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Brown v. City of Mayflower

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

January 11, 2018

MELISSA BROWN PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF MAYFLOWER, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following recommended disposition has been sent to United States District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright. Any party may serve and file written objections to this recommendation. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, specifically identify that finding and the evidence that supports your objection. An original and one copy of your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. The copy will be furnished to the opposing party. Failure to file timely objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact.

         If you are objecting to the recommendation and also desire to submit new, different, or additional evidence, and to have a hearing for this purpose before the District Judge, you must, at the same time that you file your written objections, include the following:

1. Why the record made before the Magistrate Judge is inadequate.
2. Why the evidence proffered at the hearing before the District Judge (if such a hearing is granted) was not offered at the hearing before the Magistrate Judge.
3. The detail of any testimony desired to be introduced at the hearing before the District Judge in the form of an offer of proof, and a copy, or the original, of any documentary or other non-testimonial evidence desired to be introduced at https://www.etsy.com/listing/580376965/liberal-snowflake-shirt-dont-be-a? ga-order=most-relevant&ga-search-type =all&ga-view-type=gallery&ga-search=query=snowflake shirt&ref=sr_gallery-2-5the hearing before the District Judge.

         From this submission, the District Judge will determine the necessity for an additional evidentiary hearing, either before the Magistrate Judge or before the District Judge.

         Mail your objections and “Statement of Necessity” to:

Clerk, United States District Court
Eastern District of Arkansas
600 West Capitol Avenue, Suite A149
Little Rock, AR 72201-3325

         DISPOSITION

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. Doc. Nos. 45, 52. On May 18, 2016, Melissa Brown filed this pro se complaint against the City of Mayflower; Mayflower Police Department; Faulkner County Sheriff's Office; Greenbrier Police Department; Damascus Police Department; Mark Alan Winchester, Individually; Jeremy Lance Hanson, Individually; Wesley Tyra, Individually; Robert Alcon, Individually; and Randy Holland, Individually. At all times relevant to Brown's claims, she states Winchester, Hanson, and Tyra were all police officers employed by the City of Mayflower; Alcon was the Chief of Police for the City of Mayflower, and Holland was the Mayor of the City of Mayflower.

         The Mayflower Police Department arrested Melissa Brown on May 17, 2014, on suspicion of stealing goods meant for disaster relief victims. According to the complaint, Brown allowed Jimmy Glover to drive her 2004 Dodge Ram to pick up some personal property from his damaged home, when Mayflower Police Officer Mark Winchester stopped and arrested Glover for diving on a suspended license. The truck, according to Defendants, had an invalid license plate. Brown's truck was impounded, and she was subsequently arrested in the presence of her eight-year-old daughter on a warrant out of Van Buren County, Arkansas.[1]

         Brown asserts that she was a volunteer assisting with her local disaster relief operations at the time. She claims that, at the time of her arrest, she was handcuffed without being read her Miranda rights, and asked Officer Winchester if he was “Alan's dad, ”[2] to which he did not respond. She was subsequently transported to the Mayflower Police Department, notified of her Miranda rights, and interviewed by Officer Winchester alone. At the end of the interview, Brown claims Winchester asked her about details of her relationship with his son, Alan. According to Brown, Winchester took her into custody and charged her with theft of property without any basis in law or fact and in furtherance of a personal vendetta.[3]

         Brown filed a federal complaint on May 18, 2016, and an amended complaint on July 1, 2016. In it, Brown alleges: (1) defendants subjected her to unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) defendants' policies and intentional conduct deprived her of her right to equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) defendant Winchester's conduct constituted malicious prosecution; and (4) she suffered economic damage and emotional distress due to the intentional, reckless, and/or negligent acts of defendant Winchester who carried out a personal vendetta against her without sufficient facts based in law or fact.

         The District Court set this matter for a jury trial on January 29, 2018. Defendants Jeremy Lance Hanson, Greenbrier Police Department, Damascus Police Department, Mayflower Police Department, and Faulkner County Sheriff's Office were previously dismissed. On September 12, 2017, Defendants Alcon, Holland, Tyra, and City of Mayflower filed their Motion for Summary Judgment . Doc. No. 45. On October 10, 2017, remaining defendant Winchester also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. No. 52.

         II. Summary Judgment Motions

         A. Motion of City of Mayflower, Wesley Tyra[4], Chief Robert Alcon, Mayor Randy Holland[5]

         Counsel for these Defendants claim that there is no evidence that any of them were responsible for alleged violation of Brown's constitutional rights, and that their mere association with Officer Mark Winchester does not attach liability to them. For purposes of their motion, Defendants concede that a violation occurred, but claim that (1) Brown does not, in her complaint or in her deposition, make any claim of wrongdoing against Officer Wesley Tyra or the City of Damascus; (2) Brown makes no substantive claim against Chief Alcon or Mayor Holland; neither was involved in her arrest, and nothing establishes that either had any direct responsibility for the alleged violations caused by Officer Winchester; (3) Brown fails to establish any practice of deliberate indifference or tacit authorization for Winchester's conduct; and (4) the City of Mayflower cannot be held liable for Brown's Fourth Amendment claims unless it caused the alleged injury and she has failed to establish that the city had a policy, practice, or custom that support the alleged constitutional violations.

         Further, Defendants argue Brown has failed to state a First Amendment claim, and even if such a claim existed, she has offered nothing to establish ...


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