Snyder v. United States

Decision Date07 January 2014
Docket NumberNo. 1:13–cv–00284.,1:13–cv–00284.
Citation990 F.Supp.2d 818
PartiesJoAnn SNYDER, et al., Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES of America, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Theresa Nelson Ruck, Sams Fischer Packard & Schuessler, West Chester, OH, for Plaintiffs.

Matthew Joseph Horwitz, United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District, Peter J. Stackpole, City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

S. ARTHUR SPIEGEL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on three different motions to dismiss. We consider below Defendant the United States of America's Motion to Dismiss Claims of Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder (doc. 11), Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder's Memorandum in Opposition (doc. 20) and Defendant's reply (doc. 21); Defendant Special Agent Chris Giordano's Motion to Dismiss (doc. 12), Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder's Memorandum in Opposition (doc. 19) and Defendant's reply (doc. 22); and Defendants the City of Cincinnati and Officer Jason O'Brien's Motion to Dismiss (doc. 16), Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder's Memorandum in Opposition (doc. 18) and Defendants' reply (doc. 23). For the reasons that follow, we GRANT all three pending motions.

I. Background1

In December 2011, a joint task force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the Cincinnati Police Department (“CPD”) known as the “Safe Streets Task Force” opened an investigation into the illegal sale of prescription narcotics. As part of that investigation, a confidential informant (“CI”) stated that one Stephanie Snyder was selling pills believed to be oxycontin with her mother, whose name might be “JoAnn” (First Amended Complaint, doc. 9 ¶ ¶ 17–19). FBI Special Agent Chris Giordano conducted a driver's license search confined to the Greater Cincinnati area for any female in her 50's or 60's named JoAnn Snyder. That search identified just one person—Plaintiff ( id. ¶ 20). Giordano showed Plaintiff's Ohio driver's license photograph to the CI, who responded that she could be the woman seen selling “Oxy” with Stephanie Snyder if the woman had been using illegal drugs since the photograph was taken ( id. ¶ 21).

On December 8, 2011, the CI arranged to, and in fact did, purchase sixty (60) pills of oxycontin from Stephanie Snyder and “her mother with law enforcement (among them Giordano and City of Cincinnati Police Officer Jason O'Brien) watching from an unknown distance while sitting in a vehicle on the street outside the building ( id. ¶¶ 22–23). No positive identification was made of the participants ( id. ¶¶ 23–24). Approximately one month later, Giordano and another FBI agent met with the woman identified by the CI as “JoAnn”. Apparently the agents did not ask for any sort of identification and it is unknown how the woman they met referred to herself, including whether she referred to herself as “JoAnn” or JoAnn Snyder ( id. ¶¶ 26–29). In January 2012, the FBI terminated its investigation, making no arrests. However, it offered its file to the CPD and, some four months later, specifically on April 16, 2012, O'Brien prepared a criminal complaint and affidavit and secured a warrant from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas for Plaintiff's arrest ( id. ¶¶ 33–34, 39). The next day, April 17, 2013, Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder was pulled over by members of the West Chester, Ohio police force and her car was surrounded by three police cruisers ( id. ¶ 11). She was advised that a warrant had been issued for her arrest on charges of drug trafficking ( id. ¶ 12). Thereafter she was arrested and placed in handcuff restraints. She was seated in the back of one of the police cruisers for over an hour and then was taken to the West Chester Police Station where she was held for approximately three (3) more hours ( id. ¶¶ 43–44). Plaintiff then was transported to the Hamilton County Justice Center where she was photographed, fingerprinted and forced to give a DNA swab ( id. ¶¶ 45–46). She was subjected to a full body strip search, meaning she had to remove all of her clothing, squat naked and cough in front of her jailers ( id. ¶ 47). Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell and was not given any food or water until 5:30 a.m. the following morning, which was more than fifteen (15) hours after her arrest ( id. ¶ 48). She was arraigned on April 18, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. and released on a $1,000 bond at 11:30 a.m. In all, then, approximately twenty-two (22) hours passed between her arrest and her release ( id. ¶¶ 49–50). On April 27, 2012, the Hamilton County grand jury ignored the charges against her ( id. ¶ 51), and, on August 15, 2012, an “Entry Expunging All Records Related to Grand Jury No Bill (R.C. 2953.53) was signed and filed by Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles J. Kubicki, Jr. ( id. ¶ 52; doc. 20, Exhibit A 2). Among the court's findings within that entry was the following one noting [t]hat the interests of the applicant in having these records sealed outweigh the need of the government to maintain such records” to which the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney appended this statement, “Ms. Snyder was wrongly accused, State is not and will not object on grounds that the two-year waiting period has not expired” (doc. 20, Exhibit A).

Plaintiff maintains that Defendants now know the real name of the woman referred to by the CI as “JoAnn” who was involved in the December 8, 2011 pill exchange (doc. 9 ¶ 38). She asserts that the woman is not related to Stephanie Snyder in any familial capacity, including being her mother ( id. ¶ 37). Moreover, her surname is not “Snyder” and she never has gone by the name of JoAnn Snyder ( id. ¶¶ 30, 38).

II. General Standard of Review under Rule 12(b)(6)

In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court retired the half-century-old pleading standard of Conley v. Gibson that a claim should not be dismissed “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 546, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45–46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957) (emphasis added)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Kline v. Mortgage Electronic Security Systems, 659 F.Supp.2d 940, 945 (S.D.Ohio 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)). A pleading is insufficient if it only offers “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” or tenders nothing more than “labels and conclusions.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. A complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” or risk dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). While a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations of the complaint, it is not so bound with regard to legal conclusions, particularly when couched as the former. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678–79, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986))).

As detailed below, the First Amended Complaint of Plaintiffs JoAnn and Larry Snyder contains a total of twelve claims against various defendants. Some claims are brought under federal statute, with others sounding in Ohio common law. With regard to the latter, of course, we are bound to follow the law of the state as announced by the Ohio Supreme Court. Savedoff v. Access Group, Inc., 524 F.3d 754, 762 (6th Cir.2008). If the Ohio Supreme Court has not decided a particular issue, we must do our best to anticipate how it might rule. In re Dow Corning Corp., 419 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir.2005). In this regard, a decision of an intermediate appellate court may be considered persuasive unless we believe it would be at odds with how the highest court might resolve the question. Id.

III. United States of America's Motion to Dismiss

Prior to the filing of any of the pending motions to dismiss and pursuant to a Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) stipulation, Plaintiffs JoAnn and Larry Snyder voluntarily dismissed with prejudice the following claims against Defendant the United States of America: Constitutional and/or Civil Rights Violations under Bivens and/or 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Claim One); Civil Conspiracy to Violate Plaintiff's Constitutional and/or Civil Rights under Bivens and/or 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Claim Two); and Equal Protection (Claim Three) ( see doc. 10 ¶ 2). Thus, the claims asserted by Plaintiff JoAnn Snyder remaining against Defendant United States are: Negligent Hiring, Failure to Train, Negligent Retention and Supervision (Claim Four); False Arrest and Imprisonment (Claim Five); Assault (Claim Six); Negligence (Claim Nine); Negligent and/or Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (Claim Ten); and Punitive Damages (Claim Twelve). All remaining claims by Plaintiff Larry Snyder against Defendant United States were previously dismissed by this Court for lack of jurisdiction ( see doc. 26).

A. Plaintiff's Claim for Negligent Hiring, Supervision and Retention and for Failure to Train Fails Because it is Barred by the Discretionary Function Exception

Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claim for negligent hiring, supervision and retention and for failure to train initially under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)—that is, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Once challenged, it becomes a plaintiff's burden to prove jurisdiction to survive the motion. Moir v. Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth., 895 F.2d 266, 269 (6th Cir.1990) (citing Rogers v. Stratton Industries, Inc., 798 F.2d 913, 915 (6th Cir.1986)). If we find that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, we need not consider Defendant's alternate assertion, namely the sufficiency of this particular claim under Rule 12(b)(6).

It is a fundamental principal that the United States may not...

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