130 F.3d 162 (5th Cir. 1997), 97-40081, Spiller v. City of Texas City, Police Dept.

Docket Nº:97-40081.
Citation:130 F.3d 162
Party Name:Johnnie Faye SPILLER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF TEXAS CITY, POLICE DEPARTMENT; State of Texas; Mark Spurgeon; City of Texas City, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:December 15, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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130 F.3d 162 (5th Cir. 1997)

Johnnie Faye SPILLER, Plaintiff-Appellant,



Mark Spurgeon; City of Texas City, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 97-40081.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 15, 1997

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Anthony P. Griffin, Betty Wong, Galveston, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

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William S. Helfand, Charles Teilhard Jeremiah, Magenheim, Bateman, Robinson, Wrotenbery & Helfand, Houston, TX, for Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before REYNALDO G. GARZA, KING and BENAVIDES, Circuit Judges.

BENAVIDES, Circuit Judge:

Johnnie Faye Spiller, the plaintiff, brought suit against defendants Texas City, its police department, and one of its police officers, Mark Spurgeon, for Spurgeon's alleged violation of her Fourth Amendment and Texas common law rights. 1 The district court dismissed Spiller's Fourth Amendment claims because they "fail[ed] to state a claim upon which relief [could] be granted," Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6), and accordingly declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state law claims. Finding Spiller to have alleged a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand the case for further proceedings.


The dismissal of a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) is reviewed de novo. House the Homeless, Inc. v. Widnall, 94 F.3d 176, 180 (5th Cir.1996). Viewing the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we will affirm "only if it appears that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations." Id. Consequently, we set forth the facts as they are described in Spiller's complaint.

On July 15, 1994, Spiller, who is black, pulled her car into a Chevron station in Texas City. She stopped at a pump being used by Spurgeon, who is white. As she arrived, Spurgeon was finishing pumping gasoline into his pickup truck. After he finished, Spurgeon did not move his truck to allow Spiller to use the pump. Instead, he began talking with a white man on the other side of the pump. Because Spurgeon was not in uniform, Spiller did not know that he was a police officer.

After waiting a few moments for Spurgeon to move his truck, Spiller rolled down her car window and politely asked him to "please pull up" so she could "get some gas." Spurgeon pretended not to hear this remark, turned his back on Spiller, and continued his conversation. Spiller then opened her car door, placed one foot outside her car, and once again calmly and politely asked Spurgeon to move his truck so she could get some gas. Although he acknowledged this request, Spurgeon continued his conversation and did not move his truck. A few moments later, he acknowledged, but did not honor, a third polite request by Spiller that he move his truck.

Having grown impatient with Spurgeon's behavior, Spiller next opened her car door, again placed one foot on the pavement, and told Spurgeon to "move his damn truck" because "the pumps were not for socializing, they were for people to buy gas and go on about their business." After hearing these remarks, Spurgeon confronted Spiller and asked her to repeat what she had said. She did so and Spurgeon then moved his truck.

After moving his truck, Spurgeon returned to confront Spiller as she was seated in her car. This time he told her to get out of her car. She refused. Spurgeon then told her to get out of the car because she was under arrest for disorderly conduct. He began laughing as he showed her his police badge.

After Spiller was arrested, a police officer searched her car and she was confined in a jail cell that smelled of urine. She was not prosecuted, however, because the criminal complaint against her was dismissed.


In support of their motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that Spiller's allegations demonstrate that her Fourth Amendment rights were not violated because there was probable cause for her arrest for disorderly

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conduct. In addition, Spurgeon asserted that even if Spiller's allegations stated a claim for the violation of her constitutional rights under Section 1983, he was...

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