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Cathey v. Maury County Sheriff'S Department

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

May 5, 2017

KEI'CHOURA M. CATHEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MAURY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, SHERIFF BUCKY ROWLAND, and MAURY COUNTY, TENNESSEE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOE B. BROWN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Kei'Choura M. Cathey brought this action against the Maury County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Bucky Rowland, and Maury County, Tennessee, alleging she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, deprived of a fundamental right, and negligently subjected to emotional distress when she was denied transportation and funding for an elective abortion while in Defendants' custody. Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 8). For the following reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On July 19, 2015, Plaintiff was arrested and placed into the pre-trial custody of the Maury County Sheriff's Department. (Doc. 1, p. 2 ¶ 6). Soon thereafter, she discovered she was pregnant. (Id. ¶ 7). Through counsel, on August 27, 2015, Plaintiff notified Sheriff Rowland that she wished to terminate her pregnancy. (Id. ¶ 8).

         Sheriff Rowland responded to Plaintiff's attorney on August 30, 2015. (Id. ¶ 9). The Sheriff explained that the Sheriff's Department would not provide funding or transportation to facilitate an abortion unless the procedure was medically necessary to save the mother's life or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. (Id.).

         Though Plaintiff made two attempts to obtain a lower bond requirement, she was unable to post bond until January 19, 2016. (Id. p. 3 ¶¶ 10-11). By that time, Plaintiff could no longer legally obtain an elective abortion. (Id. ¶ 12). She gave birth to a child on April 6, 2016. (Id. ¶ 13).

         Plaintiff commenced this suit on December 29, 2016. (Doc. 1). She alleged Defendants' denial of access to an abortion violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, deprived her of her fundamental right to obtain an abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment, violated her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [1] and negligently inflicted emotional distress. (Id. pp. 3-8 ¶¶ 16-41).

         With the consent of the parties, this case was transferred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings in this case, including trial, the entry of final judgment, and all post-trial proceedings. (Doc. 15).

         Presently pending is Defendants' fully briefed Motion to Dismiss this suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docs. 8-10, 13). Upon entry of an Agreed Order of Voluntary Dismissal in Part with Prejudice, which dismissed the Eighth Amendment claim, the Sheriff's Department, and Sheriff Rowland from this suit, only two claims remain.[2] (Doc. 18). First, the Court must determine whether Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim against Defendant Maury County is time-barred. Second, the Court must decide whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state-law claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress against Defendant Maury County.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure imposes a straightforward pleading standard. A complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the court's jurisdiction, a claim showing entitlement to relief, and the relief demanded. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is proper where, even accepting the factual allegations as true, the complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Luis v. Zang, 833 F.3d 619, 625-26 (6th Cir. 2016). Though a motion to dismiss “is generally an inappropriate vehicle for dismissing a claim based upon the statute of limitations, ” dismissal is appropriate where the untimeliness is apparent from the face of the complaint. Cataldo v. U.S. Steel Corp., 676 F.3d 542, 547 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Fourteenth Amendment Protection for Reproductive Autonomy

         Defendant Maury County argues it is entitled to dismissal of Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim[3] because the count is barred by the statute of ...


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