United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge. Pending
before the court is Defendant Susan Odom’s Motion to
Dismiss. Doc. 66. Plaintiffs Timothy Jarrod Colburn, Gary
Lynn Blackwell, Howard Derrick Butler, Daniel Rudolph
Cassels, Landa L. Clark, Joseph Anthony Elliott, Todd Michael
Harrison, and David Edward Rhodes have filed a response in
opposition to the motion. Doc. 72. Odom has filed a reply
brief in support of her motion. Doc. 74. After careful
consideration of the parties’ submissions and the
applicable law, and for the reasons that follow, the court
concludes that the motion to dismiss is due to be granted.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has jurisdiction over the claims in this lawsuit
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The parties do not contest
personal jurisdiction, nor do they contest that venue is
proper in the Northern District of Alabama. The court finds
adequate allegations to support the propriety of both.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
plaintiffs are seven individuals who allege that they were
arrested without a warrant in Walker County, Alabama, and
then detained in the county jail. They claim that these
actions denied them a proper determination of whether
probable cause supported their arrests in violation of
Alabama law and the Fourth Amendment. Doc. 60. The plaintiffs
filed a complaint in this court on October 13, 2015 against
Susan Odom, the Circuit Clerk of Walker County, along with
Lela Yahn, Carol Haggard, and Debra Courington, all of whom
were employed by the Walker County Circuit Clerk’s
Office as magistrates. Five of the plaintiffs––
Colburn, Rhodes, Elliott, Cassels, and
Harrison––previously brought suit against the
Sheriff of Walker County and deputy sheriff John Blair
Huddleston based on the same underlying facts. See
Colburn v. Huddleston, 2015 WL 1494554 (N.D. Ala. Mar.
30, 2015). That case has been dismissed. Id. at *10.
plaintiffs specifically allege that they were arrested by
Huddleston in a series of warrantless arrests in Walker
County between October 2013 and June 2014. Doc. 60 at
8–10. In each case, Huddleston transported one of the
plaintiffs to the Walker County Jail in Jasper, Alabama,
without first obtaining a determination of probable cause
from a judge or magistrate. Doc. 60 at 8–10. The
plaintiffs claim that Odom had the “administrative
responsibility for and supervision of the records and
clerical services” at the Walker County Circuit Court
and that she served as the immediate supervisor for Yahn,
Haggard, and Courington. Doc. 60 at 11–12. In addition
to her administrative duties, Odom was “responsible for
insuring that the magistrates she assigned were properly
trained and that [they] conducted themselves in accordance
with the United States Constitution, the Alabama Constitution
of 1901 and the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
Doc. 60 at 12 (citing Ala. R. Crim. P. 2.4, 3.1, 4.3, 4.4
instant suit, the plaintiffs seek damages under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Circuit Clerk Susan Odom and magistrates
Yahn, Haggard, and Courington. On February 27, 2017, the
court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against the
three magistrates under the doctrine of judicial immunity.
Doc. 36 at 10. The court also dismissed certain claims
against Odom in her official capacity. Doc. 36 at
16–17. The court denied Odom’s motion to dismiss,
however, with respect to the remaining claims against her,
finding that she was not entitled to judicial immunity or
qualified immunity. Doc. 36 at 9 & 16. The court also
concluded that the plaintiffs could “seek relief
against Odom in her official capacity . . . in the form of
prospective injunctive relief.” Doc. 36 at 17.
appealed the denial of immunity, but the Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals held that it could not meaningfully review
the appeal because it was unable to “identify from the
allegations of the complaint, answer, or motion to dismiss,
which of the magistrates purportedly denied the
Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights.” Colburn
v. Odom, 911 F.3d 1110, 1113 (11th Cir. 2018).
Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit vacated this court’s
judgment and remanded for further proceedings pursuant to a
series of specific instructions.
decision, the Eleventh Circuit noted that the original
complaint in this case failed to identify the crimes for
which the plaintiffs were arrested and “refused to
indicate whether [the plaintiffs] had been taken before a
magistrate for an initial appearance.” Id. at
1120. Instead, the plaintiffs merely alleged that, as to each
of them, “one of the magistrates (unidentified) at some
point in time (undisclosed) failed to determine that the
client’s arrest was supported by probable cause.”
Id. In the face of these pleading deficiencies, the
Eleventh Circuit held that this court should have dismissed
the complaint sua sponte “because it failed to
state a cognizable claim for relief.” Id.
Remanding for further proceedings, the Eleventh Circuit
directed this court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims
against Odom with prejudice if they chose not to amend their
complaint. Id. If they did choose to amend, the
court held that the amended complaint must include the
following allegations with respect to each plaintiff:
• The date of the Plaintiff’s arrest, the crimes
for which the arrest was made, and the identity of the
arresting officer (presumably Deputy Huddleston).
• The date and time the Plaintiff was booked into the
Walker County Jail.
• The date and time of the Plaintiff’s initial
appearance, if the ...