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Davis v. Hinds County

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

February 23, 2018

CHAKAKHAN R. DAVIS PLAINTIFF
v.
HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, AND TYRONE LEWIS DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DANIEL P. JORDAN III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Chakakhan R. Davis seeks relief from this Court's November 29, 2017 Order [58] granting in part and denying in part her Motion to Amend Complaint [30]. Because Davis still fails to demonstrate that the claims she wishes to pursue are plausible, the Court denies her Motion for Prospective Relief and Reconsideration [63].

         I. Background

         Davis says Defendants mistreated her during an arrest and subsequent incarceration because she had previously filed a grievance with the Hinds County Sherriff's Department. For purposes of this motion, the relevant history relates to Davis's proposed false-arrest and First Amendment retaliation claims against Defendants Hinds County, Mississippi; former Sherriff Tyrone Lewis; and Officer Brenda Jones (the “Moving Defendants”).

         Davis initiated this case by filing a pro se complaint in state court asserting various state and federal claims, including a claim for false arrest. She did not, however, mention First Amendment retaliation as the basis for any claim. After removal from state court, the Moving Defendants filed motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). See Defs.' Mots. [7, 9]. Lewis and Jones sought dismissal of all state- and federal-law claims against them, while Hinds County sought dismissal of the state-law claims against it. Davis responded [11], asserting a new claim against the Moving Defendants based on First Amendment retaliation.

         On May 23, 2017, the Court ruled on Moving Defendants' motions, finding first that Davis never served Lewis or Jones. See May 23, 2017 Order [28]. Because of that, the Court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the merits of their Rule 12(c) motions. The Court did, however, consider the merits to determine whether allowing Davis an opportunity to cure defective service would be futile. Id. at 5-7 (citing Gregory v. United States, 942 F.2d 1498, 1500-01 (10th Cir. 1991)). The Court stated that any futile claims would be dismissed without prejudice under Rule 12(b)(5) for lack of proper service. Id.[1]

         After considering the parties' arguments, the Court held that the federal claims, and most of the state-law claims, Davis pleaded against Lewis and Jones were futile and should be dismissed without prejudice-including the false-arrest claims. May 23, 2017 Order [28] at 18. But based on Davis's pro se status, the Court allowed her to seek leave to amend her Complaint in two relevant ways: (1) to better articulate the newly proposed First Amendment retaliation claims against the Moving Defendants; and (2) to re-plead her false-arrest claim against Hinds County. Id. at 22.

         Davis accepted the Court's invitation to seek leave to amend, but she submitted a proposed Amended Complaint [30-1] that was almost identical to her original Complaint. So on November 29, 2017, the Court denied leave to amend except as to one unrelated claim against Lewis. Nov. 29, 2017 Order [58] at 9.

         Davis now seeks an order vacating the Court's November 29, 2017 Order to the extent the Court prevented her from amending her complaint as to First Amendment retaliation and false arrest. See Pl.'s Mot. [63] at 25. For the following reasons, the Court denies her motion.

         II. Standards

         Davis seeks reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4). But because the Order granted only partial dismissal, it was interlocutory, and the Court must consider Davis's request for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Cabral v. Brennan, 853 F.3d 763, 766 (5th Cir. 2017). That rule states that interlocutory orders “may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). “‘Interlocutory orders, ' such as grants of partial [dismissal] . . . are left within the plenary power of the court that rendered them to afford such relief from them as justice requires.'” McKay v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 751 F.3d 694, 701 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Zimzores v. Veterans Admin., 778 F.2d 264, 266 (5th Cir. 1985)). Whether to grant such relief is a matter left to the trial court's discretion. Id.; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) advisory committee's note to 1946 amendment (stating that “interlocutory judgments are not brought within the restrictions of [Rule 60], but rather they are left subject to the complete power of the court rendering them to afford such relief from them as justice requires”).

         III. Analysis

         Davis presents a 32-page memorandum explaining why she should be allowed to pursue the First Amendment and false-arrest claims. The First Amendment claim obviously falls under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but the false-arrest claim is less clear. When discussing her false-arrest claim, Davis at times references theories that would apply in the § 1983 context, see Pl.'s Mot. [63] at 16-17, but her most direct statement asserts that the Court should not have dismissed her “State Law false arrest claim, ” see Id. at 17. Either way, reconsideration is denied.

         While Davis's brief offers lengthy and often redundant discussions regarding the law, it fails to demonstrate that she can factually plead plausible claims-something her first and second complaints and previous memoranda also failed to do. The Court has already considered all relevant evidence that Davis mentions in her most recent motion, and its last two orders addressed those issues in full. See May 23, 2017 Order [28]; Nov. 29, 2017 Order [58]. There is no need to go ...


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