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Siegel v. Heringer

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

September 20, 2018

KAREN SIEGEL PLAINTIFF
v.
ANGIE HERINGER, Individually and as an Officer for ARC ANGELS FOR ANIMALS; ARC ANGELS FOR ANIMALS, an Arkansas Corporation; RUTH SCROGGIN; MARGARET SHEPHERD, Individually and as Director of NORTHEAST ARKANSAS HUMANE SOCIETY; NORTHEAST ARKANSAS HUMANE SOCIETY; DR. KEVIN REED, Individually and as an Officer for VETCARE, INC.; VETCARE, INC.; CRAIGHEAD COUNTY; MARTY BOYD, as the Craighead County Sheriff; RUSTY GRIGSBY, Individually and in his official capacity as Craighead County Sheriff Deputy; CATHY NORRIS; DR. MICHAEL O. NORRIS; WYNNE FRIENDS OF ANIMALS, AND JOHN/JANE DOE X-XX DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

         Pending are motions for judgment on the pleadings filed by Defendants Dr. Kevin Reed and Vetcare, Inc. (collectively “Reed”) and Defendants ARC Angels for Animals and Angie Heringer (collectively “Heringer”) (Document Nos. 24 and 33).[1] Defendants Ruth Scroggin and, separately, Kathy Norris, Michael O. Norris, and the Wynn Friends of Animals (collectively “the Norris defendants”) have adopted the Reed defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff Karen Siegel filed a combined response to the motions, which are ripe for consideration.

         Allegations of the Amended Complaint and Public Record Material

         The following facts are taken from the allegations in the amended complaint, supplemented by additional facts taken from the public record of the Craighead County proceedings that were supplied by the Reed defendants in their motion for judgment on the pleadings. Heringer and Scroggin provided information to the Craighead County Sheriff's Department about Siegel's dogs which resulted in the issuance of a search warrant for Siegel's property. The search warrant was executed on February 26, 2015, and 31 dogs were seized. Heringer and Scroggin took the dogs to the Reed defendants for boarding.

         Reed spayed and neutered some of Sigel's dogs. Reed, Heringer, and Scroggin, acting in part as agents for the Craighead County Sheriff's Department, re-named, microchipped, gave away, and otherwise hid Siegel's dogs from her. Heringer took some of Siegel's dogs to the Norris defendants' clinic where the Norris defendants allowed some of the dogs to be spayed or neutered and records falsified to hide the fact of the procedures.

         On October 23, 2015, Siegel was convicted of 31 counts of animal cruelty by the District Court of Craighead County and ordered to pay a fine of $6, 200 plus costs.[2] The district court ordered Siegel's dogs to be placed in the custody of the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society (NEAHS) pending Siegel's appeal. NEAHS never took custody of the dog and allowed Heringer and Scroggin to continue to keep the dogs. Heringer failed to comply with a district court order to provide an accurate list of the whereabouts of Siegel's dogs.

         Siegel appealed her conviction to the Craighead County Circuit Court on November 9, 2015. There, Sigel moved to suppress the evidence recovered from the search and seizure. The circuit court found that the search and seizure were not in violation of the U.S. Constitution or the Arkansas Constitution and denied the motion to suppress. Additionally, the court found that Scroggins and Heringer were not acting as agents of a government employee when they entered the property and that they were not subject to the constitutional prohibitions against unlawful searches and seizures. Siegel also moved to have Ark. Code Ann. §5-62-106 declared unconstitutional. The circuit court denied this motion as to both a facial challenge and an as applied challenge. Specifically, the circuit court considered and rejected the following arguments put forth by Siegel:

a. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-62-106 violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution to the United States, as well as Article 2, Section 8 of the Arkansas Constitution, by permitting the taking of property without due process of law.
b. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-62-106 violates Article 2, Section 13 of the Arkansas Constitution by usurping a property owner's right to pursue civil remedies.
c. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-62-106 deprives a property owner of his right to a jury trial in violation of Article 2, Section 7 of the Arkansas Constitution.
d. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-62-106 violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution by depriving criminal defendants the right to confront and cross-examine.
e. Ark. Code. Ann. § 5-62-106 violates Article IV, Section 2 and Amendment 80, Section 3 of the Arkansas Constitution by usurping the Arkansas Supreme Court's authority to establish rules governing the practice and procedure of the courts.

         The case in circuit court was dismissed on October 4, 2017 for lack of a speedy trial. On October 16, 2017, Siegel moved for the return of her property pursuant to Rule 15.2 of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure and Ark. Code Ann. §5-62-106(d).[3] The State appealed the dismissal to the Arkansas Supreme Court on October 25, 2017; the appeal is ongoing. On February 2, 2018, the circuit court determined that it lost jurisdiction when the State lodged the record on appeal. Siegel's motion for the return of her property has not been ruled on.

         Based on these allegations, Siegel makes the following claims against the defendants: taking of her property without due process in violation of the United States and Arkansas constitutions; conversion[4]; conspiracy to convert her property; and negligence. She also seeks punitive damages, a declaration that Ark. Code Ann. 5-62-106 is unconstitutional, an injunction preventing the defendants from continuing to engage in the acts and conduct complained of, and she seeks the return of her property pursuant to a writ of replevin. As stated in her response to the motions to dismiss, what Siegel is now seeking is the return of her dogs and damages.[5]

         The Reed defendants raise several arguments in their motion for judgment on the pleadings. As to the constitutional claims, they claim that the action is barred by collateral estoppel, that they are entitled to qualified immunity, and the complaint fails to state a claim. The supplemental state law claims for conversion, conspiracy, and negligence, they argue, also fail because the Reed defendants are immune from civil liability under the Arkansas Animal Cruelty Act, the claims are barred by the statute of limitations, and the complaint fails to state plausible claims. The Heringer defendants adopted the arguments made by the Reed defendants for the most part and some ...


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