United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO
THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss, which
was filed on May 23, 2019. (ECF No. 23.) Plaintiff responded
on July 8, 2019. (ECF No. 31.) For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff's official-capacity claim against Defendant
Christopher, punitive damages demand of Benton County, claims
arising out of the Tennessee Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §
1983 conspiracy claim, and Tennessee Governmental Tort
Liability claim are hereby DISMISSED.
February 26, 2018, Plaintiff was arrested and housed in the
Benton County Jail. (ECF No. 6 at 3.) Plaintiff asserts that,
on April 12, 2018, Circuit Court Judge C. Creed McGinley
executed an Agreed Order to Reinstate Bond, which authorized
Plaintiff's immediate release from custody.
(Id.) Notwithstanding the Agreed Order, Plaintiff
was not released from the Benton County Jail until April 19,
2018-seven days late.
delayed release is the basis of Plaintiff's claims.
Plaintiff filed suit in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, for Defendants' alleged violations of
Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff also suggests that Defendants violated
Tennessee's state law and Constitution.
their Partial Motion to Dismiss, Defendants assert the
following: (1) official capacity claims against Defendant
Christopher must be dismissed; (2) punitive damages are not
recoverable against Defendant Benton County; (3) claims
arising out of alleged Tennessee constitutional violations
must be dismissed; (4) Plaintiff failed to state a colorable
§ 1983 conspiracy claim; and (5) Defendants retain
immunity as to the state law claims.
Response, Plaintiff accepts dismissal as to all but one of
Defendants' assertions: Plaintiff maintains that his
official capacity claim against Defendant Christopher should
survive. (ECF No. 31.) That is the sole issue before the
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint.
RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78
F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). A complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations, ” but it must
contain more than “labels and conclusions” or
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint does not “suffice if
it tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
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. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“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. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard
“does not impose a probability requirement at the
pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
illegal [conduct].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
filed suit against Defendant Christopher, in both his
official and individual capacities, and Defendant
Benton County for violating Plaintiff's civil rights.
Defendants argue that Defendant Christopher should only be
subject to this claim in his individual capacity, as suing
him in his official capacity is the same as suing the County.
Because the County is being sued for the same, Defendants
contend that an official-capacity claim is redundant.
opposition, Plaintiff argues that Defendant Christopher, as
Benton County Sheriff, breached his official duty to release
Plaintiff from custody. (ECF No. 31.) This, according to
Plaintiff, should preclude the official-capacity claim's
argument is misguided and largely irrelevant to the cause for
dismissal. “[O]fficial-capacity suits generally
represent only another way of pleading an action
against an entity of which an officer is an agent.”
Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991) (emphasis
added). “Official-capacity suits are, for all intents
and purposes, treated as suits against the municipality . . .
.” Shorts v. Bartholomew, 255 Fed.Appx. 46, 49
n.4 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S.
21, 25 (1991)); Foster v. Michigan, 573 Fed.Appx.
377, 390 (6th Cir. 2014). Thus, where the entity is named as
a defendant, as it is here, an official-capacity claim is
redundant. Foster, 573 Fed.Appx. at 390 (citing
Faith Baptist Church v. Waterford Twp., 522
Fed.Appx. 322, 327 (6th Cir.2013) (“Having sued . . .
the entity for which [plaintiff] was an agent, the suit
against [plaintiff] in his official capacity was
superfluous.”)); cf. Shorts, 255 Fed.Appx. at
57-60 (6th Cir. 2007) (allowing the ...