Parish: Orleans

Police Department: Harbor Police Department of the Port of New Orleans

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, along with the Fordham Law School Federal Litigation Clinic, is appearing before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on behalf of Shauna Johnson—a Lyft driver who was arrested without probable cause and in retaliation for criticizing a law enforcement officer.  Ms. Johnson brought suit against Lieutenant Kendall Turner and Captain Melanie Montroll of the Harbor Police Department, claiming that she was unlawfully arrested in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments and Louisiana law, and that Captain Montroll failed to properly supervise Lt. Turner, in violation of Louisiana law.

The defendants in the case moved to dismiss on summary judgment before the district court, asserting that there was probable cause for Ms. Johnson’s arrest and that they are immune from suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity.  The district court agreed and, dismissing all of Ms. Johnson’s claims. Ms. Johnson filed an appeal, challenging the decision. 

Before the Fifth Circuit, the ACLU of Louisiana and the Fordham Law School Federal Litigation Clinic argued that Ms. Johnson’s credible testimony raised genuine issues of material fact that the lower court disregarded when it rested its finding of probable cause exclusively on the officers’ characterization of events.  Additionally, they argued that the officers’ post-hoc finding of probable cause could not absolve the officers’ preceding Fourth Amendment violations.  Then, for the First Amendment claim, they argued that there is support in the record for a finding that each time Ms. Johnson criticized Lt. Turner a retaliatory Fourth Amendment violation ensued.  Finally, they reiterated that the lower court erred in basing its dismissal of Ms. Johnson’s state law claims on its finding of probable cause. 

The Defendants-Appellees in the case are: 

  • Kendall Turner, Lieutenant of the Harbor Police Department of the Port of New Orleans
  • Melanie Montroll, Captain of the Harbor Police Department of the Port of New Orleans

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