Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Only in Alabama (or perhaps Georgia or Oklahoma)

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Case: GARRISON v. HADDER, Case No. 6:12-CV-2659-RDP (N.D. Alabama, November 5, 2012)


The facts as alleged in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint are as follows. Plaintiff is an employee of a private investigative business located in Madison, Alabama that provides various services to attorneys and others, including serving summons and subpoenas.

On July 15, 2012 after being released from his Alabama National Guard Unit, Plaintiff traveled to Jasper, Alabama in an attempt to serve [Lowell Adam Hadder] with a subpoena in an action that was pending in Marshall County. When Plaintiff arrived at the address listed on the subpoena, Plaintiff met Defendant’s father, who told Plaintiff that Defendant did not live at that house but at a home across the street. Defendant’s father also told Plaintiff that Defendant was not home at that time. Plaintiff then attempted to contact the Walker County Sheriff’s Office in an attempt to locate Defendant. Plaintiff traveled back to Defendant’s father’s house to leave his contact information, but no one answered the door. Plaintiff then went to Defendant’s house and left a note in the mailbox providing his name, position, and telephone number, and asking Defendant Hadder to contact Plaintiff.

Around 8:00 p.m. on July 16, 2012, Plaintiff returned to Defendant’s home and pulled into the driveway; however, Plaintiff could not approach the front door because a fence surrounded the residence and two large dogs were inside the fence. Plaintiff honked his horn “a couple of times” in an attempt to get Defendant to open the door. Plaintiff then moved his car from Defendant’s driveway and parked across the street where he waited until about 10:30 p.m.

Plaintiff returned to Defendant’s home on July 17, 2012 around 6:15 a.m. and parked across the street to watch for Defendant. (Id. at 22). Approximately two hours later, Defendant left his home wearing his Walker County Sheriff’s Office uniform and got into his patrol car. (Id. at 23). Plaintiff pulled into Defendant’s driveway at that time to prepare to hand him the subpoena. Defendant then closed the front gate of his driveway. Plaintiff attempted to get Defendant’s attention, but Defendant drove to the back gate and drove away. Plaintiff got into his car, pulled onto the highway, and drove near where the back gate driveway connected with the highway. Plaintiff pulled onto the shoulder of the road to attempt to serve Defendant as he drove by.

Defendant Hadder drove in Plaintiff’s direction and, as Plaintiff approached Defendant’s car with the subpoena in hand, Defendant “rolled down his driver side window and verbally threatened [Plaintiff] that he was very close to being arrested.” Plaintiff was standing on the State’s right of way near the edge of the highway when Defendant drove past him. At that time, Plaintiff put the subpoena in Defendant’s car, and it landed in Defendant’s lap. Defendant “immediately slammed on his breaks and jumped out of his patrol car throwing the subpoena on the ground.” Defendant yelled at Plaintiff to put his hands behind his back and Plaintiff complied.

Defendant Hadder then “grabbed and assaulted [Plaintiff] by pushing him into the side of his vehicle and grabbing [Plaintiff’s] arms and binding them in handcuffs.” Defendant then told Plaintiff: (a) “You are f***ing stupid;” (b) “This is f***ing Walker County; and (c) “You better never harass my parents again.” Plaintiff then asked Defendant why he was being arrested and Defendant told him, “You are being arrested for Criminal Littering, Criminal Trespass, and Criminal Mischief.” When Plaintiff tried to tell Defendant that he had not committed those crimes and was serving Defendant with court papers, Defendant responded by stating that it was Plaintiff’s fault and that he “was an officer of the law and [Plaintiff] should not have f***ed with [him].” Defendant then refused Plaintiff’s request that he be allowed to call someone to get his car. Defendant then took Plaintiff’s belongings from inside the car and made a list of the items being taken.

At some point, Defendant Hadder radioed the Walker County Sheriff’s Office to notify the office that Plaintiff had been arrested and was being transported to jail. Defendant also called a wrecker to tow Plaintiff’s car to an impound lot. Defendant transported Plaintiff to the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and upon pulling into the “sally-port” area of the jail, removed Plaintiff from the back seat and took him to the booking area. Jail personnel initially refused to book Plaintiff into the jail because they questioned whether there was a legal basis for his arrest. Jail personnel apparently informed Defendant they would not book Plaintiff until Defendant cleared it with “Chief Painter.” Defendant left Plaintiff in a jail cell while he went to find “Chief Painter.” Defendant returned with two other jail personnel who escorted Plaintiff to the second floor of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.

Defendant Hadder then told Plaintiff he had “spoken with the District Attorney and the District Attorney want[ed] to prosecute [Plaintiff]” and that he had “spoken with the Chief and he want[ed] to prosecute [Plaintiff].” Defendant handed Plaintiff papers to sign that “purportedly released Defendant [] and others from the acts and omissions surrounding the unlawful search and seizure of [Plaintiff’s] property, the unlawful search of his person, and his unlawful arrest and confinement, in exchange for his release.” Defendant told Plaintiff that he would “be creative” and hold Plaintiff for 72 hours if Plaintiff did not sign the papers.

When Plaintiff asked if he was free to go, Defendant Hadder told Plaintiff that he would be taking him to retrieve his car. Defendant required Plaintiff to ride in the back seat of the patrol car at which point Defendant told Plaintiff that Plaintiff’s behavior was “inappropriate” and that Plaintiff “had broken the law and was getting off easy.” Defendant let Plaintiff out of the back seat of the patrol car when they arrived at the impound lot. Plaintiff’s supervisor arrived shortly thereafter, and Defendant told Plaintiff and his supervisor that he “was within his legal rights in arresting [Plaintiff]” and that “he had confirmed his actions were lawful because the `Judge’ and the `District Attorney’ had said so.” Defendant required Plaintiff to pay $150.00 for the release of his car from the impound lot.

Defendant Hadder was served with the Original Complaint in this action on August 9, 2012, and the next day he posted a message on the Daily Mountain Eagle’s Facebook page that referred to the lawsuit as “frivolous.” Two days later, Defendant posted a message on the same Facebook page that stated “He’s lucky he’s still breathing.”

Written by Burgers Allday

November 10, 2012 at 6:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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