United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRAMLETTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on defendants Pike County,
Mississippi, and Pike County Sheriff's Deputy Warren
Gilmore (“Gilmore”)'s Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings (docket entry 25). 
Court's Order of September 18, 2018 (docket entry 52)
stayed all discovery in this case until such time as the
Court has ruled on the defendants' Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings. Upon careful consideration of the
defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and the
Memorandum Briefs of the parties, the Court finds the
case arises out of the January 26, 2017, arrest of Zachary
Patterson by the City of McComb Police Department. Plaintiff
Patterson contends that his arrest and incarceration violated
both federal and state laws.
25, 2018, Patterson filed suit in this Court alleging federal
and state law claims against Deputy Gilmore in both his
official and individual capacities. (Docket entry 1). The
plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint with
identical allegations. (Hereinafter “Complaint”
or “Docket entry 13”). In particular, Patterson
asserts the following federal claims against Gilmore: (1)
violation of due process; (2) false arrest; (3) malicious
prosecution; (4) conspiracy to maliciously prosecute; and (5)
negligence/gross negligence. The plaintiff also asserts state
law claims for (1) violation of due process; (2) false
arrest; (3) malicious prosecution; (4) conspiracy to
maliciously prosecute; and (5) negligence/gross
moving defendants contend that the plaintiff's claims
against Deputy Gilmore in his individual capacity under
federal law are barred by qualified immunity; that the
plaintiff's federal claims against Deputy Gilmore in his
official capacity are barred by Monell v. Dep't of
Soc. Serv., 436 U.S. 658 (1978); that the
plaintiff's claims under state law against Deputy Gilmore
in his official capacity as a Pike County Deputy are barred
by the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”); and
that the plaintiff's state law claims against Deputy
Gilmore in his individual capacity are also barred by the
to the plaintiff's Complaint, on January 26, 2017,
Barrett Pickett filed a sworn criminal affidavit charging
Patterson with disturbing the peace, accusing him of
unlawfully surveying Pickett's property and continuing
“to attempt to engage in a verbal altercation with Mr.
Pickett until words were exchanged between the two of
them.” Docket entry 13 at ¶ 15. The plaintiff
further contends that on or about January 26, 2017, Pickett
filed a second sworn criminal affidavit charging the
plaintiff with trespass and accusing him of “unlawfully
and knowingly without the authority of law [going] on the
private property of Barrett Pickett at ... McComb MS
39648.” Id. at ¶ 16.
plaintiff further alleges that on February 23, 2017, he
received a call from City of McComb Police Officer Rodney
Nordstrom telling him that a warrant had been issued for his
arrest. Id. at ¶17. Nordstrom purportedly told
Patterson to come to the police station to pick up his
paperwork. Id. at ¶ 18. The plaintiff consulted
with attorney Ronnie Whittington, who allegedly told him that
Deputy Warren Gilmore was being “pissy about the
Plaintiff not being arrested.” Id. at ¶
23. According to the plaintiff, Whittington told the
plaintiff to fill out his paperwork at the police station.
Id. at ¶ 24. The plaintiff asserts that he went
to the Police Department where Officer Kurt Taylor had him
enter the booking area and took his personal effects.
Id. at ¶ 27-31. Thereafter, Taylor opened a
jail cell door and placed Patterson in the cell. Id.
at ¶ 32.
plaintiff asserts that the City of McComb Municipal Court had
in effect, at the time of his arrest, a standing order that
all persons arrested, with or without a warrant, for any
misdemeanor prosecuted before the municipal court “will
be released on their personal recognizance as soon as
practicable after arrest ....” Id. at ¶
19. Patterson further alleges that he was arrested and jailed
in contravention of the standing order. Id. at
plaintiff also contends “upon information and
belief” that Warren Gilmore is friends with defendant
Barrett Pickett and that Gilmore called City officers Scott
McKenzie and Rodney Nordstrom to tell them that “he
wanted the Plaintiff arrested and incarcerated” and
that the City officers “agreed to arrest and
incarcerate Plaintiff in violation of the City of
McComb's standing Order on Recognizance Bonds.”
Id. at ¶ 59.
plaintiff alleges that he was arraigned, and that subsequent
to his arraignment he was found not guilty on the disturbing
the peace and trespassing charges filed by Pickett.
Id. at ¶¶ 63-64.
25, 2018, Patterson filed suit in this Court alleging both
federal and state law claims against Pike County Deputy
Warren Gilmore in both his official and individual
capacities. (Docket entry 1). Subsequently, he filed an
Amended Complaint containing identical allegations.
(“Complaint” or “Docket entry 13”).
He asserts the following federal claims against the moving
defendants: (1) violation of due process; (2) false arrest;
(3) conspiracy to maliciously prosecute; and (4)
negligence/gross negligence. As stated above, the Court
treats these claims as being alleged under both federal and
plaintiff also seeks declaratory relief on the same basis as
the claims above. The moving defendants contend that the
plaintiff has failed to state a claim and is not entitled to
any declaratory relief.
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the
defendants' Motion inasmuch as a responsive pleading has
already been filed. See, e.g., Jones v.
Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5thCir.1999);
Robertson v. Mullins, 2:12-cv-57, 2013 WL 1319759,
at *1 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 26, 2013). The standard for addressing
a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is
the same as that for addressing a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6). In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Co., 624 F.3d 201, 209-10 (5th Cir. 2010).
to survive the moving defendants' motion the
plaintiff's Complaint must provide the grounds for
entitlement to relief - including factual allegations that,
when assumed to be true, “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Cuvillier v. Sullivan,
503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007)(quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 553-56 (2007)).
complaint must allege sufficient factual matter “to
state a claim that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “[W]hen the
allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a
claim of entitlement to relief, ‘this basic deficiency
should ... be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of
time and money by the parties and the court.'”
Id. at 558 (quoting 5 Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 1216 at 234)(quoting Daves v. Hawaiian Dredging
Co., 114 F.Supp. 643, 645 (D. Haw. 1953)).
should not accept “threadbare recitals of a cause of
action's elements, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” which “do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-679 (2009).
CLAIMS UNDER FEDERAL AND STATE LAW
Federal Claims - Individual Capacity
plaintiff asserts his claims under Section 1983 against
Deputy Gilmore in his individual capacity for: (1) violation
of due process; (2) false arrest; (3) conspiracy to
maliciously prosecute; and (4) negligence/gross negligence.
enforcement officials, “like other public officials
acting within the scope of their official duties, are
shielded from claims of civil liability, including §
1983 claims, by qualified immunity.” Morris v.
Dillard Dept. Stores, Inc., 277 F.3d 743, 753
(5th Cir. 2001). A law enforcement officer is
entitled to the cloak of qualified immunity “unless it
is shown that, at the time of the incident, he violated a
clearly established constitutional right.” Mangieri
v. Clifton, 29 F.3d 1012 (5th Cir. 1994).
Significantly, qualified immunity provides “ample
protection to all but the plainly incompetent or those who
knowingly violate the law.” Malley v. Briggs,
475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986).
assessing a claim of qualified immunity, courts apply a
two-part analysis. The threshold question is “whether
Plaintiff's allegations establish a constitutional
violation.” Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 736
(2002). If “no constitutional right would have been
violated were the allegations established, there is no
necessity for further inquiries concerning qualified
immunity.” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194
(2001); see also Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223
(2009)(holding that “order of battle” outlined in
Saucier is not mandatory in every instance).
However, “if a violation could be made out, the next
sequential step is to ask whether the right was clearly
established.” Saucier, 533 U.S. at 201. The
“relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether a
right is clearly established is whether it would be clear to
a reasonable officer that his conduct was unlawful in the
situation confronted.” Id. at 202.
purpose of qualified immunity is to protect public officials
from the “burden of fighting lawsuits which arise from
the good faith performance of their duties.” Ren v.
Towe, 130 F.3d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1997).
Thus, qualified immunity “is not just immunity from
judgment, but rather, is immunity from all aspects of
suit.” Jacques v. Procunier, 801 F.2d 789, 791
(5th Cir. 1986). The qualified immunity issues in
a case are “threshold” issues and must be dealt
with as expeditiously as possible and prior to resolving
non-immunity issues. See Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 102
S.Ct. 2727, 2728 (1982); see also L.U.Civ.R.
Fifth Circuit, in order to fulfill the protective purpose of
qualified immunity, has long required more than mere
“notice pleading” when a claimant asserts a
Section 1983 claim against an official in his individual
capacity. Elliott v. Perez, 751 F.2d 1472
(5th Cir. 1985). More specifically, when an
officer raises the qualified immunity defense, a complaint
“must present more than bald allegations and conclusory
statements.” Wicks v. Mississippi State Employment
Svcs., 41 F.3d 991, 995 (5th Cir. 1995). In
fact, a plaintiff must “allege with sufficient
particularity all facts establishing a right to recovery,
including facts which negate the official's immunity
defense.” Id.; see also Nunez v.
Simms, 341 F.3d 385 (5th Cir. 2003)(holding
that heightened pleading in qualified immunity cases requires
plaintiff to rest complaint on more than conclusions alone);
Foster v. City of Lake Jackson, 28 F.3d 425
(5th Cir. 1994)(burden of negating qualified
immunity defense lies with plaintiff).
“cannot be allowed to rest on general
characterizations, but must speak to the factual particulars
of the alleged actions.” Floyd v. City of
Kenner, 351 Fed.Appx. 890, 893 (5th Cir.
2009)(citing Schultea v. Wood, 47 F.3d 1427, 1433-34
(5thCir. 1995). Furthermore, “[h]eightened
pleading requires allegations of fact focusing specifically
on the conduct of the individual who caused the
plaintiff's injury.” R ...