Webster v. City of Ferriday et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER granting 42 Motion to Stay. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that parties are to notify the Court, in writing, within 30 days of the disposition of each of the criminal charges pending against Webster that arise from the incident that is the subject of this Section 1983 suit. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph H L Perez-Montes on 4/25/2017. (crt,Tice, Y)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
HAROLD D. WEBSTER, JR.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:16-CV-00575
CITY OF FERRIDAY, et al.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE PEREZ-MONTES
Before the Court is a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
by Plaintiff Harold D. Webster, Jr. (Docs. 1, 31). The remaining Defendants are
Derrick Freeman (“Freeman”) (Chief of Police for the Town of Ferriday), John G.
Hawkins (“Hawkins”) (a police officer employed by the Town of Ferriday), Chris Goad
(“Goad”) (a police officer employed by the Town of Ferriday), the Town of Ferriday,
and Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company (liability insurer for the Town of Ferriday).
In his proposed amending complaint (Doc. 37), Webster alleges he was stopped
by the police for driving recklessly. Webster admits he did not pull over until he
arrived at his sister's residence. When he finally stopped, he got out of his vehicle
and waited, but did not comply with the order to get down on the ground. Webster
was handcuffed and assisted to the ground by Officer Goad. Goad claims Webster bit
Goad’s hand. Webster contends Officer Goad “responded” with "two brachial blows"
to Webster’s neck, causing injury. Webster further contends that Officer Goad and
Officer Hawkins delayed taking him to the hospital.
Webster is suing the officers for use of excessive force and delay in medical
care. Webster is suing the City for failure to train the officers in the appropriate use
of force to be employed during an arrest, and for failure to discipline the officers for
their use of excessive force (Doc. 37). Webster also alleges state law claims for
excessive force, denial of medical care, assault, battery, and negligence.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P rule 12(b)(6)
(Doc. 6) and answered the complaint (Doc. 7). The District Judge granted Defendants’
motion to dismiss in part, ordered Webster to amend his complaint, and reserved
Defendants’ right to re-urge their motion to dismiss (Doc. 30).
Webster amended his complaint (Doc. 31) and Defendants filed a second
motion to dismiss (Doc. 33). In response, Webster filed a Motion to Amend/Correct
Complaint (Doc. 37). The parties then filed a Joint Motion to Stay (Doc. 42).
In their Joint Motion to Stay, the parties contend this § 1983 lawsuit arises
from the arrest of Webster by Officers Goad and Hawkins in Ferriday, Louisiana.
The parties contend that, pursuant to that arrest, Webster was charged with multiple
felonies, some of which are still unresolved. Although the parties did not specify the
charges against Webster, Defendants stated in their first motion to dismiss (Doc. 61) that Webster was charged with flight from police officers, resisting arrest, and
battery on police officers. The parties contend that Webster’s charges are directly
related to the incident that forms the basis of this lawsuit.
The parties further contend in their motion that the Defendants recently tried
to depose Webster for this lawsuit. But, on advice of counsel, Webster claimed his
Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the deposition did not go
The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court
to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort
for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248,
254 (1936). A district court has the inherent power to regulate the flow of cases and
“control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for
itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Fed. C. Civ. P. rule 41; Landis, 299 U.S. at 254.
Pursuant to the United State Supreme Court’s decision in Heck v. Humphrey, a
district court may stay a § 1983 action until a related criminal case, or the likelihood
of a related criminal case, is ended. Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-394 (2007)
(citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)). The Heck analysis applies to bar
civil rights suits that call into question the validity of pending criminal charges, as
well as convictions. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. at 393-94 (citing Heck, 512 U.S. at
487-88, n.8); Mackey v. Dickson, 47 F.3d 744, 746 (5th Cir. 1995).1
In Mackey v. Dickson, the plaintiff filed a pro se complaint that appeared to
attack the constitutionality of his arrests. The Fifth Circuit explained that the court
could not determine whether the alleged illegality of Mackey’s arrests would be
Where parallel civil and criminal cases are brought against the same defendant, courts engage in an
analysis of six factors to determine whether to exercise discretionary authority to stay the civil
proceeding. See Bucy v. Stroman, 2016 WL 4492195, *3 (W.D. Tex. 2016); see also Villani v. Devol,
2016 WL 1383498, *3 (M.D. La. 2016).
However, when a plaintiff files a civil complaint against a defendant, and the defendant files criminal
charges against the plaintiff, Heck controls whether a stay or dismissal of the civil case is warranted.
See Bucy, 2016 WL 4492195, *3, and related cases.
implicated by a conviction or by the evidence presented in the criminal proceedings
until the pending criminal case was concluded. Mackey, 47 F.3d at 746. The court
held that, where it is premature to determine whether or not a plaintiff’s § 1983 claim
is barred by Heck, the better course is to stay proceedings in the § 1983 case until the
pending criminal case has run its course, as until that time it may be difficult to
determine the relation, if any, between the two. See Mackey, 47 F.3d at 746; see also
Adame v. Stroman, 2016 WL 5390913 (W.D. Tex. 2016), and five related cases2 (court
stayed the plaintiffs’ § 1983 actions for false arrest pending the outcomes of their
criminal charges); McNeill v. Dailey, 2012 WL 5060866, *1 (E.D. La. 2012) (court
stayed plaintiff’s § 1983 excessive force suit pending resolution of the parallel state
criminal proceedings for aggravated flight from an officer, possession of drug
paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, since it could not
determine the relation between them); Knowlton v. Office of District Attorney, 2009
WL 4718905 (W.D. La. 2009) (court stayed plaintiff’s § 1983 action because it
implicated the validity of his pending criminal charges); Guillory v. Wheeler, 303 F.
Supp. 2d 808, 811 (M.D. La. 2004) (court stayed plaintiff’s § 1983 suit for false arrest
and excessive force pending resolution of his charge for simple battery of a police
In this case, Webster contends the excessive force occurred during the same
incident in which he allegedly committed battery on an officer. The specific charges
Vensel v. Stroman, 2016 WL 5390928 (W.D. Tex. 2016); Clendennen v. Stroman, 2016 WL 5393761
(W.D. Tex. 2016); Obledo v. Stroman, 2016 WL 5394765 (W.D. Tex. 2016); Salinas v. Stroman, 2016
WL 5395912 (W.D. Tex. 2016); Bucy, 2016 WL 4492195.
against Webster are not included in the parties’ motion. Without more information,
it is impossible to engage in the “fact-intensive” analysis required by the Fifth Circuit
to determine if Webster’s excessive force claims are barred by Heck. Moreover,
according to the parties’ motion (Doc. 42), discovery in the § 1983 case may violate
Webster’s right against self-incrimination in his criminal case. Therefore, a stay of
Webster’s § 1983 case is appropriate until his criminal charges have concluded.
IT IS ORDERED that the parties’ Joint Motion to Stay (Doc. 42) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are to notify the Court, in writing,
within 30 days of the disposition of each of the criminal charges pending against
Webster that arise from the incident that is the subject of this § 1983 suit.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED in chambers at Alexandria, Louisiana on this
_____ day of April, 2017.
Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?