United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Scott Coogler, United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants' First Motion to Dismiss First
Amended Complaint in part. (Doc. 27.) Plaintiffs have filed a
timely response. (Doc. 30.) After the parties had fully
briefed the motion, the Court held oral argument on
Defendants' Motion. The motion is now ripe for review.
For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion (doc.
27) is due to be granted in part and denied in part.
December 13, 2017, Sheriff's Deputies Jared Tidwell and
Terry Rich as well as City of Hamilton Police Officers Jorden
Carter and Trey Webb (collectively “Defendants”)
were mistakenly sent to the home of Billy Ray Sims
(“Sims”) in the early hours of the morning. When
Defendants arrived at Sims's home, they did not identify
themselves to Sims. Instead, Defendants walked onto
Sims's property and shined their flashlights into his
home. Sims, believing the Defendants were intruders, grabbed
his firearm and held it in his hand. Sims confronted the
Defendants, but did not raise his weapon. Trey Webb fired his
service weapon at Sims. The other Defendants then fired at
Sims. Sims was shot several times. Sims died while awaiting
general, a pleading must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, in order to
withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), a complaint “must plead enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ray v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 836 F.3d 1340, 1347-48
(11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “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). Stated another way, the
factual allegations in the complaint must be sufficient to
“raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Edwards v. Prime, Inc., 602 F.3d 1276,
1291 (11th Cir. 2010). A complaint that “succeeds in
identifying facts that are suggestive enough to render [the
necessary elements of a claim] plausible” will survive
a motion to dismiss. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ.,
495 F.3d 1289, 1296 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal quotation marks
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, this Court first
“identif[ies] pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. This Court
then “assume[s] the veracity” of the
complaint's “well-pleaded factual
allegations” and “determine[s] whether they
plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.”
Id. Review of the complaint is “a
context-specific task that requires [this Court] to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.
If the pleading “contain[s] enough information
regarding the material elements of a cause of action to
support recovery under some ‘viable legal theory,
'” it satisfies the notice pleading standard.
Am. Fed'n of Labor & Cong. of Indus. Orgs. v.
City of Miami, 637 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc.,
253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001)).
Section 1983 Claims
1983 provides a remedy for violations of protected
constitutional rights. Rushing v. Parker, 599 F.3d
1263, 1265 (11th Cir. 2010). “To state a claim under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States,
and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a
person acting under color of state law.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
argue that Counts I-IV of Sims's amended complaint, i.e.
his § 1983 claims, are due to be dismissed because they
do not indicate what federal or constitutional right was
alleged to be violated by Defendants' actions. Plaintiffs
in response assert that they have provided Defendants with
sufficient notice of the underlying constitutional rights
alleged to be violated in each Count, but request leave to
amend their amended complaint if the Court finds that
Defendants do not have sufficient notice as to the
Constitutional basis for their claims. While the Court agrees
with Plaintiffs' general proposition that they need not
plead their exact legal theories to survive a motion to
dismiss, the Court does note that Plaintiffs are required to
provide some notice to Defendants as to the Constitutional or
Federal statutory rights alleged to be violated to support a
§ 1983 claim. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S.
386, 393-94 (1989) (“As we have said many times, §
1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights. . .
.”). Defendants, and this Court for that matter, should
not have to hypothesize as to the Constitutional basis for
Plaintiffs' claims. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are granted
leave to amend their amended complaint to state the
underlying constitutional basis for their § 1983 claims.
Plaintiffs will have ten (10) days from the date of this
order to amend their amended complaint.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Defendants assert that Plaintiffs have not plead a plausible
claim for unlawful search and seizure, presuming such a claim
is brought under the Fourth Amendment, because the actions
alleged do not plausibly constitute a search and seizure.
Defendants then argue that even if Plaintiffs stated a claim
for unlawful search and seizure Sims's death abated the