United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RICHARDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Metropolitan Government of
Nashville and Davidson County's Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
No. 9), supported by an accompanying brief (Doc. No. 10).
Plaintiff Aric Grove filed a response (Doc. No. 16), and
Defendant replied (Doc. No. 19). For the below-stated
reasons, the Motion will be granted.
December 2017, Plaintiff Aric Ryan Grove was incarcerated at
the Hill Detention Center, a Metropolitan Government
correctional facility. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 16). On December
27, 2017, Defendant Correctional Officer Touissant Hagewood
(“Officer Hagewood”) escorted Plaintiff to an
I-Cell. (Id.). While being escorted,
Plaintiff informed Officer Hagewood that Plaintiff had left
his water or drink at Officer Hagewood's work station.
(Id. at ¶¶ 16-17). Officer Hagewood
retrieved the water or drink and gave it to Plaintiff before
placing Plaintiff in an I-Cell. (Id.). Thereafter, a
verbal altercation between Plaintiff and Officer Hagewood
occurred as Officer Hagewood closed the door to
Plaintiff's I-Cell. (Id. at ¶ 18). Officer
Hagewood shut the door to Plaintiff's I-Cell, paused for
a few seconds, and then re-opened the door of the I-Cell.
(Id. at ¶ 19). Officer Hagewood then entered
the I-Cell and began to beat Plaintiff, aggressively striking
Plaintiff with a closed fist approximately six or seven time.
(Id. at ¶ 20). This resulted in Plaintiff's
transfer to a local hospital to treat his injuries.
November 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against
Officer Hagewood in his individual and official capacity, as
well as the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson
County (“Metro”). (See Doc. No. 1). The
Complaint alleges that Metro violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983
because it exhibited deliberate indifference to
Plaintiff's rights in three ways: (1) its failure to
train Officer Hagewood; (2) its failure to adopt, establish,
or implement policies aimed at avoiding use of excessive
force against unarmed and/or unthreatening inmates; and (3)
its failure to properly supervise and discipline Officer
Hagewood. (Id. at ¶¶ 37-39). The Complaint
further alleges that Metro is liable for the following state
law claims on a theory of respondeat superior:
negligence; assault and battery; intentional infliction of
emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional
distress; and outrageous conduct. (Id. at ¶
14). Metro has filed a motion to dismiss all claims against
it. (Doc. No. 9).
purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court must take all of
the factual allegations in the complaint as true as the Court
has done above. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). 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. Id.
A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. Id. Threadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice. Id. When there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and
then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. A legal
conclusion, including one couched as a factual allegation,
need not be accepted as true on a motion to dismiss, nor are
mere recitations of the elements of a cause of action
sufficient. Id. at 678; Fritz v. Charter Twp. of
Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010); Abriq
v. Hall, 295 F.Supp.3d 874, 877 (M.D. Tenn. 2018).
Moreover, factual allegations that are merely
consistent with the defendant's liability do not
satisfy the claimant's burden, as mere consistency does
not establish plausibility of entitlement to relief
even if it supports the possibility of relief.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
determining whether a complaint is sufficient under the
standards of Iqbal and its predecessor and
complementary case, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544 (2007), it may be appropriate to “begin
[the] analysis by identifying the allegations in the
complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680. Identifying
and setting aside such allegations is crucial, because they
simply do not count toward the plaintiff's goal of
showing plausibility of entitlement to relief. As suggested
above, such allegations include “bare assertions,
” formulaic recitation of the elements, and
“conclusory” or “bald” allegations.
Id. at 681. The question is whether the remaining
allegations - factual allegations, i.e., allegations
of factual matter - plausibly suggest an entitlement to
relief. Id. If not, the pleading fails to meet the
standard of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and thus must be dismissed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Id. at 683.
Metro's Motion to Dismiss, it argues that Plaintiff's
42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim should be dismissed because the
Complaint does not plausibly allege municipal liability under
Section 1983. Second, Metro argues that Plaintiff's state
law claims fail because Metro has not waived its immunity for
any tort arising out of an alleged civil rights violation.
(Doc. No. 9). The Court will explore both of Metro's
arguments in turn.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Section 1983 claim exists for deprivation “of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, ” as a result “of any statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State.”
42 U.S.C. § 1983. A municipality can be liable under
Section 1983 only if the plaintiff establishes that:
“(1) the plaintiff's harm was caused by a
constitutional violation; and (2) the [municipality] was
responsible for that violation.” Spears v.
Ruth, 589 F.3d 249, 256 (6th Cir. 2009). Municipalities
“may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury
inflicted solely by its employees or agents” on a
theory of respondeat superior liability. Monell
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).
upshot is that municipalities can be held liable for harms
caused by[:]” (1) “direct actions of the
municipalities themselves[;]” (2) “harms caused
by the implementation of municipal policies or
customs[;]” (3) “and harms caused by employees
for whom the municipality has failed to provide adequate
training [or supervision].” Morgan v. Fairfield
Cnty. Ohio, 903 F.3d 553, 565 (6th Cir. 2018) (internal
citations omitted); see also Thomas v. City of
Chattanooga, 398 F.3d 426, 429 (6th Cir. 2005). Notably,
“allegations concerning the failure to
implement a policy is cognizable under Monell as a
‘failure to train' theory.” Liggins v.
Baca, No. CV 12-10982-CJC, 2016 WL 10650807, at *3 (C.D.
Cal. Jan. 13, 2016) (emphasis added); see also Modd v.
Cnty. of Ottawa, No. 1:10-CV-337, 2012 WL 5398797, at
*16 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 24, 2012) (“Section 1983 claims
against municipalities based on a failure to train, the lack
of a policy, or other inaction are all governed by the same
standards, as established by the Supreme Court in City of
Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388-89 (1989)).
alleges that Metro violated Section 1983 in three ways: (1)
its failure to train Officer Hagewood; (2) its failure to
adopt, establish, or implement policies aimed at avoiding use
of excessive force against unarmed and/or unthreatening
inmates; and (3) its failure to properly supervise and
discipline Officer Hagewood. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶
37-39). Thus, each of Plaintiff's three alleged bases for
Metro's liability fall into the third of the
above-identified categories of harms for which a municipality
may be held liable, i.e., failure to train. In other
words, Plaintiff's claims of failure to train, failure to
implement policies, and failure to supervise all are variants
of the failure-to-train category of claims. Each of the three
variants will be discussed in sequence in the following
municipality's culpability for a deprivation of rights is
at its most tenuous where a claim turns on a failure to
train.” Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51
(2011) (citing Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S.
808, 822-23 (1985)). To state a Section 1983 claim based on a
failure to train, a plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to
plausibly show that:
(1) the training  was inadequate for the tasks performed;
(2) the inadequacy was the result of the municipality's
deliberate indifference; and (3) the inadequacy was closely
related to or actually caused the injury. We have further
elaborated that, “[t]o show deliberate indifference,
Plaintiff[s] must show prior instances of unconstitutional
conduct demonstrating that the [city] has ignored a history
of abuse and was clearly on notice that the training in this
particular area was deficient and likely to cause
Marcilis v. Twp. of Redford, 693 F.3d 589, 605 (6th
Cir. 2012) (quoting Plinton v. Cnty. of Summit, 450
F.3d 459, 464 (6th Cir. 2008)).
municipality to be liable under Section 1983 based on harm
resulting from the failure to implement a municipal policy,
the lack of a policy must amount to deliberate indifference
to the injured party. See Blackmore v. Kalamazoo
Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 900 (6th Cir. 2004). Where a
complaint “is devoid of any allegations identifying the
allegedly deficient policy, how existing policies and
procedures are inadequate . . . or [defendant's]
awareness of the deficiency in existing policy and the risk
it posed[, ]” the complaint fails to state a ...