United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
C. LAMBERTH United States District Judge.
case is one of several before the Court that all contain
similar allegations: that Alabama cities attempting to
increase municipal budgets were running debtor's prisons
and implementing policies that adversely impacted indigent
residents of those cities. Currently before the Court are
motions to dismiss plaintiffs' amended complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Such motions were
filed by the City of Clanton, Judicial Correction Services
(JCS), and CHC Companies, Inc. These motions will be granted
in part and denied in part.
distinct in certain ways, this case is similar to other cases
pending before this Court, most notably McCullough v.
City of Montgomery, 2:15-cv-463, and Carter v. City
of Montgomery, 2:15-cv-555. This memorandum opinion
should be read in conjunction with the opinions issued in
those cases, as the issues overlap and Court will not repeat
its analysis in this memorandum opinion. The memorandum
opinions in those cases can be found at docket entry 131 in
McCullough and docket entry 97 in Carter.
Carter and McCullough, this case concerns
the policies and practices of an Alabama City that contracted
with a private probation company, JCS, which is alleged to
have denied indigent defendants a host of rights.
they allege that the city of Clanton signed a contract with
JCS that nominally allowed JCS to run probation services. JCS
ran on an “offender funded” model, where they
would charge people on probation set-up as well as monthly
fees to remain on probation.
individuals were arrested for minor crimes and unable to pay
fees, they were automatically placed into JCS probation and
made monthly payments. If individuals were unable to pay,
their fees were converted to jail time with durations tied to
the amounts owed. For example, one plaintiff's fine of
$1, 415 was converted into 28.3 days in jail-a rate of $50 a
day. Another plaintiff was given 21.12 days.
contend this was all done without any indigency
determinations being made and without access to counsel. They
further argue that the entire contract between the City and
JCS is unlawful.
motion to dismiss is appropriate when the complaint fails
“to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Such a failure occurs
when the complaint is so factually deficient that the
plaintiff's claim for relief is not plausible on its
face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570 (2007). Though facts in a complaint need not be detailed,
Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Court must accept
all factual statements as true when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss. Id. at 678. However, conclusory
legal allegations devoid of any factual support do not enjoy
the same presumption of truth. Id. at 679.
“Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555. This is not a high bar however, as
plaintiffs need only plead facts sufficient to “nudge
their claims across the line from conceivable to
plausible.” Id. at 547.
case contains eleven counts. The first is for denial of due
process by the City of Clanton. The second is for denial of
due process by JCS. The third and fourth counts are for
violations of the fourth amendment by Clanton and JCS,
respectively. Counts five and six allege violations of the
sixth amendment by the City and JCS. Counts seven and eight
allege violations of the eighth amendment. The ninth and
tenth counts are for violations of equal protection by
Clanton and JCS. The final count, eleven, is for declaratory
and injunctive relief against both JCS and Clanton.
Violations by the City of Clanton
City spends the bulk of their motion to dismiss arguing that
they are not responsible for the actions of JCS or any
actions taken by the Clanton Municipal Court. In this way,
the City's argument is incredibly similar to that made by
the City of Montgomery in Carter and
McCullough. Here, they argue that because the
municipal court is an arm of the State, not the City, it is
impossible for the City to be liable for its actions. City
Mot. Dismiss 26, ECF No. 80. ...