889 F.3d 926 (8th Cir. 2018), 17-2017, Williams v. Mannis

Docket Nº:17-2017
Citation:889 F.3d 926
Opinion Judge:ERICKSON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Renee S. WILLIAMS, Bankruptcy Trustee (originally named as Seneca Thornton), Plaintiff-Appellee v. Dean MANNIS, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Defendant-Appellant Arkansas Municipal League; Stuttgart Police Department; Mike Smith, Police Chief, Individually and in his Official Capacity; Steven Bobo, Deputy Police Chief, Individually...
Attorney:Gary Jon Barrett, BARRETT LAW FIRM, Little Rock, AR, Kathryn L. Hudson, Justin Scott Huett, HUDSON LAW OFFICE, Little Rock, AR, for Plaintiff-Appellee. Michael Allen Mosley, ARKANSAS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE, North Little Rock, AR, for Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:Before WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:May 10, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
SUMMARY

The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity and state statutory immunity. Plaintiff had filed suit against defendant and others, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deliberate conduct that shocks the conscience and a state law claim for outrage. The court held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate sufficient... (see full summary)

 
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Page 926

889 F.3d 926 (8th Cir. 2018)

Renee S. WILLIAMS, Bankruptcy Trustee (originally named as Seneca Thornton), Plaintiff-Appellee

v.

Dean MANNIS, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Defendant-Appellant Arkansas Municipal League; Stuttgart Police Department; Mike Smith, Police Chief, Individually and in his Official Capacity; Steven Bobo, Deputy Police Chief, Individually and in his Official Capacity; City of Stuttgart; Arkansas County; Arkansas County Sheriff’s Department; Alan Cheek, Sheriff, Individually and in his Official Capacity; Bobby Dumond, Individually and in his Official Capacity; Lloyd Pace, Individually and in his Official Capacity; Arkansas State Police; Scott Russell, Individually and in his Official Capacity, Defendants

No. 17-2017

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 10, 2018

Submitted: March 13, 2018

Page 927

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 928

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas— Pine Bluff

Gary Jon Barrett, BARRETT LAW FIRM, Little Rock, AR, Kathryn L. Hudson, Justin Scott Huett, HUDSON LAW OFFICE, Little Rock, AR, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Michael Allen Mosley, ARKANSAS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE, North Little Rock, AR, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

ERICKSON, Circuit Judge.

In 2014, Seneca Thornton was employed as a patrol officer by the Stuttgart (Arkansas) Police Department. On August 19, 2014, he was summoned into the Arkansas County (Arkansas) prosecutor’s office and informed that " audio and video evidence" suggested that Thornton had purchased Xanax illegally from a confidential informant. In spite of this evidence, the prosecutor told him that because the police chief " had a lot on his plate," the prosecution was willing to forego any charges if Thornton

Page 929

would " just resign and turn in his badge ... and he would be free to go work somewhere else." Thornton declined the invitation to resign and was eventually both fired and charged in the Arkansas County Circuit Court with purchasing Xanax from a confidential informant. At trial Thornton was acquitted of all charges.

Thornton brought this action1 against the City of Stuttgart, the Arkansas Municipal League, Arkansas County, three law enforcement agencies, and several law enforcement officers from the agencies involved in the investigation. Thornton alleges that Appellant Dean Mannis and other law enforcement defendants conspired to destroy Thornton professionally and personally by framing him on knowingly false drug charges. Thornton claims that the defendants were motivated by a racial animus as he was the only African-American patrol officer employed by the Stuttgart Police Department.

A number of defendants were dismissed out of the case on motion for various reasons, and eventually summary judgment was sought by Mannis, the City of Stuttgart, Stuttgart Police Department Chief of Police Mike Smith, Stuttgart Police Department Deputy Police Chief Steven Bobo, and Arkansas State Police Special Agent Scott Russell. The motion was granted as to all defendants but Mannis. Mannis sought summary judgment on theories of qualified immunity and state statutory immunity. The district court denied Mannis’s motion in part and allowed to proceed a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate conduct that shocks the conscience and a state law claim for outrage.

We have jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal of a denial of qualified immunity because it involves a question of law. See Jackson v. Gutzmer, 866 F.3d 969, 975 (8th Cir. 2017) (" The pretrial denial of qualified immunity is an appealable final order to the extent it turns on an issue of law." ). We have supplemental jurisdiction on the state statutory immunity claim. See Trammell v. Wright, 2016 Ark. 147, 489 S.W.3d 636, 638 (2016) (interlocutory appeal of denial of immunity is allowed as " the right of immunity from suit is effectively lost if a case is permitted to go to trial" ). We reverse.

I. Background

We view the facts in a light most favorable to Thornton, the non-moving party. Dean Mannis was a detective with the Stuttgart Police Department. He also was the employer of a housekeeper and erstwhile confidential informant, Jennifer Carpenter. In March 2014, Carpenter told Mannis that she was familiar with Thornton from his prior work...

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