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Dunn v. Bethel

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 18, 2018

JOHN PAUL DUNN PLAINTIFF
v.
OFFICER ROY BETHEL, OFFICER AARON COLLIER, SHERIFF JASON WATSON, AGENT BLAKE FORGA, BRENT WHITWORTH, JAILER RANDY WYNDHAM, LARRY CAIN, JAMES MAYUE/MAYHUE, [1] JAILER FOLEY, JAILER NATE MORRISON, OFFICER MATT AVANT DEFENDANTS

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action provisionally filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2011), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation.

         Currently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claim by Defendants Avant, Bethel, and Collier.[2] (ECF No. 37).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 22, 2016. (ECF No. 1). On August 24, 2016, the Court entered an Amended preservice screening Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 12), which was adopted on September 13, 2016. (ECF No. 18). Plaintiff's claim for false arrest and imprisonment against Defendants Collier, Bethel, Watson, Forga, Avant, Morrison, Cain, and Whitworth survived preservice screening.

         On September 22, 2016, Defendants Avant, Bethel, and Collier filed a Motion to Stay the case because Plaintiff's pending criminal trial stemmed from the same drug arrest in July 2014 which gave rise to this case. (ECF Nos. 25, 26). At the time of the motion, the criminal trial had been continued several times due to Plaintiff's unfitness to stand trial. (ECF No. 25). This Motion was granted on October 28, 2016. (ECF No. 30). On November 20, 2017, Defendants Avant, Bethel, and Collier filed a Motion to lift the stay. (ECF No. 33). This Motion was granted on November 28, 2017. (ECF No. 34).

         On November 29, 2017, Defendants Avant, Bethel, and Collier filed a Motion to Dismiss the false arrest and imprisonment claim against them based on the outcome of Plaintiff's criminal trial in State v. John Dunn, Clark County Circuit Court, CR-2014-63. (ECF Nos. 37; 38 at 4). On March 7, 2018, the Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to Respond to the Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 45). Plaintiff did so on March 23, 2018. (ECF No. 46).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 8(a) contains the general pleading rules and requires a complaint to present “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “In order to meet this standard, and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), ‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations omitted)). “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, 556 U.S. at 678. While the Court will liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to support his claims. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendants argue Plaintiff's false arrest and imprisonment claim against them is barred by the Heck doctrine because he was found guilty of all charges in his state case, State v. John Dunn, Clark County Circuit Court, CR-2014-63. (ECF No. 38).

         Plaintiff's response consisted of two climatological tables for July 2014, a document labelled “Release of Employment Information” stating he has held a secret security clearance, and his signed release of health information for this case. (ECF No. 46). His response did not address the issues raised in the Motion.

         The United States Supreme Court's ruling in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) bars Plaintiff's § 1983 claims for false arrest and imprisonment. In Heck, the Court explained:

We hold that, in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a ยง 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or ...

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