United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
GARRETT KNISLEY, as Administrator for the Estate of Rhonda Michelle Bock-Deleon, Deceased
HICKMAN COUNTY, TENNESSEE,
BARBARA D. HOLMES, JUDGE
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Rule 73(b)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties have
consented to have the magistrate judge conduct any and all
proceedings in this action, including the entry of a final
judgment. See Order entered February 1, 2017 (Docket
Entry No. 29).
before the Court is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants
Tommy McClanahan and the City of Centerville. See
Docket Entry No. 6. Plaintiff has responded in opposition to
the motion. See Docket Entry No. 27. For the reasons
set forth below, the motion is granted.
early evening hours of October 27, 2015, Rhonda Michelle
Brock-Deleon ("Deleon") and Freddy Breece
("Breece") were passengers in a vehicle that was
being driven by Rachel Arnold ("Arnold") in Hickman
County, Tennessee. The vehicle was stopped for a traffic
infraction by Hickman County Sheriffs Deputies Tory Bowman
("Officer Bowman") and Leif Carlsen ("Officer
Carlsen"). See Complaint at ¶ 25. Prior to
the stop at approximately 6:32 p.m., a confidential informant
had advised Officer Bowman that Breece and Deleon were
planning on making a drug sale at a local residence and also
informed him of the make and model of the vehicle in which
they would be traveling, the name of the vehicle owner, and
the amount and type of drug that was to be involved in the
sale. Id. at ¶¶ 22-23.
being stopped and questioned by Officer Bowman, Arnold told
Officer Bowman that Breece had drugs "in his pants"
and gave consent for a search of the vehicle. See
Complaint at ¶ 27. Breece and Deleon were directed to
exit the vehicle and were frisk searched. Id. at
¶ 28. After a search of the vehicle uncovered a drug
"meth" pipe and a glucose test strip bottle with
pills in the back seat, Breece and Deleon were arrested and
taken into custody. Id. at ¶ 33. Officer Bowman
transported Breece to the Hickman County Jail
("Jail"). Breece was transported to the Jail by
Officer Tommy McClanahan ("Officer McClanahan"), a
police officer with the City of Centerville Police Department
who had stopped at the arrest scene, and arrived at the Jail
at approximately 8:38 p.m. Id. at ¶¶
35-36. Arnold was released with a verbal warning regarding
the traffic infractions.
at the arrest scene, Officer Bowman noticed Deleon walking
with her hands over her buttocks in a manner that made him
believe that she was attempting to conceal additional drugs
on her person, a belief that he conveyed to others at the
scene prior to Deleon being transported to the Jail.
Id. at ¶¶ 29 & 31. Although Deleon was
searched by Jail staff Felicia Roberson
("Roberson"), Tiffani Mari Shelton
("Shelton"), and Shanda Reneee Hall
("Hall") after arriving at the Jail and no drugs
were discovered, at some point that evening, Officer Bowman
was notified by Jail staff that Deleon had been observed
squatting in the corner of a Jail cell and had pulled a white
bottle from her rectum. Id. at ¶ ¶ 39 and
43. Officer Bowman subsequently discovered a white pill
bottle in the booking area containing a bag with one gram of
a white crystal substance. Id. at ¶ 40. He was
further informed by Roberson that she believed Deleon had
ingested narcotics that were located inside the pill bottle.
Id. at ¶ 42. At some point that evening,
Defendant Bowman conducted a recorded interview of Deleon, at
which time she was "clearly exhibiting signs of serious
effects of drugs." itf. at¶41.
approximately 12:10 a.m. on October 28, 2015, the Hickman
County Ambulance Service was called about Deleon.
Id. at ¶ 45. The paramedics who arrived at the
Jail were told that Deleon had ingested 1-3 grams of
methamphetamine and Percocet about an hour prior thereto.
Id. at ¶ 46. Although Plaintiff was taken for
emergency treatment to a local hospital and then to a larger
hospital, her life was unable to be saved and she was
pronounced dead at 2:09 p.m. on October 28, 2015.
Id. at ¶¶ 49-51. The cause of death was
noted as acute methamphetamine intoxication, and autopsy
findings noted two empty plastic bags were found in both her
stomach and duodenum and one intact plastic bag with white
contents was found in her vagina. Id. at ¶ 52.
October 25, 2016, Garrett Knisley, the Administrator for the
Estate of Deleon, filed this lawsuit seeking damages and
other relief against Hickman County Tennessee ("Hickman
County"), the City of Centerville, Tennessee ("City
of Centerville"), Bowman, Carlsen, Roberson, Shelton,
Hall, Hickman County employee Christopher Jolly
("Jolly"), McClanahan, and "John Does
I-X." Plaintiff brings a count under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for a violation of Deleon's civil rights (Count I),
as well as counts under state law for violations of Tennessee
Code Annotated ¶ 41 -21 -201 and ¶ 41 -21 -204
(Count II), and for negligence (Count III). Hickman County,
Bowman, Carlsen, Roberson, Shelton, Hall, and Jolly
(hereinafter referred to collectively as the "Hickman
County Defendants") filed a joint answer to the
Complaint. See Docket Entry No. 4.
MOTION TO DISMISS
of an answer, the City of Centerville and McClanahan
(hereinafter referred to collectively as the
"Centerville Defendants") filed the pending motion,
seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Defendant McClanahan argues that
Plaintiff fails to allege facts that plausibly show that he
violated Deleon's constitutional rights. He further
raises the defense of qualified immunity from the assessment
of any individual damage against him for a violation of
Deleon's constitutional rights. The City of Centerville
contends that, in the absence of allegations that support a
conclusion that Defendant McClanahan violated Deleon's
constitutional rights, the claim against it under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 must also fail. The City of Centerville also
contends that, 1) there are no facts alleged in the Complaint
supporting a claim that an unconstitutional policy or custom
of the City of Centerville caused any of Deleon's
injuries, and 2) Count II of the Complaint fails to support a
claim against it because it has no role in the management of
detainees or prisoners at the Jail. Finally, the City of
Centerville asserts that Plaintiff s negligence claim under
the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act
("TGTLA") arises out of the same circumstances
giving rise to Plaintiffs civil rights claims under §
1983 and that it retains immunity against the negligence
claim under Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-205(2).
Alternatively, the City of Centerville requests that the
Court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
TGTLA claim under principles of comity. See
Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 7).
response, Plaintiff argues that the Complaint's
allegations are sufficient to state a claim that Defendant
McClanahan violated Deleon's constitutional rights.
Plaintiff contends that the facts alleged to be known to the
officers at the scene of Deleon's arrest and the facts
which can be reasonably inferred to have been known by
Defendant McClanahan are enough to state a plausible claim
that he was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of
serious harm to Deleon's health and safety that was
caused by her actual drug ingestion and by the possibility of
the ingestion of drugs that she had hidden on her person.
See Response (Docket Entry No. 27). Plaintiff
further argues that it has sufficiently stated a municipal
liability claim under Section 1983 by pleading that Defendant
McClanahan's individual conduct occurred in compliance
with the policies, practices, and customs of the City of
Centerville and was ratified by the City of Centerville.
Plaintiff finally alleges that it has adequately pled common
law negligence claims against the City of Centerville that
are not barred by the TGTLA and that should be heard by this
Court. See Response (Docket Entry No. 27).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss is reviewed under the standard that the
Court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in
the complaint, resolve all doubts in Plaintiffs favor, and
draw all reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff. See
In re Travel Agent Com'n Antitrust Litig., 583 F.3d
896, 903 (6th Cir.2009). Although the complaint need not
contain detailed factual allegations, Plaintiff must provide
the grounds for the entitlement to relief sought. Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555, 127S.Ct.
1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating C ...