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Jackson v. Palmer

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

February 14, 2018



          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Luis Palmer, Jeffrey Ayres, and Nick Rice's motion for summary judgment. [DN 42.] Plaintiff Robert Jackson responded by filing his own brief captioned as a motion for summary judgment, [DN 43.] Defendants responded to that motion, [DN 44.] Fully briefed, these matters are now ripe for decision. For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED. The Court will enter a separate Order and Judgment consistent with this Memorandum Opinion.


         This case arises out of a traffic stop of the car in which Plaintiff Robert Jackson was a passenger and the subsequent searches Defendant Jeffrey Ayres, a Kentucky State Trooper, performed of Jackson's person as a result. [DN 1.][1] According to Jackson's complaint, he was a passenger in a vehicle that Defendant Ayers pulled over on March 23, 2014. [Id. at 2.] Jackson alleges that Defendant Ayers “removed plaintiff from the motor vehicle” and, “[w]ithout probable cause or justification, and in violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights . . . ordered plaintiff to pull down his pants and underclothing and examined his anus in public on the side of the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway . . . in the full view of passing motorists.” [Id.] In doing so, Jackson claims that Ayers “forcibly grabbed plaintiff's arm and ordered him to bend over.” [Id. at 3.] According to Jackson, “[a]t no point during the aforementioned events had [D]efendant Ayers or other law enforcement obtained a search warrant nor had plaintiff been placed under arrest.” [Id.]

         After the traffic stop and search, however, Jackson was arrested. [DN 42-3 (Commonwealth of Kentucky Uniform Citation).] The Uniform Citation form that Ayers filled out for Jackson recites the following version of events:

During traffic stop above was front right passenger. K9 indicated a positive presence of narcotics. While searching above above pulled away from myself and would not put his hands behind his back. Above was drive stunned with tazer [sic]. Approximately 7 grams of possible heroin were located in crease of above's buttocks along with small amount of marijuana. While above was resisting he was trying to reach toward his buttocks. Substance field tested positive for heroin. digital scales indicated suspected heroin in bag weighed 7 grams.

[Id.] Jackson was charged with four crimes: 1) tampering with physical evidence, 2) resisting arrest, 3) trafficking in controlled substances, 1st degree, an amount greater to or equal to 2 grams of heroin, and 4) possession of marijuana. [Id.] Jackson pled guilty to all four charges, however, he entered only a conditional plea of guilty as to his trafficking in controlled substances charge pending his appeal of the circuit court's denial of his motion to suppress. [DN 42-1 at 5 (citing DN 42-4).]

         Jackson moved to suppress the evidence of heroin trafficking found during the search of his body during the roadside stop in Christian County Circuit Court. [DN 42-5 (Jackson's Motion to Suppress).] The trial court denied Jackson's motion, [DN 42-6 at 1-2 (Christian County Circuit Court Decision)], and the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. [DN 42-7 (Kentucky Court of Appeals Decision).] The Supreme Court of Kentucky denied discretionary review. [DN 42-8 (Kentucky Supreme Court Order).] Those state court decisions will be discussed in more detail below.

         Now, Jackson brings the instant lawsuit against Ayers in federal court alleging violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 resulting from alleged illegal searches and seizures during the traffic stop. [Id. at 1-3.] He also brings a pendent state law claim for “a harmful and offensive touching [by Ayers] of plaintiff's person.” [Id. at 3.] Jackson alleges that, as a result of the foregoing events, he has “suffered extreme embarrassment, humiliation, and degradation, ” “and physical pain and suffering.” [Id.] Jackson seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. [Id. at 3-4.]

         Jackson initially brought his case separately from his two (now former) co-Plaintiffs. Jackson's complaint was initially filed in Civil Action No. 5:15-CV-67. Separately, under the instant case number, Civil Action No. 5:15-CV-66, the two other occupants of the car in which Jackson was a passenger, Darryl Dobson and Marion Robinson, brought suit against Defendants Ayers, Palmer, and Rice asserting a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for violations of their rights under “the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” [DN 4 (Dobson and Robinson's Amended Complaint).] Due to the similarity of the Plaintiffs' claims and that fact that those claims all arose from the same traffic stop incident, this Court consolidated Jackson's action with Dobson and Robinson's action into the instant case, 5:15-CV-66. [DN 21 (Order Granting Motion to Consolidate).] The case number under which Jackson initially filed his complaint, 5:15-CV-67, was administratively dismissed. [Id.] However, Dobson and Robinson were ultimately dismissed from this action due to a failure to appear in the case. [DN 38 (Order Dismissing/Terminating Dobson and Robinson).] Therefore, Jackson is the only remaining Plaintiff in this action.


         In the instant motion, Ayers, Palmer, and Rice move to dismiss both Jackson's federal constitutional claim and his pendent state law claim. [DN 42.]

         1. Defendants Palmer and Rice

         First, Defendants argue that both Palmer and Rice must be dismissed entirely from this suit because Jackson never asserted any claims against them. [DN 42-1 at 3.] Indeed, Dobson and Robinson, who are now dismissed from this action, were the only Plaintiffs who asserted claims against Defendants Palmer and Rice. [See DN 4 (Dobson and Robinson's Amended Complaint).] Jackson, however, only brought his claims against Defendant Ayers. [See DN 1.] Specifically, Jackson styled his action only against one Defendant, Jeffrey Ayers, and only ever refers to a single “defendant” throughout his complaint. [Id.] Accordingly, because Jackson never asserted any claims against Palmer and Rice in his complaint, those Defendants will be dismissed from this suit in their entirety.

         2. Defendant Ayers

         Next, Ayers moves for summary judgment on the federal and state law claims asserted against him. The Court will ...

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