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Abbott v. Town of Livingston

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

February 26, 2018

JUSTIN ABBOTT
v.
TOWN OF LIVINGSTON, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 69) filed by Defendant, Jason Ard, Sheriff of Livingston Parish ("Sheriff Ard"). Sheriff Ard seeks the dismissal of claims brought by Plaintiff, Justin Abbott under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff filed an Opposition. (Doc. 70). Sheriff Ard filed a Reply. (Doc. 73). The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Oral argument is not necessary. For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 69) filed by Sheriff Ard is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter arises from the arrest and subsequent detention of Plaintiff on September 30, 2015. (Doc. 63 at ¶ 3). Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully arrested without probable cause by Defendant, Officer Brian Reeves ("Officer Reeves") of the Livingston Parish Sheriffs Office. (Id. at ¶ 4). At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Reeves was aware that he had an "obvious bite mark on his leg."[1] (Id. at ¶ 5). After his arrest, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Reeves transported him to the Livingston Parish Detention Center ("LPDC"). (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff alleges that Officer Reeves acted unlawfully by refusing to allow him to receive medical assistance for his bite wound prior to transporting him to the LPDC. (Id. at ¶ 7). Once he arrived at the LPDC, Plaintiff asserts that he informed Defendant, Misha McNabb ("McNabb"), the "Nurse Administrator" of LPDC, that he "was in dire need of medical attention due to a bite wound on his leg." (Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff further claims that Defendant, Cheryl Smith ("Smith"), the "Medical Administrator" of LPDC, denied multiple requests for medical treatment during his period of confinement, which lasted from September 30, 2015 through October 6, 2015. (Id. at ¶¶ 14-15).

         As a consequence of his inability to receive timely medical treatment, Plaintiff alleges that his bite wound developed into a severe infection. (Id. at ¶ 17). Ultimately, Plaintiff claims that he developed a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA") infection in his leg at the site of his bite wound, which left "an enormous hole ... in his leg." (Id. at ¶¶ 54, 56). Plaintiff alleges that he was hospitalized for "over seven days" upon his release from prison to treat this infection. (Id. at ¶ 55).

         On March 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against, inter alios, Sheriff Ard in both his official and individual capacities, on the grounds that he may be liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the actions of his deputy, Officer Reeves.[2] (Docs. 1, 63). In addition, Plaintiff asserts state law claims against Sheriff Ard for vicarious liability, false arrest and false imprisonment, and negligence in failing to properly train and supervise his officers.[3] (Doc. 63 at ¶¶ 48-51).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must 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) (quoting Bell All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "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." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.

         "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations, " but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When conducting its inquiry, the Court "accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and views those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks omitted).

          III. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiffs § 1983 Official Capacity Claims

         "Although municipalities [and government officials] cannot be held liable under section 1983 by virtue of the doctrine of respondeat superior, they are subject to such liability where official custom or policy is involved in the injury." O'Quinn v. Manuel, 773 F.2d 605, 608 (5th Cir. 1985) (citing City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, All U.S. 808, 817 (1985)); see also Monell v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691-94 (1978). Specifically, municipal liability under § 1983 "requires proof of three elements: a policymaker; an official policy; and a violation of constitutional rights whose moving force is the policy or custom." Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 578 (5th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). The policymaker must have actual or constructive knowledge of the official policy or custom. Pineda v. City of Houston, 291 F.3d 325, 328 (5th Cir. 2002).

         1. Sheriff Ard In His Official Capacity

         Municipal officials, such as Sherriff Ard, may be held liable in their official capacity under § 1983. As stated above, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant is a policymaker who has actual or constructive knowledge of an official policy or custom, and that there was a violation of constitutional rights whose moving force is the policy or custom. Pineda, 291 F.3d at 328 (citing Piotrowski, 237 F.3d at 578). Sheriff Ard argues that Plaintiff has not identified an official policy, which was the moving force behind any constitutional violation in this case. (Doc. 69-1 at p. 8). Sheriff Ard asserts that Plaintiff merely makes conclusory allegations of practices or customs. (Id.). Plaintiff argues that his complaint "contains enough factual matter to raise a ...


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