United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Motions to Dismiss filed by
Defendant Deputy Jennings (Doc. # 7) and Defendant Walt
Maddox (Doc. # 9). This case arises from a warrantless entry
into an apartment, warrantless searches within that
apartment, detainment of individuals in the apartment, and a
subsequent criminal prosecution of Kimberly
Brown. (See generally Doc. # 1). When
liberally construed, the Complaint attempts to present 42
U.S.C. § 1983 claims based upon (a) the unconstitutional
entry into and search of the apartment, (b) the subsequent
arrests of Plaintiff and Brown, and (c) the criminal
prosecution of Brown. To be sure, Plaintiff's Complaint
fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
because, among other deficiencies, Plaintiff has not
presented each of his § 1983 claims in a separate cause
of action and has not identified which Defendant(s) are being
sued under each claim. Usually, the court would grant
Plaintiff a chance to amend his Complaint before dismissing
the case. However, Defendants have identified impediments to
relief that are readily apparent from the Complaint and that
would not be resolved in any amended complaint. According,
after careful review, and for the reasons explained below,
Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (Docs. # 7, 9) are due to
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that three members of the West
Alabama Narcotics Task Force entered an apartment without a
warrant on July 29, 2014. (Doc. # 1 at 2). Brown leased the
apartment, but Plaintiff was a “regular overnight
guest” at the apartment. (Id.). Defendant
Jennings identified himself at the front door and asked to
speak with Plaintiff. (Id.). Brown asked the
officers to wait at the front door while she called Plaintiff
to come to the door. (Id.). But, Jennings and the
other officers entered the residence as Brown walked away
from the door without showing Brown a search warrant or
arrest warrant. (Id.).
to the Complaint, officers entered a bedroom and a closed
bathroom. (Id.). Inside the bathroom, one officer
observed Brown hiding marijuana and placed her under arrest.
(Id.). Officers also arrested and handcuffed
Plaintiff. (Id. at 3). The officers searched
Brown's apartment, purse, and closet for more marijuana.
(Id.). They transported Brown to Tuscaloosa County
Jail and charged her with possession of drugs and drug
paraphernalia. (Id.). A state court dismissed the
criminal charges against Brown on September 19, 2014.
filed his Complaint on September 19, 2016. (Id. at
5). The Complaint alleges that Defendants Jennings and West
Alabama Drug Task Force conspired to violate his
constitutional rights and unlawfully entered and searched the
apartment without a warrant or consent. (Id. at
3-4). The Complaint also claims that Defendants'
unconstitutional conduct resulted in an “unjust
criminal prosecution.” (Id. at 4). Plaintiff
seeks to hold Defendants Walter Maddox and the City of
Tuscaloosa liable because they failed to ensure that the
officers were properly and adequately trained. (Id.
has attached to his Complaint supporting affidavits and an
order from the District Court of Tuscaloosa County.
(Id. at 6-13). Plaintiff's affidavit, dated
August 18, 2014, discusses the “warrantless and
non-consensual entry and search by members of the West
Alabama Narcotics Taskforce.” (Id. at 10). He
avers in the 2014 affidavit that he heard officers knock on
the door and that Brown asked him to come to the
apartment's front door. (Id.). When he walked to
the bedroom door, an officer handcuffed him and directed him
to sit in the kitchen. (Id. at 10-11). Plaintiff
observed two officers escort a handcuffed Brown from a
bathroom about twenty minutes later. (Id. at 11).
One officer then searched Brown's purse and asked
Plaintiff whether he had transported drugs in his truck.
(Id.). Ultimately, the officers arrested Brown, but
released Plaintiff from custody. (Id.). The District
Court of Tuscaloosa County dismissed a criminal case against
Brown on September 19, 2014. (Id. at 13).
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely
upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts
v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir.
2007). Moreover, the court must liberally construe
Plaintiff's Complaint because he submitted the complaint
pro se. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). The court may consider documents attached to a
complaint when ruling upon a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Saunders v. Duke, 766 F.3d 1262, 1270 (11th Cir.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, '” the complaint
must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A
plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556.
considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1)
eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely
legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield,
Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F. App'x 136, 138
(11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna
Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task
is context specific and, to survive the motion, the
allegations must permit the court based on its
“judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that
well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim
that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
statute of limitations defense is an affirmative defense, and
a plaintiff is not obligated to negate a timeliness defense
in his or her complaint. La Grasta v. First Union
Securities, Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004).
“A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on statute of limitations
grounds is appropriate only if it is facially apparent that
the claim is time-barred.” Baker v. Sanford,
484 F. App'x 291, 292 (11th Cir. 2012).
their Motions to Dismiss, Defendants mainly discuss the
insufficiency of Plaintiff's § 1983 unconstitutional
search claim, Plaintiff's failure to plead a specific
municipal policy, practice, or custom, and their entitlement
to qualified immunity. (See Docs. # 7 at 4-6; 9 at
2). Although the court finds merit in some of these
arguments, as a general matter they present grounds for
dismissal that could be remedied in an amended complaint.
Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's claims are barred
by the statute of limitations. (Docs. # 7 at 2; 9 at 3). The
court agrees with Defendants. Moreover, the court concludes
that Plaintiff cannot resurrect his untimely claims in an
amended complaint. In addition, to ...