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Jones v. City of Hattiesburg

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

July 30, 2018

ARTHUR J. JONES, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF HATTIESBURG and DETECTIVE SERGEANT NEAL ROCKHOLD DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss [5] and Motion to Strike [20] filed by Defendants City of Hattiesburg and Neal Rockhold, as well as the Motion to Amend [12] filed by Plaintiff Arthur J. Jones, Jr. After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds the following:

1. the Motion to Amend [12] is well taken and should be granted;
2. the Motion to Dismiss [5] should be granted in part, denied in part, and denied as moot in part;
3. the Motion to Strike [20] should be denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Arthur J. Jones, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), was arrested on July 6, 2015, for the murder of Jabarri Goudy. Bond was initially set for $500, 000.00, but was eventually reduced to $400, 000.00. Unable to afford bond, Plaintiff remained in jail until March 12, 2016, when his bond was reduced to $50, 000.00. On October 10, 2017, Plaintiff was informed that the murder charge against him had been dismissed. Some time later, Plaintiff learned that Andreco Deshun Guston had been charged with Goudy's murder around the time Plaintiff was released on bond.

         Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants City of Hattiesburg (the “City”) and Detective Sergeant Neal Rockhold (“Rockhold”) (collectively “Defendants”), on May 1, 2018, in the Circuit Court of Forrest County, Mississippi, bringing claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for various constitutional violations, as well as numerous state law claims.

         Defendants removed the action to this Court on May 15, 2018, and filed their Motion to Dismiss [5] the next day. Plaintiff then filed his Motion to Amend [12] on June 11, 2018, along with his response to Defendants' motion. Finally, on June 22, 2018, Defendants filed their Motion to Strike [20], arguing that certain arguments and exhibits in Plaintiff's response were inappropriate and should be struck. These motions have all been fully briefed, and the Court is now ready to rule.

         II. MOTION TO AMEND [12]

         “Rule 15(a) requires a trial court to grant leave to amend freely, and the language of this rule evinces a bias in favor of granting leave to amend.” Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., LP, 427 F.3d 987, 994 (5th Cir. 2005) (citation and internal quotations omitted). “[U]nless there is a substantial reason, such as undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or undue prejudice to the opposing party, the discretion of the district court is not broad enough to permit denial [of a motion to amend].” Martin's Herend Imports, Inc. v. Diamond & Gem Trading U.S.A. Co., 195 F.3d 765, 770 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d 594, 597 (5th Cir. 1981)) (internal quotations omitted). Defendants argue that the amendments in the Amended Complaint [12-1] are futile and that Plaintiff's Motion to Amend [12] should therefore be denied.

         It is true that many of the claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [12-1] fail for the same reasons they fail in his original Complaint [1-2]. However, the amendments do cure fatal defects in other claims previously brought in his original pleading. Because the arguments and allegations relied on by Defendants in their Motion to Dismiss [5] do not fundamentally change with the filing of the Amended Complaint [12-1], [1] with the exception of Plaintiff's § 1983 claims, the Court will grant the Motion to Amend [12] and use the Amended Complaint [12-1] in its analysis of the Motion to Dismiss [5].

         III. MOTION TO DISMISS [5]

         A. ...


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