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Hamilton v. Judicial Correctional Services LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

November 13, 2019

EMERSON HAMILTON, et al., Plaintiffs,



         This matter is before the court on Defendant Judicial Correction Services, LLC's Motion to Dismiss the Fourth Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 73). The Motion has been fully briefed. (Docs. # 76 and 79).

         I. Background

         As noted in the Memorandum Opinion regarding CHC and CCS's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 84), this case is one of a series of several cases, primarily putative class action suits, that have been brought against Judicial Correction Services, Inc. (“JCS”), corporate entities related to JCS, and municipalities that contracted with JCS for probation supervision services. (Doc. # 72). In these cases, the court has ruled on numerous motions to dismiss, substantive dispositive motions following discovery, and a motion for class certification. Thus, the court has developed familiarity with the facts underlying Plaintiffs' claims contained within the allegations of the Fourth Amended Complaint.[1]

         Count I of the Fourth Amended Complaint asserts a direct Violation of Due Process claim against JCS. (Doc. # 72 at ¶¶ 22-43). Counts II, III and IV are Civil Conspiracy claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 involving different Municipal Courts. (Doc. # 72 at ¶¶ 44-68). Count V asserts a Money Had and Received claim. (Doc. # 72 at ¶¶ 69-78).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 Fed.Appx. 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task is context specific and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that all of the well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis

         In their Response to JCS's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs' argue that the court should be able to infer certain elements of their claims, which they are required to plead, from other allegations of the Fourth Amended Complaint. (Doc. # 76 at 1-2). Plaintiffs also suggest that the court should apply certain rulings made in Ray in this case and allow certain claims to proceed. (Doc. # 76 at 3). The court reviews and analyzes the allegations of Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint below.

         A. Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint Is An Impermissible Shotgun Pleading

         Each count of the Fourth Amended Complaint adopts and incorporates by reference all previous allegations. (Doc. # 72 at ¶¶ 22, 44, 58, 65, and 69). The Eleventh Circuit has explained that “[t]he typical shotgun complaint contains several counts, each one incorporating by reference the allegations of its predecessors, leading to a situation where most of the counts (i.e., all but the first) contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal conclusions.” Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Wagner v. First Horizon Pharm. Corp., 464 F.3d 1273, 1279 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Shotgun pleadings are those that incorporate every antecedent allegation by reference into each subsequent claim for relief or affirmative defense.”). Therefore, under the Eleventh Circuit's definition of a shotgun pleading, Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint fits the bill. Nonetheless, the court will not dismiss the claims against JCS solely for this reason, but this deficiency should be considered in conjunction with other pleading and legal issues.

         B. Plaintiffs' ...

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