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Gunn v. City of Montgomery

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

March 2, 2017

NELLIE RUTH GUNN, individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of GREGORY GUNN, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 20) and supporting memorandum (Doc. 21) filed by Defendants City of Montgomery and Ernest N. Finley, Jr., the Montgomery Chief of Police. Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 30) in opposition to the motion, and Defendants have filed a reply (Doc. 35). On August 10, 2016, the District Judge entered an Order (Doc. 19) referring this case to the undersigned Magistrate Judge “for consideration and disposition or recommendation on all pretrial matters as may be appropriate.” The motion is fully briefed and is ripe for recommendation to the District Judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS that Defendants' motion be granted-in-part and denied-in-part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, suing in her individual capacity and in her capacity as the Administratrix of the Estate of Gregory Gunn, filed suit against Defendants on July 8, 2016. See Compl. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff's complaint concerns the shooting death of her adult son, Gregory Gunn, by Officer Aaron Cody Smith of the Montgomery Police Department. The Complaint alleges, in exacting detail, the events and circumstances leading up to Smith's shooting of Mr. Gunn. See Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶¶ 12-82. Because Smith is not one of the instant movants, however, these allegations need not be recounted here with the level of detail set forth in the Complaint. It is sufficed for present purposes to offer only a brief summary of the “Facts” section of Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that Smith, on patrol alone in his vehicle in the very early morning hours of February 25, 2016, confronted Mr. Gunn during Mr. Gunn's walk home from a friend's house. Smith approached Mr. Gunn and initiated a “stop and frisk” of Mr. Gunn without any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Gunn was involved in criminal activity. Mr. Gunn was not armed and Smith had no reason to believe he was armed. During Smith's pat down of Mr. Gunn, Mr. Gunn fled in the direction of his home. Smith, still lacking any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Gunn was involved in criminal activity, pursued Mr. Gunn on foot. During his pursuit, Smith deployed a taser on Mr. Gunn at least three times even though Mr. Gunn had not threatened Smith and Smith had no reason to fear for his own safety. Because Smith's tasing of Mr. Gunn did not cause Mr. Gunn to stop fleeing, Smith next struck Mr. Gunn several times with an expandable metal baton. By the time Mr. Gunn reached his next-door neighbor's house, Smith brandished his service firearm and fired seven shots at Mr. Gunn, striking him five times, and killing him. Mr. Gunn died in his next-door neighbor's front yard.

         Plaintiff alleges several federal constitutional and state law causes of action against Smith and the instant Defendants, Chief Finley and the City. Summarizing Plaintiff's claims, the Complaint alleges as follows: a) that Chief Finley and the City adopted and implemented and/or ratified policies and procedures concerning citizen-police encounters and the use of force that violated the constitutional rights of citizens, or allowed a persistent and widespread practice or standard operating procedure in these regards that violated citizens' constitutional rights, and that Defendants' actions caused the deprivation of Mr. Gunn's Fourth Amendment rights resulting in injuries and, ultimately, his death (Count Four); b) that Chief Finley and the City of Montgomery failed to train Smith as to proper policies and/or procedures with respect to citizen-police encounters and the use of force, resulting in deprivations of his Fourth Amendment rights and, ultimately, his death (Count Five); (c) that Chief Finley is liable for Mr. Gunn's wrongful death under Alabama law because Chief Finley breached his duty owed to Mr. Gunn to establish and implement proper and constitutional policies and/or procedures with respect to citizen-police encounters and the use of force and to adequately train Smith and other police officers under his charge in the application of such policies and procedures (Count Seven); and (d) that the City is vicariously liable for Mr. Gunn's wrongful death under Alabama law because of the actions of Smith and Chief Finley which, it is alleged, proximately caused the death of Mr. Gunn (Count Eight).

         II. DEFENDANTS' ARGUMENT

         Defendants argue that all of Plaintiff's claims against them are due to be dismissed. In particular, Defendants argue that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring any claims in her individual capacity against Defendants for the actions described in the Complaint, and that such individual capacity claims thus “fail to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court and are a nullity.” Defs.' Mot. (Doc. 20) at 2. Defendants further argue that Plaintiff has failed to state any claim upon which relief could be granted in her representative capacity against both Chief Finley and the City. Id.

         III. PLAINTIFF'S INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY CLAIMS

         The undersigned first addresses Defendants' argument that Plaintiff lacks standing to sue them in her individual capacity, and that such claims fail to invoke this court's jurisdiction. Plaintiff explicitly “brings claims in her individual capacity for damages she sustained resulting from the death of her son, Gregory Z. Gunn[.]” Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶ 6. In support, Plaintiff alleges as follows:

As a direct and proximate result of the actions and omissions of Defendants Finley and the City of Montgomery causing the violation of decedent Gregory Gunn's Fourth Amendment rights, Plaintiff Nellie Ruth Gunn individually has suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish and other pain and suffering; lost regular financial support that the decedent, Gregory Gunn, had provided her; and lost the society and companionship of her son, with whom she had resumed a close family unit for multiple years before his murder, all of which suffering injuries, and damages will in reasonable probability continue into the future and for the remainder of Plaintiff Gunn's life.

Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶ 206; see also Id. at ¶ 227. Plaintiff limits her individual capacity claims to her claims asserted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id.; See also Pl.'s Resp. (Doc. 30) at 14. Defendants argue that Plaintiff may not recover damages in her individual capacity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defs.' Br. (Doc. 21) at 3-4 (§ 1983 “does not provide a remedy for persons because of the injury to others who have allegedly been deprived of their constitutional rights.”); Defs.' Reply (Doc. 35) at 4-5. Thus, they conclude, Plaintiff lacks standing to bring the claims alleged in the Complaint in her individual capacity. Id.

         In Alabama, “when a constitutional violation actually causes the injured party's death, a § 1983 claim can be asserted through the Alabama wrongful death statute.” Estate of Gilliam ex rel. Waldrop v. City of Prattville, 639 F.3d 1041, 1047 (11th Cir. 2011). As Plaintiff no doubt understands, given her express concession that the Complaint's state law wrongful death tort claim is not brought in her individual capacity, that statute, Ala. Code § 6-5-410, unambiguously confers the ability to bring a suit for wrongful death only in the “personal representative” of the decedent. See § 6-5-410(a). It is for this reason that this court very recently found that a plaintiff-decedent's minor child-lacked standing to pursue federal § 1983 claims related to the decedent's death, but that the decedent's personal representative could maintain such claims. See Burns v. City of Alexander City, 110 F.Supp.3d 1237, 1245 (M.D. Ala. 2015) (“As to the § 1983 claims, Gilliam provides authority that Alabama's wrongful death statute applies by virtue of [42 U.S.C.] § 1988. Therefore, Plaintiff G.C. does not have standing to assert those claims under Alabama law as she is not the personal representative of [decedent's] estate.”). See also James v. City of Huntsville, No. 5:14-cv-2267, 2015 WL 3397054, at *2-*3 (N.D. Ala. May 26, 2015); Estate of Rowell v. Walker Baptist Med. Ctr., No. 5:11-cv-3439-RRA, 2012 WL 2479626, at *4-*5 (N.D. Ala. June 25, 2012) (recognizing that plaintiffs, none of whom were appointed as decedent's personal representative at the time federal suit was filed, lacked standing to assert § 1983 claims at the time the complaint was filed); Christie v. Lee Cty. Sheriff's Office, No. 2:10-cv-420-FtM-36DNF, 2011 WL 4501953, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2011) (finding, pursuant to similar provisions of Florida law, “no separate cause of action exists under § 1983 for emotional distress, loss of a loved one, or any other collateral injuries allegedly suffered personally by the decedent's family members”).

         Thus, a plain reading of the statute and relevant case law forecloses Plaintiff's individual capacity § 1983 claims. The cases cited in Plaintiff's complaint in support of her individual right to recover her damages for the alleged violations of her son's constitutional rights, see, e.g., Compl. at ¶ 206, are inapposite. Carringer v. Rodgers, 331 F.3d 844, 849 (11th Cir. 2003), and Brazier v. Cherry, 293 F.2d 401, 409 (5th Cir. 1961), both dealt with and turned upon the unique characteristics of Georgia's wrongful death statute, which, it was determined, permits persons other than a personal representative of the decedent to seek and obtain damages for the wrongful death of the decedent. See Brazier, 293 F.2d at 409; Carringer, 331 F.3d at 847 (recognizing Georgia Supreme Court's affirmative answer to certified question about whether the plaintiff-decedent's mother-had standing to bring a wrongful death action where decedent was murdered by surviving spouse). Because the same cannot be said for Alabama's wrongful death statute, Brazier and Carringer do not advance Plaintiff's cause.

         Nor do the additional cases cited by Plaintiff in her response brief demonstrate that she is entitled to bring § 1983 claims in her individual capacity and recover for her damages flowing from the alleged violation of the decedent's constitutional rights. Rhyne v. Henderson County, 973 F.2d 386, 390 (5th Cir. 1992), is cited as affirming Brazier. Pl.'s Resp. (Doc. 30) at 16. However, as Plaintiff recognizes, Rhyne simply applied Texas law in the same manner as Brazier applied Georgia law. Texas law is not the same as Alabama law. See Rhyne, 973 F.2d at 391 (“There is no dispute that Rhyne is within the class of people entitled to recover under Texas law for the wrongful death of a child.”). Plaintiff cites two additional district court cases in Alabama in support of her position. See Pl.'s Br. (Doc. 30) at 17. However, these cases are distinguishable because neither addresses the standing of a plaintiff to bring individual capacity claims for damages flowing from the deprivation of the decedent's constitutional rights. In Weeks v. Benton, 649 F.Supp. 1297 (N.D. Ala. 1986), the action, including all federal claims, was “brought by Lois Weeks as administratrix of the decedent's estate.” Id. at 1298.

         Likewise, in Lewis v. City of Montgomery, No. 2:04-cv-858-WKW, 2006 WL 1761673, at *4 (M.D. Ala. June 27, 2006), the complaint consisted of a mix of federal § 1983 claims and state law tort claims brought by the decedent's wife in both her individual capacity and in her representative capacity as the administratrix of the decedent's estate. And, true enough, the court in Lewis did allow § 1983 claims seeking “recovery of compensatory damages from City, ” Pl.'s Br. (Doc. 30) at 17, to survive a motion to dismiss. See 2006 WL 1761673, at *4. However, unlike in the instant case, in Lewis, the plaintiff did not allege that she was entitled to damages in her individual capacity due to the constitutional injuries inflicted on the decedent. Rather, the complaint alleged such injuries “caused damage to Decedent in that it caused him to suffer pain, embarrassment, humiliation, extreme mental anguish and severe emotional distress and ultimately causing his death.” See Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶¶ 61, 64, & 72, No. 2:04-cv-858-WKW (filed Sept. 10, 2004) (alleging injuries in specific federal law claims). Where the plaintiff in Lewis brought claims in her individual capacity for her own damages, she was expressly proceeding under state tort law and, insofar as she did bring any such claims, they were not premised on Alabama's wrongful death statute. See Id. at ¶ 80 (alleging plaintiff's own injuries in negligence claim) and ¶¶ 99-100 (alleging plaintiff's loss of consortium). Accordingly, it is of no great significance on the narrow question of the instant Plaintiff's standing to bring her individual capacity claims that the court in Lewis permitted that plaintiff's § 1983 claims against the municipal defendant to survive a motion to dismiss, or that the court permitted the plaintiff's own loss of consortium claim to stand. There is no indication that the Lewis plaintiff brought any § 1983 claims in her individual capacity, and there was no dispute that she lacked standing to bring certain state tort claims in her individual capacity because those claims were not brought pursuant to Alabama's wrongful death statute.

         Plaintiff lacks standing to assert any individual capacity claims under § 1983 for any injuries she suffered due to the alleged violation of the decedent's constitutional rights. Accordingly, such claims-namely, Counts IV and V of the Complaint-are due to be dismissed with prejudice to the extent they are brought in Plaintiff's individual capacity.

         IV. PLAINTIFF'S REPRESENTATIVE CAPACITY CLAIMS

         As set forth above, Plaintiff has filed claims in her representative capacity under both § 1983 and Alabama's wrongful death statute. Defendants move to dismiss all such claims levied against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, on the basis that Plaintiff has failed to state any claim upon which relief could be granted. Defs.' Mot. (Doc. 20) at 2. Following a brief discussion of the standard of review applicable to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court will examine each of Plaintiff's claims in turn.

         When ruling on a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “the Court accepts the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Servs. Ctrs. for Disease Control and Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010). In order to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, a complaint must satisfy the pleading standard of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         Rule 8 requires that a plaintiff submit a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In general, then, a pleading is insufficient if it offers only mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. See also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (a complaint does not suffice under Rule 8(a) “if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”). Thus, in order to survive Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff's complaint “‘must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief which is plausible on its face.'” Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan Univ., 780 F.3d 1039, 1051 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). “A claim is factually plausible where the facts alleged permit the court to reasonably infer that the defendant's alleged misconduct was unlawful. Factual allegations that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, however, are not facially plausible.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If there are “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” that supports the claims alleged in the complaint, then the claim is “plausible” and the motion to dismiss should be denied and discovery in support of the claims should commence. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. But, “Rule 8 . . . does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. Ultimately, in assessing the plausibility of a plaintiff's claims, the court is to avoid conflating the sufficiency analysis with a premature assessment of a plaintiff's likelihood of success because a well-pleaded claim shall proceed “even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and ‘that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

         A. Count IV of the Complaint.

         Relying upon Plaintiff's summary of her claims, in Count Four, Plaintiff alleges that Chief Finley, as a “final policymaker for the City, established and implemented unconstitutional policies and procedures regarding citizen-police encounters and the use of force that were the “moving force” behind the death of Mr. Gunn. Pl.'s Resp. (Doc. 30) at 8-9. Plaintiff alleges that Chief Finley is thus liable individually for his actions in establishing and implementing these alleged policies and procedures, and that the City is liable “for having such policies and procedures that themselves violate federal law.” Id. at 9. Alternatively, Plaintiff alleges in Count Four that, even if the policies and procedures established and implemented by Chief Finley do not violate the Constitution, there was a “widespread practice” among Chief Finley's subordinates in the MPD of conducting “illegal stops, frisks, and uses of force that became informal City policy, ” that Chief Finley “refused or failed to take steps reasonably necessary to prevent such violations, ” and that this “practice” caused Mr. Gunn's death. Id. Thus, Plaintiff alleges that Chief Finley is individually liable for his “deliberate indifference” to this unconstitutional practice, and the City is liable for its “custom or practice of constitutional violations that proximately resulted in the violation of Mr. Gunn's rights.” Id.

         Defendants maintain that Plaintiff has failed to satisfy the applicable pleading requirements with respect to her claims against both Chief Finley and the City. The court will discuss Defendants' arguments, and the sufficiency of Plaintiff's pleadings as to each Defendant, separately.

         1. Supervisory Liability as to Chief Finley.

         The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently restated how a plaintiff may go about establishing supervisory liability under § 1983.

“[I]t is well established in this Circuit that supervisory officials are not liable under § 1983 for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of respondeat superior or vicarious liability.” Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). Instead, to hold a supervisor liable a plaintiff must show that the supervisor either directly participated in the unconstitutional conduct or that a causal connection exists between the supervisor's actions and the alleged constitutional violation. Id.
The necessary causal connection can be established when a history of widespread abuse puts the responsible supervisor on notice of the need to correct the alleged deprivation, and he fails to do so. Alternatively, the causal connection may be established when a supervisor's custom or policy ... result[s] in deliberate indifference to constitutional rights or when facts support an inference that the supervisor directed the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so.
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citations omitted). “The deprivations that constitute widespread abuse sufficient to notify the supervising official must be obvious, flagrant, rampant and of continued duration, rather than isolated occurrences.” Hartley v. Parnell, 193 F.3d 1263, 1269 (11th Cir.1999) (internal quotation mark omitted). In short, “the standard by which a supervisor is held liable in [his] individual capacity for the actions of a subordinate is extremely rigorous.” Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Keith v. DeKalb Cty., Ga., 749 F.3d 1034, 1047-48 (11th Cir. 2014).

         Plaintiff maintains that she has adequately alleged Chief Finley's supervisory liability in Count Four because she has “alleged facts showing a causal connection between defendant Finley's actions and the constitutional violations . . . based on (1) his failure to correct the constitutional violations following a history of widespread abuse of such rights, and (2) his formal policies or informal customs or policies resulting in deliberate indifference to constitutional rights.” Pl.'s Resp. (Doc. 30) at 20. In support of this argument, Plaintiff points to many of the allegations set forth in the Complaint. The court will review these allegations to assess their sufficiency.

         In relevant part, Plaintiff alleges, “[u]pon information and belief, ” that Chief Finley “established and implemented policies and procedures, and/or ratified pre-existing policies and procedures, regarding field interviews, investigative stops, searches, frisks or pat- downs, other police-citizen encounters, arrests, and the use of force by police against citizens[, ]” and that these policies and procedures authorized police “to exercise authority beyond the constitutional limits of such activities” in a number of ways that effect violations of constitutional rights up to and including “use [of] deadly force on a subject when it is excessive, unnecessary, and objectively unreasonable as a matter of law to do so.” Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶¶ 196-197. Plaintiff then alleges that Smith acted pursuant to such policies and procedures when he confronted Mr. Gunn. Id. at ¶ 198. Plaintiff further alleges that, even if the formal policies and procedures allegedly established and implemented by Chief Finley do not themselves violate the Constitution, Chief Finley knew of or had constructive knowledge of the “widespread practice” among police officers of violating citizens' constitutional rights during police-citizen encounters, including “using deadly force on a subject when it is excessive, unnecessary, and objectively unreasonable as a matter of law to do so[.]” Id. at ¶¶ 200-202.

         The sufficiency of these allegations turns, of course, on whether Plaintiff has alleged sufficient factual detail to render Plaintiff's claims plausible. Upon careful review of the Complaint and the parties' submissions respecting the motion to dismiss, the undersigned concludes that Defendant's motion to dismiss Count Four as to Chief Finley is due to be denied. Although the undersigned does not arrive at this conclusion lightly or without some trepidation about the nature of Plaintiff's claim, the undersigned concludes that Defendants simply have not shown that Plaintiff's allegations are actually insufficient under the prevailing standard.

         Because Plaintiff can establish Chief Finley's liability through distinct avenues of proving deliberate indifference, and because the undersigned concludes that Plaintiff has adequately met her pleading burden with respect to at least one of those avenues, the undersigned addresses only the allegations and related argument concerning Plaintiff's claim that there was a history of widespread abuse that put Chief Finley on notice of the need to correct the alleged deprivations, but that Chief Finley failed to do so. In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, even if the policies and customs adopted or implemented by Chief Finley did not themselves violate the Constitution, there was “a widespread and persistent practice over many years, of City of Montgomery police officers violating citizens federally protected rights[.]” Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶ 201. This “widespread and persistent practice” is alleged to have included several components, including the following: a) “making investigative stops for pretextual reasons, ” including to determine whether an “individual owes unpaid traffic fines or costs to the Defendant City, ” without the support of reasonable suspicion; b) “making investigative stops based on an unlawful racial profile;” (c) “frisking or patting down persons detained without reasonable suspicion” supporting such actions; (d) “using less-lethal force, including tasing or striking a subject, when it is excessive, unnecessary, and objectively unreasonable to do so;” and (e) “using deadly force on a subject when it is excessive, unnecessary, and objectively unreasonable as a matter of law to do so.” Id. at ¶ 200. Plaintiff alleges that this “widespread and persistent practice” will be shown by “citizen lawsuits charging police misconduct; citizen complaints to the Police Department, the City of Montgomery, and elected officials regarding such misconduct; and the Police Department's limited internal records of individual instances of application of these policies and procedures, such as investigative stops and incidents involving the use of force. Id. at ¶ 201. Plaintiff further alleges that Chief Finley has known or “had constructive knowledge of this widespread and persistent practice of violations, but [has] refused or failed to take measures reasonably necessary to prevent or minimize such violations.” Id. at ¶ 202. Finally, in further support of this avenue of showing deliberate indifference, Plaintiff alleges that Chief Finley's response to the widespread practice described in the Complaint has been inadequate in several ways set out in the Complaint, including inadequate measures to identify and document unconstitutional uses of force, inadequate investigation of complaints of unconstitutional actions by police officers, and inadequate discipline of officers found to have committed violations. Id. at ¶ 203.

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to meet her pleading burden with respect to any claim of supervisory liability as to Chief Finley in Count Four. Defs.' Br. (Doc. 21) at 5-6. As to the particular avenue of showing deliberate indifference discussed in the previous paragraph, Defendants argue, without citation to authority, that Plaintiff must plead factual allegations that “directly and specifically describe” “[a] history of obvious widespread, rampant, flagrant and continuing deprivations of constitutional rights rather than singular events attributed to Officer Smith[.]” Id.

         As set forth above, Plaintiff's Complaint describes in detail the contours of the alleged widespread history of abuse necessary to place Chief Finley on notice of his need to correct the sort of deprivations described in the Complaint. The Complaint also alleges that Chief Finley failed to correct the alleged deprivations, and that his response to them was inadequate in all of several ways specifically detailed in the Complaint. Nevertheless, Defendants assert that Plaintiff is required to plead specific allegations about some unspecified number of constitutional deprivations in order to sufficiently state a claim and proceed to discovery. In particular, Defendants demand that Plaintiff be made to specifically plead allegations about who filed the lawsuits or citizen complaints referenced in the Complaint, when they were filed, and what were the outcomes of any such filings or proceedings. Id. Defendants do not suggest how many such instances should be alleged and how specific Plaintiff's allegations must be. Rather, Defendants simply maintain that Plaintiff's “vague” reference to “citizen lawsuits” and “complaints” and the like that will demonstrate such incidents is insufficient to carry her pleading burden. Defs.' Reply (Doc. 35) at 11. Notably, Defendants cite to no cases imposing such a pleading burden on a plaintiff, and some courts have specifically rejected such a burden. See, e.g., Threats v. City of Bessemer, No. 2:13-cv-486-JEO, 2013 WL 2338701, at *5 (N.D. Ala. April 29, 2013) (Magistrate Judge's Recommendation), adopted, 2013 WL 2355341 (N.D. Ala. May 23, 2013) (finding widespread “pattern of misconduct” adequately alleged, despite fact that complaint “does not provide details of the prior alleged incidents or exactly how City policymakers became aware of them[, ]” because specific details about prior incidents “would be largely within the knowledge of the City rather than Plaintiff, and both sides are entitled to utilize the liberal discovery of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE to flesh out the specifics” of Plaintiff's claims). And, to be sure, courts have affirmed that a plaintiff's reference to the sort of records identified by Plaintiff in this matter can be sufficient to put a supervisor on notice of a need to correct a problem and, therefore, at least plausibly allege a history of widespread abuse for purposes of supervisor liability. See, e.g., Danley v. Allen, 540 F.3d 1298, 1315 (11th Cir. 2008), overruled on other grounds as recognized by Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701 (11th Cir. 2010) (finding that complaint's allegation that supervisors were aware of widespread abuse through “‘force reports and similar documents, inmate complaints, jailer complaints, attorney ...


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