United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on the Magistrate Judge's June
29, 2017 Report and Recommendation (Doc. # 32) and Defendant
Cary Baisden's Objections to the Report and
Recommendation (Doc. # 33). Although Defendant Baisden has
filed objections, he has not objected to the Report and
Recommendation's description of the Amended Complaint.
Accordingly, the court accepts and adopts that description
for purposes of reviewing Baisden's objections.
Standard of Review
court reviews objected-to portions of a Magistrate
Judge's report and recommendation de novo.
Heath v. Jones, 863 F.2d 815, 822 (11th Cir. 1989).
The court reviews those portions that are not specifically
objected to under the “clearly erroneous”
standard. See Liberty Am. Ins. Grp., Inc. v. WestPoint
Underwriters, L.L.C., 199 F.Supp.2d 1271, 1276 (M.D.
Analysis of Objections
careful review, and for the reasons explained below, the
court concludes that Baisden's objections are due to be
sustained as to Plaintiff's outrage claim, but otherwise
Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Analysis of Unlawful
Search and False Arrest Claims
Baisden argues that the Amended Complaint contains a
conclusory allegation that he stopped and searched
Plaintiff's vehicle for no discernible reason. (Doc. # 33
at 4-5). Baisden insists that the Amended Complaint should
have alleged the facts known to Baisden before conducting the
traffic stop in order to state a plausible violation of
clearly established Fourth Amendment law. (Id. at
5-6). Moreover, Baisden argues that the search can be
justified or qualified immunity can be granted by considering
several exceptions to the Fourth Amendment's warrant
requirement. (See Id. at 7-13). The court is not
convinced by any of these objections.
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint presents sufficient
allegations of facts to support its contention that Baisden
lacked a discernible reason for the traffic stop. Plaintiff
alleges that he was driving with a friend in Tuscaloosa when
Baisden turned on his blue lights to pull the vehicle over.
(Doc. # 20 at ¶¶ 8-9). According to Plaintiff, he
immediately pulled off of 10th Avenue onto a side street.
(Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff states that Baisden
lied during a probable cause hearing when he testified that
(1) Plaintiff sped up and traveled an eighth of a mile before
stopping, and (2) Baisden immediately observed a gun in the
vehicle. (Id. at 3-4 nn. 3 & 4). Indeed,
Plaintiff avers that Baisden examined the vehicle for eight
minutes before entering it without a warrant, an assertion
that plausibly alleges Baisden tried and failed to find
contraband in plain view to justify entering the vehicle.
(Id. at ¶ 16). These allegations plausibly
assert that Baisden lacked reasonable suspicion for an
investigatory traffic stop. United States v. Lewis,
674 F.3d 1298, 1303 (11th Cir. 2012) (describing the Fourth
Amendment standards for an investigatory stop).
Defendant Baisden incorrectly contends that Plaintiff must
explicitly plead what was known by Baisden at the time of the
traffic stop to proceed past the motion to dismiss stage. It
is true that the court must consider the facts known to
Baisden at the time of the stop to determine whether Baisden
had arguable probable cause for the arrest. See Jones v.
Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1283 (11th Cir. 1999). It does
not follow, however, that a plaintiff is obligated to
explicitly plead the facts a defendant “knew” to
present a plausible unlawful search or false arrest claim.
This is so because the court can plausibly infer that a
police officer observed the events pled by a plaintiff in a
complaint. So, if a plaintiff pleads that he followed all
traffic laws and was nonetheless pulled over, a plausible
inference is that the officer observed no traffic violation
justifying a stop. That inference may be overcome by
testimony or other evidence presented later in the case, but
it is enough for the case to proceed to discovery.
Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that Baisden's
warrantless search occurred during an investigatory stop, not
an arrest. Defendant Baisden insists that the warrantless
search of Plaintiff's vehicle was permitted under
numerous exceptions for searches incident to an arrest
because Plaintiff had been arrested by the time of the
search. (See Doc. # 33 at 7-13). There is not a
brightline test distinguishing an investigatory stop from an
arrest. United States v. Blackman, 66 F.3d 1572,
1576 (11th Cir. 1995). The court must consider the degree of
intrusion on the detainee's freedom to determine whether
it constitutes an arrest. Id. Factors to be
considered include “the public interest served by the
seizure, the nature and scope of the intrusion, and the
objective facts relied upon by the officers.”
Plaintiff has stated that Baisden pointed a gun towards him
and placed him in handcuffs, Plaintiff alleges that Baisden
explicitly stated that he was not under arrest. (Doc. # 20 at
¶¶ 11-12, 14). Baisden insists that the stop must
be construed as an arrest because he pointed a firearm at
Plaintiff and directed him to put his hands in the air. (Doc.
# 33 at 7). But this is not necessarily so. As the Eleventh
Circuit clearly explained in Blackman, “the
fact that police handcuff the person or draw their weapons
does not, as a matter of course, transform an investigatory
stop into an arrest.” 66 F.3d at 1576. Indeed, the stop
Plaintiff has alleged is very similar to the stop presented
in Blackman, where officers handcuffed the
defendants after they had voluntarily exited an apartment and
one police officer allegedly pointed a gun at one defendant
during the course of the investigatory stop. Id. at
1574. At this stage of the proceedings, the court cannot say
that it is implausible that Baisden's stop of Plaintiff
was an investigatory stop rather than an
the court declines to address whether Defendant Baisden's
search of the vehicle was justified by the automobile search
exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement
because Baisden raised that argument for the first time in
his objections to the Report and Recommendation. Baisden did
not argue in the pending Motion to Dismiss that the search
was justified under the automobile search exception.
(See Doc. # 25 at 7-10). Consequently, the
Magistrate Judge did not analyze whether the automobile
search exception justified the search described in the
Amended Complaint. (See Doc. # 32 at 26-27).
Although the court has the authority to consider arguments
raised for the first time in an objection to a report and
recommendation, Williams v. McNeil, 557 F.3d 1287,
1292 (11th Cir. 2009), it declines to do so with respect to
the automobile search exception because that issue was not
addressed in the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation and has not been sufficiently developed at
Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Analysis of ...