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Kimbriel v. City of Greenville

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

June 12, 2015



SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

Plaintiff Raymond Kimbriel initiated this action against the City of Greenville, Mississippi and Officer Adrian Smith, alleging federal causes of action pursuant to Section 1983 and Section 1985, as well as state law causes pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act ("MTCA"). Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [23]. After reviewing the motion, responses, rules and authorities, the Court finds as follows:

Factual and Procedural Background

One evening in February 2013, Plaintiff was pulled over by City of Greenville Police Officer, Adrian Smith, for weaving "a little bit." When asked whether he had been drinking, Plaintiff eventually responded in the affirmative, prompting Officer Smith to perform a field sobriety test on Plaintiff by having him walk in a straight line on the side of the road.

According to Plaintiff, Officer Smith stated, "you're kind of walking that a little shaky there, " to which Plaintiff responded, "I'm 60 years old. I couldn't walk that in the broad daylight." Plaintiff further testified that he said "the only reason you stopped me was the Sunflower County tag[, ]" and that Officer Smith responded, "[o]h, I was going to let you go. Put your hands behind your back." Plaintiff was then handcuffed, placed in the back of Officer Smith's patrol vehicle, and transported to the Greenville Police Department.

Upon arrival at the Greenville Police Department, Plaintiff consented to a breathalyzer test, performed by Officer Lloyd Hoover, and twice recorded a blood alcohol content of.02, which is one fourth the legal limit for drivers in Mississippi. See MISS. CODE ANN. ยง 63-11-30(a). Nonetheless, Officer Smith insisted that Plaintiff should be charged with Driving Under the Influence ("DUI"). Smith then transported Plaintiff to the Washington County Jail where he was booked on the DUI charge, as well as a charge of Careless Driving. Plaintiff was released on bond the next morning. Over two months later, Plaintiff appeared in Greenville Municipal Court where the DUI charge against him was dismissed in exchange for Plaintiff pleading guilty to the Careless Driving charge. Plaintiff does not contest the legitimacy of the Careless Driving conviction.

Plaintiff subsequently initiated this suit, alleging federal causes of action under the Fourth Amendment of false arrest and false imprisonment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, as well as conspiracy to violate his Fourth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1985. Plaintiff has conceded the Section 1985 claim, and it is accordingly dismissed. Plaintiff also alleges Mississippi state law claims of malicious prosecution, assault, battery, false imprisonment, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent training.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is warranted under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when the evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The rule "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

The party moving for summary judgment "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The nonmoving party must then "go beyond the pleadings" and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). In reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmovant, "but only when... both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). Importantly, conclusory allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic arguments have never constituted an adequate substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1997); Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.

Discussion and Analysis

Section 1983

As a condition to recovery on his Section 1983 claims of false arrest and false imprisonment against Officer Smith and the City of Greenville, Plaintiff must demonstrate that his arrest and detention were made without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Brown v. Lyford, 243 F.3d 185, 189 (5th Cir. 2001); see also Simon v. Dixon, 141 F.Appx. 305, 306 (5th Cir. 2005). Probable cause exists "when the totality of the facts and circumstances within [an official's] knowledge at the moment of arrest are sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the suspect had committed or was committing an offense." Haggerty v. Tex. S. Univ., 391 F.3d 653, 655 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Glenn v. City of Tyler, 242 F.3d 307, 313 (5th Cir. 2001)).

As stated above, Plaintiff was arrested for and charged with both Careless Driving and DUI. Defendants argue that as long as Officer Smith possessed reasonable grounds to arrest Plaintiff for Careless Driving, then Plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claims must fail even if Officer Smith did not have reasonable grounds to arrest Plaintiff for DUI. In accord with Defendant's position, the Fifth Circuit has held that probable cause to make an arrest for even one of the charges at issue provides probable cause for the entire arrest. Cormier ...

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