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Hails v. Dennis

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

February 20, 2018

DANIEL WADE HAILS, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMOTHY TRENT DENNIS, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHERINE P. NELSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Baldwin County, Alabama Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack's (“Sheriff Mack”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 27), Pro se Plaintiff Daniel Hails' (“Plaintiff”) Response (Doc. 37), and Sheriff Mack's Reply (Doc. 40). This motion has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and S.D. Ala. GenLR 72(b). Upon consideration, and for the reasons stated herein, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that Sheriff Mack's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 27) be GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's Amended Complaint[1] (Doc. 23) raises a number of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against thirteen defendants, including two police officers from the Silverhill, Alabama Police Department, ten deputies from the Baldwin County, Alabama Police Department, and Sheriff Mack. All Defendants have moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims (See Docs. 27, 29, and 32).[2]

         The Amended Complaint contains numerous allegations against the twelve other defendants, including 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. However, Plaintiff makes only one allegation against Sheriff Mack, and has provided little information with regard to that allegation. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Sheriff Mack “arbitrarily deni[ed] [his] pistol renewal based upon a [f]alse charge and arrest with no conviction.” (Doc. 23 at 13, ¶ 81).[3] Though not specific as such in the Amended Complaint, from the briefing it appears Plaintiff has attempted to raise a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against Sheriff Mack.

         Sheriff Mack has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claim against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) arguing, in sum, that: 1) Plaintiff has failed to allege an actionable wrong against him under § 1983; 2) that he is entitled to qualified immunity; and 3) that the Amended Complaint fails to identify a substantive source the alleged violation of rights. (Doc. 28).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When considering a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must accept as true the allegations set forth in the complaint drawing all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). A complaint offering mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” is insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; accord Fin. Sec. Assurance, Inc. v. Stephens, Inc., 500 F.3d 1276, 1282-83 (11th Cir. 2007). Further, the 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 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Put another way, a plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. This so-called “plausibility standard” is not akin to a probability requirement; rather, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts such that it is reasonable to expect that discovery will lead to evidence supporting the claim. Id.

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff cites 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as the basis for his claim against Sheriff Mack. “Section 1983 ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (plurality opinion)(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, n.3 (1979). Thus, to plead a plausible claim, the first step for any plaintiff is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly violated. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Sheriff Mack argues that the Amended Complaint fails to identify the specific constitutional right Plaintiff alleges was violated. (Doc. 28 at 7). The undersigned agrees and finds that Plaintiff has failed to properly plead a plausible claim as a result. Id. Often, a pro se plaintiff is permitted an opportunity to amend his complaint when it fails to state a claim. However, for the reasons discussed herein, even if Plaintiff were permitted another opportunity to amend his complaint with regard to his allegation against Sheriff Mack, the claim would still fail, as it is not cognizable under § 1983.

         Plaintiff's only claim against Sheriff Mack is based on his allegation that Sheriff Mack “arbitrarily deni[ed] [his] pistol renewal based upon a [f]alse charge and arrest with no conviction.” (Doc. 23 at 13, ¶ 81). Pursuant to Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(a)(1)(a)-(c):

The sheriff of a county, upon the application of any person residing in that county, within 30 days from receipt of a complete application and accompanying fee, shall issue or renew a permit for such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person within this state for one -to five-year increments, as requested by the person seeking the permit, from date of issue, unless the sheriff determines that the person is prohibited from the possession of a pistol or firearm pursuant to state or federal law, or has a reasonable suspicion that the person may use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner that would endanger the person's self or others. In making such determination, the sheriff may consider whether the applicant:
1. Was found guilty but mentally ill in a criminal case.
2. Was found not guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity or mental ...

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