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Collier v. City of Bessemer

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

September 11, 2018

BOBBY COLLIER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BESSEMER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 52). After careful consideration, and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that the motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Procedural History and Background

         Bobby Collier filed this civil action on May 3, 2017. (Doc. # 1). Mr. Collier has filed three different complaints in this case: his original complaint (Doc. # 1), his first amended complaint (Doc. # 23), and his second amended complaint (Doc. # 50). Because the factual allegations of the various complaints are relevant to deciding Defendants' motion to dismiss, the court describes each in turn.

         According to his original complaint, Mr. Collier was shot multiple times on May 3, 2015. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 17). After Mr. Collier was shot, he alleged a paramedic arrived on scene and erroneously determined that he “had suffered only a graze” when in fact two bullets were lodged in Mr. Collier's buttocks. (Id. at ¶¶ 19, 35). Two Bessemer City police officers, identified as “Defendants ‘A' and ‘B, '” then arrested Mr. Collier for discharging a weapon and transported him to the Bessemer City jail, despite his request to go to the hospital. (Id. at ¶¶ 11, 19, 21). While being processed at the jail by “Defendants ‘C' and ‘D, '” Mr. Collier removed his clothes, revealing two wounds in his buttocks. (Id. at ¶ 22). Mr. Collier's wounds were still bleeding at this time, but “Defendants ‘C' and ‘D'” simply gave Mr. Collier jail clothes and rushed him into his cell, ignoring his continued requests for medical attention. (Id. at ¶¶ 23-24). During the course of his time in custody, additional city employees (who were also designated as fictitious defendants) ignored Mr. Collier's requests for medical attention. (Id. at ¶¶ 25-33).

         Mr. Collier was later released from custody, and all charges against him were dropped. (Id. at ¶ 29). After his release, Mr. Collier's mother smelled a strong odor coming from his gunshot wounds and promptly took him to the emergency room. (Id. at ¶ 34). There, medical personnel discovered the two bullets lodged in Mr. Collier's buttocks. (Id. at ¶ 35). By this time, the wounds were so infected that Mr. Collier had to undergo a week of treatment before he could have surgery to remove the bullets. (Id. at ¶ 36). The surgeons were unable to remove every piece of the bullet from Mr. Collier's body, and Mr. Collier has since spent months recovering, has experienced residual problems related to the injury, and has experienced significant pain and suffering. (Id. at ¶ 38).

         Almost eleven months after filing his original complaint, Mr. Collier filed his first amended complaint. (Doc. #23). Mr. Collier's first amended complaint tells much the same story as his original complaint, with a few differences. First, the first amended complaint substituted Defendants Ronald Wilder and Jamal Bouyer for fictitious defendants “A” and “B” in the original complaint. (Doc. # 23 at ¶¶ 9-10). Defendants Wilder and Bouyer are the Bessemer City police officers who arrested Mr. Collier. (Id.). The first amended complaint also clarifies that the paramedic(s) who treated Mr. Collier before he was taken to jail arrived at the scene after Officers Wilder and Bouyer had arrested Mr. Collier, not before. (Id. at ¶¶ 11-12). The first amended complaint repeated Mr. Collier's allegation that the paramedic(s) improperly diagnosed his gunshot wounds as mere grazes and that Officers Wilder and Bouyer then took him to jail without further medical treatment, despite his requests to go to the hospital. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-13). The rest of the allegations in the first amended complaint are substantially similar to the original complaint.

         Finally, in July 2018, Mr. Collier filed his second amended complaint. (Doc. # 50). The second amended complaint, which now purports to be the operative pleading in this case, states that Mr. Collier was shot twice in his buttocks prior to being arrested by Officers Wilder and Bouyer and that the officers took him straight to jail upon arresting him, ignoring his requests for medical treatment at a hospital. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-11). But the second amended complaint entirely omits any reference to the paramedics who allegedly stated that Mr. Collier had only suffered a graze. (Id.). The remainder of the allegations in the second amended complaint are substantially similar to those in his first two complaints.

         The only defendants remaining in this case are the City of Bessemer (“the City”) and Officers Wilder and Bouyer[1] (“the Officers”). (Doc. # 49; Doc. # 50). Those remaining defendants now move to dismiss Mr. Collier's second amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); (Doc. # 52).

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a 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). The complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. 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 satisfy Rule 8, and neither do pleadings that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. 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. International Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 Fed.Appx. 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Collier claims that both the City and the Officers violated the Fourteenth Amendment through their deliberate indifference to his need for medical care, [2] and that the City is also liable for negligently failing to train and supervise its employees. (Doc. # 50 at ΒΆΒΆ 38, 40, 43). The ...


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