United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Williams filed this action in the Circuit Court of Jefferson
County, Alabama against the Town of Morris, Alabama and its
mayor, Joe Pylant, alleging the defendants violated his due
process rights by terminating his employment without notice
or a hearing. Doc. 1-1. The defendants removed the action to
this court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1441, and 1443,
doc. 1, and have moved to dismiss for failure to state a
claim, doc. 2. For the reasons explained below, the motion is
due to be granted solely as to the claims against Mayor
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
“[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it
demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Mere “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits dismissal when a
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must . . . state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint
states a facially plausible claim for relief “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation
omitted). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6), the court accepts “the allegations in the
complaint as true and construe[s] them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Hunt v. Aimco Props.,
L.P. 814 F.3d 1213, 1221 (11th Cir. 2016).
Williams' allegations as true, Williams worked as a
police officer for the Town of Morris for approximately four
years and “attained permanent status” during his
tenure. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 4. This lawsuit stems from his
discharge. The town initially placed Williams on
administrative leave without pay. Id. at ¶ 5.
The Chief of Police, Mike Nazarchyk, did not tell Williams
the reasons for the decision, and the town never gave
Williams written notice of the charges against him.
Id. Additionally, the town did not hold a
pre-disciplinary hearing before placing Williams on leave.
Id. Three days after placing Williams on leave,
Chief Nazarchyk sent Williams a one-sentence letter stating,
“[t]he Governing body of the Town of Morris has decided
that as of this date your services as [a] Police Officer for
the Town of Morris are no longer required.”
Id. at ¶ 7. The defendants did not inform
Williams of his right to appeal or to a hearing. Id.
his termination, Williams asked Chief Nazarchyk, Mayor
Pylant, and the town's attorney for a copy of the
applicable personnel rules regarding termination of a police
officer. Id. at ¶¶ 8 and 9. Instead of
providing Williams the requested rules, Chief Nazarchyk
informed Williams that he had fifteen days to appeal his
termination. Id. However, the Chief did not give
Williams any information about the procedure. Id.
Moreover, although Williams sent a notice of appeal to Mayor
Pylant, no one responded. Id. at ¶ 10.
asserts claims against the Town of Morris and Mayor Pylant in
his official capacity for alleged violations of Williams'
due process rights. However, Williams concedes that his
claims against Mayor Pylant are duplicative of his claims
against the town. See doc. 4 at 8; McMillian v.
Monroe County, 520 U.S. 781, 785 n.2 (1997); Morrow
v. Caldwell, 153 So.3d 764, 771 (Ala. 2014). Therefore,
the claims against Mayor Pylant are due to be dismissed.
Section 1983 Claim-Count Two
asserts a claim against the town under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for alleged violations of his right to due process. Doc. 1-1
at ¶¶ 17-18. In his opposition to the motion to
dismiss, Williams clarifies that his claim is based on
violations of his procedural due process rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment. Doc. 4 at 1.Such a claim requires that
Williams allege “(1) a deprivation of a
constitutionally-protected liberty or property interest; (2)
state action; and (3) constitutionally-inadequate
process.” Grayden v. Rhodes, 345 F.3d 1225,
1232 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). The first two
requirements are not in dispute, as Williams alleged a
deprivation of a constitutionally-protected property interest
by state action through his contention that he had permanent
employment status and that the town summarily discharged him
without notice or a hearing. See doc. 1-1 at
¶¶ 4, 7, and 17; see also McKinney, 20
F.3d at 1560 (noting that an employee with tenure, or
permanent status, “had a property right in continued
employment and therefore was entitled to the protection of
procedural due process”) (citation and emphasis in
original omitted). Thus, the only issue of contention is
whether the failure to provide notice or a hearing is
sufficient to show a constitutionally-inadequate process.
essential principle of due process is that a deprivation of
life, liberty, or property ‘be preceded by notice and
opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the
case.'” Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v.
Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532, 542 and 546 (1985) (quoting
Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339
U.S. 306, 313 (1950)). In light of that principle, “the
Supreme Court has explained that a ‘tenured employee is
entitled to oral or written notice of the charges against
him, an explanation of the employer's evidence, and an
opportunity to present his side of the story' before a
state or state agency may terminate an employee.  In other
words, the employee is entitled to ‘some kind' of
pre-termination hearing.” McKinney 20 F.3d at
1561 (quoting Loudermill, 470 U.S. at 542 and 546).
case, the town failed to give Williams notice of the charges
against him and deprived him of his right to respond. Doc.
1-1 at ¶¶ 5, 13. Despite this fact, the town,
citing Cotton v. Jackson, 216 F.3d 1328 (11th Cir.
2000), argues that Williams has not alleged a violation of
his procedural due process rights because he failed to first
pursue state remedies. This case is distinguishable from
Cotton, however, because the plaintiff in
Cotton received notice of the charges against him
and a chance to respond before his termination. See