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Daniel v. Talladega County Sheriff's Department

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

January 17, 2018

LACEY DANIEL, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the court on Defendants Ron Smith, Shea Brown, Talladega County Sheriff's Department, and Talladega County Jail's “Motion to Dismiss” (doc. 17). In this § 1983 action, Plaintiff Lacey Daniel contends that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs, namely, an ulcer condition that appears to have caused Ms. Daniel to suffer severe internal bleeding while she was a pretrial detainee at Talladega County Jail.

         The Defendants move to dismiss for several reasons. First, they contend that the Talladega County Sheriff's Department and the Talladega County Jail are not suable entities. Second, they contend that the court must dismiss any unspecified “state law claims” made by Ms. Daniel. Third, Defendants Shea Brown and Ron Smith contend that Ms. Daniel has failed to state a claim under § 1983 because the complaint does not include sufficient allegations on causation. Fourth, Defendants contend that any fictitious parties should be dismissed from the case.

         As an initial matter, Defendants' fourth argument is MOOT. The court has already dismissed all entities named in the complaint that remained unserved and noted that Ms. Daniel could move for leave to amend her complaint if she later discovered information about the identities of other potential defendants. (Doc. 30).

         The court will otherwise GRANT Defendants' motion. Neither the Sheriff's Department nor the Jail are legal, suable entitles in Alabama. Ms. Daniel's complaint brings no specified state law claims. And the complaint fails to state a claim under § 1983 because Ms. Daniel does not establish facts permitting the court to infer that Ms. Brown and Mr. Smith knew about Ms. Daniel's “ulcer condition.” The court will DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE Ms. Daniel's claims against the Sheriff's Department and the Jail, but DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Ms. Daniel's claims against Ms. Brown and Mr. Smith because the failure to state a claim could be the result of unartful pleading.


         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Generally, 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 (1957) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). A plaintiff must provide the grounds of his entitlement, but Rule 8 generally does not require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). It does, however, “demand[ ] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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 or conclusions” or “naked assertions” without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.

         The Supreme Court explained that “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting and explaining its decision in Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible on its face, the claim must contain enough facts that “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claim must be dismissed. Id.


         The following facts come from the allegations in the complaint; the court accepts these as true for the purpose of reviewing this motion to dismiss. In 2013, Ms. Daniel underwent surgery after suffering a perforated ulcer. The ulcer had perforated Ms. Daniel's liver, colon, and stomach, and Ms. Daniel spent 21 days in the intensive care unit recovering.

         Two years later, in late-June 2015, members of the Talladega County Sheriff's Department arrested Ms. Daniel. According to Ms. Daniel, they booked her into the Talladega County Jail and told “the Sheriff's Department” about her medical condition. The Jail also had Ms. Daniel's medical records, which would have reflected the 2013 perforated ulcer.

         At the time of the arrest and booking, Ms. Daniel still suffered from the “ulcer condition.” At some point during Ms. Daniel's incarceration, she began “vomiting blood, passing blood in her stool, straining to breathe, sometimes to the point of fainting, and [had] severe abdominal pain and tenderness.” (Doc. 1 ¶ 20). “During the last two weeks of her incarceration, ” Ms. Daniel “filed numerous medical requests, grievances, emergency sick calls, ” and an inmate request to the “Chief” to inform him about how “dire” her situation was. Ms. Daniel also gave descriptions of her conditions to the Jail's “staff.” Ms. Daniel asked to be taken to the hospital and requested a blood transfusion. The complaint implies that Jail staff refused or ignored those requests and eventually released her.

         After her release, Ms. Daniel “ended up collapsing” in a store. Paramedics transported Ms. Daniel to the hospital, where she received a blood transfusion and “the hospital” told her she had been minutes from death.

         Ms. Daniel states that “[a]ll named Defendants were made aware of [Ms. Daniel's] serious medical condition at some point during her period of incarceration. All named Defendants failed to take an action in ...

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