United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. MARKS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by the
Defendant City of Daleville, the Daleville Police Department,
and Officer Ryan Phillips on December 19, 2017. (Doc. 7).
Plaintiff, Joseph Thomley (“Thomley”), filed a
complaint bringing 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for unlawful
search and seizure (count one), for excessive force (count
two), and for false arrest/false imprisonment (count three),
a state-law false arrest/false imprisonment claim (count
four), a state-law assault and battery claim (count five),
and a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the City of
Daleville and the Daleville Police Department for failure to
supervise and failure to train (count six).
consideration of the complaint, the motion, and the briefs of
the parties, and for the reasons that follow, the
Defendants' motion to dismiss is due to be GRANTED as to
the federal claims, and the Court will decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims.
facts alleged by the Plaintiff in the complaint are as
about October 16, 2016, Thomley was driving his vehicle home
to get a tow strap and stopped at a stop sign. A girl ran in
front of his vehicle and then jumped into the passenger seat
of his vehicle. The girl was screaming, “please get me
away from him, ” and Thomley observed a shirtless man
running down the street. Thomley also observed that the girl
“was red all over and covered in scratches.”
(Doc. 1 at ¶8). Thomley drove a distance of one mile to
his home. When he stopped the vehicle at his house, the girl
jumped out and ran across Thomley's neighbor's yard.
Thomley began walking to obtain the tow strap when a silver
SUV pulled into the driveway. Defendant Ryan Phillips
(“Phillips”) got out of his vehicle and drew his
gun. The complaint alleges that “Officer Ryan Phillips
began asking the Plaintiff questions about the female who had
just got[ten] out of his vehicle.” (Doc. 1 at
¶11). Thomley said that he did not know who the female
was. Phillips then asked Thomley to take his knife out of his
pocket. Thomley did so. Phillips then asked him to move to
the back of his truck and Phillips handcuffed Thomley.
Phillips then began “jabbing his hands in the
Plaintiff's pockets” while Thomley was sitting on
the tailgate and Thomley told him he did not have permission
to search him. Thomley asked that Dale County officers be
called to the scene. Thomley then told Phillips that he was
trespassing and in response Phillips took Thomley off of the
tailgate of his truck by his pocket. (Doc. 1 at ¶17).
Thomley told Phillips to keep his hands off him and then
“Phillips began to use force on the Plaintiff.”
(Doc. 1 at ¶17).
put Thomley in a choke hold, kneed Thomley, strangled him,
slammed him to the ground face first, and started asking
questions about the unknown girl again. Phillips
“stated that he was trying to get the Plaintiff's
identification and that the Plaintiff pulled away from
him.” (Doc. 1 at ¶19). “The Plaintiff
responded with ‘I am not resisting. My name is Joseph
Thomley.'” (Doc. 1 at ¶19). Phillips asked the
neighbor if she knew Thomley and she said that she did, but
she did not know the girl who ran across her yard.
sat in handcuffs in his front yard for 45 minutes until Dale
County officers arrived and released him. He asked Phillips
if he was going to jail and Phillips asked if Thomley was
going to sue him. Thomley alleges that he suffered
“bodily injury, ” but pleads no facts about any
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the
complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8:
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]
... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court
to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. at 663 (alteration in original) (citation
omitted). The plausibility standard requires “more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Conclusory allegations that are merely
“conceivable” and fail to rise “above the
speculative level” are insufficient to meet the
plausibility standard. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555,
570. This pleading standard “does not require
‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more
than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Id. at 678. Indeed, “[a]
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Id.
Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint in its
entirety. In their initial brief, the Defendants pointed to
several claims as being due to be dismissed and Thomley
either explicitly conceded the point or did not respond to
those arguments. Specifically, Thomley concedes that the
punitive damages claims against the City are due to be
dismissed, (doc. 7 at 13), and has not responded to arguments
that the claims against the Daleville Police Department are
not cognizable because it is not a suable entity, see
Howard v. City of Demopolis, Ala., 984 F.Supp.2d 1245,
1253 (S.D. Ala. 2013) (finding police departments are not a
proper legal entity capable of being sued); that claims
against Phillips in his official capacity as redundant of
claims against the City of Daleville, see Barnes v. City
of Dothan, 795 F.Supp.2d 1276, 1283 (M.D. Ala.
2011)(dismissing claims against the individual defendants in
their official capacities because the city had been joined as
a defendant); and that any Eighth Amendment claim is due to
be dismissed because Thomley was not in prison. See
Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792
F.3d 1313, 1328 (11th Cir. 2015) (stating the Eighth
Amendment only applies after a citizen has been convicted of
a crime). The grounds pointed to by the Defendants establish
cause for dismissal of those federal claims and, furthermore,
by failing to respond, Thomley has abandoned those claims.
See Smith v. Secretary Dep't of Corr., 572 F.3d
1327, 1342 (11th Cir. 2009). The motion to dismiss is,
therefore, due to be GRANTED as to the federal claims for
punitive damages against the City of Daleville, the federal
claims against the Daleville Police Department, the federal
claims against Phillips in his official capacity, and the
Eighth Amendment claim.
Court now addresses the grounds for dismissal asserted as to
the federal claims brought against Phillips individually and
against the City of Daleville, as well as the state-law
Federal Claims Against Phillips Individually
has invoked the defense of qualified immunity. Qualified
immunity protects government officials from suit if they are
“performing discretionary functions” and
“their conduct does not violate clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982).
is no dispute that Phillips was acting within his
discretionary authority. See Lee v. Ferraro, 284
F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002) (stating, “there can
be no doubt that Ferraro was acting ...