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Johnson v. City of Montgomery

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

February 16, 2018

JEREMY LAMAR JOHNSON, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MONTGOMERY, a municipality organized and existing under the laws of the State of Alabama, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          David A. Baker, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Jeremy Johnson filed a Complaint in this Court against Defendant City of Montgomery alleging a single claim that he and a class of others were denied their procedural due process rights provided under the Fourteenth Amendment and protected under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Defendant's failure to adhere to the requirements of § 13A-11-84, Ala. Code 1975. This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to dismiss. (Doc. 7). The motion is fully briefed and taken under submission on the record and without oral argument.

         I. JURISDICTION

         Subject matter jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as to Plaintiff's federal cause of action. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and there are adequate allegations to support both. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391. On September 5, 2017, this matter was referred to the undersigned by U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson for disposition or recommendation on all pretrial matters. (Doc. 6). See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Rule 72, Fed. R. Civ. P.; United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); Jeffrey S. v. State Board of Education of State of Georgia, 896 F.2d 507 (11th Cir. 1990).

         II. BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF FACTS[1]

         On February 2, 2016, Plaintiff was arrested by a police officer employed by Defendant. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 6). Plaintiff was carrying a pistol in his vehicle without a valid permit for that pistol in violation of § 13A-11-73, Ala. Code 1975, which provides, in pertinent part:

Except on land under his or her control or in his or her own abode or his or her own fixed place of business, no person shall carry a pistol in any vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person without a permit issued under Section 13A-11-75(a)(1) or recognized under Section 13A-11-85.

         § 13A-11-73. Pursuant to § 13A-11-84, the officer seized the pistol, and Plaintiff subsequently pleaded guilty to carrying a pistol without a valid permit. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8. Plaintiff sought the return of the pistol. Id. at ¶ 10. “Plaintiff requested that the Montgomery Municipal Court set a hearing, which it did on July 25, 2016. At the hearing, Defendant refused to return Plaintiff's pistol and gave no explanation as to why his pistol would not be returned.” Id. “Upon information and belief, the City of Montgomery has failed to report the seizure and detention of Plaintiff's pistol to the Montgomery County District Attorney. As a result, the Montgomery County district attorney has not instituted forfeiture proceedings against Plaintiff in accordance with § 13A-11-84.” Id. at ¶ 11.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this Court on August 14, 2017, seeking “declaratory and injunctive relief” against Defendant to comply with § 13A-11-84 and the return of the seized pistol or money damages. Defendants filed their motion to dismiss on September 7, 2017. (Doc. 7).

         III. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the Complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8: “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         When evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must take “the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 663 (alteration in original) (citation omitted). “[F]acial plausibility” exists “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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The standard also “calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” of the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. While the complaint need not set out “detailed factual allegations, ” it must provide sufficient factual amplification “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555.

         “So, when 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.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. 558 (quoting 5 Wight & Miller § 1216, at 233-34 (quoting in turn Daves v. Hawaiian Dredging Co., 114 F.Supp. 643, 645 (D. Haw. 1953)) (alteration original). “[O]nly a complaint that ...


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