Judge Denies Motions to Dismiss in Operation Candy Crush Lawsuit
We filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over Operation Candy Crush, a law enforcement operation in which several store owners were arrested for selling legal CBD products alleged to be illegal marijuana.
On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Judge Aleta Trauger for the Middle District of Tennessee denied the motions to dismiss. The ruling denied state prosecutors the protection of absolute immunity.
The Daily News Journal reports on the filing:
“Three separate motions filed to dismiss the lawsuit against Rutherford County law enforcement and prosecutors for their actions in Operation Candy Crush were denied by a Nashville judge on Wednesday.
Defendants Rutherford County, Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, Assistant District Attorney John Zimmerman and District Attorney General Jennings Jones asked the courts to dismiss allegations that their actions in the course of the operation rose to the level of constitutional rights violations.
Judge Aleta Trauger filed an order Wednesday denying those motions, which are common requests in civil suits.
The lawsuit says the defendants were motivated by conspiracy to violate the plaintiffs’ rights when they arrested 17 business owners and padlocked their businesses last February during Operation Candy Crush.
The charges stemming from the sale of CBD products against the small business owners were eventually dropped and expunged.
Video from DNJ.com
Case Moves Forward
Wednesday’s ruling is not final in the case; it merely states that none of the defendants can claim “absolute immunity” to have the case dismissed.
The suit has named Zimmerman and Jones in their individual capacities, as well as Fitzhugh and Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold in their individual and official capacities. The Town of Smyrna is also named.
Arnold has not filed a motion to dismiss.
Due to their collective official roles, the defendants each argued they have various levels of immunity from prosecution.
Trauger found no cause to believe that their occupational immunity rises to the standards required for it to be absolute, based on the specific allegations the plaintiffs filed. This means the case will move forward and the claims will be decided on their merits.”
The ruling allows our firm’s Operation Candy Crush lawsuit to proceed. In addition to denying the defendants absolute immunity, the Court also denied them the protection of qualified immunity. Stay tuned for further updates.