United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on motions to dismiss filed by
Defendant City of Bessemer (Doc. # 37) and Defendants
Rutledge and Hudson (Doc. # 38). This case arises from tragic
events which occurred on November 1 and 2, 2014. Plaintiff,
on behalf of Sheneque Proctor (“Proctor”), brings
claims against individual Defendants as well as the City of
Bessemer (“City”) related to Proctor's
treatment (and lack of medical treatment) at the City Jail.
The City and these two individuals -- who supervised jailers
working on the night Proctor died -- have moved to dismiss
claims against them. After careful review, the court finds
Defendants' motions to dismiss are due to be granted.
was arrested on November 1, 2014 and was taken to the
Bessemer City Jail. (Doc. # 36 at ¶ 13). At the jail,
Proctor was noticeably under the influence of drugs.
(Id. at ¶ 14). Shortly after she was booked
into the jail, Proctor fell unconscious. (Id. at
¶ 18). Defendant Goodwin noticed Proctor's condition
over an hour later. (Id. at ¶ 19). Defendant
Goodwin could not get Proctor to respond. (Id. at
¶ 20). Rather than seek medical attention for Proctor,
Defendant Goodwin pushed Proctor over onto her side.
(Id.). Defendant Goodwin informed the other jailers
named in this action about Proctor's condition.
(Id. at ¶¶ 21-22). None of the jailers
sought medical assistance for Proctor. (Id. at
¶ 24). Instead, Proctor died sometime after 3:00 a.m. on
the morning of November 2, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 25).
addition to bringing suit against the individual jailers (who
are not parties to this motion), Plaintiff maintains that
Proctor's death was caused by customs and policies of
Defendant City of Bessemer and by the deliberate indifference
of Defendants Rutledge and Hudson, who are supervisors of the
jailers. (Id. at ¶ 28). The Bessemer City Jail
does not employ medical personnel, but instead relies upon
its jailers to assess the medical needs of inmates.
(Id. at ¶¶ 31-32). City policymakers,
including Defendants Rutledge and Hudson, did not provide
jailers with any training and supervision related to the
medical needs of inmates. (Id. at ¶ 39). After
Proctor's death, Bessemer policymakers, including
Defendants Rutledge and Hudson, did not re-train or disciple
the detention officers on duty at the time of Proctor's
death. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-42). City
policymakers and supervisory officials did not provide
Bessemer jailers with training regarding medical care for
inmates, the rights of inmates to medical care, or treatment
of unconscious inmates and inmates experiencing drug
overdoses. (Id. at ¶ 46).
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the
complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Still, the complaint must include
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely
upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in
the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289,
1295 (11th Cir. 2007).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads 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. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, '” the complaint
must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A
plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556. The Supreme Court has identified “two
working principles” for a district court to use in
applying the facial plausibility standard. First, in
evaluating motions to dismiss, the court must assume the
veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the
court does not have to accept as true legal conclusions when
they are “couched as . . . factual
allegation[s].” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Second, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim
for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id.
of the facial plausibility standard involves two steps. Under
prong one, the court must determine the scope and nature of
the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and assume
their veracity; and under prong two, the court must proceed
to determine the claim's plausibility given the
well-pleaded facts. That task is context specific and, to
survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court
based on its “judicial experience and common sense . .
. to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct.” Id. If the court determines that
well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim
that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed.
Plaintiff's Claim Against Defendant City of
contends she is due money damages based on what she contends
is an unconstitutional policy of the City. (Doc. # 36).
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Bessemer failed to
properly train City jailers regarding medical care for
inmates. (Id. at ¶ 46). “The Supreme
Court has placed strict limitations on municipal liability
under section 1983.” Gold v. City of Miami,
151 F.3d 1346, 1350 (11th Cir. 1998). As explained in
Monell v. Department of Social Services of City of New
York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978), “a municipality may be
held liable for the actions of a police officer only when
municipal ‘official policy' causes a constitutional
violation.” Id. (citing Monell, 436
U.S. at 694-95). So, to hold a municipality liable, Plaintiff
“must show: (1) that his constitutional rights were
violated; (2) that the municipality had a custom or policy
that constituted deliberate indifference to that
constitutional right; and (3) that the policy or custom
caused the violation.” McDowell v. Brown, 392
F.3d 1283, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing City of Canton
v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989)). A policy is
defined as a “decision that is officially adopted by
the municipality. . . .” Sewell v. Town of Lake
Hamilton, 117 F.3d 488, 489 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing
Brown v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 923 F.2d 1474,
1479-80 (11th Cir. 1991)). A custom is defined as a
“practice that is so settled and permanent that it
takes on the force of law.” Id. (citing
Monell, 438 U.S. at 690-94).
even if Plaintiff shows her constitutional rights were
violated, in order to prevail on her claim against the City,
she must demonstrate it had an unconstitutional policy or
custom. See Wilson v. Tillman, 613 F.Supp.2d 1254,
1266 (S.D. Ala. 2009) (“[T]he city of [Bessemer] is not
automatically liable under § 1983 even if it
inadequately hired, trained or supervised its police officers
and those officers violated [Plaintiff's]
unconstitutional rights.”). “To show an
unconstitutional policy or custom, [P]laintiff must identify
the policy or custom, connect the policy or custom with the
government entity itself, and show that the particular injury
was incurred because of the execution of that policy.”
Id. (citing Bennett v. City of Slidell, 728
F.2d 762, 767 (5th Cir. 1984) (en banc)). “In