United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Defendant Barbour County Sheriff's
Department's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12) and a Motion to
Disseminate filed by Plaintiff Tommy Kendrick Williams. Doc.
17. On June 25, 2018, Williams filed this lawsuit against the
Barbour County Sheriff's Department. See Doc. 1.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) this case was referred
to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for further
proceedings and determination or recommendation as may be
appropriate. Doc. 4.
October 2, 2018, the Barbour County Sheriff's Department
moved for dismissal of the claims against it on the ground
that under Alabama law a sheriff's department is not a
legal entity subject to suit. Doc. 12. On October 11, 2018,
this court entered an Order directing Williams to file an
amended complaint which names a new defendant or defendants
subject to suit. Doc. 16. The court cautioned Williams that
failure to file within the time allowed could result in a
recommendation that the case be dismissed. Doc. 16 at 3.
Williams objected to this court's Order. Doc. 18. The
United States District Judge overruled the objection and gave
Williams until November 14, 2018 to comply with this
court's Order. Doc. 19. No. amended complaint has been
received by the court as of the date of this Report and
careful consideration of the record and the applicable law,
the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the motion to dismiss (Doc.
12) be GRANTED and that Williams' claims against the
Barbour County Sheriff's Department be DISMISSED. The
court further recommends that the Motion to Disseminate (Doc.
17) be DENIED.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
asserts federal constitutional claims over which this court
has federal question subject-matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction
or venue, and the court finds adequate allegations to support
STANDARD OF REVIEW
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts the
plaintiff's factual allegations as true, Hishon v.
King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), and
construes the complaint in the plaintiff's favor.
Duke v. Cleland, 5 F.3d 1399, 1402 (11th Cir. 1993).
In analyzing the sufficiency of a pleading, the court is not
bound to accept conclusory statements of the elements of a
cause of action, but where there are well-pleaded factual
allegations a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to entitlement to
relief. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79
(2009). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations, ” but instead the
complaint must contain “only enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570. The factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.
Id. at 555.
addition to the pleading requirements of Twombly and
Iqbal, a plaintiff's pro se status must
be considered when evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint.
“A document filed pro se is ‘to be
liberally construed,' and ‘a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97, 106 (1976)). Yet any leniency cannot serve as a
substitute for pleading a proper cause of action. See
Odion v. Google Inc., 628 Fed.Appx. 635, 637 (11th Cir.
2015) (recognizing that although courts must show leniency to
pro se litigants, “this leniency does not give
a court license to serve as de facto counsel for a
party, or to rewrite an otherwise deficient pleading in order
to sustain an action”) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “While the pleadings of pro se
litigants are liberally construed, they must still comply
with procedural rules governing the proper form of
pleadings.” Hopkins v. St. Lucie Cnty. Sch.
Bd., 399 Fed.Appx. 563, 565 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted).
Circuit law is clear that an Alabama county sheriff's
department “is not subject to suit or liability under
section 1983.” Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210,
1214 (11th Cir. 1992). A sheriff's department is not
subject to suit because a sheriff's department is not a
legal entity under Alabama law. Id.; see also
White v. Birch, 582 So.2d 1085, 1087 (Ala. 1991).
Williams has argued in response to the motion to dismiss that
Dean is wrongly decided. Williams also challenges
the Dean decision in his motion to disseminate and
apparently seeks to have that decision overturned. Doc. 17 at
1. But this court is bound to follow the Eleventh
Circuit's holdings. See, e.g., Beam v.
Estelle, 558 F.2d 782, 784 (5th Cir.
1977). This includes Dean. Accordingly,
the Barbour County Sheriff's Department is due to be
dismissed as a defendant in this case.
has failed to comply with this court's orders and to
amend his complaint to name any other defendant within the
time allowed by the court. The authority of courts to impose
sanctions for failure to prosecute or obey an order is
longstanding and acknowledged by Rule 41(b) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Link v. Wabash R.R.
Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629-30 (1962). “The district
court possesses the inherent power to police its
docket.” Mingo v. Sugar Cane Growers Co-Op of
Fla., 864 F.2d 101, 102 (11th Cir. 1989). This authority
empowers the courts “to manage their own affairs so as
to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of
cases.” Link, 370 U.S. at 630-31. “The
sanctions imposed [upon dilatory litigants] can range from a
simple reprimand to an order dismissing the action with or
without prejudice.” Mingo, 864 F.2d at 102.
Because the only defendant in the case is due to be dismissed
and no other defendant has been named as ordered by the
court-even though Williams was warned that his case could be
dismissed if he failed to file an amended complaint-the court
recommends that the motion to dismiss be GRANTED and that all
claims be dismissed with prejudice.
addition, because this court is without authority to overrule
the Eleventh Circuit's decisions, the court also
recommends that Williams' motion to disseminate be