Judge dismisses Alicia Franklin lawsuit against city

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:11 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 10:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A judge dismissed Alicia Franklin’s lawsuit against the City of Memphis.

Attorneys for Alicia Franklin, Gary Smith and Jeff Rosenblum, confirmed Judge Mary Wagner submitted the order yesterday.

Franklin sued the City of Memphis saying if Memphis police had not failed to properly investigate her case, Memphis mother Eliza Fletcher would still be alive.

Franklin sat down with Action News 5 in September saying she took Memphis police back to the place she says she was raped and gave them the information of her alleged attacker, Cleotha Henderson.

“They just walked around, they walked out the little back slide door, where the Charger was parked at,” Franklin said. “Where he forced me in the car and raped me. That’s it. They didn’t fingerprint for anything, nothing like that.”

Franklin’s sexual assault kit sat on a shelf at the TBI lab in Jackson for nearly a year and was entered into a national database three days after Fletcher’s body was found.

This 21-page ruling from Circuit Court Judge Mary Wagner details why she sided with city on Franklin’s lawsuit, even though she sided with Franklin on three of four arguments the City of Memphis presented in their defense.

Alicia Franklin and her attorney Jeff Rosenblum, disappointed, but not giving up.

“She wanted there to be accountability on the part of the city when you consider how they disregarded her complaint,” said Rosenblum. “How they disrespected her allegations of rape when they really knew it happened.”

The City of Memphis who made the request for dismissal or to strike anything related to Eliza Fletcher or untested rape kits, mum on the ruling.

“The case is really considered pending and I cannot comment on pending litigation,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

However, Judge Wagner did find that the City of Memphis has a duty to investigate crimes against citizens, and Franklin does feel distress from Fletcher’s murder.

Rosenblum also says he appreciates Wagner for her siding with Franklin on these claims.

The “Catch 22″ Wagner writes, is the Public Duty Doctrine which “requires a cause of action based upon reckless misconduct”. She says the law provides the city with immunity from Franklin’s negligent misconduct claims.

“We feel that if we do take it to the court of appeals, the court of appeals and eventually the Supreme Court of Tennessee will hear this issue and clarify this issue and not give the city in a case like this where the court finds there’s a duty, where the court find there’s a causal connection between that breach and an injury, where the court finds its operation nondiscretionary that they all say the public duty doctrine is no longer a bar to this claim,” said Rosenblum.

Wagner also agreed with the facts in the suit, officers consciously disregarded “a substantial and unjustifiable risk of such a nature that it’s disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care.” She goes on to say “They are both concerning, and if left unexplained disappointing.”

She added nothing in the ruling should be taken as agreement or disagreement with the action or inactions of MPD.

“I think we all need to stand up and ask more and expect more and demand more from our police department and for our administrators and if we all do that I think will get more,” said Rosenblum.

What’s next for Franklin?

Rosenblum says they have 30 days to appeal the judge’s ruling or file a motion to reconsider.

They’re still deciding on what course of action to take.

Franklin is also suing the apartment complex where she was assaulted.

The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office will represent Franklin in the criminal case against Cleotha Henderson. Henderson was indicted for Franklin’s rape last September.

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