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Williams v. Allen

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

September 7, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 24) filed by the Defendants and the response in opposition (Doc. 25) filed by the Plaintiff, Regina Williams.

         I. Background

         According to the allegations of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 21), which are accepted in pertinent part as true for purposes of resolving the instant motion, Williams is an Orange County resident, and the Defendants - Timothy Allen (“Allen”) and Michelle Tillman (“Tillman”) - are officers with the Ocoee Police Department. Williams was involved in a traffic accident on March 6, 2008 in which the other driver was killed and Williams was determined by the police to be at fault. (Doc. 21 at 4). On April 25, 2008, her license was suspended for an (unrelated) failure to pay a traffic fine. (Doc. 21 at 4).

         In August 2008, Tillman conducted a search on DAVID - Florida's Driver and Vehicle Information Database - regarding Williams. (Doc. 21 at 4). Tillman found “that Williams had a suspended license but her license was not suspended at the time of the accident.” (Doc. 21 at 4).

         Despite knowing that Williams' license was not suspended on the day of the accident, the Defendants informed the state attorney and the state court to the contrary. (Doc. 21 at 5). More specifically, Tillman submitted a report containing the false information, and Williams submitted it to the court and to the state attorney. (Doc. 21 at 5). Relying on this information, the state attorney filed charges against Williams for violating Florida Statute § 322.34(6), driving without a valid driver's license causing serious injury or death, a third degree felony. Williams was arrested on September 12, 2009.[1] (Doc. 21 at 3).

         On December 11, 2012, a state court judge, Bob Leblanc, dismissed the charges against Williams. (Doc. 21-5 at 1). In that order (henceforth, the “Dismissal Order”), Judge LeBlanc noted that the prosecution had asserted that Williams' license had been suspended as of March 6, 2008 but had had not presented any evidence to prove this point. (Doc. 21-5 at 1). Judge LeBlanc then stated that

In fact, the infraction … for which her license was allegedly suspended shows via Clerk's Office “events” to have a notice of suspension issued on May 1, 2008 - almost two months after the crash.

(Doc. 21-5 at 1).

         On December 12, 2016, Williams filed the instant suit. In her Amended Complaint, Williams asserts two claims for malicious prosecution - one against each defendant - pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By way of the instant motion, the Defendants seek dismissal of both claims.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” so as to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957), overruled on other grounds, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim merely tests the sufficiency of the complaint; it does not decide the merits of the case. Milbum v. United States, 734 F.2d 762, 765 (11th Cir.1984). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. SEC v. ESM Group, Inc., 835 F.2d 270, 272 (11th Cir.1988). The Court must also limit its consideration to the pleadings and any exhibits attached thereto. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); see also GSW, Inc. v. Long County, Ga., 999 F.2d 1508, 1510 (11th Cir. 1993).

         The plaintiff must provide enough factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1966, and to indicate the presence of the required elements, Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1302 (11th Cir. 2007). Conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal. Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003).

         In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), the Supreme Court explained that a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, “but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at 1949 (internal citations and quotations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of ...

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