United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Scott Coogler United States District Judge
Carl and Janie Davis (“Plaintiffs”) brought this
action against Defendant Robert Clayton
(“Defendant”) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
Alabama state law in Defendant's individual capacity as a
police officer employed by the City of Eutaw, Alabama. Before
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 3.)
This Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.
For the reasons explained more fully herein, the Motion is
due to be GRANTED.
are residents of Eutaw, Alabama, and owned two German
Shepards, Lady Ace and Django. On March 30, 2017, Lady Ace
and Django escaped from their enclosed living area at the
Plaintiffs' residence. At some point following their
escape, the dogs arrived at the Eutaw Recreation Center.
Plaintiffs were not aware that the dogs had escaped as they
were out of town at the time.
is a police officer employed by the City of Eutaw, Alabama.
He was dispatched to the Eutaw Recreation Center in response
to a report that a stray dog had been killed at that
location. Upon arriving at the scene, Defendant observed Lady
Ace and Django in a small, playground-type space that sits
between two buildings of the recreation center. Defendant
activated his bodycam which filmed his encounter.
saw Lady Ace and Django, who were located near the dead dog.
Before Defendant had fully exited his car, Plaintiffs'
dogs began approaching him. Several people at the scene,
Defendant included, warned others that the dogs “got
that blood taste in their mouth” and would “bite
somebody else.” (Doc. 7 Ex. 1 at 1:07.) Apparently,
Defendant was of the belief that Lady Ace and Django had
killed the stray dog. Defendant stood behind the opened door
of his patrol car and observed the dogs, who remained in the
playground area of the recreation center for some time.
point, an employee of the street department arrived to
collect the dead dog. Defendant warned the employee that
Plaintiffs' dogs could be dangerous. The Defendant's
bodycam recorded the employee, in his sanitation truck,
driving behind the recreation center on a small road that was
separated from the playground and dogs by a chain-link fence.
Using a mechanical arm attached to the sanitation truck, the
employee picked up the dead dog. Plaintiffs' dogs
aggressively barked and jumped as the employee collected the
dead dog, although after the sanitation employee left the
scene, Plaintiffs' dogs stopped barking. (Id. at
reported over his radio that he was worried because employees
would soon start arriving at the recreation center and did
not want the dogs to bite anyone. He stated that he would
“lay them down” if the Plaintiffs' dogs
approached him or if the Plaintiffs' dogs started going
toward someone else at the scene. (Id. at 3:35,
6:33.) Defendant, apparently speaking with other members of
the police department, requested that they attempt to locate
equipment used by the animal control department to capture
after the dead dog was removed, Lady Ace and Django moved
from the playground area to a field behind one of the
recreation center buildings. The dogs' location prevented
Defendant from observing them from his vehicle. Defendant
eventually retrieved his taser. (Id. at 13:14.)
Although the bodycam video does not show what happened after
Defendant left his car since the device was turned off,
Defendant shot Django with a taser; Django then ran away and
returned to Plaintiffs' home. Defendant shot and killed
Plaintiffs' other dog, Lady Ace.
their return to their home, Plaintiffs found Django in his
pen “in shock” and began searching for Lady Ace.
They encountered a neighbor, who informed them that a dog had
been killed that morning. Plaintiffs called the police
department and found out that Defendant had shot and killed a
dog they later identified as Lady Ace.
filed this action on November 7, 2017, in the Circuit Court
of Greene County, Alabama, asserting claims of unlawful
seizure in derogation of the Fourth Amendment under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and Alabama state-law conversion. Defendant was
served on November 13, 2017. He removed the action to this
Court on December 13, 2017, and filed the pending Motion to
Standard of Review
general, a pleading must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, in to
withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), a complaint must “plead enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ray v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340, 1347-48
(11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “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). Stated another way, the
factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Edwards v. Prime, Inc., 602 F.3d 1276,
1291 (11th Cir. 2010). A complaint that “succeeds in
identifying facts that are suggestive enough to render [the
necessary elements of a claim] plausible” will survive
a motion to dismiss. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ.,
495 F.3d 1289, 1296 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal quotation marks
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, this Court first
“identif[ies] pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. This Court
then “assume[s] the veracity” of the
complaint's “well-pleaded factual
allegations” and “determine[s] whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Id. Review of the complaint is “a
context-specific task that requires [this Court] to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
If the pleading “contain[s] enough information
regarding the material elements of a cause of action to
support recovery under some ‘viable legal theory,
'” it satisfies the notice pleading standard.
Am. Fed'n of Labor & Cong. of Indus. Orgs. v.
City of Miami, 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc.,
253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001)).
speaking, evidence not included on the face of a complaint
should not be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ.Pro. 12(d) (“If,
on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the
pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the