United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
following Recommended Disposition (âRecommendationâ) has been
sent to United States District D.P. Marshall, Jr. You may
file written objections to all or part of this
Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1)
specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your
objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court
within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this
Recommendation. The failure to timely file objections may
result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact.
case arises from a custody dispute between Plaintiff Jeremey
Dean Laymance (“Laymance”),  an Arkansan, and
his child's great-grandparents, Sharon and John Van
Compernolle (collectively, the “Van
Compernolles”), who are Texans. Docs. 2, 23. Laymance
asserts the Van Compernolles' actions in the custody
dispute led to his allegedly unlawful arrest by Defendants
Sheriff Ricky Shourd (“Shourd”) and Deputy Paul
Hofstead (“Hofstead”), and unlawful removal of
Laymance's child (“J.D.L.”) from his care by
Defendant Casey Walker (“Walker”), an Arkansas
Department of Human Services employee. The uncontested
February 14, 2017, the Van Compernolles petitioned the
District Court of Anderson County, Texas, (the “trial
court”) for sole managing conservatorship of J.D.L.;
the next day the trial court issued a temporary restraining
order (“TRO”) prohibiting Laymance from
“removing the child from [the Van Compernolles],
” among other restrictions. Doc. 40-1 at 10.
On February 27, 2017, the trial court extended the TRO and
set a March 3, 2017 hearing on the petition. Id. at
13. Laymance maintains he never received notice of the
petition, TRO, or hearing. Doc. 23 at 5-8.
March 2, 2017, Sharon Van Compernolle reported to Texas
authorities that Laymance took J.D.L. in violation of a
custody order. Id. at 6. Texas law enforcement
investigated the allegation, including contacting a Texas
Department of Child Protective Services employee who
explained that the Van Compernolles “were seeking/had
managing conservatorship” of J.D.L. Id. After
investigating, the Texas authorities issued an Amber
Alert and notified the White County, Arkansas,
Sheriff's Office, as Laymance's mother lived in White
County. Id. at 6-7. White County deputies found
Laymance in his car at his mother's house and held him,
handcuffed, for several hours. Id. at 7. Laymance
asked Hofstead why he was being arrested, to which Hofstead
responded “[w]e are waiting for the arrest warrant from
Texas to see.” Id. Paramedics took J.D.L.
“and turned him over to Defendant Casey Walker . . .
upon her arrival [at] the scene.” Id. Hofstead
eventually released Laymance and apologized for any
misunderstanding about the arrest because Hofstead
“thought Texas had a warrant or something.”
Doc. 23 at 7.
Texas, the trail court proceeded with the scheduled March 3
hearing on the petition and TRO. Id. at 8. The trial
court found Laymance “although duly and properly
notified, did not appear and wholly made default.” Doc.
40-1 at 16. The Van Compernolles were awarded temporary sole
managing conservatorship that day. Doc. 23 at 8. The
trial court also temporarily enjoined Laymance from removing
J.D.L. from the Van Compernolles, among other things.
Doc. 40-1 at 20.
March 3, 2017, a Texas judge signed a warrant for
Laymance's arrest for interference with child custody.
Doc. 23 at 8. Laymance was arrested in White County,
Arkansas, pursuant to the warrant that same morning.
filed this lawsuit on May 4, 2017. Doc. 2.
2017, the trial court entered its final order in the child
custody case and granted the Van Compernolles permanent sole
managing conservatorship. Doc. 23 at 9.
claims against Walker, Shourd, and Hofstead (collectively
“Defendants”) remain pending. Each of them has
filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Docs. 40, 41. In her Motion,
Walker argued that Laymance's claims are barred under
Rooker-Feldman, as well as several affirmative
defenses. Doc. 40. Shourd and Hofstead incorporated
Walker's arguments by reference. Doc. 41 at 1.
Rooker-Feldman would deprive this Court of
jurisdiction, that doctrine must be considered first.
Arbaugh v. y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514
(2006). “Rooker-Feldman . . . is confined to . . .
cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries
caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district
court proceedings commenced and inviting district court
review and rejection of those judgments.” Exxon
Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 544 U.S.
280, 284 (2005). Laymance alleges Walker violated his due
process rights when she took J.D.L. on March 2, 2017. He
asserts Hofstead and Shourd unlawfully arrested him on March
2 and March 3, 2017. These claims do not indicate an injury
caused by the state-court judgment-which had not been entered
at the time of the alleged unlawful conduct-even if the
consequences of Defendants' actions somehow spilled over
into the custody case. See, for example, Great W. Mining
& Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159,
164-73 (3d Cir. 2010); Stanley v. Finegan, 356
F.Supp.3d 779, 784-86 (W.D. Ark. 2018). As such,
Rooker-Feldman does not apply.
also assert the affirmative defenses of res judicata
and qualified immunity. “‘Qualified immunity
gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable
but mistaken judgments,' and ‘protects all but the
plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
law.'” Stanton v. Sims, 571 U.S. 3, 5
(2013) (internal citations omitted). Determining whether
qualified immunity applies involves two inquiries: whether
the plaintiff's allegations make out the violation of a
constitutional right and whether that right was clearly
established at the time of the alleged unlawful acts.
Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). Courts
may exercise discretion as to which prong is addressed first.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
“To overcome qualified immunity, a plaintiff must be
able to prove that ‘every reasonable official would
have understood that what he is doing violates' a
constitutional right . . . and that the constitutional
question was ‘beyond debate.'” Story v.
Foote, 782 F.3d 968, 970 (8th Cir. 2015).
asserts Hofstead, at Shourd's direction, unlawfully
arrested him on March 2 and March 3, 2017. As to the March 2
arrest, an Amber Alert may provide reasonable suspicion to
justify an investigative stop, just as a “wanted”
flyer or be-on-the-lookout alert may. See United States
v. Hensley,469 U.S. 221 (1985); U.S. v.
Roberts, 787 F.3d 1204, 1209-10 (8th Cir. 2015);
Davis v. Novy, 433 F.3d 926, 930 (7th Cir. 2006).
Once J.D.L. was seen in Laymance's car, arguable probable
cause existed for Laymance's warrantless arrest on
interference with child custody or a similar crime.
“Probable cause is not a high bar.” District
of Columbia v. Wesby, ___ U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 577, 586
(2018) (internal citation omitted). “It requires only a
probability or substantial chance of criminal activity, not
an actual showing of such activity.” (Id.)
“Arguable probable cause exists even where an officer
mistakenly arrests a suspect believing it is based on
probable cause if the mistake is ‘objectively
reasonable.'” Ehlers v. City of Rapid
City, 846 F.3 1002, 1009 (8th Cir. 2017). According to