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Abshire v. Boudreaux

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

October 26, 2018





         Before the Court are a Motion to Dismiss and a Motion to Strike, [1] both filed by Defendants, the City of Youngsville, Officer Richard Vincent, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer for the City of Youngsville, Chief Rickey Boudreaux, individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police of the City of Youngsville, and Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Youngsville Defendants”). See Record Documents 9 and 11.[2] For the reasons which follow, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART and the Motion to Strike is DENIED.


         The factual allegations contained in the complaint are accepted as true and are as follows.[3] The plaintiff, Mark Abshire (“Abshire”), filed suit on behalf of his minor son, “T.A.” See Record Document 1. T.A. attends high school in Youngsville, Louisiana, which is within the Lafayette Parish School District. Pursuant to an Intergovernmental Agreement for School Resource Officer (“SRO”) services entered into between the Lafayette Parish School Board and the City of Youngsville, Officer Richard Vincent (“Officer Vincent”), alleged by Abshire to be an employee of the City of Youngsville and/or the Youngsville Police Department, was assigned to T.A.'s school as its SRO. See id.[4] Abshire alleges that in October of 2017, an instructor at the school directed T.A. to leave class for being loud. Once in the hallway, the teacher called Officer Vincent, who escorted T.A. to the office. Id. at 3-4 ¶ 9. When they arrived at the office, T.A. began to speak to a school official to explain what occurred, but Officer Vincent told T.A. to shut up and “suddenly and without warning slapped him acorss [sic] the face.” Id. at 4 ¶ 10. On November 2, 2017, the same teacher directed T.A. to leave class and go to a “common area outside of the classroom known as the ‘neighborhood' to complete his work.” Id. at 4 13. Officer Vincent arrived in the area a short while later and “slapped T.A. in the face several times and instructed him ‘do your work.'” Id. Later that same day, a different teacher called for Officer Vincent over the intercom. While T.A. was seated in the classroom, Officer Vincent entered and instructed T.A. to leave. As T.A. was gathering his things, Officer Vincent told him to “come” and “quit being slow.” Id. at 4-5 ¶ 14. Abshire asserts that then “suddenly and without warning Officer Vincent picked T.A. off the ground by his book sack and removed him from the classroom.” Id.

         Abshire alleges that the “force used by Richard Vincent was excessive under the circumstances and was carried out maliciously and sadisticly [sic] in violation of T.A.'s civil rights.” Id. at 5 ¶ 16. He further contends that it “is a common pattern, practice and custom for Lafayette School Board staff to call SRO's to respond and intervene in matters that do not involve and [sic] criminal activity or alleged criminal activity, ” that it “is a common pattern, practice and custom for Lafayette Parish School Board staff to call SRO's to respond and enforce school policy, ” and that it “is a common pattern, practice and custom for Lafayette Parish School Board staff to utilize SRO's to inflict corporal punishment on students as a means of marinating [sic] order in direct contradiction to its written policy.” Id. at 7 ¶¶ 23-25. Abshire specifically asserts:

At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Officer Vincent and other SRO's, like all Youngsville Police Department officers, received training in use of force, restraint, handcuffing, and arrest techniques designed for use on adults. They did not receive training on use of force, restraint, handcuffing, arrest, negotiation, de-escalation, and conflict resolution techniques that are appropriate for use on children, people of small stature, or in school environments.

Id. at 9 ¶ 32.

         Abshire filed suit arising out of alleged violations of T.A.'s civil rights, specifically the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See id. at 19. He also asserts claims of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See id. at 21-22. Relevant to the instant motion, he asserted a claim for municipal liability and failure to investigate, train or supervise against the Youngsville Defendants. The Youngsville Defendants have now moved to dismiss Abshire's claims against them, asserting that (1) Abshire has not sufficiently pled a Monell claim, (2) Abshire has failed to state a claim against Chief Boudreaux in his individual capacity; (3) Abshire has failed to state a claim for failure to investigate; and (4) Abshire's claims against Chief Boudreaux and Officer Vincent in their official capacities should be dismissed because such claims are redundant. See Record Document 11 at 2. Abshire filed an opposition, wherein he noted that he had not asserted claims against Chief Rickey Boudreaux in his individual capacity. See Record Document 19. He opposed the 12(b)(6) dismissal on all other bases. The Youngsville Defendants filed a reply. See Record Document 27.

         After briefing of the motion to dismiss was complete, Abshire sought leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, which was granted. See Record Documents 32-33. In his amended complaint, Abshire added allegations against Chief Rickey Boudreaux in his individual capacity. See Record Document 34. Thereafter, this Court allowed the defendants to supplement their briefing to address the issues presented in the amended complaint and Abshire filed oppositions to the supplemental briefs. See Record Documents 36-40.

         As to the Motion to Strike, the Youngsville Defendants contend that certain paragraphs of Abshire's complaint should be striken as redundant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous. Abshire filed an opposition and the Youngsville Defendants filed a reply. See Record Documents 9, 20 and 29.


         I. Pleading Standards And The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), and its progeny. Under this standard, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555-56, 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (citations omitted). If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows parties to seek dismissal of a pleading for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court generally “may not go outside the pleadings.” Colle v. Brazos Cnty., Tex., 981 F.2d 237, 243 (5th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). However, a court may rely upon “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference [] and matters of which a court may take judicial notice” in deciding a motion to dismiss. Dorsey v. Portfolio Equities, Inc., 540 F.3d 333, 338 (5th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); see Fed.R.Evid. 201. Additionally, courts must accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.

         A motion to dismiss is “viewed with disfavor and is rarely granted.” Turner v. Pleasant, 663 F.3d 770, 775 (5th Cir. 2011), quoting Harrington v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 563 F.3d 141, 147 (5th Cir. 2009). Dismissal is appropriate only if the complaint fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. To satisfy this standard, the complaint must provide more than conclusions, but it “need not contain detailed factual allegations.” Colony Ins. Co. v. Peachtree Constr., Ltd., 647 F.3d 248, 252 (5th Cir. 2011). However, it must allege enough facts to move the claim “across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. Determining whether the plausibility standard has been met is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

         II. Section 1983/Monell Claims Against Local Governments.

         Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983 provides a claim against anyone who, under color of state law, deprives another of his or her constitutional rights. In Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York., 436 U.S. 658, 694, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2037-38 (1978), the Supreme Court held that Congress intended Section 1983 to apply to local government entities as well as to persons. The Monell Court further held that municipalities and local government agencies cannot be held liable for constitutional torts under Section 1983 pursuant to a theory of respondeat superior, but they can be held liable "when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury." Id. Therefore, to succeed on a Monell claim against a local government entity, the plaintiff must establish (1) an official policy or custom, of which (2) a policymaker can be charged with actual or constructive knowledge, and (3) a constitutional violation whose moving force is that policy or custom. See Fuentes v. Nueces Cnty., Tex., 689 Fed.Appx. 775, 777 (5th Cir. 2017), quoting Valle v. City of Hous., 613 F.3d 536, 541-42 (5th Cir. 2010). Locating an official policy or custom ...

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