Roddy v. City of Huntsville, Alabama, 092914 FED11, 13-12826

Docket Nº:13-12826
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Judge Panel:Before TJOFLAT and WILLIAM PRYOR, Circuit Judges, and SCOLA, District Judge
Case Date:September 29, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

WILLIAM M. RODDY, WENDY SUE RODDY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,



No. 13-12826

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 29, 2014


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama D.C. Docket No. 3:11-cv-04355-CLS

Before TJOFLAT and WILLIAM PRYOR, Circuit Judges, and SCOLA, [*] District Judge


In this appeal we consider whether the arrests of Dr. William Roddy and his wife and the search of their hotel room, pursuant to a search warrant, violated their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. The Roddys' day was off to a bad start when a hotel employee called 911 after Dr. Roddy allegedly pulled his gun on another hotel guest. It got worse when officers searched Dr. Roddy and recovered a gun, nearly $3, 900 in wadded-up cash, and controlled substances. And then a search of Room 1020 offered a treasure trove of pain pills and other drugs. Because the officers acted with arguable probable cause when they arrested Dr. Roddy and his wife and because Officer Jason Ramsey procured a valid search warrant before searching the Roddys' hotel room, we conclude that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity. We affirm the summary judgment against the Roddys.


Dr. William Roddy and his wife, Wendy Roddy, checked into the Embassy Suites hotel in March of 2010. They brought their three sons, Eric, Asher, and Cameron, and a friend of Cameron's to celebrate Cameron's twelfth birthday. After checking in, some of the boys ventured to the hotel pool.

That night, pharmacist Rowdy Meadows was also at the hotel with his family. He and some of his children went to the pool for the evening and observed one of the Roddy boys repeatedly dunking the other in the deep end. After the third dunk, Meadows feared the younger Roddy boy was in danger and urged them to stop. The Roddy boys returned to their hotel room and reported to their parents that some man had yelled at them.

The next morning, Dr. Roddy decided to get to the bottom of the pool incident after Cameron's friend spotted Meadows at breakfast. According to Meadows, Dr. Roddy introduced himself as "Judge." But Dr. Roddy disputes that. Dr. Roddy pestered Meadows for details about what happened at the pool the previous night. When Meadows began walking away, Roddy said he reached into his front pocket for a business card to give to Meadows. Meadows caught a glimpse of Roddy's gun, which was also in his front pocket. Or, according to Meadows, Roddy demanded that Meadows keep talking to him and "pulled a gun out of his left pocket."

Meadows sped to the front desk of the hotel to report the incident. Meadows told the front desk clerk that Dr. Roddy had a gun. Meadows testified that Dr. Roddy approached the front desk and again introduced himself as "Judge, " which Dr. Roddy disputes. Dr. Roddy protested that he had a permit and began to reenact how he accidentally pulled the butt of the gun from his pants pocket. The clerk called 911 and reported that a man had pulled a gun on a guest in the lobby of the hotel.

Before any officers arrived, Dr. Roddy returned to his hotel room to use the bathroom and to search for his gun permit. Thinking the permit was in the pocket of his lab coat, he donned the coat as he left his room. Dr. Roddy testified that he packed the coat for his son's birthday trip in a hurry because he was a "pack rat." The lab coat was embroidered with the name "Dr. William M. Roddy."

As Dr. Roddy left his room and approached the elevators to return to the lobby, a handful of police officers approached him. But neither Officer Ramsey nor Officer Terry Lucas were present during this encounter. The officers asked Dr. Roddy's name and searched him. The officers located the gun in his left front pocket and then emptied the other pockets of his pants and lab coat. They found an unlabeled, grey pill box containing an assortment of pills, a brown bottle of injectable testosterone, and $3, 895 of crumpled bills in various denominations. The officers determined that of the 21 pills in the pill box, there were 6 Oxycontin pills, 7 Adderall pills, 2 Focalin pills, 1 Mirtazapine pill, 2 Lexapro pills, 2 Atenolol pills, and 3 unidentified pill fragments. Dr. Roddy said the pills were for personal use and told one of the officers that he had prescriptions in his hotel room. After the search, the officers read Dr. Roddy his Miranda rights and placed him at a table in a board room on the tenth floor of the hotel, where he sat for several hours.

Officers Ramsey and Lucas arrived on the scene after the initial search of Dr. Roddy. An officer called Ramsey to the scene around 10 a.m. and reported that a man had pulled a gun on another guest. Ramsey later asked for Lucas's assistance with the search of the hotel room. At the time, both Ramsey and Lucas were officers of the City of Huntsville Police Force and assigned to the multi-jurisdictional Strategic Counter Drug team. Ramsey is now a Sergeant of the City of Huntsville Police Force.

Dr. Roddy first met Ramsey in the board room when Ramsey arrived to ask him some questions. Ramsey described Dr. Roddy as "unkempt." On the table in front of Dr. Roddy was "[a] large amount of wadded-up money, " "a brown bottle with liquid in it, " and the grey pill case. He observed what looked to him like a tattered gun permit and the pills from the pill case, which included what he identified as Oxycontin. Two other officers in the board room debriefed Ramsey. They explained that Dr. Roddy had emerged from his room wearing a white lab coat and that they had searched him. During the search, they found a gun, money, and pills. Ramsey asked Dr. Roddy about the gun and the cash he was carrying. Dr. Roddy...

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