from United States District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 4:18-cv-00029-HLM
WILLIAM PRYOR, MARTIN, and KATSAS, [*] Circuit Judges.
MARTIN, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Henley was arrested as he rode his bicycle through the
grounds of the former Cloverleaf Elementary School and was
charged with criminal trespass. Three weeks later he was
released from jail. Then a few days after that, the trespass
charge was dropped when Mr. Henley pled guilty to unrelated
charges. This appeal requires us to decide whether Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994) bars
Mr. Henley's civil action for false arrest under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Heck does not apply to
Mr. Henley's case, the District Court's dismissal of
his § 1983 claim must be vacated. Mr. Henley also
brought several other state and federal claims against
officers of the Bartow County Sherriff's Office. We
vacate and remand the dismissal of his state false
imprisonment claim against Deputy Payne but affirm the
dismissal of his other claims.
April 2015, Mr. Henley rented storage unit A-17 from the
Cartersville Storage Company in Cartersville, Georgia. He
was, at that time, homeless, and used the storage unit as
February 24, 2016, Mr. Henley was riding his bicycle along
West Felton Road, heading toward his storage unit. Mr. Henley
decided to take a shortcut through the property of the
defunct Cloverleaf Elementary School. The school's
property line was next to that of the storage facility, and
Mr. Henley had taken this shortcut on earlier occasions
without incident. He says there were no signs warning against
trespassing on or around the school property, but there was a
sign listing the property "for sale."
evening, Deputy Todd Payne and at least four other deputies
in the Bartow County Sheriff's Office were present on the
school property. Although Mr. Henley does not allege
specifically why the deputies were present that night, he
does allege, on information and belief, that the school was
sometimes used for tactical training of Bartow County law
Henley entered the school property around 9:30 p.m. Within 60
seconds of his entry onto the school property, he says he was
"accosted and detained" by Deputy Payne and the
other deputies and put into handcuffs. Mr. Henley attempted
to explain that he was trying to get to the storage facility
and tried to show Deputy Payne a copy of the storage unit
rental contract he kept in his backpack. Another deputy
allegedly told Mr. Henley, "we don't give a damn
what [you're] doing here . . . this ain't your
Henley was put under arrest and taken to the Bartow County
Jail in Cartersville. At 5:51 a.m. the next day, Deputy Payne
executed a warrant for Mr. Henley's arrest charging him
with misdemeanor criminal trespass in violation of O.C.G.A.
§ 16-7-21(b)(1). The warrant states that Mr. Henley
"did knowingly and without authority enter upon the
[school] property without permission from [the] owner for an
unlawful purpose." Mr. Henley's bond was set at $5,
000 despite his allegation, on information and belief, that
the typical bond amount for a person charged with misdemeanor
criminal trespass in Bartow County is $1, 000.
Henley was held in police custody for 21 days. By his
account, he experienced "extreme depression and mental
anxiety" during his confinement. In 2006, Mr. Henley had
been declared mentally disabled by a Social Security
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ found
that Mr. Henley had various impairments, including
depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder from
having been attacked in prison during an earlier stay there.
March 7, 2016, Mr. Henley sent a letter by certified mail to
Clark Millsap, who was then and still is the Bartow County
Sheriff. In the letter, Mr. Henley told Sheriff Millsap about
the events leading up to the arrest as set forth in the
complaint. He also informed Sheriff Millsap of the bond. Mr.
Henley described himself as a "disabled, 58-year-old
man" with a "long criminal history." He
concluded his letter by asking Sheriff Millsap to
"please help me with this." Mr. Henley says Sheriff
Millsap took no action in response to the letter.
March 17, 2016, Mr. Henley's mother paid a nonrefundable
bond of $540 to free Henley from jail. On April 4, 2016, Mr.
Henley again wrote to Sheriff Millsap, this time asking him
to withdraw the trespassing warrant and reimburse his mother
for the $540 bonding fee, plus $733 for his own lost Social
Security wages. Mr. Henley hand-delivered the letter to
Sheriff Millsap's office and requested that Millsap
respond within ten days. Sheriff Millsap did not respond or
take any of the corrective actions Mr. Henley requested.
March 22, 2016, Mr. Henley pled guilty to unrelated charges
of marijuana possession and harassing phone calls that had
been pending before his encounter with the officers on the
school grounds. Six days later, the trespass charge against
Mr. Henley was dismissed "[p]ursuant to guilty plea in
another case." The state also entered a separate
dismissal for several other unrelated charges. Neither
dismissal referenced the details of the guilty plea.
Henley filed an application to proceed in forma
pauperis before the District Court on February 5, 2018.
The District Court granted the motion and ordered that Mr.
Henley's complaint and attachments be docketed for a
frivolity review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
complaint alleges the facts described above and asserts
claims against Sheriff Millsap and Deputy Payne under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint alleges that the officers
deprived Mr. Henley of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth,
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Mr. Henley alleges that Deputy Payne committed the state tort
(and criminal offense) of false imprisonment, as well as
malicious arrest. Mr. Henley also alleges both defendants
"inflicted extreme depression and mental anxiety"
on him, which the District Court later construed as a claim
for intentional infliction of emotional distress
("IIED"). Mr. Henley alleges Sheriff Millsap
displayed deliberate indifference when he failed to correct
Deputy Payne's misconduct and failed to address the
issues Henley raised in his March 7 letter about his
excessive bail. Mr. Henley also imputes to Sheriff Millsap
"all of the unlawful and unconstitutional acts"
allegedly committed by Deputy Payne. He further asserts that
Sheriff Millsap is liable for excessive bail in violation of
Mr. Henley's rights under the Eighth Amendment. Mr.
Henley requests $540 to compensate him for the bonding fee,
$1, 000 in damages per defendant per day of his confinement,
$5, 000 in punitive damages per defendant, and $735 in lost
Social Security benefits.
February 7, 2018, the District Court dismissed all claims
against Sheriff Millsap in his individual and official
capacities, the Eighth Amendment excessive-bail claim against
Deputy Payne, and all claims against Deputy Payne in his
official capacity. The court ruled that Mr. Henley failed to
state viable § 1983 claims against Sheriff Millsap
because Henley did not allege that Millsap "personally
participated" in the purported unconstitutional actions.
The court declined to impute the allegations against Deputy
Payne to Sheriff Millsap because "supervisors are not
subject to § 1983 liability under theories of respondeat
superior or vicarious liability." The court similarly
dismissed the state claims against Sheriff Millsap on the
ground that Mr. Henley had not shown Millsap's personal
participation in any of the alleged violations. Finally, the
District Court dismissed all official capacity claims because
the complaint failed to allege the existence of a policy,
custom, or widespread practice on the part of Bartow County
or that Bartow County waived its sovereign immunity.
District Court did allow Mr. Henley to proceed on his §
1983 false arrest claim and his state claims of false
imprisonment, malicious arrest, and IIED against Deputy
Payne. Then on May 22, 2018, Deputy Payne moved to dismiss
the remaining claims in the complaint. First, he argued that
the § 1983 claim is barred by the favorable-termination
rule of Heck v. Humphrey because Mr. Henley's
trespass charge terminated pursuant to a plea agreement.
Deputy Payne also asked the court to dismiss the state law
claims on the grounds that malicious arrest under Georgia law
requires a favorable termination, which Mr. Henley cannot
show; Henley was detained pursuant to a warrant obtained the
morning after his arrest, thus defeating his claim of false
imprisonment; and Henley's arrest was not "extreme
or outrageous" so as to sustain his IIED claim.
District Court granted Deputy Payne's motion to dismiss.
The court agreed with the deputy that Mr. Henley's §
1983 claim was barred by Heck because Henley cannot
show that the criminal trespass charge was terminated in his
favor. The court stated that, having dismissed Mr.
Henley's federal claims, it would not ordinarily exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state claims.
The court also noted that Mr. Henley resides in Texas so
"it is possible that diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332 may exist." The court then dismissed
the state claims on the merits. This is Mr. Henley's
review the grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim de novo. Hill v.
White, 321 F.3d 1334, 1335 (11th Cir. 2003) (per
curiam). We also review de novo questions of subject
matter jurisdiction. City of Miami Gardens v. Wells Fargo
& Co., 931 F.3d 1274, 1282 (11th Cir. 2019) (per
curiam). For both, the Court must accept the allegations in
the complaint as true and construe them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Dixon v. Hodges, 887
F.3d 1235, 1237 (11th Cir. 2018) (per curiam); Hill,
321 F.3d at 1335. "Pro se pleadings are held to
a less stringent standard than ...