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Lohner v. Lake

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

July 24, 2017

JASON LOHNER, Plaintiff,
v.
LAKE COUNTY, TENNESSEE, and LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND GRANTING DEFENDANT LAKE COUNTY, TENNESSEE'S PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendants Lake County, Tennessee and Lake County Sheriff's Department's motion to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 19.) The motion seeks dismissal of all claims against the Sheriff's Department and most claims against the County. Plaintiff has filed an untimely response (ECF Nos. 23 & 24), to which Defendants have replied (ECF No. 26.) For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 15, 2015, Plaintiff was housed in the Lake County, Tennessee jail awaiting a bond hearing the following day. (See ECF No. 1-1 & 15.) Shortly after being placed in a cell in the general population, he was attacked and beaten by other inmates. Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that Defendants negligently failed to provide adequate supervision in the jail, resulting in his physical and psychological injury. On August 18, 2016, Plaintiff instituted this action in state court in Tiptonville, Tennessee, alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and common law negligence under Tennessee law. (ECF No. 1-1.) Defendants removed the case to this Court on August 31, 2016, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants filed the instant motion on December 20, 2016. (ECF No. 19.) The motion advances the following arguments, the first regarding the Sheriff's Department and the rest with regard to the County:

(1) Plaintiff's claims against the Sheriff's Department should be dismissed because it is not a legal entity amenable to suit,
(2) Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim should be dismissed because the Fourteenth Amendment provides an explicit source of recovery,
(3) Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim should be dismissed because the federal government is not involved,
(4) Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim should be dismissed because there was no criminal conviction,
(5) Plaintiff's claim under the Tennessee Constitution should be dismissed because Tennessee does not recognize a cause of action for damages under its constitution,
(6) Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages should be dismissed because counties are immune from punitive damages claims in Tennessee, and
(7) Plaintiff's state law claims should be dismissed because the County is immune under Tennessee's Governmental Tort Liability Act for injuries arising out of civil rights violations.

(See ECF No. 19-1). Defendants do not challenge Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claim.

(See ECF No. 1-1 at 5.)

         Plaintiff did not respond to Defendants' motion within twenty-eight days, as required by the Local Rules. See W.D. Tenn. R. 12.1(b). On March 3, 2017, this Court issued an order directing Plaintiff to show cause why his claims against Defendants should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (ECF No. 21.) Plaintiff filed a response to the order along with a response to the motion. (ECF Nos. 23 & ...


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