United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Section 1983, conspiracy, and malicious prosecution matter
comes before the court on three motions to dismiss. (Docs.
39, 41, and 43).
Billy Joe Vasser and Vicki Vasser allege that law enforcement
officers and several individuals conspired to falsely
prosecute Mr. Vasser for criminal coercion. Three of the
Defendants alleged to be a part of the conspiracy-the deputy
sheriff who investigated the crime that Mr. Vasser was
accused of coercing, Josh Summerford; the victim of the
crime, Jeannie Nichols; and her daughter, Marcie Foster-have
moved to dismiss some of Plaintiffs' claims for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the
following reasons, the court will grant Mr. Summerford's
motion to dismiss and deny in part and grant in part Ms.
Nichols's and Ms. Foster's motions to dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss challenges the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a defendant can move to dismiss a complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” The complaint will survive the motion to
dismiss if it alleges “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). For a
complaint to be “plausible on its face, ” it must
contain enough “factual content that allows the court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). And the court accepts
as true the factual allegations in the complaint.
make the following factual allegations in their amended
complaint that the court accepts as true for purposes of
Defendants' motions to dismiss. (See Doc. 32).
Kaleb Howard Hamilton secretly filmed Defendant Jeannie
Nichols changing clothes in private and posted the videos on
a pornography website. The Chief of Police of the Town of
Leesburg, Alabama, Defendant Brian Gilliland, and Cherokee
County deputy sheriff Josh Summerford investigated the crime.
Mr. Hamilton admitted to law enforcement that he recorded Ms.
Nichols; then Chief Gilliland, Mr. Summerford, Ms. Nichols,
and her daughter, Defendant Marcie Foster, directed Mr.
Hamilton to falsely accuse Plaintiff Billy Joe Vasser of
coercing Mr. Hamilton to record Ms. Nichols. At the direction
of the other Defendants, Mr. Hamilton falsely stated that Mr.
Vasser threatened to post a sexually explicit video of Mr.
Hamilton online if he did not record Ms. Nichols.
on Mr. Hamilton's false statement, the Cherokee County
magistrate issued a warrant for Mr. Vasser's arrest on
the charge of criminal coercion. Law enforcement arrested Mr.
Vasser on December 6, 2016.
Cherokee County District Court scheduled a bench trial for
the criminal coercion charge for January 23, 2017. Mr. Vasser
made discovery requests to the district attorney prosecuting
his case, but the district attorney responded that he had no
discovery materials. The district attorney moved to dismiss
the criminal coercion case on January 13, 2017 and the judge
dismissed the case on January 17, 2017.
these factual allegations, Plaintiffs bring six Section 1983
claims and three state law tort claims in their amended
• Count One: Section 1983 claim for “Policymaker
Liability - Deliberate Indifference” against Chief
• Count Two: Section 1983 claim for unlawful arrest
against Chief Gilliland and Mr. Summerford;
• Count Three: Section 1983 claim for “Failing to
Prevent Unlawful Arrest - Deliberate Indifference”