United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MICHAEL PUTNAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court on Walmart Stores, Inc.'s
Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended
Complaint filed on July 27, 2018. (Doc. 3). Walmart Stores,
Inc. (“Walmart”) argues that the claims brought
pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment are due to be dismissed
because the plaintiff has failed to allege that Walmart is a
“state actor.” The plaintiff was given until
October 1, 2018, to respond to the motion; to date, the
plaintiff has not responded. The parties have consented to
dispositive jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge
in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 9).
Accordingly, the court enters the following memorandum
brought this suit in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County,
Alabama, asserting claims of Fourteenth Amendment violation,
false imprisonment, negligence, and negligent hiring,
retention, and supervision. The claims all stem from an
incident at a Walmart store where the plaintiff was accused
of shoplifting, detained by a Walmart employee, and arrested
by local police. However, the sole defendant in the case is
Walmart. The case was removed by the defendant on July 27,
2018, asserting diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1). The
defendant filed the motion to dismiss that is now pending
before the court on July 27, 2018. (Doc. 3). The
plaintiff's response to the motion was due no later than
August 16, 2018. (Doc. 5). The plaintiff failed to respond
within the proper time period, and the court notified the
plaintiff that he was to respond by October 1, 2018. The
plaintiff did not respond.
motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the
facts alleged in the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-51, 173 L.Ed.2d 868
(2009). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires only a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Liberal notice
pleading standards embodied in Rule 8(a) “do not
require that a plaintiff specifically plead every element of
a cause of action, ” Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. For
Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001), or set
out in precise detail the specific facts upon which he bases
his claim. The complaint must only “contain either
direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material
elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable
legal theory.” Id. (quoting In re Plywood
Antitrust Litigation, 655 F.2d 627, 641 (5th Cir. Unit A
Sept. 8, 1981)).
Supreme Court clarified the threshold for a sufficient
pleading in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S.
544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007) (rejecting the standard
from Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2
L.Ed.2d 80 (1957), that any “conceivable” set of
facts supporting relief is sufficient to withstand a motion
to dismiss). To show that “the pleader is entitled to
relief, ” under Rule 8(a)(2), the complaint must allege
facts that “plausibly” demonstrate a viable cause
of action. The threshold of plausibility is met 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d
868 (2009). To withstand scrutiny under Rule 12(b)(6) a
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face, ” and that will
thus “nudge [his] claims across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570. This requires “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has
explained that the principles set forth in Twombly
and Iqbal require the complaint to set forth
sufficient facts that “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Speaker v. U.S. Dep't
of Health and Human Servs. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1380 (11th Cir. 2010).
Motion to Dismiss Count One
One of the complaint in this case expressly alleges a claim
under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment provides:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and
subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the
United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State
shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person
within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. It is well-settled that the
Fourteenth Amendment is a limitation on the power of States
and those who act under the states' authority as
“state actors.” See District of Columbia v.
Carter, 409 U.S. 418, 423, 93 S.Ct. 602, 34 L.Ed.2d 613
(1973) (citing Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 3
S.Ct. 18, 27 L.Ed.2d. 835 (1883); United States v.
Harris, 106 U.S. 629, 1 S.Ct. 601, 27 L.Ed. 290 (1883);
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 23 L.Ed.
588 (1876)). “The Fourteenth Amendment itself
‘erects no shield against merely private conduct,
however discriminatory or wrongful.'” Id.
(quoting Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 13, 68
S.Ct. 836, 842, 92 L.Ed. 1161 (1948).
remedial vehicle for enforcing the rights enshrined in the
Fourteenth Amendment is the cause of action provided by 42
U.S.C. § 1983, which states in relevant part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party ...