United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
ESTATE OF JEFFREY K. RUSSELL, by and through personal representative Kenley R. Gardner, Plaintiff,
CITY OF ANNISTON, SHANE DENHAM, GREG FEAZELL, WILLIAM WORTHAM, RANDY GARNER, and JAMES CAMPBELL, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, United States District Judge
Introduction and Procedural Background.
case stems from the tragic death of Jeffery K. Russell
(“Mr. Russell”), who committed suicide in a jail
cell at the City of Anniston jail after being arrested on
February 20, 2014.
26, 2015, the Estate of Jeffery K. Russell, by and through
personal representative Kenley R. Gardner
(“Plaintiff”), filed a complaint (the
“Initial Complaint”) against the City of
Anniston, Shane Denham (“Mr. Denham”), Greg
Feazell (“Mr. Feazell”), Nick Bowles (“Mr.
Bowles”), and Fictitious Defendants A, B, and C. On
July 21, 2015, the Named Defendants filed their answer, and on
August 4, 2015, this action was reassigned to the
undersigned. (Docs. 6, 9). On February 25, 2016, the Named
Defendants filed an Amended Answer in order to assert new
affirmative defenses. (Doc. 13).
February 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (the
“Amended Complaint”), which identified Fictitious
Defendants A, B, and C for the first time as Defendants James
Campbell (“Defendant Campbell”), Randy Garner
(“Defendant Garner”), and William Wortham
(“Defendant Wortham”) (together, the “Added
Defendants”), respectively. (Doc. 14). Defendant
Campbell was served on November 3, 2016, and Defendants
Wortham and Garner were served on November 10, 2016. (Docs.
30, 33, 34).
November 18, 2016, the three Added Defendants filed a Motion
To Dismiss the claims filed against them as time-barred by
the applicable statute of limitations. (Doc. 35). Plaintiff
responded on November 25, 2016, and the Added Defendants
replied on December 9, 2016. (Docs. 37, 40). The Motion To
Dismiss is ripe for this Court's disposition.
12(b)(6) motion attacks the legal sufficiency of the
complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (“[A]
party may assert the following defenses by motion: (6)
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted[.]”). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
require only that the complaint provide “‘a short
and plain statement of the claim' that will give the
defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80
(1957) (footnote omitted) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)),
abrogated by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) (setting forth general
pleading requirements for a complaint including providing
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief”).
plaintiff must provide the grounds of his entitlement to
relief, Rule 8 does not mandate the inclusion of
“detailed factual allegations” within a
complaint. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at
1964 (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47, 78 S.Ct. at
103). However, at the same time, “it demands more than
an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
“[O]nce a claim has been stated adequately, it may be
supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the
allegations in the complaint.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 563, 127 S.Ct. at 1969.
Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on statute of limitations grounds is
appropriate only if it is apparent from the face of the
complaint that the claim is time-barred' because
‘[a] statute of limitations bar is an affirmative
defense, and . . . plaintiff[s] [are] not required to negate
an affirmative defense in [their] complaint.' Lindley
v. City of Birmingham, 515 F. App'x 813, 815 (11th
Cir. 2013) (quoting La Grasta v. First Union Sec.,
Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004)). At the motion
to dismiss stage, “a complaint may be dismissed on the
basis of a statute-of-limitations defense only if it appears
beyond a doubt that Plaintiffs can prove no set of facts that
toll the statute.” Id. (citing Tello v.
Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 410 F.3d 1275, 1288 n.13
(11th Cir. 2005)).
decedent, Mr. Russell, was arrested on February 20, 2014, in
Anniston, Alabama. (Doc. 14 at 6). Upon his arrest, he was
booked into the City of Anniston municipal jail. Id.
Prior to being placed in a jail cell, Mr. Russell's
personal clothing, which included two shoes, shoestring,
socks, pants, underwear, dress shirt, and a necktie, was not
approximately 9:00 a.m. on February 21, 2014, Mr. Russell was
found unresponsive in his jail cell and was subsequently
pronounced deceased by the Calhoun County coroner's
office. Id. Plaintiff alleges, upon information and
belief, that Mr. Russell's cause of death was
strangulation via a noose fashioned from his necktie.
Id. at 7. Plaintiff also alleges that, at the time
relevant to this action, nine civilian correctional officers
were employed at the City of Anniston municipal jail along
with two civilian inmate supervisors. Id.