United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
before this Court is Defendants Perry Goodwin, Macel
Appleton, and Dennis Hopper's motion to dismiss .
Pro se Plaintiff Frankie Wayne Hill, a commercial
truck driver, alleges Goodwin, a Mississippi Department of
Transportation officer, and Appleton and Hopper,
Goodwin's supervisors, violated his constitutional rights
by falsely arresting him and searching his truck after Hill
refused to participate in a roadside safety inspection.
Because Hill was required to submit to the roadside
inspection, no constitutional violation occurred when Goodwin
arrested Hill, and so, the motion should be
and Procedural Background
to the complaint, on the morning of January 22, 2015, Hill
was driving his truck down 1-55 south of Batesville,
Mississippi, when Goodwin pulled him over. Compl.  at p.
1. Goodwin approached the vehicle and told Hill that he
intended to perform an inspection on Hill's truck.
initially complied by providing Goodwin with his permit book.
Id. at p. 4. Hill told Goodwin that he did not
oppose Goodwin inspecting the truck, but that he would not
assist in the inspection by operating any controls.
Id. Goodwin informed Hill that he was required to
submit to the inspection under Mississippi law, but Hill
still refused to operate any vehicle controls for the
after speaking to Appleton and Hopper, decided to place Hill
under arrest for refusing the inspection. Id. at p.
6. Goodwin proceeded to search the truck, and the truck was
subsequently brought the present suit alleging that
Defendants violated his constitutional rights. Defendants now
move to dismiss the suit, asserting they are entitled to
qualified immunity. Hill has responded, and the matter is
ripe for review.
12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) "are viewed with
disfavor and are rarely granted." Kocurek v. Cuna
Mut. Ins. Soc' y, 459 Fed.Appx. 371, 373 (5th Cir.
2012) (citing Gregson v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 322
F.3d 883, 885 (5th Cir. 2003)). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the Court is limited to the allegations
set forth in the complaint and any documents attached to the
complaint. Walker v. Webco Indus., Inc., 562
Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citing
Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d
833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)).
plaintiffs] complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." ' "
Phillips v. City of Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772,
775-76 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting 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 is
facially plausible when the pleaded factual content
"allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955).
"[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the
elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid
claim." Webb v. Morella, 522F. App'x238,
24l (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (quoting City of
Clinton, Ark v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 632 F.3d 148,
152-53 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
"[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions
masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to
prevent a motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting
Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987
F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks
omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff
has not alleged 'enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face' and has failed to
'raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.' " Emesowum v. Hous, Police
Dep't, 561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014) (per
curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127
immunity 'gives government officials breathing room to
make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal
questions.' " Lane v. Franks, ____ U.S.___,
___, 134 S.Ct. 2369, 2381, 189 L.Ed.2d 312 (2014) (quoting
Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 743, 131 S.Ct.
2074, 179 L.Ed.2d 1149 (2011)). "The doctrine of
qualified immunity protects government officials from civil
damages liability when their actions could reasonably have
been believed to be legal." Morgan v. Swanson,
659 F.3d 359, 370 (5th Cir. 2011) (en banc).
immunity is an affirmative defense. However, the
"plaintiff has the burden to negate the assertion of...
immunity once properly raised." Collier v.
Montgomery, 569 F.3d 214, 217 (5th Cir.2009). "
'When a defendant invokes qualified immunity, the burden
shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate the inapplicability of
the defense.' " Beaulieu v. Lavigne, 539
Fed.Appx. 421, 424 (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (quoting
Club Retro, LLC v. Hilton, 568 F.3d 181, 194 (5th
Cir. 2009) (citing McClendon v. City of Columbia,
Miss., 305 F.3d 314, 323 (5th Cir. 2002) (en banc))).
The pleading standard for claims brought under § 1983 is
heightened and the complaint must state "claims of
specific conduct and actions giving rise to a constitutional
violation." Mitchell v., Okolona Sch.
Dist, No. 1:10-CV-135-D-D, 2011 WL 1226023, at *2 (N.D.
Miss. Mar. 29, 2011) (citing Baker v. Putnal, 75
F.3d 190, 195 (5th Cir. 1996)).
plaintiff seeking to defeat qualified immunity must show:
"(1) that the official violated a statutory or
constitutional right, and (2) that the right was 'clearly
established' at the time of the challenged conduct."
' " Da Vinci Inv., Ltd. P'ship v.
Parker, 622 Fed.Appx. 367, 374 (5th Cir. 2015) (per
curiam) (quoting Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359,
371 (5th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (quoting al-Kidd, 563
U.S. at 735, 131 S.Ct. 2074)). The plaintiffs complaint must
allege facts that, if true, demonstrate that the defendant
violated his rights by acting in a way that he or she should
have known was unlawful. See Behrens v. Pelletier,
516 U.S. 299, 309, 116 S.Ct. 834, 133 L.Ed.2d 773 (1996).
"Dismissal is warranted 'only if it appears that no
relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be
proved consistent with the allegations.' "
DeLeon v. City of Dallas, Tex., 141 Fed.Appx. 258,
261 (5th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (quoting Morin v.
Caire, 77 F.3d 116, 120 (5th Cir. 1996)).
alleges that Defendants violated his Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
242, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and 34
U.S.C. § 12601 by 1) initiating the stop without probable
cause; 2) falsely arresting him; 3) failing ...