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Howell v. Moore

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

September 30, 2017

COREY A. HOWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
ADAM M. MOORE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          M. HANNAH LAUCK United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Corey A. Howell brings this action against five officers in the Chesterfield County Police Department[1] in their individual and official capacities, Chesterfield County Police Department Chief of Police Colonel Thierry G. Dupuis ("Colonel Dupuis") in his individual and official capacity, and Chesterfield County, Virginia ("the County") (collectively, the "Defendants"). Howell brings his action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983[2] and Virginia state law, alleging that the Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment[3] rights by unlawfully seizing him, unlawfully searching his car, and unlawfully arresting him. Howell also asserts claims of malicious prosecution and conspiracy.

         I. Procedural History

         After Howell filed his Complaint, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss all five counts (the "Motion to Dismiss"). (ECF No. 5.) The Court referred the Motion to Dismiss to the Honorable Roderick C. Young, United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b). The Magistrate Judge heard argument on August 22, 2017, but neither party chose to supplement the record by submitting evidence. (ECF No. 12.) Judge Young filed a Report and Recommendation on August 24, 2017 ("R&R"). (ECF No. 13.)

         By copy of the R&R, all parties were advised of the right to file written objections to the findings and recommendations made by Judge Young within fourteen days. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); (R&R 30). On September 7, 2017, Defendants filed an Objection to the R&R ("Defendants' Objection"). (ECF No. 14.) On the same day, Howell filed an Objection to the R&R ("Plaintiff s Objection"). (ECF No. 15.) On September 21, 2017, Defendants filed a response to Plaintiffs Objection ("Defendants' Response"). (ECF No. 16.)

         For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the R&R in full. The Court briefly recounts the factual allegations in Howell's Amended Complaint and the proposed rulings of the R&R before explaining its ruling on the objections before it.

         II. Summary of Allegations in the Amended Complaint

         Howell's Amended Complaint arises from events that occurred beginning at 11:30 p.m. on August 2, 2014. Howell had become drowsy while driving and had pulled into a parking lot to rest. Sometime after Howell parked, Officer Moore approached Howell's car, asked for Howell's identification, and sought consent to search the car. Howell consented to the search, which then continued for approximately one hour, resulted in the Defendant Officers discovering two pills-for which Howell had a prescription-and culminated in Howell's arrest for two felonies. Those charges were later dismissed.

         Howell pleads five counts in his Amended Complaint and asserts each count against multiple defendants. Howell brings Count One (the "Fourth Amendment Claim"), Count Two (the "Conspiracy Claim"), Count Three (the "§ 1983 Malicious Prosecution Claim"), and Count Five (the "Common Law Malicious Prosecution Count") against all Defendants. Howell brings Count Four (the "Monelf [4]Claim") against only the County and Colonel Dupuis. Defendants moved to dismiss all five counts of Howell's Amended Complaint, arguing that Howell failed to state a claim for a violation of his constitutional rights and, even if he did state a claim, qualified immunity protects the Defendants from suit.[5] Howell asserts the following five claims in his Amended Complaint:

         Count One (the "Fourth Amendment Claim"): The Defendant Officers, the County, and Colonel Dupuis violated Howell's Fourth Amendment rights by:

(i) exceeding the scope of Howell's consent to search his vehicle (the "unlawful search");
(ii) detaining Howell for longer than necessary (the "unlawful seizure");
(iii) using excessive force (the "excessive force"); and,
(iv) arresting Howell without probable cause (the "unlawful arrest").

         Count Two (the "Conspiracy Claim"): The Defendant Officers, the County, and Colonel Dupuis conspired to violate Howell's Fourth Amendment rights.

         Count Three (the "§ 1983 Malicious Prosecution Claim"): The Defendant Officers, the County, and Colonel Dupuis maliciously initiated prosecution without probable cause.

         Count Four (the "Monell Claim"): The County and Colonel Dupuis implemented and enforced policies, and failed to adequately supervise and train the Defendant Officers, leading to the deprivation of Howell's constitutional rights.

         Count Five (the "Common Law Malicious Prosecution Claim"): The Defendant Officers, the County, and Colonel Dupuis maliciously initiated prosecution without probable cause.

         III. The Report & Recommendation

         A. The Recommendations of the R&R

         The Magistrate Judge heard oral argument on August 22, 2017. Neither party sought to, or did, supplement the record. On August 24, 2017, Judge Young filed the R&R. After a detailed discussion of the facts before him and a thorough analysis of relevant law, Judge Young recommended that the Court grant in part the Motion to Dismiss. The Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court dismiss the following claims in the Amended Complaint:

Count One (the "Fourth Amendment Claim"):
Subsection (i) (the "Unlawful Search"): dismiss the County and Colonel Dupuis;
Subsection (ii) (the "Unlawful Seizure"): dismiss the County and Colonel Dupuis;
Subsection (iii) (the "Excessive Force"): dismiss entirely; and,
Subsection (iv) (the "Unlawful Arrest"): dismiss the County and Colonel Dupuis.
Count Two (the "Conspiracy Claim"): dismiss entirely.
Count Three (the "§ 1983 Malicious Prosecution Claim"): dismiss the County and Colonel Dupuis.
Count Four (the "Monell Claim"): dismiss entirely.
Count Five (the "Common Law Malicious Prosecution Claim"): dismiss the County and Colonel Dupuis.

         In sum, Judge Young recommended that the Court dismiss all claims against the County and Colonel Dupuis, and dismiss in full the Excessive Force aspect of Howell's Fourth Amendment Claim and his Monell claim. Judge Young further recommended that the Unlawful Search, Unlawful Seizure, and Unlawful Arrest aspects of the Fourth Amendment Claim, the § 1983 Malicious Prosecution Claim, and the Common Law Malicious Prosecution Claim remain against the Defendant Officers in their individual and official capacities.

         B. The Parties* Objections

         Defendants and Howell both objected to various findings and recommendations of the R&R, which the Court discusses below.

         1. Defendants' Objections

         Defendants raise two objections to the R&R. First, they contend again, as they ...


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