Federal judge sends false arrest claim back to the state court

By John Breslin | Aug 18, 2018

JACKSONVILLE - An alleged false arrest case was sent back to Florida state court on Aug. 8, after a federal court concluded it had no jurisdiction in the matter. 

John Alfred Powers first filed his complaint in the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Columbia County, Florida, against Lake City and two of its employees. The defendants moved the action to federal court.

Powers alleged seven claims, a mix of federal and state-based, against the city and two of its police officers, Argatha Gilmore and Chauncey May, including false arrest, malicious prosecution, and failure to discipline

A magistrate administration judge initially looked at which of the claims could be pursued in federal court.


He recommended all the federal claims in five of the counts be dismissed, but said wo claims could be refiled.

Judge Marcia Morales Howard, of the federal court in Jacksonville, accepted the magistrate judge's position  on the five counts, but did not accept the plaintiff be allowed to refile an amended complaint.

The judge agreed with the magistrate judge that three of the claims relating to false arrest should be dismissed, as there was the existence of probable cause supporting the arrest. 

Howard wrote, "What remains in this action are uniquely state law claims that are best addressed by the state courts. Notably, no dispositive rulings have been made as to the state law claims. 

"Thus, the early procedural posture of the case weighs in favor of declining jurisdiction in order to allow the case to proceed fully in state court.

"Further, having determined that all of plaintiff's federal claims are due to be dismissed, the Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims," Judge Howard concluded.

She ordered the case remanded back to the state court.

Case No. 3:17-cv-1063-J-34MCR

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