United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
YASKITHA WILLIAMS, ET AL.
BATON ROUGE POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim (Doc. 15) filed by Defendant,
then-Chief of Police Carl Dabadie, Jr., (“Chief
Dabadie”), and the Motion for a More Definite
Statement (Doc. 14), filed by Defendant,
misidentified as “Enterprise Rental Car”
(“Enterprise”). For the reasons that follow, the
motions are GRANTED.
Plaintiffs Yaskitha Williams and Bonnie Baker filed this 42
U.S.C. § 1983 claim, alleging that their Fourth
Amendment rights were violated. (Doc. 1 at p. 1; Doc. 1-1 at
p. 2). Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that on February 18,
2017, they were wrongfully stopped, wrongfully detained,
illegally handcuffed, falsely accused of theft, and
wrongfully held against their free will by Baton Rouge police
officers. (Doc. 1-1 at pp. 2-3).
are bringing this action pro se; therefore, the court must
liberally construe their pleadings. McClellon v. Lone
Star Gas Co., 66 F.3d 98, 103 (5th Cir. 1995). When
reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must “accept
all well-pleaded facts as true and view those facts in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hines v.
Alldredge, 783 F.3d 197, 200-01 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting
True v. Robles, 571 F.3d 412, 417 (5th Cir. 2009)).
Even so, a complaint must be “plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]
. . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679. Although the complaint
need not set out “detailed factual allegations, ”
it must set forth something “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court “may
rely on the complaint, its proper attachments, documents
incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of
which a court may take judicial notice.” Randall D.
Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th
a complaint is ambiguous or does not contain sufficient
information to allow a responsive pleading to be framed, the
proper remedy is a motion for a more definite statement under
Rule 12(e).” Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc.,
197 F.3d 161, 164 (5th Cir. 1999). Rule 12(e) allows a party
to move for “a more definite statement of a pleading to
which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague
or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e); see also 5C
Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice
and Procedure § 1376 (3d ed. 2004) (explaining that it
is appropriate to employ a Rule 12(e) motion when the
pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the opposing
party cannot respond to it, even with a simple denial as
permitted by Rule 8(b), with a pleading that can be
interposed in good faith or without prejudice to
himself.”). Given the liberal pleading standard set
forth in Rule 8(a), Rule 12(e) motions are disfavored.
See Mitchell v. E-Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126,
132 (5th Cir. 1959). The Supreme Court has noted, however,
that “[i]f a pleading fails to specify the allegations
in a manner that provides sufficient notice, ” then a
Rule 12(e) motion may be appropriate. Swierkiewicz v.
Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). The trial judge
is given considerable discretion in deciding whether to grant
a Rule 12(e) motion. Factor King, LLC v. Block Builders,
LLC, No. 14-587, 2015 WL 3440255, at *3 (M.D. La. May
27, 2015) (citing Murungi v. Tex. Guaranteed, 646
F.Supp.2d 804, 811 (E.D. La.2009)).
Motion to Dismiss
1983 holds a supervisory official liable only to the extent
that “(1) he affirmatively participates in the acts
that cause the constitutional deprivation, or (2) he
implements unconstitutional policies that causally result in
the constitutional injury.” Gates v. Tex. Dep't
of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 537 F.3d 404, 435
(5th Cir. 2008). A policy is normally an official statement,
ordinance, or regulation, but in certain circumstances a
persistent, widespread practice that is so commonplace as to
constitute a custom can also be treated as policy. See
Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 579 (5th
Cir. 2001). “A customary municipal policy cannot
ordinarily be inferred from single constitutional
violations.” Id. at 581.
alleging a failure to train or supervise, Plaintiffs
“must show that ‘(1) the supervisor either failed
to supervise or train the subordinate official; (2) a causal
link exists between the failure to train or supervise and the
violation of the plaintiff's rights; and (3) the failure
to train or supervise amounts to deliberate
indifference.'” Gates, 537 F.3d at 435
(quoting Estate of Davis ex rel. McCully v. City of N.
Richland Hills, 406 F.3d 375, 381 (5th Cir. 2005)). In
all but the most exceptional of circumstances, a
failure-to-train claim requires a pattern of similar
occurrences. See Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51,
construing the pro se Plaintiffs' claims liberally, the
Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim
against Chief Dabadie. He is not alleged to have been
personally involved in the action. Plaintiffs also do not
cite a custom, policy, or practice, and they do no refer to
any similar incident. For substantially the same reason, even
if the Court construes Plaintiffs' Complaint to allege a
failure to train claim, a single incident of police
misconduct is inadequate to state a plausible claim for
failure to train. See Connick, 563 at 62. Therefore,
the claims against Chief Dabadie are DISMISSED.
Motion for a More Definite Statement
complaint lists Enterprise as a defendant in their 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action. (Doc. 1 at p. 1). However, the complaint
simply states that Defendants were “wrongfully stopped,
wrongfully detained, illegally handcuffed, falsely accused of
theft, wrongfully held my body [sic] against my free
will.” (Doc. 1-1 at p. 2). Apart from the caption for
parties (see Doc. 1 at p. 1), Enterprise is never
mentioned. Even construing Plaintiffs' pro se complaint
as liberally as possible, the complaint “does not
contain sufficient information to ...