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Jackson v. Forrest County

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

December 14, 2016

ELISHA JACKSON and SHAWN O'HARA PLAINTIFFS
v.
FORREST COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, C/O JIMMY HAVARD, CLERK, and DAWN BEAM former FORREST COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI CHANCERY COURT JUDGE DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Remand [14] filed by Plaintiffs Elisha Jackson and Shawn O'Hara, the Motion to Dismiss [4] filed by Defendant Justice Dawn Beam, and the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (“Motion for Judgment”) [8] filed by Defendant Forrest County, Mississippi. After considering the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motion to Remand [14] is not well taken and should be denied. The Court further finds that the Motion to Dismiss [4] and the Motion for Judgment [8] are well taken and should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiffs Elisha Jackson (“Jackson”) and Shawn O'Hara (“O'Hara”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against Defendants Justice Dawn Beam (“Justice Beam”) and Forrest County, Mississippi (the “County”), in the Circuit Court of Forrest County, Mississippi, on May 27, 2016. In their Complaint [1-2], Plaintiffs bring claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for certain violations of their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs allege that Justice Beam, then serving as Chancery Court judge for the County, had Jackson wrongfully arrested and imprisoned. Because of this false arrest and imprisonment, O'Hara allegedly lost the opportunity to write a book and produce a motion picture about Jackson.

         On September 20, 2016, the County attempted to remove this action to this Court pursuant to the Court's federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The County mistakenly believed that it had yet to be properly served and that the time to remove had not expired. See Jackson et al. v. Forrest County, Miss. et al., Civil Action No. 2:16-CV-146-KS-MTP, at Dkt. No. 1.) After realizing its mistake and that its removal had been untimely, the County confessed Plaintiffs' motion to remand, and the Court remanded the case back to the Circuit Court of Forrest County. (See id.at Dkt. No. 10.) Justice Beam was served with process on September 23, 2016. (See State Court Documents. [1-4] at p. 4.) On October 19, 2016, Justice Beam removed the action to this Court. The County joined in her removal on October 20, 2016.

         II. MOTION TO REMAND [14]

         Plaintiffs do not challenge the Court's subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this matter. Rather, they challenge only the procedure by which Justice Beam removed the action, contending that, because it had already been removed once and remanded, she had no right to remove without first filing a motion for reconsideration of the previous motion to remand or filing an appeal with the Fifth Circuit. Plaintiffs' argument is wrong for multiple reasons. First, it ignores the clear language of 28 U.S.C. § 1446 (b)(2)(B), which states that “[e]ach defendant shall have 30 days after receipt by or service on that defendant of the initial pleading or summons . . . to file the notice of removal.” Justice Beam therefore had thirty days after being served with process to file for removal, and she timely filed her notice within this time frame.

         Plaintiffs are also mistaken in their belief that a motion for reconsideration could have been filed because the case was pending before the state court when Justice Beam was served, and the state court could not reconsider a remand order issued by this Court. An appeal to the Fifth Circuit of the remand order was also impossible, because 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) makes an order remanding an action to state court not reviewable on appeal, barring circumstances not applicable here.

         Therefore, because Justice Beam's removal was timely filed and not procedurally deficient, remand is not warranted, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand [14] will be denied.

         III. MOTION TO DISMISS [4] AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT [8]

         A. Standard of Review

         Justice Beam's Motion to Dismiss [4] is brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), while the County's Motion for Judgment [8] is brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). “The same standard of dismissal under Rule 12(c) is the same as that for dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).” Johnson v. Johnson, 38 F.3d 503, 529 (5th Cir. 2004).

         To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.; see also In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 624 F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010) (“To be plausible, the complaint's ‘[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'”) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[W]hen a successful affirmative defense appears on the face of the pleadings, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be appropriate.” Miller v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P., 726 F.3d 717, 726 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting Kansa Reins. Co. v. Cong. Mortg. Corp. of Tex., 20 F.3d 1362, 1366 (5th Cir. 1994)).

         B. Justice Beam's ...


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