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Johnson v. Broussard

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

June 22, 2017

ROBERT L. BROUSSARD, et al., Defendants.


         Plaintiff, Pamela T. Johnson, who is proceeding pro se, filed this case on March 13, 2017. Her complaint asserts claims against: Robert L. Broussard, the District Attorney for Madison County, Alabama; Blake L. Dorning, the Sheriff of Madison County; David K. Jernigan, a Madison County Deputy Sheriff; Richard T. Lambruschi, an Alabama State Board of Pharmacy Inspector; and Larry R. Muncey, the former Police Chief of the City of Madison, Alabama.[1] The case currently is before the court on the following pleadings: (1) a motion to dismiss filed by defendants Dorning and Jernigan;[2] (2) a motion to dismiss filed by defendant Broussard;[3] (3) a motion to dismiss filed by defendant Lambruschi;[4] (4) plaintiff's motion to amend her complaint for the purpose of adding claims against Spencer Collier and Stan Stabler, two former Secretaries of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (“ALEA”);[5] (5) plaintiff's motion for intervention;[6] and (6) plaintiff's motion for a restraining order.[7]


         A. Motions to Dismiss

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for, among other reasons, “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This rule must be read together with Rule 8(a), which requires that a pleading contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While that pleading standard does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). As the Supreme Court stated in Iqbal:

A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” [Twombly, 550 U.S., at 555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id., 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. Id., at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id., at 557 (brackets omitted).
Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. 490 F.3d, at 157-158. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not “show[n]” - “that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis supplied, second and fourth alterations in original, all other alterations supplied).

         “‘Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys' and are liberally construed.” Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998)). “‘Yet even in the case of pro se litigants this leniency does not give a court license to serve as de facto counsel for a party, or to rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order to sustain an action.'” Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd., 760 F.3d 1165, 1168-69 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting GJR Investments, Inc. v. County of Escambia, Fla., 132 F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir.1998)).

         B. Motion for Leave to Amend

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 addresses amended and supplemental pleadings, and states that a court should “freely give leave [to amend a pleading] when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2) (alteration supplied).

A district court need not, however, allow an amendment (1) where there has been undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed; (2) where allowing amendment would cause undue prejudice to the opposing party; or (3) where amendment would be futile. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962).

Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (emphasis supplied).


         Plaintiff's complaint asserts nine claims. The first is based upon Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, which provides that:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

         U.S. Const. art. I, § 10. Plaintiff contends that defendants violated that provision by “enter[ing] into treaties, alliances, and confederation against [her], [and by] granting letters of marque and reprisal against [her] with” the District Attorney and Sheriff of San Diego County, California. Doc. no. 1 (Complaint), ¶ 1, at ECF 8 (alterations supplied).[8] According to plaintiff, those actions constituted “guerilla warfare against [her] without the consent of Congress.” Id. (alteration supplied).

         Plaintiff's second claim alleges that defendants violated Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution, which contains two clauses. The first clause states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

         U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cl. 1. The second clause states: “The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.” Id., cl. 2. Plaintiff contends that defendants violated those clauses by levying guerilla warfare upon her, even though she has not committed treason. Doc. no. 1 (Complaint), ¶ 2, at ECF 8.

         Plaintiff's third claim alleges that defendants violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, which provides that:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

         U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. Plaintiff contends that defendants violated that clause “with wanton abandon against [her]” since January 13, 2013, when she moved to Alabama. Doc. no. 1 (Complaint), ¶ 3, at ECF 8. (alteration supplied). She does not provide any factual basis for that assertion, ...

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