United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on defendants' Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. #54) filed on July 20, 2017.
Plaintiff filed a Response on September 25, 2017. (Doc. #58.)
For the reasons set forth below, defendants' Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. #54) is granted.
February 13, 2009, Ahmad Hayward (plaintiff), accompanied by
a friend, Patrick Towns (Towns), drove to Fort Myers Beach to
pick up money from an unknown person. (Doc. #1, ¶¶
7-13.) Plaintiff was unaware that the Lee County
Sheriff's Office was working with a confidential
informant, and that the meeting was part of an anticipated
drug deal. (Id. ¶¶ 14-17.) Defendant
officers stopped and detained plaintiff, even though they did
not have a physical description of plaintiff and his vehicle
did not match the description of the anticipated drug
supplier's vehicle. (Id. ¶¶ 22-23.)
When asked by officers, plaintiff denied having drugs in the
vehicle. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25.) A K-9 search of
the vehicle did not disclose any drugs. (Id.
not locating any drugs on plaintiff's person, Towns'
person, or in the vehicle, defendants took Hayward and Towns
into custody and seized the vehicle. (Id.
¶¶ 27, 29-30.) When questioned at the police
station, plaintiff denied any involvement with drugs and
invoked his right to counsel. (Id. ¶¶
31-32.) A second search of the vehicle again did not reveal
any drugs. (Id. ¶ 33.) Later, in exchange for
immunity, Towns admitted that his previous statement was
false and confessed that drugs were hidden in the headliner
of plaintiff's vehicle. (Id. ¶¶
35-37.) Acting on this information, defendants searched the
vehicle a third time and located heroin in the headliner.
(Id. ¶ 38.) Towns was then released from
custody. (Id. ¶ 39.)
was charged with "conspiracy to traffic, traffic in
heroin, public order crime, and driving while license was
suspended or revoked." (Id. ¶ 40.) Towns
subsequently signed a notarized statement stating that he had
lied to the defendants, that the drugs found in the vehicle
in fact belonged to him, and that plaintiff had no knowledge
of the drugs. (Id. ¶ 41.) Plaintiff was
acquitted by a jury of the drug trafficking charge on August
12, 2010. (Id. ¶ 43.)
5, 2014, plaintiff filed a Complaint (Doc. #1) asserting
claims against defendants Ryan Lowe (Lowe), Keith Dunn
(Dunn), and Rich Snyder (Snyder) for illegal search (Count
I), illegal seizure (Count II), false arrest (Count III),
civil conspiracy (Count IV), and seeking to impose respondeat
superior liability on Lee County Sheriff's Department
(Count V) . (Id. ¶¶ 46-63.) On June 30,
2017, this Court granted in part defendants' Amended
Motion to Dismiss, and dismissed Counts I and III with
prejudice. (Doc. #52.) On July 20, 2017, defendants filed a
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, seeking judgment on the
remaining counts - Counts II, IV, and V. (Doc. #54.)
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that "[a]fter
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) . "Judgment on the pleadings is
appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute, and
judgment may be rendered by considering the substance of the
pleadings and any judicially noticed facts."
Hawthorne v. Mac Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367,
1370 (11th Cir. 1998); e.g., Betts v. Hall,
No. 3:14cv33/MCR/EMT, 2015 WL 3447500, at *5 & n.2 (N.D.
Fla. May 27, 2015). Public records are among the permissible
facts that a district court may take judicial notice of and
consider when ruling on a motion for judgment on the
pleadings. See Bryant v. Avado Brands,
Inc., 187 F.3d 1271, 1279-80 (11th Cir. 1999); Blue
Hill Invs., Ltd. v. Silva, No. 1:15-CV-20733-KKM, 2015
WL 9319394, at *2 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 23, 2015).
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court
must view the facts in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Hawthorne, 140 F.3d at 1370. A
judgment on the pleadings can be granted only if the
nonmoving party can prove no set of facts which would allow
it to prevail. Palmer & Cay, Inc. v. Marsh &
McLennan Cos., Inc., 404 F.3d 1297, 1303 (11th Cir.
2005) (citations omitted).
the plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court reads his
pleadings liberally and adopts a less stringent standard than
it would for one drafted by an attorney. Jones v. Fla.
Parole Comm'n, 787 F.3d 1105, 1007 (11th Cir. 2015).
Pro se parties are still required to conform to the
procedural rules. Hickman v. Hickman, 563 Fed.Appx.
742, 743 (11th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and
request this Court to enter a judgment on the pleadings
because the remaining counts of federal false arrest,
civil conspiracy, and respondeat superior are barred by the
applicable statute of limitations. (Doc. #54.)
Length of Statutes of Limitations
previously discussed, the applicable statute of limitations
for each of the plaintiff's causes of action is four
years. (Doc. # 52, pp. 6-7); see Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 387 (2007) (stating that the statute of
limitations for a § 1983 cause of action is that
"which the State provides for personal-injury
torts"); Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1283
(11th Cir. 2003) (stating "Florida's four-year
statute of limitations applies to such claims of deprivation
of rights under 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983"); Navarro
v. City of Riviera Beach, 192 F.Supp.3d 1353, 1364-65
(S.D. Fla. 2016) (four-year statute of limitations for claims
of false arrest); Ba ...