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Benton v. Walker County

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division

May 1, 2017

TERRY BENTON, Plaintiff,
v.
WALKER COUNTY, ALABAMA,, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER [1]

          JOHN H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On March 10, 2017, Defendants Walker County, Alabama; Officer Nicholas Harbin; and Sheriff James E. Underwood removed this action from the Circuit Court of Walker County. (Doc. 1). Shortly thereafter, the defendants moved to dismiss some of Plaintiff Terry Benton's claims. (Doc. 4). Benton has submitted a response in which he consents to the dismissal of several claims. (Doc. 14). Accordingly, for the reasons and to the extent described below, the defendant's partial motion to dismiss, (doc. 4), is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         This action is based on allegations that Benton was attacked and beaten by five inmates while incarcerated in the Walker County Jail. (Doc. 3-3). Benton's amended complaint contains seven causes of action.[2] (See doc. 3-3). Defendants move to dismiss the following claims and requests: (1) Benton's request for declaratory relief; (2) Benton's § 1983 claims against Officer Harbin and Sheriff Underwood in their official capacities; (3) Benton's eighth cause of action against Sheriff Underwood for state law negligent hiring, training and supervision; and Benton's second cause of action for failure to protect against Sheriff Underwood. (Doc. 4).

         II. Analysis

         A. Request for Declaratory Relief

         On page 1 and 24 of the amended complaint, Benton makes a request for declaratory relief. (Doc. 3-3 at 1, 24). Specifically, Benton requests the court make a finding “declaring the acts of the defendants violates the plaintiff's constitutional rights, directing the defendants to draft and implement constitutional policies and training regarding provision of medical care and treatment to inmates; and enjoining the defendants from committing or participating in such acts in the future.” (Id.). In response to the defendant's motion to dismiss Benton's request for declaratory relief, Benton consents to dismissal of his request for “prospective injunctive and declaratory relief[, ]” explaining “this issue is moot” as he is no longer incarcerated at the Walker County Jail. (Doc. 14 at 2).

         B. Section 1983 Claims Against Officer Harbin and Sheriff Underwood in Their Official Capacities

         Defendants seek dismissal of Benton's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Harbin and Sheriff Underwood in their official capacities (as opposed to individual capacities) because state officials sued in their official capacities do not meet the definition of “person” that can be made subject to liability under § 1983. (Doc. 4 at 4) (citing Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989)). Recognizing this, Benton consents to dismissal of his § 1983 claims against Officer Harbin and Sheriff Underwood in their official capacities. (Doc. 14 at 2).

         C. Eighth Cause of Action - Negligent Hiring, Training, and Supervision Against Sheriff Underwood

         Benton's eighth cause of action asserts a state tort claim against Sheriff Underwood for failing to adequately hire, train, and supervise the daily activities of the Walker County Jail. (Doc. 3-3). Plaintiff consents to the dismissal of this claim on the ground Sheriff Underwood is entitled to State Immunity under Article I, § 14 of the Alabama Constitution. (Doc. 14 at 3).

         D. Failure to Protect Claim Against Sheriff Underwood

         Benton's second cause of action, failure to protect, and his fourth cause of action, deliberate indifference - failure to protect, are both asserted against Sheriff Underwood. (Doc. 3-3). Defendants seek to dismiss the second cause of action, arguing it is duplicative. (Doc. 4 at 4-5). Benton consents to dismissal of the fourth cause of action (as opposed to the second cause of action), stating that the fourth cause of action appears to contain a typographical error. (Doc. 14 at 3).

         III. ...


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