Parker v. Dillard's Inc et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Corey L. Maze on 1/7/2021. (SRD)
2021 Jan-07 PM 04:39
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LANCE WILLIAM PARKER
DILLARD’S INC., et al.
) CASE NO. 1:20-cv-00111-CLM
Plaintiff Lance Parker (“Parker”) was arrested in a Dillard’s after an off-duty
police officer, working as security, detained and held Parker for stalking one of the
store’s employees. Parker brings a claim of false imprisonment against Defendants
Dillard’s Inc. and Higbee SALVA, LP d/b/a Dillard’s (collectively, “Dillard’s”).
Dillard’s has moved for summary judgment (doc. 14). As detailed within, undisputed
facts show that the off-duty officer lawfully detained Parker because the officer
knew about a warrant against Parker. So Dillard’s is entitled to summary judgment.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Stephanie Cline (“Cline”) was a sales associate at Dillard’s. Before the events
at issue, Cline had filed a complaint against Parker for second degree stalking and
harassment that led police to issue a warrant for Parker’s arrest. Doc. 19 at 2.
Sometime later, Cline parked outside Dillard’s on her way to work. Doc. 16
at 3. Parker then drove up and “boxed” Cline’s car in its parking spot. Cline called
the police. Parker fled the parking lot when he heard police sirens.1 Id. But Parker
came back later that day, and Cline saw Parker in Dillard’s. Cline “felt scared and
uncomfortable,” and she told her manager that “[Parker] was stalking her and that
she had a warrant out for his arrest.” Id. at 4.
Her manager relayed this information to Johnny Sloan (“Sloan”), an off-duty
police officer who was working as a security guard for Dillard’s. Sloan found Parker
and detained him. Viewing the facts most favorably to Parker, Sloan was not wearing
a uniform but did identify himself as store security as he escorted Parker to the
offices in the back of the store. Doc. 19 at 2. Sloan held Parker in the office while
he waited for on-duty officers.
Parker alleges that Sloan did not: (1) identify himself as a police officer; (2)
inform Parker that he was under arrest; or (3) inform Parker of the charges/warrant
against him. But Parker does not allege to have asked any of those questions either.
Officers from the Oxford City Police Department came to Dillard’s and picked up
Parker. An Officer Butler signed the arrest report. Doc. 19 at 3. Oxford police served
a warrant at the Oxford City Jail and booked Parker. Doc. 16 at 5. Parker pleaded
guilty to “stalking in the 2nd degree2.” Doc. 15-6.
Parker does not dispute “boxing in” Ms. Cline’s car and then fleeing.
This court notes that Parker denies pleading guilty in his response brief (doc. 19 at 3) but the contention is refuted
by the evidence. This court takes judicial notice of the dismissal of Case. No. 11-CV-2016-900392 by the Circuit
Court of Calhoun County, Alabama.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material
fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). A dispute is genuine only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 135 (2000).
Dillard’s argues that it did not falsely imprison Parker under Ala. Code § 6-5170 for two separate reasons: (1) Parker’s imprisonment was legal under Ala. Code
§ 15-10-3(a)(6) and (2) Parker waived his right to challenge the lawfulness of his
arrest. Because the court agrees that Parker’s arrest was lawful, the court does not
address whether Parker waived his right to challenge the validity of the arrest.
In Alabama, “[f]alse imprisonment consists of the unlawful detention of the
person of another for any length of time whereby he is deprived of his personal
liberty.” Ala. Code § 6-5-170. “A false arrest will support a claim of false
imprisonment.” Heining v. Abernathy, 295 So.3d 1032, 1037 (quoting Upshaw v.
McArdle, 650 So.2d 875 (Ala. 1994)).
Dillard’s argues that Parker’s arrest was legal under Section 15-10-3(a)(6) of
the Alabama Code:
An officer may arrest a person without a warrant, on any day and at any
time in any of the following instances: when the officer has actual
knowledge that a warrant for the person’s arrest for the commission of
a felony or misdemeanor has been issued, provided the warrant was
issued in accordance with this chapter.
Parker contends that his arrest was unlawful because: (1) §15-10-3(a) only applies
to on-duty police officers; and (2) Sloan did not have personal knowledge of the
Off-duty Police Officers Under § 15-10-3
Contrary to Parker’s assertion, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that
§15-10-3(a) applies to off-duty police officers while they serve as security for a
private entity. In Perry v. Greyhound Bus Lines, off-duty police officers worked as
security for a Greyhound bus station. 491 So.2d 926 (Ala. 1986). They observed a
man committing a misdemeanor. While arresting the man, a “brief scuffle occurred.”
Id. The man sued the off-duty officers for assault and battery. Id. The man argued
“that the arresting officers, acting as security guards for Greyhound and not as police
officers … had no authority to use physical force in effecting the arrest and
apprehension of [him].” Id. The Alabama Supreme Court held that the arrest was
lawful and partially premised their holding on Ala. Code § 15-10-3. Id.
Parker argues that Alabama law considers Sloan an employee of Dillard’s
rather than an off-duty police officer. Doc. 19 at 6. He cites Robinson v. State of
Alabama, 361 So.2d 1113 (1978), for support. But Robinson is irrelevant here.
Robinson dealt with a charge for assaulting a peace officer with a deadly weapon.
Id. at 1114. This case involves §15-10-3(a), which is a different statute with different
text and purpose.
In short, §15-10-3(a) permits off-duty police officers to arrest a person while
working for a private entity, under certain circumstances.
“Personal Knowledge” Under § 15-10-3(a)(6)
One of those circumstances is “[w]hen the officer has actual knowledge that
a warrant for the person's arrest for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor has
been issued[.]” Ala. Code § 15-10-3(a)(6). Here, Cline (the stalking victim) told her
manager about the warrant, and that information was relayed to Sloan before Sloan
detained Parker. That knowledge brings Sloan’s action under §15-10-3(a)(6). Parker
makes two arguments against this straight-forward reading of the statute.
First, Parker cites Telfare v. City of Huntsville, 841 So. 2d 1222 (Ala. 2002),
for the premise that §15-10-3 does “not allow law-enforcement officers the
discretion to arrest alleged wrongdoers for misdemeanors not committed in the
presence of the arresting officer.” Doc. 19 at 12. But Telfare dealt with an arrest
following a fight that the arresting officer did not witness. 841 So. 2d at 1225. Unlike
this case, there was no warrant in Telfare, so the arrest did not meet § 15-10-3(a)(6).
So Telfare doesn’t apply to the current situation.
Second, Parker implies that information about a warrant must come from a
law enforcement agency—not from non-officers like Cline or her manager. Doc. 19
at 5. But the statute contains no such requirement; it simply says, “actual
knowledge.” Cline told her manager about the warrant, and that knowledge was
given to Sloan. Sloan then used that knowledge to detain Parker. This court holds
Sloan’s “actual knowledge” was sufficient to meet §15-10-3(a)(6).
For the reasons stated above, Dillard’s motion for summary judgment (doc.
14) is due to be GRANTED, and Parker’s claims are due to be DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE. The court will enter a separate order carrying out this conclusion.
DONE this 7th day of January, 2021.
COREY L. MAZE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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