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Stephens v. Jessup

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 20, 2015

Donald Stephens, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
Leslie Jessup; Amtote International, Inc., Defendants - Appellees

Submitted December 10, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Hot Springs.

For Donald Stephens, Plaintiff - Appellant: Maximillan Sprinkle, Sprinkle Firm, Little Rock, AR.

Donald Stephens, Pro se, Little Rock, AR.

For Leslie Jessup, Defendant - Appellee: Martin Aaron Kasten, Tory H. Lewis, James M. Simpson, Senior Litigation Attorney, Friday & Eldredge, Little Rock, AR.

For Amtote International, Inc., Defendant - Appellee: Sherry Perkins Bartley, MD, Brian Pipkin, Mitchell & Williams Little Rock, AR.

Before WOLLMAN, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

Donald Stephens went gambling at the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and wound up in a dispute with security personnel and a local police officer, Leslie Jessup, who accused him of theft. Stephens later sued the officer and Amtote International, Inc., alleging false imprisonment, conversion, defamation, violation of his civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed the action against Amtote International for failure to state a claim. We conclude that Stephens did not perfect an appeal of that order. The district court separately dismissed the claims against Jessup, ruling that they were barred by the doctrine of issue preclusion. We express no view on the merits of those claims, but we conclude that they are not precluded by previous litigation, so we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I.

According to the complaint, Stephens visited the Oaklawn Jockey Club for a night of gambling on February 6, 2010. After winning a sum of money playing slot machines, Stephens cashed out his ticket and left the casino. He returned later that evening and purchased another gaming ticket for use in the slot machines.

While playing on this ticket, he was approached by several uniformed casino security personnel and Jessup, a uniformed Hot Springs police officer. Jessup and the security personnel accused Stephens of stealing the cashed-out ticket from another patron who had been playing the slot machine. They detained Stephens while casino employees reviewed surveillance footage to determine whether the ticket was stolen. The complaint next alleges that Jessup threatened to " arrest [Stephens] and take him to jail immediately" if he did not return the money that he received from cashing in the stolen ticket. Jessup recited Miranda warnings, escorted Stephens to his vehicle, and retrieved the money won at the casino.

In November 2010, Stephens sued Oaklawn in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas. That complaint alleged that Oaklawn, through its " agents, servants, and employees . . . acting within the scope and course of their employment," committed false imprisonment, conversion, defamation, violation of civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Oaklawn on the civil rights claim, and the remaining claims proceeded to trial. A jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of Oaklawn. Neither Jessup nor Amtote International was a party to the state court action.

Stephens then filed suit against Jessup and Amtote International in February 2013, alleging the same five causes of action against these new defendants. Jessup moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Amtote International moved separately to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Stephens failed to state a claim against it. On July 29, 2013, the district court granted Amtote's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In a separate order entered on July 30, the court granted Jessup's motion, holding that ...


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