United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
J. Bedrick, Esq.
Heather D. Neville, Esq.
Matthew T. Broadhead, Esq.
J. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Barton brings this action against Peter Favreau, an
investigator in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney
General, seeking to recover damages for injuries he claims to
have sustained when Favreau arrested him. Specifically,
Barton claims Favreau violated his constitutionally protected
rights to be free from both unreasonable seizures and
excessive force. See generally 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Barton also advances state common law claims for
assault/battery, false imprisonment, and "negligent
administration of justice." Favreau moves to dismiss all
of Barton's claims, asserting that the first three are
barred by the rule articulated in Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994). As for Barton's final claim, Favreau
says it fails to state a viable cause of action.
reasons discussed, Favreau's motion to dismiss is granted
in part, and denied in part.
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6),
the court must "accept as true all well-pleaded facts
set out in the complaint and indulge all reasonable
inferences in favor of the pleader." SEC v.
Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 441 (1st Cir. 2010). Although the
complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), it must allege each of the
essential elements of a viable cause of action and
"contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, "
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citation and internal punctuation omitted).
other words, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide
the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) . Instead, the facts alleged in the complaint
must, if credited as true, be sufficient to "nudge
[plaintiff's] claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible." Id. at 570. If, however, the
"factual allegations in the complaint are too meager,
vague, or conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from
the realm of mere conjecture, the complaint is open to
dismissal." Tambone, 597 F.3d at 442.
the factual allegations of Barton's complaint as true -
as the court must at this juncture - the relevant background
is as follows. During the midterm elections in 2014, Barton
acted as a "poll challenger" at the Newmarket town
hall, having been appointed to that position by the New
Hampshire Republican Party. As he saw it, his job was to
ensure compliance with a new state law that required voters
to verify their residency by producing identity documents
such as a driver's license or residency affidavit.
According to Barton, he witnessed several new voter
registrants who did not present appropriate documentation of
their residence. Barton raised an objection with the
supervisor of the checklist and the Town Clerk. In response,
the Town Clerk told Barton that she would contact the
Attorney General's office to resolve Barton's
the Town Clerk reported to Barton that she had spoken with a
representative of the Attorney General's office who
concluded that the procedures being employed at the polling
place were consistent with New Hampshire law. Barton remained
unsatisfied. Accordingly, the Town Clerk again contacted the
Attorney General's office. An investigator, defendant
Peter Favreau, was sent to look into the matter. After he
arrived, Favreau spoke privately with Barton, in a room above
the polling place. Their conversation was calm at first, but
became heated (for which each blames the other). It
culminated in Favreau arresting Barton for disorderly
conduct. And, because Barton did not submit, but struggled
with Favreau, he was also charged with simple assault, in
violation of N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. ("RSA") 231-2-A,
and resisting arrest, in violation RSA 642:2. Following a
bench trial, Barton was acquitted of both disorderly conduct
and simple assault, but convicted of resisting arrest.
appealed his conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court,
which described Barton's interaction with Favreau as
After the investigator introduced himself to the defendant,
the defendant asked the town clerk if he and the investigator
could use the town council chambers to discuss the voting
laws. The clerk led them upstairs to ...