United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Jasper Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is the Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike filed
by Defendants James E. Underwood and Braden Miles. Doc. 6.
Plaintiff John Long has filed a response in opposition to the
motion. Doc. 11. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73, the parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United
States Magistrate Judge. Doc. 19. After careful consideration
of the parties' submissions and the relevant law, the
court finds that the motion (Doc. 6) is due to be granted.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims in this
lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367. The
defendants do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue in
the Northern District of Alabama, and the court finds
adequate allegations to support both.
following is a recitation of the facts as alleged in the
plaintiff's state-court complaint. Doc. 1-1. This lawsuit
arises out of motor vehicle accident during a highspeed
police chase on April 14, 2017 in Walker County, Alabama.
Doc. 1-1 at 5. Walker County deputy sheriff Braden Miles
attempted to stop the driver of a motorcycle because he
believed that the motorcycle had been stolen and that the
driver had committed a traffic violation. Doc. 1-1 at 5. The
driver refused to pull over, and instead accelerated to more
than 100 miles per hour. Doc. 1-1 at 5. Miles pursued the
fleeing motorcyclist in a patrol car on a rural county road
for over nine miles at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour.
Doc. 1-1 at 5.
Miles and the motorcycle were traveling northbound on Alabama
Highway 195, Plaintiff John Long was traveling southbound.
Doc. 1-1 at 6. As the motorcyclist reached a curve at the
intersection of Highway 195 and Bennett Road, he crossed the
center line and collided head-on with Long's vehicle.
Doc. 1-1 at 6. As a result of the accident, Long suffered
significant injuries and totaled his vehicle. Doc. 1-1 at 6.
The driver of the motorcycle did not survive the crash. Doc.
1-1 at 6.
alleges that Walker County Sheriff James E. Underwood
“failed to develop and implement adequate policies,
procedures, customs, or practices, to protect the public from
the foreseeable result that bystanders such as Long would be
harmed by deputies engaged in high-speed chases.” Doc.
1-1 at 6. He also alleges that both defendants exhibited a
“malicious and intentional disregard” of
Long's “constitutional rights to purposefully
inflict harm.” Doc. 1-1 at 7. As a result, “Long
suffered from physical injury, pain, suffering, emotional
distress, anxiety, and duress, as well as a loss of personal
property.” Doc. 1-1 at 7.
filed suit on April 12, 2019 in the Circuit Court of Walker
County, Alabama, naming Miles and Sheriff Underwood as
defendants. The defendants removed the case to this court on
May 7, 2019. Long brings three constitutional claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983: (1) violation of his Fourteenth Amendment
right to substantive due process against Miles, (2) failure
to train and supervise against Sheriff Underwood, (3) and
failure to train and supervise against fictitious defendants.
Doc. 1-1 at 7-12. He also alleges state-law negligence-based
claims against both Miles and Sheriff Underwood. Doc. 1-1 at
12. The defendants seek dismissal of the complaint in its
STANDARD OF REVIEW
considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must
“take the factual allegations in the complaint as true
and construe them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d
1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008). To survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is
“plausible on its face” if “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). The complaint “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. Factual allegations need
not be detailed, but “must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level, ”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and “unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s]” will
not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Motion to Strike
third cause of action is a § 1983 failure-to-train claim
against any unnamed defendants who may have “failed to
adequately train, supervise, and discipline Miles on
conducting a high-speed pursuit.” Doc. 1-1 at 11. Long
anticipates that he will name these defendants “by
amendment when [their identities are] ascertained.”
Doc. 11 at 23.
a general matter, fictitious-party pleading is not permitted
in federal court.” Richardson v. Johnson, 598
F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010). A “limited
exception” to the general rule exists where “the
plaintiff's description of the defendant is so specific
as to be, at the very worst, surplusage.” Id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Long's
description of the fictitious defendants here falls outside
of this limited exception. Far from specific, Long
essentially describes any person who may be subject to
liability on a supervisory basis. Doc. ...