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Taylor v. Lusardi

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

February 26, 2018

KING TAYLOR PLAINTIFF
v.
MICHAEL LUSARDI DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID L. BUNNING, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Michael Lusardi's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's civil-rights complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. # 11). In response, Plaintiff King Taylor filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint to address the asserted deficiency in his pleading. (Docs. # 13 & 14). The Defendant opposes the Motion to Amend, arguing that an amendment would be futile because the proposed Amended Complaint (Doc. # 13-2), like the Original Complaint, fails to adequately allege that the charge against him was dismissed in a manner reflective of his innocence. (Docs. # 15 & 16). The Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and the Plaintiff's Motion to Amend his Complaint are fully briefed and ripe for review.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In April 2015, Lusardi, an officer with the Covington Police Department, along with other officers, stopped Taylor when he was sitting in his car, parked in his uncle's driveway.[1] (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 7-8). A routine check revealed no outstanding warrants for Taylor, but Officer Lusardi indicated that he was going to use his K-9 to search Taylor's car for narcotics. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. Taylor protested. Id. at ¶ 11. Taylor alleges that he calmly asserted his objections, but that Officer Lusardi arrested him for disorderly conduct and allegedly used excessive force to execute that arrest. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14. Ultimately, no drugs were found in Taylor's car. Id. at ¶ 12. Taylor was then taken to the Kenton County Detention Center, where he stayed for 12 hours before he was released on an unsecured bond. Id. at ¶ 16. On September 29, 2015, approximately five months later, the disorderly-conduct charge was formally dismissed. Id. at ¶ 19.

         Taylor filed the instant civil-rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 23, 2016.[2] (Doc. # 1). Taylor alleges that the disorderly-conduct charge was initiated without probable cause based upon Officer Lusardi's “lies and false statements.” (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 18). As a result, Taylor claims that the disorderly-conduct charge was dismissed “in his favor and without exchange for guilty plea on any other charge.” Id. at ¶ 22. The Complaint sets forth two claims: (1) malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and (2) malicious prosecution under Kentucky common law. Id. at ¶¶ 24-29. As recompense, Taylor seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         Officer Lusardi responded to the Complaint by filing a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 11). Specifically, Officer Lusardi argues that dismissal of Plaintiff's federal-law and state-law malicious prosecution claims is warranted because the Complaint fails to adequately allege that the disorderly-conduct charge was dropped “for reasons reflecting on the merits” of the charge as required to state a claim for malicious prosecution under Kentucky law.[3] (Doc. # 11-1 at 2-3).

         Taylor opposes Officer Lusardi's Motion to Dismiss and seeks permission to file an Amended Complaint to address the asserted deficiency in his pleading. (Docs. # 13 & 14). The proposed amendment to the Complaint is limited to one paragraph, which states:

Plaintiff was innocent of the charge of Disorderly Conduct brought against him by Defendant, and during the course of the criminal proceeding Plaintiff took no action, nor made any statement to diminish his innocence. Plaintiff did not opt for diversion, nor plead to any lesser charges.

(Doc. # 13-2 at 4). In his Reply, Officer Lusardi claims that the amendment should be denied as futile because Taylor's new allegations speak only to his belief regarding the merit of the charges, not to the basis for the trial court's or prosecutor's decision to dismiss the charges upon a conclusion that Taylor was innocent of them. (Doc. # 14 at 2-3).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Put another way, “the plaintiff must allege facts that state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face and that, if accepted as true, are sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Wesley v. Campbell, 779 F.3d 421, 427 (6th Cir. 2015) (quoting Handy-Clay v. City of Memphis, Tenn., 695 F.3d 531, 538 (6th Cir. 2012); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         Although “plaintiffs need not meet a ‘probability requirement' … they must show ‘more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.'” Wesley, 779 F.3d at 427-28 (quoting Rondigo, LLC v. Twp. of Richmond, 641 F.3d 673, 680 (6th Cir. 2011)). “In ruling on the issue, a district court must ‘construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.'” Id. at 428 (quoting Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007)). After all, the “defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief.” Id.

         B. ...


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