Davis v. City of Clanton Police Department et al (JOINT ASSIGN)(MAG+)
ORDER as follows: 1. Officer Smitherman's 35 Objection is OVERRULED. 2. The 33 Recommendation is ADOPTED. 3. Officer Smitherman's 12 Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. 4. This case is REFERRED back to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings on Mr. Davis's claim. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 3/26/2015. (dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
SADAKA T. DAVIS,
DANIEL ERIC SMITHERMAN,
CASE NO. 2:14-CV-986-WKW
On February 5, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Recommendation that
Defendant Daniel Eric Smitherman’s motion to dismiss (Doc. # 12) be granted and
Plaintiff Sadaka Davis’s claim alleging unlawful arrest be dismissed pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
(Doc. # 28.)
In response to the
Magistrate Judge’s Recommendation, Mr. Davis filed a motion to amend his
complaint (Doc. # 29), as well as an objection to the recommendation of dismissal.
(Doc. # 30.) Upon a review of these filings, the Magistrate Judge determined that
Mr. Davis had provided additional clarifying facts sufficient to warrant a
withdrawal of his previous recommendation of dismissal. (Doc. # 32.)
The Magistrate Judge then issued a new Recommendation, in which he took
into account the newly provided allegations.
(Doc. # 33.)
Magistrate Judge explained that Mr. Davis’s “[c]omplaint and [a]mendments
thereto” explicitly alleges that Officer Smitherman was the police officer who
arrested him for harassment on September 18, 2014, at 405 Second Street South,
Clanton Alabama, and that the charges were subsequently dismissed. (Doc. # 33,
at 1, 3.) While the Magistrate Judge recognized that Officer Smitherman denied
being the police officer who arrested Mr. Davis, he concluded that, at the present
stage of the proceedings, the facts as pleaded by Mr. Davis, stated a plausible claim
for relief sufficient to withstand Officer Smitherman’s motion to dismiss.
Officer Smitherman filed an objection to the new Recommendation on
March 6, 2015. (Doc. # 35.) As grounds for his objection, Officer Smitherman
notes that Mr. Davis has filed six pro se complaints against municipal officers
operating within Chilton County, Alabama.
He also argues that Mr. Davis’s
complaint and amendments are untimely and rely on mere conclusory allegations
and inaccuracies. Specifically, he objects to the court’s finding that Mr. Davis was
arrested without a warrant and offers the September 18, 2014 warrant issued by the
Clanton Municipal Court Clerk for Mr. Davis as an Exhibit. (Doc. # 35, Ex. 1.)
Finally, he asserts that Mr. Davis’s claim should be dismissed because Officer
Smitherman is entitled to qualified immunity.
It is true that Mr. Davis did not submit additional information regarding his
claim until February 17, 2015, more than fourteen days after he was to supply
Officer Smitherman with a more definite statement.
The Magistrate Judge,
however, appropriately determined that it was proper to take the newly provided
facts into account despite the two-week delay because of Mr. Davis’s pro se status
and recent change in address. Additionally, the Magistrate Judge properly noted
that Mr. Davis’s complaint included allegations that he was arrested without a
warrant. (Doc. # 1-1, at 2.)
While Officer Smitherman now offers evidence to
counter such allegations, the court is unable to consider Officer Smitherman’s
evidentiary materials at this stage of the proceedings without converting his motion
to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment.
Lastly, Officer Smitherman contends that he is entitled to the defense of
qualified immunity and that the Recommendation errs by not dismissing the claims
against him based upon this defense. While Officer Smitherman raised qualified
immunity in his motion to dismiss, he did so only cursorily and with no elaboration
or analysis. On Officer Smitherman’s bare argument, the Magistrate Judge did not
err in failing to consider the defense. See generally In re Cao, 619 F.3d 410, 435
(5th Cir. 2010) (“[A]s a court comprised of Article III judges, our role is not to
create arguments for adjudication – but rather, our role is to adjudicate those
arguments with which we are presented.”). Officer Smitherman is not precluded,
however, from raising the defense of qualified immunity at the summary judgment
stage in a properly supported and analyzed motion.
In conclusion, following an independent and de novo review of those
portions of the Recommendation to which objection is made, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b), Mr. Davis has stated a plausible claim for relief sufficient to withstand
Officer Smitherman’s motion to dismiss. Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
Officer Smitherman’s objection (Doc. # 35) is OVERRULED.
The Recommendation (Doc. # 33) is ADOPTED.
Officer Smitherman’s motion to dismiss (Doc. # 12) is DENIED.
This case is REFERRED back to the Magistrate Judge for further
proceedings on Mr. Davis’s claim.
DONE this 26th day of March, 2015.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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