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Bah v. Little

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

May 13, 2015

MIRIAM BAH and THIERNOSOW, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARK LITTLE, Deputy U.S. Marshal, as an Individual, MARK BLACKWOOD, a U.S. Marshal, CRAIG FRIES, an ATF agent, CLAY CLEVELAND, a U.S. Marshal, JEFF STEVENS, an ICE agent, CHIP ATCHLEY, a GA Pardons & Parole Agent, and DUSTIN DAVIS, a Fulton County Marshal, all as Individuals, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Mark Blackwood's, Craig Fries', Clay Cleveland's, Jeff Stevens', and Chip Atchley's (together, the "Movants") Motion to Dismiss [25] (the "Motion to Dismiss") and Plaintiffs Miriam Bah's and Thierno Sow's (together, the "Plaintiffs") Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint [27] (the "Motion to Amend"). Also before the Court is Defendant Dustin Davis' First Motion to Amend Defendant Dustin Davis' Answer to Plaintiffs' Complaint for Damages [38] ("Motion to Amend Answer").

I. BACKGROUND

On August 5, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint [1] against Defendant Mark Little ("Little"), a Deputy Marshal in the Northern District of Georgia and against "John Does 1-7, " who were allegedly "US Deputy Marshals and/or Police Officers in their individual capacities." (Complaint at ¶ 1). Plaintiffs brought this Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) action alleging that Little and John Does 1-7 violated Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment right by entering their home "without a search warrant, without Plaintiff's [sic] consent, and absent exigent circumstances" (Count One); and (2) Defendants violated the Equal Protection Clause because "their decision to raid Plaintiffs' home was based solely upon Plaintiff's [sic] race and national origin" (Count Two). (Id. ¶¶ 22-23).

On December 19, 2013, Defendant Little filed his Motion to Dismiss [6] ("Little Motion"), asserting that Counts One and Two of Plaintiffs' Complaint do not meet the pleading standards set forth in Twombly and Iqbal. Defendant Little also asserted that he was not the supervisor of the John Doe Defendants, and is thus entitled to qualified immunity. (Little Motion at 10-19). On August 26, 2014, the Court denied [12] the Little Motion with respect to Count One and granted it with respect to Count Two.

On October 28, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint [21], alleging that Defendant Little, Defendant Davis, and Movants (together, "Defendants") violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right by entering their home "without a search warrant, without Plaintiff's [sic] consent, and absent exigent circumstances." (Amended Complaint ¶ 19).

Plaintiffs, in their Amended Complaint, allege that on or about October 17, 2012, Plaintiffs "heard pounding on the front door of their home." (Id. ¶ 5). When Plaintiff Bah opened the Door, Defendants pointed their weapons at Plaintiff Bah...." (Id. ¶ 2; see also id. ¶ 6). Defendant Little "demanded to know if [Plaintiff Bah] was Mariam Bah." (Id. ¶ 7).

After Plaintiff Bah confirmed her identity, "Defendants stormed into Plaintiffs['] home, guns drawn." (Id. ¶ 8). Plaintiffs assert that Defendant Little "refused to let Plaintiff Bah retrieve her [5 and 7-year-old] daughters and held Plaintiffs in their living room against their will." (Id. ¶ 9). Plaintiffs allege that, as Defendants continued their search of Plaintiffs' home, Defendant Little asked Plaintiffs if they knew an Ado Bah, "who was wanted for attempted murder charges in New York. (Id. ¶ 11). When Plaintiffs responded that they did not, Defendant Little asked Plaintiffs if "they knew an Ibrahim Bah, " Ado Bah's father. (Id.). "Defendant Little later explained that Plaintiff Bah dated a man almost ten years earlier who was the father of a man who was wanted for attempted murder in New York. (Id. ¶ 2). "Plaintiff Bah responded that the Ibrahim Bah she knew did not have a son." (Id. ¶ 11).

Plaintiffs assert that the Defendants did not apply for a search warrant for Plaintiffs' home, and that Defendant Little, as "supervisor on the scene" instructed the remaining Defendants to enter Plaintiffs' home without a search warrant and failed to act and stop the intrusion once it began. (Id. ¶ 16; see also id. ¶ 18). Plaintiffs assert that as "a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Little's actions and inaction, Plaintiff's [sic] home was entered without a search warrant, without consent, and in the absence of exigent circumstances." (Id.). Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants are all trained officers and are aware that a search warrant is necessary to enter a person's home to execute an arrest warrant, and despite this knowledge, that the Defendants entered without a search warrant, without Plaintiffs' consent, and absent exigent circumstances. Plaintiffs assert that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated by Defendants' conduct.

On December 12, 2014, Movants filed their Motion to Dismiss, arguing that they are entitled to qualified immunity and should be dismissed from this action. On December 24, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Amend.[1]

On January 12, 2015, Defendant Davis, who did not join Movants in filing a Motion to Dismiss, filed his Answer [31] to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. On March 19, 2015, Defendant Davis filed his Motion to Amend Answer, seeking leave to amend his Answer to add an affirmative defense based on the statute of limitations. No response to Defendant Davis' Motion to Amend Answer was filed.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard on Motion to Dismiss

The law governing motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is well-settled. Dismissal of a complaint is appropriate "when, on the basis of a dispositive issue of law, no construction of the factual allegations will support the cause of action." Marshall Cnty. Bd. of ...


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