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Stallworth v. Hurst

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

October 8, 2019

ORRILYN MAXWELL STALLWORTH, Plaintiff,
v.
RODNEY W. HURST, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANDREW L. BRASHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Foshee's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 28), Defendant Hurst's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 29), and Defendants Harmon and McCartney's Joint Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 31). As explained below, the motions filed by Hurst, Harmon, and McCartney are due to be GRANTED. The motion filed by Foshee is due to be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         At around 10 PM on a December night, Orrilyn Stallworth (“Plaintiff”) decided to visit a convenience store in Chilton County just off the Verbena exit. Doc. 27 ¶10. When she drove back onto I-65, a police car began to follow her. Id. ¶12. Although she had violated no rule of the road, Stallworth was ordered to pull over. Id.

         After pulling Stallworth over, Defendant Rodney Hurst (“Hurst”), a Sheriff's deputy with the Chilton County Sheriff's Office, was joined by Defendant Matt Foshee (“Foshee”), who was a Clanton City police officer, and an unnamed third party. Id. ¶14. Hurst told Stallworth that he had detected the fetid odors of alcohol and marijuana emanating from her vehicle. Id. ¶¶16-17. After obtaining Stallworth's consent, the officers searched her vehicle for both alcohol and marijuana but were unsuccessful in locating either. Id. ¶¶18-19.

         Despite their unsuccessful search, Hurst informed Stallworth that he would have to arrest her. Id. ¶20. She was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to Chilton County Jail. Id. Stallworth's vehicle was towed and impounded, and she was subjected to a breath-alcohol content analysis test, which revealed no alcohol in her system, as well as a blood test. Id. ¶¶25-26. These procedures were put in place and enforced by Defendants Corry McCartney (“McCartney”), a corporal in the Chilton County Sheriff's office, and Kenneth Harmon (“Harmon”), a captain in the same office. Stallworth was then formally charged by Hurst with driving under the influence and booked into jail. Id. ¶27.

         Just before trial, the State's attorney moved to dismiss the charges with prejudice and offered no explanation for this decision. Id. ¶31. Stallworth believes that the State dismissed the charges against her because it knew Hurst had no probable cause for her arrest. Id. ¶32. She filed a civil suit against the officials involved in her arrest and requested damages.

         This Court previously granted a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants McCartney and Harmon. See Doc. 25. Plaintiff chose to file an amended complaint, (Doc. 27), and this matter comes before the Court on various motions to dismiss filed by the officers involved.

         STANDARD

         When considering a motion to dismiss, the court accepts all facts alleged in the complaint as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Keating v. City of Miami, 598 F.3d 753, 762 (11th Cir. 2010). There are two questions a court must answer before dismissing a complaint. First, the court must ask whether there are allegations that are no more than conclusions. If there are, they are discarded. Second, the court must ask whether there are any remaining factual allegations which, if true, could plausibly give rise to a claim for relief. If there are none, the complaint will be dismissed. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's amended complaint contains three claims. The first arises from 42 U.S.C. §1983 and alleges that she was detained without probable cause in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The named Defendants are Hurst, Foshee, Harmon, McCartney, and an unknown deputy from Chilton County. The second claim alleges malicious prosecution in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 and it is brought against all Defendants except Foshee. The third count alleges false arrest under Alabama state law and is brought only against Foshee. All Section 1983 claims have been brought against the named individuals in both their individual and official capacities as employees of local governments or the State of Alabama. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and other non-economic damages.

         1. Rodney Hurst

         Hurst has moved to dismiss only the claims that have been brought against him in his official capacity, and Plaintiff has conceded those claims. See Doc. 36. The claims against Hurst in his official capacity will therefore be ...


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