United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. BUNNING, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
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. (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.
filed the instant civil-rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 on September 23, 2016. (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.
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
(Doc. # 11-1 at 2-3).
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
Standard of Review
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)).
“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