United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
JASON M. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
CITY OF ARGO, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jason M. Jackson (“Jackson” or
“Plaintiff”) initiated this action on July 25,
2017, against Defendants the City of Argo, Alabama
(“the City” or “Argo”) and Officer
Glenn Wells, (“Captain Wells, ” and together with
the City, the “Defendants”). (Doc. 1). On August
18, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, (doc.
5), and to strike portions of it, (doc. 6). On August 31,
2017, Jackson amended his complaint, (doc. 12), and the
undersigned found both of Defendants' motions moot in
light of the amended complaint, (doc. 17). As with the
original complaint, Defendants moved to dismiss the amended
complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure,  (docs. 13 & 13-1), and to strike
portions of it, (doc. 14). These motions are fully briefed
and ripe for review. (Docs. 13, 14, 19 & 22). For the
reasons stated more fully below, the motion to dismiss is
GRANTED, and the motion to strike is
DENIED AS MOOT
Standard of Review
12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., permits dismissal when a complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
“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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint
states a facially plausible claim for relief “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. (citation
omitted). The complaint must establish “more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id; accord Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (“Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.”). Ultimately, this inquiry is a
“context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
end, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a
pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). Mere “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678. (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertions]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (citing
Bell Atl Corp., 550 U.S. at 557).
City of Argo is an Alabama municipality located partially in
Jefferson County and partially in St. Clair County. (Doc. 12
at ¶ 2). It has fewer than 19, 000 inhabitants.
(Id. at ¶ 30).
morning of August 8, 2015 - a clear, dry, sunny day - Jackson
was travelling northbound on Interstate 59. (Id. at
¶¶ 29 & 31). Captain Wells, an Argo police
officer and the city's only officer on duty that day, was
running radar on Interstate 59. (Id. at ¶¶
3 & 29). Wells believed Jackson was travelling at
twenty-six miles per hour in excess of the speed limit.
(Id. at ¶ 31). Based on that belief, Captain
Wells pursued Jackson in his patrol car and, using his
emergency equipment, stopped Jackson. (Id.). Captain
Wells issued Jackson a citation for reckless driving.
hired counsel to defend against the reckless driving charge,
and, after the City refused to dismiss the charge, the matter
proceeded to trial in Argo Municipal Court on November 6,
2015. (Id. at ¶¶ 36-37). Captain Wells
testified that he has worked at the Argo Police department
since 2006 and runs radar on I-59 “pretty much every
Saturday and Sunday” from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
(Id. at ¶ 37). Captain Wells also testified
that his only probable cause in pulling Jackson over was his
speed. (Id.). Captain Wells further testified that
he is aware of Alabama Code § 32-5A-171(8), which
prohibits a municipality or town with fewer than 19, 000
inhabitants from enforcing the general prohibition on driving
in excess of the maximum speed limit on an interstate
highway. (Id. at ¶¶ 17 & 37).
Captain Wells's testimony, Jackson moved for an acquittal
on the reckless driving charge, arguing reckless driving
requires the presence of another factor in addition to
speeding, but the municipal court denied the motion.
(Id. at ¶¶ 21 & 39). Jackson was found
guilty of reckless driving and was assessed a fine and court
costs totaling $362.00. (Id. at ¶¶ 39-40).
Jackson then appealed to the Circuit Court of St. Clair
County, posting a $250.00 appeal bond with the City.
(Id. at ¶¶ 40-41). A year after receiving
the citation, Jackson was acquitted of the reckless driving
charge; however, the City did not refund Jackson's appeal
bond. (Id. at ¶¶ 42-43).
amended complaint asserts the following claims: (1) a 42
U.S.C. § 1983 count against the City for illegal seizure
in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (doc. 12 at
¶¶ 45-62); (2) a § 1983 count against Captain
Wells in his individual capacity, also for illegal seizure,
(id. at ¶¶ 63-68); (3) a § 1983 count
against the City for excessive fines in violation of the
Eighth Amendment, (id. at ¶¶ 69-74); (4) a
§ 1983 count against the City for negligent training,
(id. at ¶¶ 75-79); (5) a § 1983 count
for inadequate policies against the City, (id. at
¶¶ 80-87); (6) a § 1983 count against the
City, asserted in the alternative to his fourth count, for
customs and policies encouraging Argo officers to violate
motorists' constitutional rights, (id. at
¶¶ 88-99); (7) a § 1983 count against the City
for malicious prosecution, (id. at ¶¶
100-12); (8) a state law unjust enrichment claim against the
City, (id. at ¶¶ 113-17); (9) a state law
conversion claim against the City, (id. at
¶¶ 118-21); and (10) a state law fraudulent
inducement claim against the City, (id. at
¶¶ 122-24). Jackson also includes a number of class
action allegations. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-14).
Section 1983 Claims
argue Jackson's illegal seizure claims fail against both
the City and Captain Wells because Captain Wells had probable
cause to stop Jackson. (Doc. 13-1 at 19-21). Consequently,
they contend Captain Wells is shielded by qualified immunity.
(Id. at 27-31). Defendants also argue Jackson's
claims against the City are fatally flawed by Jackson's
failure to plead specific facts that would support municipal
liability under § 1983 and because actions Jackson
attributes to the City were actually undertaken by the
city's municipal court. (Id. at 22-26).
Count II - Captain Wells
immunity protects government officials who were sued
individually ‘unless the law preexisting the defendant
official's supposedly wrongful act was already
established to such a high degree that every objectively
reasonable official standing in the defendant's place
would be on notice that what the defendant official was doing
would be clearly unlawful given the
circumstances.'” Morton v. Kirkwood, 707
F.3d 1276, 1280 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). To
receive the protection of qualified immunity, the government
official must first prove that he was acting within the scope
of his discretionary authority when the allegedly wrongful
acts occurred. Kesinger v. Herrington, 381 F.3d
1243, 1248 (11th Cir. 2004). Once an official establishes he
is acting within his discretionary authority, the burden
shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate qualified immunity is
inappropriate. White v. City of Birmingham, 96
F.Supp.3d 1260, 1285 (N.D. Ala. 2015). To determine whether
qualified immunity is appropriate, the court asks two
questions: (1) “Taken in the light most favorable to
the party asserting the injury, do the facts alleged show the
officer's conduct violated a constitutional right?”
(2) “If a violation ...