United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
their Amended Complaint , Stephanie Thompson and Wrecker
Works, LLC allege that the City of Aberdeen Mississippi, and
City Police Chief Henry Randle, violated their constitutional
rights and maliciously interfered with their business. The
City and Randle filed a Motion for Summary Judgment 
requesting that the Court grant summary judgment in their
favor on all of the Plaintiffs' claims. The Plaintiffs
filed a response , and the Defendants replied ,
making these issues ripe for review.
and Procedural Background
spring of 2016, Stephanie Thompson decided that she wanted to
own a wrecker service. Thinking that it would be easier to
purchase an established local company instead of starting her
own, Thompson asked around and entered into talks with local
businessperson Dean Irvin about purchasing his wrecker
company, Irvin Wrecker Service, LLC, that had been in
business in the Aberdeen area since 2009. In addition to its
physical assets, mainly towing vehicles and equipment, Irvin
Wrecker Service had a small list of existing customers and
was on rotation with several insurance companies and nearby
municipalities including the City of Aberdeen.
on rotation with Aberdeen meant that Irvin Wrecker Service
was on a list of approved companies that the City Police
Department would call and dispatch as needed to accidents and
other situations where a vehicle needed to be recovered,
towed, or transported. Irvin Wrecker Service was one of
several companies on Aberdeen's rotation list. According
to Irvin, the Aberdeen rotation list typically resulted in
between one and three calls each week. The City had a Wrecker
Service Ordinance in place since March of 2014. Under this
ordinance, the City Clerk was responsible for some of the
procedures and duties, in particular the list application
process, while the Police Department handled dispatch and
later, on April 20, 2016, Thompson filed the required
paperwork with the Secretary of State of Mississippi to
establish a new company, Wrecker Works, LLC. Around this same
time, Randle removed Irvin Wrecker Service from the rotation
list after hearing that the company was sold. Although Irvin
and Thompson were then in talks, the sale was not completed.
Neither Irvin nor Thompson knew that Randle removed Irvin
Wrecker Service from the rotation list.
April 27, 2016, Thompson filed a request with the Aberdeen
City Clerk to have Wrecker Works, LLC added to the wrecker
rotation list. At their next regular meeting, May 3, 2016,
the Aberdeen Board of Aldermen approved Wrecker Works'
request. Interestingly, although the Board approved Wrecker
Works in this case, the Wrecker Service Ordinance in place at
that time does not require or provide for any approval
process by the Board. According to the ordinance, the
application and approval process goes through the City Clerk,
the “investigating officer, ” and the Chief of
Police. Two days later, on May 5, 2016, Irvin executed a sell
agreement, and Wrecker Works' new insurance policy became
effective that same day. According to the sell agreement, Irvin
sold several vehicles, a variety of service equipment,
several business telephone numbers, a few “existing
customers, ” and ten “service providers”
including the City of Aberdeen. The sell agreement also
contains a “non-compete contract” stating that
Dean Irvin would not compete with Wrecker Works in any way
for five years. Notably, Irvin did not sell the name of the
company or the LLC. It is undisputed that Irvin Wrecker
Service dissolved after the sale and that Wrecker Works, LLC
is a new and separate independent company.
next regular Board of Aldermen meeting on May 17, 2016 Chief
Randle proposed a new Wrecker Service Policy. After a motion
by Alderman Sykes, and a second from Alderman Ewing, the
Board took the new policy under advisement by unanimous vote.
this same time, Thompson noticed that Wrecker Works was not
receiving any calls from the Aberdeen Police Department.
Thompson complained to Alderman Buffington who raised the
issue with Chief Randle at the next Board meeting on June 7,
2016. At this same meeting, the Board approved the new
Wrecker Service Policy previously proposed by Randle by
unanimous vote. Soon after the Board approved the new policy,
Wrecker Works began receiving the normal, expected volume of
27, 2016, Thompson and Wrecker Works filed this suit. In
their Amended Complaint , the Plaintiffs allege three
claims based on constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 against both the City of Aberdeen and Randle in
his individual capacity and one claim based on Mississippi
law against Randle individually. First, the Plaintiffs allege
that the Defendants took their liberty and property without
due process in violation of the Procedural Due Process Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Second, the Plaintiffs allege that the
Defendants' actions were irrational and arbitrary and not
for any legitimate governmental purpose in violation of the
Substantive Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Third, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated
their rights protected by the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, the Plaintiffs allege a state
law claim, that Randle maliciously interfered with their
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
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).
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When such contradictory facts
exist, the Court may “not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120
S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
moving party “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.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). This
Court has no duty to “sift through the record in search
of evidence to support” the nonmovant's opposition
to summary judgment. Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co.,
841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Forsyth v.
Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915
n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)).
Plaintiffs are seeking relief based on two separate factual
bases. First, the Plaintiffs argue that the removal of Irvin
Wrecker Works from the rotation list was a denial of due
process that accrued to the Plaintiffs as the successors in
interest of Irvin's business. The rest of the Plaintiffs
claims are based on the delay between the time the Board
approved Wrecker Works for the rotation list and the time
when they started receiving calls, approximately one month.
courts only have jurisdiction over “cases” or
“controversies.” Williams v. Parker, 843
F.3d 617, 620-21 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Raines v.
Byrd, 521 U.S. 811, 818, 117 S.Ct. 2312, 138 L.Ed.2d 849
(1997) (quoting U.S. Const. Art. III, § 2, cl. 1)).
“There is no case or controversy without standing to
sue.” Id. Standing is a threshold issue that
this Court considers before examining the merits of the
claims. Id. (citing Cibolo Waste, Inc. v. City
of San Antonio, 718 F.3d 469, 473 (5th Cir. 2013)). As
the parties invoking federal jurisdiction, the Plaintiffs
(1) that they suffered an injury in fact, which is a concrete
and particularized invasion of a legally protected interest;
(2) that the injury is traceable to the challenged action of
the [defendant]; and (3) it is likely, rather than merely
speculative, the injury will be redressed by a particular
Williams, 843 F.3d at 620 (citing Hollis v.
Lynch, 827 F.3d 436, 441 (5th Cir. 2016); Lujan v.
Defs. of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130,
119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992)). “If the party invoking federal
jurisdiction fails to establish any one of injury in fact,
causation, or redressability, then federal courts cannot hear
the [claim].” Id. (citing Rivera v.
Wyeth-Ayerst Labs., 283 F.3d 315, 318-19 (5th Cir.
on the record in this case, the Plaintiffs do not have
standing to sue for Irvin's removal from the rotation
list. The only argument the Plaintiffs make to support their
claim is that that they were the “successors in
interest” to the assets of Irvin Wrecker Service. The
Plaintiffs do not cite any evidence or authority to support
this mere allegation. It is undisputed that the Plaintiffs
did not purchase Irvin Wrecker Service, LLC and that Irvin
Wrecker Service was dissolved when the Plaintiffs purchased
its assets. It is undisputed that Irvin Wrecker Service was a
separate, independent business, and that Thompson only
purchased some of the assets of the company. When questioned
in her 30(b)(6) deposition as to whether she had any interest
in Irvin Wrecker Service, Thompson responded, “I did
not.” Although the sell agreement purports to sell the
“City of Aberdeen Police” as a “service
provider, ” it is undisputed that Irvin Wrecker Service
was removed from the list before the sale took place, making
such a transaction an impossibility.
on these facts, the Plaintiffs cannot establish the
“injury in fact” or “redressability”
prongs of the standing inquiry. See Williams, 843
F.3d at 620; Lujan, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S.Ct.
2130. Thompson did not suffer an injury because
she did not have an interest in Irvin Wrecker Service, was
not entitled to its profits, and never purchased the
corporation. As to redressability, any potential recovery
would accrue to Irvin Wrecker Service and not to Thompson or
Wrecker Works. Irvin Wrecker Service is not a party to this
litigation. Because the Plaintiffs' lack standing
relative to this claim, it is dismissed.
Plaintiffs established standing for the remainder of their
claims related to the delay in referrals, and the Court ...