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Lindsey v. Adkinson

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

February 26, 2018



          H. Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is DN 34, Defendants City of Munfordville Chief of Police Greg Atwell and Munfordville Police Officer Lanny Jewell's motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The Plaintiff has responded at ¶ 36, and Defendants have replied at ¶ 37. The parties have consented to the undersigned conducting all proceedings and entry of orders of final judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 (DN 33).


         This is a civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, with pendent state law claims (DN 1). Plaintiff Stacey Michelle Lindsey claims that on February 15, 2017, she was falsely arrested by two Kentucky State Police troopers (Id. ¶¶ 2, 13-17). Lindsey asserts that the KSP troopers arrived at her residence, informed her they had a warrant for her arrest originating from the Munfordville Police Department in Hart County, and arrested her over her objections that “she had no history or contact with Hart County” and “knew that this was a case of mistaken identity” (Id. ¶¶ 2, 15-17). The charges set forth in the warrant were “burglary second, custodial interference, assault fourth degree, and impersonating a law enforcement officer” (Id. ¶ 15). Lindsey spent seventeen and a half hours in the Warren County Regional Jail before being released on bail (Id. ¶ 17). On March 6, 2017, the Hart District Court dismissed the charges against Lindsey and “acknowledged that Mrs. Lindsey had been arrested in error” (Id. ¶ 18).

         Lindsey's complaint sets forth causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming violation of her rights to due process, to be free from false arrest and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. She also asserts claims under Kentucky law for assault and battery and false arrest/imprisonment.

         As to Chief Atwell, Lindsey alleges that his policies, practices, customs, and usage regarding the failure to ensure the presence of probable cause before making an arrest was a moving force in her false arrest by the KSP troopers (Id. ¶ 22). She further alleges that Chief Atwell provided inadequate supervision and training, which contributed to her being arrested without probable cause (Id. ¶ 23), and that he has not taken disciplinary action nor conducted an investigation into the matter of her arrest (Id. ¶¶ 24, 25).

         Lindsey alleges that Officer Jewell[1] acted without probable cause in procuring the warrant under which the KSP troopers made the arrest. She also contends that Officer Jewell was negligent in failing to obtain and include correct personal identifiers in the warrant, resulting in the arrest of the wrong person (Id. ¶¶ 21, 32).

         Lindsey also named Kentucky State Police Trooper Jason Adkinson and “Unknown Kentucky State Police Trooper 2” as defendants in the case. They previously moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, and the Court granted their motion (DN 28).


         The “standard for review for entry of judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is indistinguishable from the standard of review for dismissals based on failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6)” Jackson v. Heh, No. 98-4420, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 14075, at *7-8 (6th Cir. June 2, 2000). For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. A legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation need not be accepted as true on a motion to dismiss, nor are recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient. Fritz v. Charter Township of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6thCir. 2010).

         In reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, although the Court's decision rests primarily upon the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint may also be taken into account. In re Walsh Constr. Co., No. 3:15-CV-TBR, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50078, at *17 (W.D. Ky. April 14, 2016). “Documents attached to a motion [for judgment on the pleadings] are considered part of the pleadings if they are referred to in plaintiff's complaint and are central to the claims, and therefore may be considered without converting a Rule 12[(c)] motion [for judgment on the pleadings] to a Rule 56 motion.” Id. at *18 (quoting Whittiker v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co., 605 F.Supp.2d 914, 924 (N.D. Ohio 2009)).


         Defendants' motion provides an extensive factual recitation which relies upon information set forth in the exhibits they attached. These include the arrest warrant in question and the attendant police report, including a witness statement. The Defendants correctly note that the Court previously recognized the arrest warrant as a “public record” and took it into consideration when ruling on the KSP troopers' motions to dismiss. Without citation to authority, the Defendants contend that the police report is also considered a public record. The undersigned disagrees. “The vast majority of cases hold that police reports do not constitute matters of public record appropriate for judicial notice.” Eubank v. Wesseler, No. 10-210-DLB-JGW, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93135, at *10 n. 2 (E.D. Ky. Aug. 19, 2011); see also Michon v. Ugarte, No. 16 C 6104, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21583, at *7 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 15, 2017) (“The Court thus follows ‘the vast majority of courts' in disregarding the factual allegations in a police report.”); Martin v. County of Nassau, 692 F.Supp.2d 282, 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2010) (Refusing to consider “police reports, witness statements and other similar documents relating to the plaintiff's arrest” in adjudicating a Rule 12(c) motion). The undersigned notes that the parties have extensively discussed and relied upon what they contend are the facts of the case as reflected in the police report, essentially presenting their positions as though the motion were one for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A motion under Rule 12(c) challenges the sufficiency of the allegations in the Complaint within its four corners. Consideration of extraneous factual information is only permitted in limited circumstances which do not apply to the police report. As a result, all “facts” presented in the police report and arguments based thereupon must be disregarded.

         The Undersigned also notes that the Court has previously set forth the controlling legal principals when ruling on the KSP troopers' motion to dismiss, and consequently, that order ...

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