United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint. (Doc. # 5). The Motion has been
fully briefed (see Docs. # 7, 11-12), and is ripe
for decision. After careful review, and for the reasons
explained below, the court concludes that Plaintiff's
Complaint is due to be replead.
was employed as the Police Chief of the Defendant Town of
West Blocton (“the Town”). (Doc. # 1 ¶ 11).
When Defendant Daniel Simms (“Simms”) was elected
Mayor of the Town, he declined to reappoint Plaintiff and
terminated him on November 8, 2016. (Id. at
¶¶ 14-15). Plaintiff asserts that his termination
was “without cause” and occurred only because
Defendant Simms “wanted to go in another
direction.” (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16).
contends that prior to his termination he did not receive
written notice, no city council hearing took place, and he
was not removed by a 2/3 vote of the city council.
(Id. at ¶¶ 17-20). In fact, he claims he
was afforded no opportunity to contest the termination
decision. (Id. at ¶ 21). When asked if he would
be given a hearing, Defendant Simms replied that Plaintiff
was not terminated, but “simply not reappointed and he
would not be afforded a hearing.” (Id. at
¶ 24). However, he asserts that the Alabama Peace
Officers Standards & Training Commission (APOSTC)
“shows Plaintiff was ‘fired' as of November
18, 2016.” (Id. at ¶ 25).
he alleges Defendant Simms spoke to the Centreville Press and
made several statements about Plaintiff, which were
defamatory. (Id. at ¶ 26). The article ran on
November 16, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 27).
Standard of Review
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). However, 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 meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice 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 non-moving party. Watts
v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir.
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.
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 Ass'n 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
all of the well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state
a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be
dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
raises three claims against Defendants. In Count One, he
alleges that Simms and the Town violated his Fourteenth
Amendment right to procedural due process because he was
deprived of a property interest in his position as Chief of
Police without notice and an opportunity to be heard. (Doc. #
1 ¶¶ 29-39). In Counts Two and Three, he alleges
two state claw claims against Defendants, relying upon this
court's supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1367. Specifically, he claims that Simms made defamatory
statements about him to the Centreville Press, constituting
defamation, libel, slander, and invasion of privacy. (Doc. #
1 ¶¶ 40-50). He also claims the Town is liable
under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants seek dismissal of
Plaintiff's constitutional claim on two grounds. First,
Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not suffer a procedural
deprivation when he lost his job because he had no protected
property interest in his position because that position
“expired” upon the election of a new town mayor.
(Doc. # 7 at 5-6; Doc. # 12 at 3-5). Alternatively,
Defendants assert that even if Plaintiff did have a property
interest in his position, he has failed to challenge the
adequacy of Alabama's post-deprivation remedies. (Doc. #
12 at 3-4). Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's
two state claims are due to be dismissed because they do not
enjoy any independent federal jurisdictional basis and the
court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over these claims. The court addresses each argument, in
turn, and finds that Plaintiff's Complaint is due to be
Plaintiff Has Failed to Plausibly Plead a Section 1983