Barnes v. City of Dothan, Alabama et al
ORDER that: 1. Barnes's 30 MOTION to Reconsider is DENIED. 2. Barnes's 31 Motion for Leave to File Motion to Reconsider Beyond Deadline is DENIED AS MOOT; and 3. The claims against the remaining defendants are DISMISSED without prejudice. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 2/14/2012. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CITY OF DOTHAN, et al.,
Case No. 1:11-cv-201-MEF
This cause comes before the Court on two motions, both filed by the plaintiff,
Sanjanetta Barnes. The first is Barnes’s Motion for Leave to File Motion to Reconsider
Beyond Deadline (Doc. # 31). This motion cryptically informs the Court that Barnes’s
counsel failed to file a motion by a Court-imposed deadline, “[d]ue to a combination of
limited technological access and scheduling conflicts.” The second is the belated
response itself, her Motion to Reconsider (Doc. # 30). Both motions are due to be denied
for the reasons discussed below, and her complaint is due to be dismissed without
On January 31, 2012, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc.
# 29) granting defendant Nick McElveen’s motion to dismiss. In the opinion, the Court
explained why it granted McElveen’s motion: Barnes had failed to allege that she
satisfied the favorable termination rule set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 517 U.S. 477
(1994). Because her failure to comply with Heck seemingly barred her claims against the
other defendants too, the Court ordered Barnes to show cause, on or before February 10,
2012, as to why the claims against the remaining defendants should not be dismissed as
Barnes, or more accurately, her counsel, did not respond until February 12—two
days after the deadline. Even so, the Court will address the merits of her response. Barnes
contends that Heck’s favorable termination rule only applies when the plaintiff asserts a
claim for malicious prosecution. To support this assertion, she cites to Kingsland v. City
of Miami, 382 F.3d 1220 (11th Cir. 2004), a case where the Eleventh Circuit allowed a
plaintiff to proceed with claims for filing a false report and submitting a recklessly false
arrest warrant application. Barnes further notes that she has brought claims similar to
those brought by the Kingsland plaintiff.
These arguments are unpersuasive. In Kingsland, the state prosecutor dropped the
underlying charges, 382 F.3d at 1225, meaning that the plaintiff received a favorable
termination in the state court criminal case against her. Thus Heck did not apply. And
contrary to Barnes’s contentions, no court has suggested that Heck only applies to
malicious prosecution claims. Rather, federal courts agree that the favorable termination
rule applies when a § 1983 action would impugn an unaltered state court conviction.
As the Court noted in its Memorandum Opinion, Barnes did not allege that she
had her state court conviction reversed or dismissed or otherwise disposed of in her
favor. Nor did she argue that allowing her claims to go forward would in no way impugn
the validity of that conviction—indeed, plaintiff’s counsel ignored this question
altogether. Heck, therefore, bars Barnes’s claims not only against McElveen but also
against the remaining defendants.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that:
Barnes’s Motion to Reconsider (Doc. # 30) is DENIED;
Barnes’s Motion for Leave to File Motion to Reconsider Beyond Deadline
(Doc. # 31) is DENIED AS MOOT; and
The claims against the remaining defendants are DISMISSED without
Done this the 14th day of February, 2012.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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