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Collins v. Hood

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

September 29, 2017

KIM COLLINS PLAINTIFF
v.
MATTHEW HOOD, Individually, and in his Official Capacity as a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         Presently before the Court is a motion to dismiss [9] filed by Defendant Matthew Hood, individually and in his official capacity as a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper. Plaintiff has not filed a response in opposition. The matter is now ripe for review. Upon due consideration, the Court finds that the motion must be granted in part and denied in part, as follows.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 case, Plaintiff Kim Collins ("Plaintiff) sues Defendant Matthew Hood, individually and in his official capacity as a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper ("Defendant").[1] Plaintiff alleges that during a traffic stop and arrest in January 2013, Defendant violated Plaintiffs First Amendment right to free speech; Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force; and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. Plaintiff also asserts a "tort" claim under federal law for which she seeks "damages for all intentional, reckless, or negligent actions of [Defendant] which caused physical injury to [Plaintiff]." Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 25. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         At the time of the events giving rise to this suit, Plaintiff was convicted of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, speeding, disturbing the peace, and public profanity in the Circuit Court of Monroe County. She appealed those convictions to the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

         On May 3, 2016, Defendant filed the present motion to dismiss pursuant to sovereign immunity, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As stated above, the motion is unopposed.

         On June 27, 2017, the Mississippi Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming the Circuit Court of Monroe County as to the speeding conviction, but reversing that court as to the four other misdemeanor convictions, as follows: resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public profanity, and disturbing the peace. See Miss. Ct. of Appeals' Disposition [14-1] at 10.

         II. Analysis and Discussion

         Defendant argues in his motion to dismiss that under Rule 12(b)(1), Plaintiffs official-capacity claims against him must be dismissed due to sovereign immunity; and that under Rule 12(b)(6), the individual-capacity claims against him must be dismissed based on Heck v. Humphrey, Plaintiff, as stated above, does not oppose this motion. The Court addresses each argument for dismissal in turn.

         "When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, . . . courts must consider the jurisdictional challenge first." McCasland v. City of Castroville, Tex., 478 F.App'x 860, 860 (5th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Wolcott v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 762 (5th Cir. 2011); Moran v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 27 F.3d 169, 172 (5th Cir. 1994)). This " 'prevents a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice.' " Id. at 860-61 (quoting Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam)); accord Hitt v. City of Pasadena, Tex., 561 F.2d 606, 608 (5th Cir. 1977) (per curiam).

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion allows a party to challenge the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. " '[A] factual attack under Rule 12(b)(1) may occur at any stage of the proceedings, and plaintiff bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.' " Arena v. Graybar Elec. Co., 669 F.3d 214, 223 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit. Corp., 613 F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980) (citations omitted)).

         The Fifth Circuit has instructed:

A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case. In considering a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, the district court is free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual disputes in order to satisfy itself that it has the power to hear the case. Thus, under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court can resolve disputed issues of fact to the extent necessary to determine jurisdiction[.]

Smith v. Reg'l Transit Auth., 756 F.3d 340, 347 (5th Cir. 2014) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the Court can consider: "(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." Tsolmon v. United ...


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