United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division
LEON W. BRADLEY, Plaintiff,
ANA FRANKLIN, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ana Franklin formerly served as the sheriff of Morgan County,
Alabama. Plaintiff Leon W. Bradley worked as the warden of
the Morgan County jail. Mr. Bradley alleges that Sheriff
Franklin and three other Morgan County Sheriffs Office
employees-Robert Wilson, Blake Robinson, and Justin
Powell-violated his constitutional rights. The defendants ask
the Court to dismiss Mr. Bradley's fourteen claims
against them. (Docs. 8, 9). For the reasons stated below, the
Court denies the defendants' motions.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint
for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Pursuant to Rule
8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Generally, to survive
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss and meet the requirement of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), “a complaint does not need
detailed factual allegations, but the allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health &
Human Servs. Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1380 (11th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555, 570 (2007)). “Specific facts are not necessary;
the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a district court
must view the allegations in a complaint in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Sun Life Assurance Co.
v. Imperial Premium Fin., LLC, 904 F.3d 1197, 1207 (11th
Cir. 2018). A district court must accept well-pleaded facts
as true. Little v. CRSA, 744 Fed.Appx. 679, 681
(11th Cir. 2018). Consistent with this standard, the Court
describes the allegations in the complaint in the light most
favorable to Mr. Bradley.
2003, Mr. Bradley became the warden of the Morgan County
jail. (Doc. 1, p. 3, ¶ 9). At the time, Ana Franklin was
the Sheriff of Morgan County, and Robert Wilson, Blake
Robinson, and Justin Powell were employees of the Morgan
County Sheriff's Office. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, ¶¶
12-14). Based on his observations as warden, Mr.
Bradley believed that Sheriff Franklin used inmate
“trustee” labor improperly, engaged in nepotism
and racial discrimination in hiring practices, mistreated
inmates, violated ethical obligations, and misappropriated
jail food money. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5, ¶ 19).
Bradley alleges that he “had personal knowledge that
[Sheriff] Franklin invested Morgan County jail food funds,
and other MCSO funds, into private businesses for personal
gain.” (Doc. 1, p. 5, ¶ 23). Mr. Bradley asserts
that each defendant benefitted from investments in and
involvement with Priceville Partners, a used-car dealership,
and the defendants worked together to conceal these
investments from the public. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 15, ¶¶
32, 82, 90). Mr. Bradley asserts that the defendants received
bribes, kickbacks, and other personal benefits from
Priceville Partners. (Doc. 1, p. 20, ¶ 91(f)).
Bradley began communicating with Glenda Lockhart about his
concerns about the defendants. (Doc. 1, p. 5, ¶ 25). Ms.
Lockhart regularly wrote about Sheriff Franklin and the
Sheriffs Office's involvement in purported public
corruption on her online blog, the “Morgan County
Whistleblower.” (Doc. 1, p. 6, ¶¶ 26,
Ms. Lockhart began to publicize and investigate Mr.
Bradley's allegations. (Doc. 1, p. 8, ¶ 36).
the Whistleblower Blog began exposing Sheriff Franklin and
the defendants' alleged corruption, Sheriff Franklin told
Mr. Wilson, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Powell that she wanted to
“shut down the Whistleblower Blog and punish everyone
involved, ” including Mr. Bradley. (Doc. 1, p. 8,
¶ 38). The defendants worked together to identify and
terminate every Morgan County Sheriffs Office employee who
cooperated with Ms. Lockhart. (Doc. 1, p. 21, ¶ 95).
on a conversation he had with Daniel Lockhart, Ms.
Lockhart's grandson, Mr. Robinson suspected that Mr.
Bradley provided information to the Whistleblower Blog. (Doc.
1, p. 8, ¶ 41). Mr. Robinson told Sheriff Franklin, Mr.
Wilson, and Mr. Powell of his suspicion. (Doc. 1, p. 9,
¶ 42). The defendants then coerced Daniel Lockhart into
cooperating in their search for the Whistleblower Blog
informants with cash payments and threats of criminal
prosecution. (Doc. 1, p. 9, ¶¶ 43-46).
defendants instructed Daniel Lockhart to obtain information
related to the blog. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 48). Daniel
Lockhart installed a universal serial bus drive containing
“Ardmax Keylogger 4.6” software onto Ms.
Lockhart's computer. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 49). The
defendants told Daniel Lockhart that the purpose of accessing
Ms. Lockhart's computer system was to terminate any
Morgan County employee cooperating with Ms. Lockhart. (Doc.
1, p. 22, ¶ 95(f)). Using information obtained through
the Keylogger software and Daniel Lockhart, the defendants
requested search warrants targeting Mr. Bradley and Ms.
Lockhart. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶ 52).
on false information that the defendants provided to him,
Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson signed a search warrant for Mr.
Bradley's residence. (Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶¶ 53,
57). The Morgan County Sheriff's Office Drug Task Force
executed the search warrant and raided Mr. Bradley's
residence. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 54). The search exceeded
the scope of the search warrant. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 57).
Following the search, Sheriff Franklin and
“others” interrogated Mr. Bradley for several
hours. (Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶ 60). The defendants used the
information and data to initiate judicial proceedings against
Mr. Bradley. (Doc. 1, p. 23, ¶ 95(j)). Eleven months
after the search of Mr. Bradley's residence, he was
charged with misdemeanor tampering with governmental records.
(Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶ 62). In October 2016, Sheriff Franklin
terminated Mr. Bradley. (Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶
Bradley asserts the following claims against the defendants:
(1) § 1983 violation of First Amendment rights, (2)
§ 1983 violation of Fourth Amendment rights due to
unreasonable search and entry, (3) § 1983 violation of
Fourth Amendment rights due to unreasonable seizure and false
arrest, (4) § 1983 violation of Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights due to malicious prosecution, (5) §
1983 violation of Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, (6)
§ 1983 conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights, (7)
acquisition and maintenance of an interest in and control of
an enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity
under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961(g), 1962(b), (8) conduct
and participation in a RICO enterprise through a pattern of
racketeering activity under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961(5),
1962(c), (9) conspiracy to engage in a pattern of
racketeering activity under 18 U.S.C. § 1961(5),
1962(d), (10) violation of Electronic Communications Privacy
Act, (11) state law invasion of privacy, (12) state law
malicious prosecution, (13) state law conspiracy, and (14)
conspiracy to violate ...