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Simpson v. Trooper Grant Evans

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

November 2, 2018

MITCHELL SCOTT SIMPSON PLAINTIFF
v.
TROOPER GRANT EVANS, Troop L, Arkansas State Police Headquarters DEFENDANT

          OPINION AND ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Mitchell Scott Simpson, contends his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested on a warrant for Michael Simpson. Currently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 59-61).[1] Plaintiff filed a Response (ECF No. 70) to the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 30, 2016, the Plaintiff, Mitchell Simpson (Simpson) had an accident on Highway 45 in front of the Goshen, Arkansas, fire station. The Defendant, Trooper Grant Evans, responded to the scene. Trooper Evans asked for Simpson's driver's license. The license was suspended. Simpson was given citations for driving on a suspended license and for driving without liability insurance.

         Trooper Evans then entered the information on the license--name, date of birth, and state of issuance--into the Arkansas Threat Level Assessment System (ATLAS), the computer system in the patrol vehicle. Trooper Evans states “[t]here were matching factors for an active warrant for Mitchell Simpson with an alias of Michael Simpson.” (ECF No. 73 at 2). Trooper Evans indicates the name and date of birth are the identifying factors relied upon during a traffic stop. (Id. at 3).

         Trooper Evans then contacted dispatch to inquire about the warrant for Mitchell/Michael Simpson. (ECF No. 73 at 3). “The dispatcher confirmed that the individuals had the same date of birth and also confirmed [the] names and aliases.” (Id). Both lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Id.). The dispatcher indicated the individual pictured was a white male who looked approximately fifty years old. (Id.). Finally, the dispatcher confirmed the warrant was valid. (Id.). Simpson concedes that he gave Trooper Evans a couple of wrong driver's license numbers during this encounter. (ECF No. 59-1 at 17).

         Simpson was placed under arrest and transported to the Washington County Detention Center. (ECF No. 73 at 4). Simpson spent approximately thirty to forty-five minutes at the detention center while detention center personnel followed up on his claim that the warrant was not for him. (ECF No. 59-1 at 14). Simpson was then released. Id.

         Trooper Evans and Simpson had never met prior to the date of arrest. (ECF No. 73 at 4). Trooper Evans had no personal knowledge of any incident involving Simpson's incarceration in Washington County. (Id.).

         In both 2013 and 2015 when Simpson was arrested, he gave the name of his brother, Michael Simpson, [2] his brother's date of birth, his brother's social security number, and his brother's driver's license number. (ECF Nos. 59-1 at 20-23). Simpson was criminally charged for having done so in each instance. Id.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” National Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” National Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Trooper Evans contends he is entitled to summary judgment for two reasons. First, the official capacity claim against him is barred by sovereign immunity. Second, he is entitled ...


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