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Lamb v. Bailey

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

June 28, 2017

AMOS LAMB, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID BAILEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS B. RUSSELL, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Proceeding pro se, Amos Lamb filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Deputy Sheriff David Bailey and the Calloway County Sheriff's Department. Lamb alleges that, contrary to his Fourth (and Fourteenth) Amendment rights, Deputy Bailey stopped his vehicle and arrested him without cause. With discovery closed, each side moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Lamb's Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 25], is DENIED, and Deputy Bailey and the Department's Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 35], is GRANTED.

         I.

         A.

         On August 15, 2015, Deputy Sheriff David Bailey of the Calloway County Sheriff's Department saw a white Chevrolet van travelling southbound on Highway 121 in New Concord, Kentucky. [R. 34-1 at 1, ¶¶ 1-3 (Bailey's Affidavit).] He pulled behind the van and attempted to run its license plate, but a trailer hitch (or a makeshift bumper) obstructed his view. [Id., ¶ 4.] Unable to make out the vehicle's license plate, he initiated a traffic stop. [Id.]

         Deputy Bailey approached the driver, whom he later identified as Amos Lamb, and asked for his license and registration. [Id., ¶ 5.] Lamb was unable to produce a valid driver's license, and so Deputy Bailey returned to his vehicle and called dispatch to run the van's tags. [Id.] When dispatch advised that the plate was registered to a different vehicle, Deputy Bailey arrested Lamb. [Id., ¶¶ 5-7.] He charged Lamb with, inter alia, failure of a non-owner operator to maintain required insurance, to produce an insurance card, to produce an operator's license, to maintain valid registration, and to display valid registration plates. [R. 34-2 at 1-2 (Uniform Citation No. CA14763).]

         Lamb appeared before Calloway County District Court Judge Randall Hutchens on August 16, 2015. [R. 35-10 at 1 (Conditions of Release and Judicial Decision).] Originally, his bond was set at $2, 500 cash. [Id.] The following day, Lamb was arraigned and his bond was amended to $2, 500 cash or surety. [R. 35-11 at 1 (Order of Arraignment).] Lamb's sister posted bond that morning. [R. 35-12 at 1 (Acknowledgement of Scheduled Court Appearance).] A preliminary hearing was scheduled for September 30. [R. 35-13 at 1 (Order from Preliminary Hearing).]

         Prior to the preliminary hearing, Lamb filed a motion to suppress all evidence gathered as result of the traffic stop. [R. 35-4 at 1-2 (Motion to Suppress).] Perhaps more importantly, he produced a valid driver's license and proof of registration to the Calloway County Attorney before the preliminary hearing too. [R. 31 (DVD of Preliminary Hearing).] In light of that development, the County Attorney moved to dismiss the charges against Lamb without prejudice. [Id.] Judge Hutchens granted that request without passing on Lamb's motion to suppress. [R. 35-17 at 1 (Order of September 30, 2015).]

         B.

         Roughly one year later, Lamb sued Deputy Bailey and the Calloway County Sheriff's Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Deputy Bailey's “unlawful stop” and “false arrest” violated his Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. [R. 1 at 1-2 (Complaint).] Shortly after, he sought leave to amend his complaint to add a Fourth Amendment claim too. [R. 11 at 1 (Motion for Leave).] The Court granted that request, but Lamb failed to file an amended complaint. [R. 12 (Order of December 28, 2016).] Nonetheless, Lamb's subsequent filings evince an intent to replace the Sixth and Eighth Amendment claims in the original complaint with a Fourth Amendment claim instead. [See R. 33 at 123 (Lamb's Deposition); R. 35-3 at 16, ¶¶ 13-14 (Responses to Interrogatories).] Therefore, in the interest of justice, the Court will construe Lamb's complaint as alleging wrongful-stop and wrongful-arrest claims rooted in the Fourth Amendment. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). With discovery now closed, both parties move for summary judgment.[1] [R. 25 (Lamb's Motion for Summary Judgment); R. 35 (Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment).]

         II.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists where “there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court “may not make credibility determinations nor weigh the evidence when determining whether an issue of fact remains for trial.” Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 726 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Logan v. Denny's, Inc., 259 F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001); Ahlers v. Schebil, 188 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 1999)). “The ultimate question is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Back v. Nestlé USA, Inc., 694 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

         III.

         Both parties ask for summary judgment on competing grounds. On the one hand, Lamb argues that the decision to dismiss the charges against him without prejudice conclusive establishes the absence of probable cause for his arrest. [R. 25 at 2; R. 38 at 1 (Reply in Support of Lamb's Motion for Summary Judgment).] Deputy Bailey and the Department stress, on the other hand, that probable cause supported the traffic stop and arrest, and so Lamb's claim must fail as a matter of law. [R. 35-1 at 12-15 (Memorandum in Support of ...


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