Garrison v. Town of Miami Lakes et al - Document 29
ORDER denying as moot 8 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; denying as moot 11 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; granting 18 Motion for Leave to File. Clerks Notice: Filer must separately re-file the amended pleading pursuant to Local Rule 15.1, unless otherwise ordered by the Judge. Signed by Judge Marcia G. Cooke on 4/23/2012. (tm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 11-23739-Civ-COOKE/TURNOFF
THE TOWN OF MIAMI LAKES, et al,
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
FOR LEAVE TO FILE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
THIS MATTER is before me on Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File First Amended
Complaint. (ECF No. 18). I have reviewed the arguments, the record, and the relevant legal
authorities. For the reasons provided below, the Motion to Amend is granted.
On April 4, 2010, Defendants Lieutenant Edward Jarosz and Officer Ramon Del Valle
(the “Officers”) responded to Defendant Ivan Rodriguez’s excessive noise complaint at Plaintiff
Angela Garrison’s home in Miami Lakes. The Officers ordered Plaintiff to turn down the music
playing in her backyard. Plaintiff complied with the request; however, the Officers returned two
subsequent times because of continuing neighbor complaints. Upon returning a third time, the
Officers arrested Plaintiff for disorderly conduct and for violating a local noise ordinance. See
Miami-Dade County, Code of Ordinances ch. 21, art. IV, § 21-28 (2010). Plaintiff refused to
sign a Promise to Appear in the Arrest Affidavit, and was jailed overnight. On September 7,
2010, Plaintiff was acquitted of all criminal charges, and the charges were dismissed.
On September 12, 2011, Plaintiff initiated this action in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh
Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida. Plaintiff asserted claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts I and II) and false arrest claims (Counts III and IV) against the Officers,
the Town of Miami Lakes (“Miami Lakes”), and Miami-Dade County. Plaintiff also asserted a
claim under § 1983 for malicious prosecution against Mr. Rodriguez (Count V). The action was
removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as a question of federal law. Plaintiff now moves to file
a First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 18).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A complaint must consist of a short and plain statement of jurisdiction, the grounds upon
which the claim is based, and a request for relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint must
contain “sufficient factual matter” that states a claim for relief plausible on its face, and must
allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). A court should freely
give leave to amend a complaint when justice so requires. Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). “Generally,
[w]here a more carefully drafted complaint might state a claim, a plaintiff must be given at least
one chance to amend the complaint before the district court dismisses the action with prejudice.”
Bryant v. Dupree, 252 F.3d 1161, 1163 (11th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation omitted).
proposed amendment may be denied for futility “when the complaint as amended would still be
properly dismissed.” Coventry First, LLC v. McCarty, 605 F.3d 865, 870 (11th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff seeks to amend her Complaint to add additional facts to state cognizable claims
under § 1983 against the Officers, Miami Lakes, and Miami-Dade County. Plaintiff also seeks to
modify her malicious prosecution claim, dropping the allegations against Mr. Rodriguez and
reasserting them against Miami Lakes and Miami-Dade County.
Upon consideration of
Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend, I must determine whether the amendments would be futile. See
Coventry First, LLC, 605 F.3d at 870.
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for False Arrest
Plaintiff argues that the Officers, Miami Lakes, and Miami-Dade County violated her
Constitutional rights by arresting her on April 4, 2010. Any person who deprives another of a
Constitutional right under the color of state law shall be liable to the injured party. 42 U.S.C. §
1983. An individual has a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and
seizure.1 U.S. Const. amend. IV. To be reasonable, a seizure must be based upon probable
cause. Id. As applicable to the facts of this case, the Officers must have witnessed Plaintiff
committing a crime in their presence for probable cause to exist. See Atwater v. City of Lago
Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 354 (2001) (holding that an officer has probable cause to arrest when an
individual has committed even a very minor crime in his presence).
The original Complaint does not assert sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief.
Plaintiff merely articulates legal conclusions and does not allege facts that would show that the
Officers acted improperly. The Proposed Amended Complaint, however, alleges that Plaintiff’s
music was “played at a volume which was low enough to allow conversation between adults at a
normal voice level, standing a normal distance from each other” and that the music was “not
audible from the street outside of Plaintiff’s front door […] and was not audible by Plaintiff’s
immediate neighbors.” (Prop. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17). The Proposed Amended Complaint also
alleges that the Officers lacked probable cause to arrest Plaintiff because she was not in violation
of the noise ordinance at the time of her arrest. The absence of legal authority to arrest is
Through operation of the Fourteenth Amendment, states are not permitted to conduct
unreasonable search and seizure. U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1.
essential to Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim for false arrest. This amendment, therefore, would not be
Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Malicious Prosecution
To establish a § 1983 claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must prove a violation
of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure, in addition to the elements
of the common law tort of malicious prosecution. See Kingsland v. City of Miami, 382 F.3d
1220, 1234 (11th Cir. 2004). Under Florida law, these elements are: (1) institution of the
original proceeding; (2) that the defendant was the legal cause of the original proceeding; (3)
termination of the proceeding in favor of the accused; (4) absence of probable cause for the
proceeding; (5) malice on the part of the defendant; and (6) damages. See id.
Plaintiff’s original Complaint fails to plead sufficient facts that would show a violation of
a constitutional right or that Mr. Rodriguez acted with malice.3 Plaintiff seeks to amend her
Complaint to instead assert the malicious prosecution claim against Miami Lakes and MiamiDade County.
The Proposed Amended Complaint includes facts that demonstrate malice,
including the existence of adversarial relationships with Ignacio Alvarez (the Mayor of Miami
Lakes), Officer Jarosz, and other Miami-Dade County police officers. Additionally, Plaintiff
also adds facts to show that the Officers were directly communicating with Mayor Alvarez and
other Miami Lakes officials throughout the incident and arrest. (Prop. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 25, 30,
The Defendants have separately filed motions to dismiss. (ECF Nos. 8, 11) The motions assert
that the Officers had arguable probable cause that the Defendants are immune from liability.
However, this does not need to be presently addressed because the proposed amendment adds
facts and allegations to support Plaintiffs constitutional violation claims.
Moreover, the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments only apply to governmental actors, and not
to private citizens. U.S. CONST. amend. IV; U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1. Therefore, Plaintiff is
unable to assert that Mr. Rodriguez violated her Constitutional rights to the extent that the
violation was an unlawful seizure.
31). As with the amendment to Plaintiff’s false arrest claim, the proposed amendment to the
malicious prosecution claim would not be futile.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend (ECF No. 18) is GRANTED and
Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos. 8, 11) are DENIED as moot. In accordance with
Local Rule 15.1, Plaintiff is directed to separately file the Amended Complaint.
DONE and ORDERED in chambers, at Miami, Florida, this 23rd day of April 2012.
Copies furnished to:
William C. Turnoff
Counsel of Record