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Williams v. Allen

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 2, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant, Officer Michelle Tillman's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 8), Defendant, Officer Timothy Allen's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 18), and Plaintiff Regina William's responses in Opposition (Docs. 13, 19).

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Officers Timothy Allen and Michelle Tillman's (“Defendants”) investigation of an accident caused by Plaintiff Regina Williams almost a decade ago. On March 6, 2008, Plaintiff was in the process of taking her daughter to school. (Doc. 2, ¶ 16). When she encountered heavy traffic, Plaintiff decided to drop her daughter off in a construction area which would allow her to walk safely to school. (Id.). As she made a left hand turn across traffic to the construction area, Plaintiff heard the loud crash of a motorcycle on the right side of her vehicle. (Id. ¶ 17). Plaintiff did not see the motorcycle prior to impact. (Id. ¶ 18). The motorcyclist flew over Plaintiff's vehicle and landed in the adjacent lane suffering significant injuries. (Id.). The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the Health Central Emergency Room. (Id.). Finding no evidence that Plaintiff intended to harm the motorcyclist, the responding officers allowed Plaintiff to go home without incident. (Id. ¶ 19).

         Five months later, Officer Michelle Tillman (“Officer Tillman”) continued investigating the accident and reviewed Plaintiff's driver's license history on the Driver and Vehicle Information Database (“DAVID”). The DAVID search revealed “that at the time of the accident [Plaintiff] had a suspended license” for failure to pay a traffic fine. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 24). According to Plaintiff, “th[e] suspension was a retroactive suspension [and] did not go into effect until April 25, 2008, . . . over a month after the accident, ” but the suspension appeared on DAVID “[b]ecause the Defendants ran another check of [Plaintiff's] driving privilege about five months after the accident. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 25). Plaintiff alleges that “Defendants could clearly see that Plaintiff's license was not suspended at the time of the of the accident but intentionally filed charges with the state attorney's office [(“State”)] which lead to her arrest and [] prosecut[ion].” (Id. ¶ 28).

         “[O]n or about September 12, 2009[, ] . . . [Plaintiff] received a summons and citation via [c]ertified mail charging her with Driving While License Suspended with Death.” (Id. ¶ 14). In November 2010, the State filed an information formally charging Plaintiff with Driving Without a Valid License Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death, a third degree felony. (See Doc. 8, p. 11; see also Doc. 2, ¶ 15). The state court subsequently entered a Probable Cause Order finding “that probable cause exist[ed] for the arrest of [Plaintiff]” (see Doc. 8, p. 12), and issued a capias, i.e. an arrest warrant (see Doc. 18-1). On December 26, 2010, a non-party officer arrested Plaintiff pursuant to the warrant. (Id.). Almost two years later, the criminal case was terminated in favor of Plaintiff. (Doc. 2, ¶¶ 48, 58).

         On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants in the Circuit Court for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County. See State v. Williams, Case No. 2016-CA-010767-0 (Fla. 9th Cir. Ct.).[1] In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts state law claims for false arrest/false imprisonment (Counts I & II), malicious prosecution (Counts III & IV), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) (Count V & VI). (See Doc. 2, ¶¶ 61-78). In addition to her state law claims, Plaintiff asserts civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Defendants' alleged “violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.” (Counts VII & VIII). (See id., ¶¶ 79-100). Plaintiff fails to identify the specific theories under which she is bringing his Section 1983 claims. However, from what the Court can discern, Plaintiff is asserting federal claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The pleader must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “[D]etailed factual allegations” are not required, but mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” are not enough. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         When a complaint “fails to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ” the defendant may seek dismissal of the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 672, 678-79 (2009). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, courts must limit their consideration to the complaint, the written instruments attached to it as exhibits, “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 323 (2007). Courts also must accept all well-pled factual allegations-but not legal conclusions-as true. Tellabs, 551 U.S. at 323. After disregarding allegations that “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” the court must determine whether the complaint includes “factual content” sufficient to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555- 56 (2007)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendants argue that the Court should dismiss the Complaint because Plaintiff has failed to meet the minimum pleading requirements with respect to each of her claims. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's false arrest claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Court will address each claim in turn.[2]

         A. False Arrest/False Imprisonment[3]

         1. Statute ...

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