Morgan v. Lincoln County, TN et al
MEMORANDUM. An appropriate order will enter Signed by District Judge Harry S Mattice, Jr on 8/16/10. (JGK, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT E A S T E R N DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE A T WINCHESTER
G A R Y LYNN MORGAN P l a i n t i ff , v.
L IN C O L N COUNTY, TENNESSEE, O F F IC E R MATTHEW HOLLOWAY, O F F I C E R TULL MALONE, and O F F IC E R JERRY WAYNE CARTER D e fen d a n ts.
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4 :0 9 -c v -8 1 Mattice
T h is is a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; plaintiff is represented by c o u n se l. The matter is before the court on the motion to dismiss filed by defendants Lincoln C o u n ty, Tennessee, Tull Malone, and Jerry Wayne Carter [Court File No. 8]; the motion to d is m is s filed by defendant Matthew Holloway [Court File No. 10]; and plaintiff's motion for e x te n sio n of time to respond to the first motion to dismiss [Court File No. 14]. Plaintiff h a v in g filed his responses to the dispositive motions, his motion for extension of time will b e GRANTED NUNC PRO TUNC as of October 16, 2009. For the following reasons, the d e f en d a n ts ' motions to dismiss will be GRANTED and this action will be DISMISSED.
S ta n d a rd of Review
A motion to dismiss tests whether a claim has been adequately stated in the complaint. In considering a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint must be re g a rd e d as true and all factual allegations must be construed in favor of the plaintiff. S c h e u er v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236-37 (1974); Collins v. Nagle, 892 F.2d 489, 493 (6th C ir. 1989). Dismissal "is proper when it is established beyond a doubt that the plaintiff c a n n o t prove any set of facts consistent with the allegations that would entitle such plaintiff to relief." Collins, 892 F.2d at 493. See also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Conley v . Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
F a c tu a l Background
P lain tiff is in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction. The defendants a re Matthew Holloway, a deputy sheriff with the Sheriff's Department of Madison County, A la b a m a ; Tull Malone, a deputy sheriff with the Sheriff's Department of Lincoln County, T e n n e ss e e ; Jerry Wayne Carter, also a deputy sheriff with the Sheriff's Department of L in c o ln County, Tennessee; and Lincoln County, Tennessee. P la in tif f alleges that he was involved in a vehicle pursuit that began in Madison C o u n ty, Alabama, and ended in Lincoln County, Tennessee. He was eventually apprehended b y the defendant officers behind plaintiff's residence. According to plaintiff, as a result of
th e pursuit and the altercation that ensued during plaintiff's arrest, he was ultimately c o n v ic te d by a jury of four counts of assault, four counts of reckless endangerment, and re sis tin g arrest; he pleaded guilty to evading arrest by motor vehicle and evading arrest on f o o t. Plaintiff received a total effective sentence of ten years. P la in tif f alleges that the defendant officers offered perjured testimony during his trial w h ic h prevented him from receiving a fair trial, resulted in his being convicted of counts of w h ic h he was not guilty, and resulted in a markedly enhanced and unjust sentence. Plaintiff s e e k s compensatory and punitive damages from the defendant officers. T h e defendant officers contend, inter alia, that they are entitled to dismissal of the c la im s against them based upon absolute immunity. Defendant Lincoln County, Tennessee, m o v e s for dismissal based upon plaintiff's failure to allege or show that the alleged violation o f plaintiff's constitutional rights were the result of policy or custom on the part of Lincoln C o u n ty, Tennessee.
D is c u ss io n
T h e law is well settled that the use of perjured testimony fails to state a claim under § 1983 because all witnesses, including police officers and other governmental witnesses, a r e absolutely immune from liability based upon their testimony in judicial proceedings. B r is c o e v. Lahue, 460 U.S. 325, 342-43 (1983). In response to the motions to dismiss, p lain tiff acknowledges that Briscoe and its progeny does hold law enforcement officers 3
im m u n e from civil liability for perjured testimony in criminal judicial proceedings. Plaintiff, n e v e rth e les s, through counsel offers what he calls "a good faith challenge to this precedent" a n d argues that "such absolute testimonial immunity gives license to local prosecutors, who m a y be less than honorable and care nothing of seeking the truth, to suborn perjury from less th a n honest officers in order to obtain convictions that are otherwise unjust, unmerited and sim p ly wrong." [Court File No. 15, Response to Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants L in c o ln County, Tennessee, Tull Malone, and Jerry Wayne Carter, p. 2; Court File No. 16, R esp o n se to Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Matthew Holloway, p. 2]. B a se d upon the foregoing, plaintiff contends that the defendant officers should not be g ra n te d absolute immunity. Despite what plaintiff believes, however, this court is bound by th e holdings of the U.S. Supreme Court. The defendant officers are entitled to absolute im m u n ity from plaintiff's claims of perjury. Accordingly, their motions to dismiss are wellta k e n and should be granted. See Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985) ( "The e n title m e n t is an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability."). With respect to the allegations against Lincoln County, Tennessee, plaintiff concedes that he has failed to s ta te a claim of municipal liability against the county and therefore the motion to dismiss f ile d by Lincoln County, Tennessee, should be granted.
C o n c lu s io n
T h e defendants' motions to dismiss will be GRANTED and this action will be D IS M IS S E D .
AN APPROPRIATE ORDER WILL ENTER. /s/Harry S. Mattice, Jr. HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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