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Hughes v. City of Southaven

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

June 17, 2019

JESSICA HUGHES PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF SOUTHAVEN, MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         The Court has before it a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants DeSoto County, Mississippi and Sheriff Bill Rasco [49]; a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Jennifer King, Candace McElhaney, James Pierce, and Chad Wicker [54]; and a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants City of Southaven, Mississippi, Phillip Croy, and Chief of Police Steve Pirtle [66]. Having considered the matter, the Court finds the motions should be granted.

         Background

         According to the complaint, Southaven police arrested Jessica Hughes for placing multiple calls to 911 emergency services when there was no emergency occurring. Third Amended Compl. [46] at 5-7, ¶¶ 23-27. After her arrest, Southaven police transported Hughes to the Southaven Police Department. Id. at 7, ¶¶ 27-28. There, two white males were permitted to bond out, while Hughes, an African American female, was not. Id.

         The police then transported her to the DeSoto County Jail, operated by the DeSoto County Sheriffs Department. Id. ¶ 29. She was placed into a holding area with three African American women and one white woman. Hughes alleges that she and the other African American women were made to change into pink jumpsuits while the white woman was not. Id.

         Hughes was eventually convicted of an abuse of 911 charge in the Municipal Court of Southaven and again in a trial de novo in the County Court of DeSoto County.

         Hughes brought this action against the City of Southaven, Police Chief Steve Pirtle in his official capacity, and Officer Philip Croy, the officer who arrested Hughes, in his official and individual capacity[1]; DeSoto County, Sheriff Bill Rasco, Deputy Sheriff John Tid-well, DeSoto County Jail Director Chad Wicker, in their official capacities, and correctional officers Candice McElhaney, James Pierce, and Jennifer King in their official and individual capacities.[2] She alleges that the Southaven police arrested her in violation of her First and Fourth Amendment rights and that Southaven failed to train its officers. She asserts that DeSoto County violated her due process and equal protection rights by detaining her and forcing her, but not the white woman also in lockup, to put on a pink jumpsuit. She also brings state law claims for negligent hiring and supervision, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and reckless disregard.

         The Southaven Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. They argue that Hughes' claims against them are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, The DeSoto County Defendants, except for Deputy Tidwell, also filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that some claims against them are also barred by Heck v. Humphrey and that the complaint otherwise fails to state a claim.

         At the outset, the Court notes that Hughes has not yet served Tidwell. Over 90 days have passed since Hughes filed her third amended complaint, and she has not shown good cause for her failure to serve Tidwell within that time. Accordingly, the Court, on its own motion, dismisses without prejudice, the claims against Tidwell. Fed. R. Civ. P (4)(m).

         12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard

         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) (citing Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d 833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)). "[A 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)).

         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 Bell All Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). "[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, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955).

         Analysis

         I. Federal Claims

         A. First and Fourth ...


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