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.

         Although Rule 15(a) provides a liberal standard for amending pleadings, denials of motions to amend are proper when the proposed amendments would be futile. See Zutz v. Nelson, 601 F.3d 842, 850 (8th Cir. 2010). An amendment is futile if it could not survive a motion to dismiss, meaning it does not contain sufficient facts to state a plausible claim to relief. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Claims Against Boyce

         At the outset, Liscomb seeks leave to amend his complaint [Doc. No. 47] to allege with greater specificity that Boyce's approval was necessary to be hired to the Drug Task Force. Even if Boyce had ultimate authority over hiring for the Drug Task Force, Liscomb's claims still cannot survive a ...


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