Clifton v. Jeff Davis County, Georgia et al, No. 2:2016cv00108 - Document 40 (S.D. Ga. 2017)

Court Description: ORDER granting in part and denying in part 20 Motion to Dismiss. Count III is DISMISSED. All claims against the Jeff Davis County Board of Commissioners; Wooten, Brantley, Marchant, Hall, and Powell in their official capacities; and Sheriff Bohannon in his official capacity are DISMISSED. Signed by Judge Lisa G. Wood on 7/17/2017. (csr)
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Clifton v. Jeff Davis County, Georgia et al Doc. 40 Stt ?lStttteti States! IBtie(trtct Court for tfie ^outfiem Biotrict of <(^eorgta i@ntnofatit(k jitiitoton TYLER BRENT CLIFTON, Plaintiff, 2:16-CV-108 V. JEFF DAVIS COUNTY, JEFF DAVIS GEORGIA; COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS; RAY WOOTEN, HUGH BRANTLEY, WANDA MARCHANT, and WAYNE HALL, all Individually and as Members of the Jeff Davis Board of Commissioners; CARLA ROBERTS POWELL, Individually and as the County Attorney for Jeff Davis County, Georgia; and PRESTON BOHANNON, in His Official Capacity; Defendants. ORDER Defendants move to partially Clifton's civil rights complaint. dismiss Plaintiff Dkt. No. 20.^ Tyler The motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part for the reasons below. ^ The Court directed Clifton to file his currently operative complaint in a Clifton did so, then moved for previous order. Dkt. No. 17 at 7. Dkt. Nos. 18, 19. That motion was unnecessary, but permission to do so. i s GRANTED. Clifton also moves to add Defendant Preston Bohannon in his Defendants do not oppose this motion individual capacity. Dkt. No. 29. per se, only raising objections to certain claims that will be discussed below. Dkt. No. 30. This motion i s also GRANTED. Dockets.Justia.com BACKGROUND As it must at this stage of the case, the truth operative of the facts complaint, alleged dkt. no. in 18. the Court assumes Clifton's Clifton looked Defendant Jeff Davis County, Georgia's finances. SlSl 13-14, 16. currently Dkt. No. Id. fSI 15-21. Then, Clifton started building a trailer park. His next-door-neighbor. happy 18 That upset several of the Defendants who are Jeff Davis County officials. not into about Id. SI 23. Defendant Commissioner Wayne Hall, was that. Id. SI 24. Clifton approached the Commissioners about putting in a water line underneath a road that the county did not own, even though he did not need their permission to do specifically tell So, on June 1, Three about the so. [Clifton] 2013, days Id. line and SI 31. The next day, June Carla Powell filed Id. Hall water Commissioners that he did. later. and SISI 25-27, he could not." Clifton installation 5, 2013, Defendant Jeff an incident They that of Davis under roads, even he a SI was 27. angry trailer. report Board of regarding Id. SI 32. had not previously prosecuted or fined anyone lines Id. not Id. Defendant County Attorney line with the local sheriff's office. water 'Mid SI 28. told the 29. the water The county for putting in though—unlike people actually damaged the roads in doing so. County Clifton—some Id. SI 33. The incident involvement. instigated report Powell was not the ^^personally [Clifton's] arrest the other Defendants." Id. end of researched the and prosecution f 34. Defendants' law and together with They did so even though they '''had evidence that the road was not damaged and that the County did not own the land" beside or under the road. Id. Defendant Sheriff Preston Bohannon approved the incident report on March 18, 2014. grand jury for Id. SI 37. criminal Clifton was indicted by trespass government property on April 1, and 2014. interfering Id. with SISI 38-39. These charges were more serious than one for damage to county roads. Id. SISI 41-43. intervention. They Id. Clifton was "was told attorney prove a that "was were chosen to Defendants' SI 43. arrested on April he needed informed point." due Id. to that SI 44. 4, 2014. Id. SI 40. He lesson," and his be taught a the County was just trying to Clifton "was also told that the felony charges might be dropped if he agreed to apologize to Defendants." case. Id. charges. Id. Id. SI 47. He spent Then, several the thousand dollars prosecution nol on his prossed the SI 49. Clifton filed this lawsuit on July 8, 2016. Dkt. No. 1. He alleges malicious prosecution under federal and state law, conspiracy, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Dkt. partially dismiss the case, disposition. No. 18. Defendants moved to and their motion is now ripe for Dkt. Nos. 20, 27. LEGAL STANDARDS ^'Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . the . . . sense." . . be a context-specific task that requires court to draw on its judicial experience and common Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). A complaint must be "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." P. 8(a)(2). raise Atl. a Its allegations right to relief above the Corp. Iqbal, "[f]actual V. 556 Twombly, U.S. allegations at 550 678. from which U.S. It must legal Inc., 253 must assume F.3d allegations, conclusion Allain, theory." 544, has [the court] 678, the it 684 v. 555 to can is 265, "not as Aware (11th Cir. truthfulness couched 478 U.S. Roe a 286 bound of to factual (1986). be enough speculative level." see to Bell also inferential identify each of the recovery under some Woman 2001). the (2007); "contain material elements necessary to sustain a viable Fed. R. Civ. Ctr. for Choice, Although a complaint's accept as allegation." true court factual a legal Papasan v. DISCUSSION Clifton's infliction defamation of emotional claim distress is one time-barred. is not. His Some of his official-capacity contentions fail to state a claim. I. CLIFTON'S DEFAMA.TION CLAIM IS TIME-BABRED. Clifton's claim is defamation subject to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. No. 1. made or No. one-year after July 8, that the 17 at statute not pointed to tolling equitable Dkt. a time-barred. A of 3-4; Dkt. 2015. No. 27 has at 2016. any defamatory He Court defamation limitations. This suit was filed on July 8, Clifton has on claim is raises not 10. no Dkt. statement reason already for rejected. Clifton's defamation claim must be dismissed. II. CLIFTON'S INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS of emotional distress CLAIM IS NOT TIME-BARRED. Clifton's claim is timely. distress claim limitations. 1338 341 in (S.D. (Ga. part 872, 879 intentional is intentional subject Fitzpatrick v. Ga. 2010) Ct. App. on An infliction other (Ga. to infliction a Harrison, two-year 854 (citing Valades v. 2009) Ct. App. by Harrison 2016)). Again, F. Uslu, (citing O.C.G.A. grounds of v. § at 1-2. statute Supp. of 2d 1334, 689 S.E.2d 338, 9-3-33), McAfee, overruled 788 S.E.2d this suit was filed on ^ Defendants' motion is denied insofar as it was withdrawn, against Sheriff Bohannon individually. emotional Dkt. No. as to claims 20 at 16-18; Dkt. No. 30 July 8, 2016, so the question is whether Clifton adequately alleged any infliction of emotional distress dating from July 8, 2014 or later. Dkt. No. 1. Clifton was arrested on April 4, 2014, and his state criminal case was nol pressed on April 13, 2016. Dkt. contend that No. 18 1 40; No. 18 1 and that No. Clifton only alleges indictment and arrest." Dkt. Dkt. 34; Dkt. No. accord Dkt. 27 at 11. wrongdoing 20 at 6. No. 27 Defendants ^^prior to This is incorrect. at 10-11. Given this, Defendants concede the timeliness of Clifton's claim insofar as it is against Sheriff Bohannon individually, no. III. his 30 at 2, dkt. this claim survives. SOME OF CLIFTON'S OFFICIJU^-CAPACITY CLAIMS FAIL. Clifton's claims against Sheriff Bohannon in his official capacity are dismissed. Dkt. No. 27 at 12 (conceding these). Clifton's claims against Powell in her official capacity, particular Jeff Davis County Commissioners in their official capacity, ''are and the duplicative Georgia and so County, 173 F. Twigqs County, aff'd, cf. 88 F. Jeff of are Supp. 182 F. [his] County suit" dismissed. 3d 1362, Supp. App'x 389 Franklin v. Davis Board against SP 1375 Jeff Frederica, (S.D. 2d 1253, (11th Cir. Ga. 1256-57 2003) (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 21, Commissioners Davis LLC 2016); (M.D. County, v. Glynn Gonser v. Ga. 2002), (unpublished table); Warren County D.A.'s Office, 2009 WL 161314, at *5 of No. 2009). 1:08-CV-801, But Clifton's claims against Jeff Davis County, survive. Georgia Liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ''may be imposed for a single decision by municipal policymakers" because even "a single decision by its properly constituted legislative body . . . unquestionably constitutes an act of official government policy." (1986) . Pembaur v. That City of Cincinnati, decision need not even 475 U.S. be in 469, 480 writing. Id. Here, Clifton alleges that the Commissioners and Powell filed the incident prosecute report, Clifton, encouraged and prosecutors interfered with criminal investigation. the to indict and prosecution and Dkt. No. 18 SISI 32, 34, 43, 52. This is enough to survive dismissal. CONCLUSION Clifton's Renewed Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint, dkt. no. 19, is GRANTED. Clifton's Motion to Add Defendant Individual Capacity, dkt. no. 29, Defendants' Partial Motion is GRANTED. to Dismiss, GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. All claims against Commissioners; Wooten, their official the Preston Bohannon in His Jeff Count Davis dkt. III capacities; and official capacity are DISMISSED. Sheriff 20, is is DISMISSED. County Brantley, Marchant, Hall, no. Board of and Powell in Bohannon in his so ORDEBED, this 17th day of July, 2017. HON#^LISA GODBE^ WOOD, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA A0 72A (Rev. 8/82)