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King v. State

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

January 26, 2015

PATRICK L. KING AND CATHY S. KING, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, COPIAH, COUNTY, CITY OF HAZLEHURST, RIAA, JAMES DUFF INVESTIGATIONS LLC, CHANNEL 12 WJTV, CHANNEL 3-FOX 40 WLBT, CLARION LEDGER, Defendants,

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

CARLTON W. REEVES, District Judge.

This lawsuit is before the Court on numerous motions filed by all of the parties. Defendants have filed several motions [Docket Nos. 15, 19, 22, 27, 40, 42, 44, 78] to dismiss based on various grounds, and Plaintiffs have responded [Docket Nos. 30, 32, 33, 54, 55, 63, 66, 67]. Also pending are several motions filed by Plaintiffs, including a motion for summary judgment [Docket No. 45], motion for default judgment [Docket No. 85], motions to submit newly discovered evidence [Docket Nos. 87 & 94], motion for pre-trial conference [Docket No. 91], and a motion for miscellaneous relief [Docket No. 108]. Defendants have responded. The Court, having considered the parties' submissions and the pertinent authorities, finds that Defendants' motions to dismiss are granted. The remaining motions are considered moot.

I. Background

Plaintiffs Patrick King and his wife, Cathy King, filed this lawsuit on February 26, 2014, against The State of Mississippi, Copiah County, City of Hazlehurst, Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (RIAA), James Duff Investigations LLC (Duff), Media General Operations, Inc. d/b/a Channel 12 WJTV (WJTV), WLBT, LLC (WLBT), WDBD TV - Channel 40 Television (Fox 40), and Gannett River States Publishing Corporation d/b/a The Clarion-Ledger (Clarion-Ledger). The facts and allegations stated in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint are obscure at best. Most of the background has been gleaned from the record with the help of documents submitted by Defendants.

This matter stems from the arrest of Patrick King on April 13, 2012, for "allegedly selling [counterfeit] CD and DVD discs from his place of business in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, known as the Ice House." Channel 12 WJTV's Mot. to Dismiss, Docket No. 20, at 1. Following his arrest, King states that his "property was illegally seized and destroyed." Docket No. 33, at 3. King pled guilty to six counts of felony sale or distribution of recordings without display of required information. See State of Mississippi's Mem. of Auth. Supp. Mot. to Dismiss, Docket No. 16, at 1. King was sentenced to prison on November 7, 2012. Sentencing Order, Docket No. 27-1.

In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that King's arrest was the result of "entrap[ment]" by Defendants conspiring against him, because he filed a suit[1] against the City of Hazlehurst in 2006.[2] Amended Complaint, Docket No. 2, at 3. The Amended Complaint goes on to allege that all of the evidence used to convict him was "fabricated" and that the material downloaded to the CD and DVD was obtained legally.[3] See id. Various news media outlets widely publicized King's arrest and conviction, which, Plaintiffs claim, contained false information that "ruined [King's] chance of a fair trial." Id. at 4.

As best as can be deciphered, Plaintiffs now bring this suit against Defendants for "libel, slander, conspiracy, illegal search and seizure of property, out of clear jurisdiction of law [sic], tampering, falsifying of evidence and documents, illegal sentence, malicious prosecution, wrongful conviction, [and] violation of civil rights."[4] Amended Complaint at 2. Although not stated in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs' Civil Cover Sheet lists several federal civil rights statutes as causes of action, which include: 18 U.S.C. § 242, "Deprivation of rights under color of law"; 18 U.S.C. § 241, "Conspiracy against rights"; and 42 U.S.C. § 14141, a federal statute prohibiting law enforcement officers from engaging in practices that deprive persons' federal rights.[5] Plaintiffs seek $61, 000, 000 in damages for destroyed property, an expungement of King's record, and a public apology broadcast on local and international news. Docket No. 2-1, at 1.

II. Legal Standards

A. 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to seek dismissal on the basis of (a district court's) lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be found in any one of three instances: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts." Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). The plaintiff, as the party asserting jurisdiction, bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does exist. Id. However, if the defense only makes a "facial attack" upon subject matter jurisdiction by "merely fil[ing] a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the trial court is required merely to look to the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint because they are presumed to be true. If those jurisdictional allegations are sufficient the complaint stands." Paterson v. Weinberger, 644 F.2d 521, 523 (5th Cir. 1981).

A defendant may make a "factual attack" upon the court's subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit by submitting "affidavits, testimony, or other evidentiary materials." Id. When a defendant makes a factual attack, the plaintiff must also "submit facts through some evidentiary method and has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the trial court does have subject matter jurisdiction." Paterson, 644 F.2d at 523.

Dismissal on the basis of lack of subject matter jurisdiction is appropriate "only if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove a plausible set of facts that establish subject-matter jurisdiction." Davis v. United States, 597 F.3d 646, 649 (5th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

B. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), dismissal is warranted only when the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court accepts the plaintiff's factual allegations as true and makes reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint must contain "more than an unadorned, the defendantunlawfully-harmed-me accusation, " but need not have "detailed factual allegations." Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). The plaintiff's claims must also be plausible on their face, which means there is "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the ...


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