United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. MARKS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the Defendants' motion to strike and
dismiss all claims against “Unidentified Corrections
Employees 1-20, ” filed on November 5, 2018. (Doc. 15).
The Court construes this motion to be a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Plaintiff filed a
response, pursuant to this Court's order, on January 1,
2019. (Doc. 21). The Defendants filed no reply. For the
reasons that follow, the Defendants' motion is due to be
granted, and all claims against “Unidentified
Corrections Employees 1-20” are due to be dismissed.
Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. Personal jurisdiction and
venue are uncontested.
case arises out of the death of Davieon Williams, who was an
inmate at the Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore,
Alabama. On August 30, 2016, Mr. Williams engaged in a fist
fight with a fellow inmate, and later that day, the same
inmate killed Mr. Williams in his dormitory. Joann Mitchell,
Mr. Williams' grandmother and the Administratrix of his
Estate, filed a complaint, alleging violations of Mr.
Williams' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Ms.
Mitchell named the following as Defendants: (1) Joseph
Headley, then-Warden of the Elmore Correctional Facility, (2)
Jefferson Dunn, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of
Corrections, (3) Grantt Culliver, then-Associate Commissioner
of the Alabama Department of Corrections, (4)
“Correctional Officer Burt, ” (5) Walter Posey,
another correctional officer, and (6) “Corrections
Employees 1-20.” The Defendants then filed a motion to
dismiss the claims against “Corrections Employees 1-20,
” which is the subject motion.
Standard of Review.
considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept the
allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in a
light most favorable to the plaintiff. Landau v.
RoundPoint Mortg. Servicing Corp., 925 F.3d 1365, 1369
(11th Cir. June 11, 2019). In order to survive a Rule
12(b)(6) motion, a complaint must “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual
content 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
a general matter, fictitious-party pleading is not permitted
in federal court.” Richardson v. Johnson, 598
F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010). There is a limited exception
to this prohibition where a plaintiff who fails to identify a
party by name has otherwise described the party with
sufficient detail. Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210,
1215-16 (11th Cir. 1992). Yet, this exception is narrow, and
motions to dismiss claims against fictitious parties should
be granted where there is not a description that sufficiently
identifies the party being sued. See, e.g.,
Richardson, 598 F.3d at 738 (holding that the district
court correctly dismissed claims against “John Doe
(Unknown Legal Name), Guard, Charlotte Correctional
Institute” as improper claims against a fictitious
party); New v. Sports & Recreation,
Inc., 114 F.3d 1092, 1097 (11th Cir. 1997) (finding no
error in the district court's striking of fictitious
parties where the parties were identified as “A, B, and
C” and were described as “those persons,
corporations or other legal entities who or which employed
Plaintiff on the occasion of Plaintiff's injury”).
present matter, the Plaintiff failed to provide sufficiently
detailed descriptions of the “Unidentified Corrections
Employees” that would place her allegations within the
ambit of this narrow exception. She described them as
At all relevant times herein, Unidentified Corrections
Employees 1-20 (“Doe Defendants”) were employed
as administrators within the central office of the Alabama
Department of Corrections, administrators at Elmore
Correctional Facility, correctional officers and other
security staff at Elmore Correctional Facility. These
individuals have not yet been identified by Alabama
Department of Corrections records, but are believed to be
captains, officials, deputy wardens, officers, guards, or
other individuals employed in the Alabama state prison system
who participated in the deprivation of constitutional rights
of Davieon Williams.
(Doc. 1, p. 4). Because this description fails to identify
any of the twenty putative defendants with any particularity,
the general rule applies, not the exception. Accordingly, the
Defendants' motion to dismiss the claims against