United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
DOUGHTY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICK J. HANNA JUDGE
before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Penalty, Punitive,
or Exemplary Damages (Rec. Doc. 6), and the Motion to Dismiss
Penalty, Punitive, or Exemplary Damages Regarding
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 22) filed
on behalf of Defendants, Officer Cary James Burton
(individually and in his official capacity as a police
officer for the City of Kaplan), Officer Payton Lee Hardy
(individually and in his official capacity as a police
officer for the City of Kaplan), and the City of Kaplan.
Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against
them for penalty, punitive, or exemplary damages. Plaintiff
opposed the motion(s). (Rec. Doc. 27), and Defendants replied
(Rec. Doc. 29). The motions were referred to this Court
for report and recommendation in accordance with the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636 and the standing orders of
this Court. For the following reasons, it is recommended that
Defendants' first Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 6) be
denied as moot, and that the second Motion to Dismiss (Rec.
Doc. 22) be GRANTED.
original Complaint asserted a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§1983 and §1988 for alleged violations of his
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights
following his arrest on August 29, 2016. Plaintiff alleged
that on that date Kaplan Officer Burton pulled him over for
an alleged traffic violation. Upon coming to a stop,
Plaintiff alleged that his passenger, DeAndrus Mitchell,
jumped out of the vehicle and shouted that Plaintiff had a
gun and tried to pull it on him. Officer Burton then forced
both Plaintiff and Mitchell at gunpoint to lie on the ground.
Kaplan Officer Hardy than arrived on the scene and handcuffed
Plaintiff and Mitchell. Officer Burton then searched the
vehicle and discovered a handgun and magazine in the grass
approximately four feet from the passenger side of the
vehicle. Officer Hardy then transported both Mitchell and
Plaintiff to the Kaplan Police Department. They were both
later charged for various gun-related offenses. (Rec. Doc. 1,
¶22-25; Rec. Doc. 16, ¶22-25).
his arrest, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Vermilion
Parish Jail until January 26, 2017, when a state court judge
conducted a preliminary examination and concluded that there
had been no probable cause for Plaintiff's arrest.
Thereafter, the charges were “nolle prossed” in
June 2018. (Rec. Doc. 1, ¶29-30; Rec. Doc. 16,
filed his original Complaint on January 23, 2019, in which he
asserted claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution
and Monell claims, and also seeking “general
and/or special and/or punitive damages.” (Rec. Doc. 1,
at 12). In the original Complaint, Plaintiff named Officer
Burton and Officer Hardy “individually in [their]
official capacity[ies] as  sworn officer[s] of the Kaplan
Police Department, acting under Color of Law…”
(Rec. Doc. 1, ¶4(B) and (C)).
filed their first Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims
for punitive damages on March 1, 2019. (Rec. Doc. 6). Shortly
thereafter, on March 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed a First Amended
Complaint for Damages, wherein Plaintiff named Officer Burton
and Officer Hardy “in [their] individual capacity[ies],
for actions as  sworn officer[s] of the Kaplan Police
Department, acting under Color of Law…” (Rec.
Doc. 16, ¶4(B) and (C)). Otherwise, Plaintiff's
factual allegations and causes of action remained the same.
Defendants then filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims for
punitive damages in the First Amended Complaint. (Rec. Doc.
22). Given this procedural history, the Court recommends
denying Defendants' first Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 6)
as moot and granting Defendants' Second Motion to Dismiss
on the merits.
The Applicable Standard.
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under F.R.C.P. Rule 12(b)(6), the district court must limit
itself to the contents of the pleadings, including any
attachments thereto. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498 (5th Cir. 2000).
The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In re
Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205
(5th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations omitted)
(quoting Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid
Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004));
Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th
Cir. 1996). However, conclusory allegations and unwarranted
deductions of fact are not accepted as true, Kaiser
Aluminum & Chemical Sales v. Avondale Shipyards, 677
F.2d 1045, 1050 (5th Cir. 1982) (citing
Associated Builders, Inc. v. Alabama Power Company,
505 F.2d 97, 100 (5th Cir. 1974)); Collins v.
Morgan Stanley, 224 F.3d at 498. Courts “are not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.”; Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic, 127
U.S. at 570. The allegations must be sufficient “to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ”
and “the pleading must contain something more . . .
than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.”
Id. at 555 (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-36 (3d
ed. 2004)). “While a complaint . . . does not need
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to
relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Id. (citations, quotation marks,
and brackets omitted; emphasis added). See also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). If the plaintiff
fails to allege facts sufficient to “nudge[ ][his]
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible, [his]
complaint must be dismissed.” Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 127 U.S. at 570.
meets the test for facial plausibility “when the
plaintiff pleads the 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. at 678. “[D]etermining 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. Therefore, “[t]he complaint (1) on
its face (2) must contain enough factual matter (taken as
true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or expectation (4) that
discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of a
claim.” Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565
F.3d 228, 257 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell
Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 U.S. at 556). See also In
Re Southern Scrap, 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th
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