JACK A. WILSON, Plaintiff,
CARROLL COUNTY, CARROLL COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, MICHAEL HUMPHREY, Individually, and in his Official Capacity as Carroll County Jailer, KENTUCKY STATE POLICE, JENNIFER JOHNSON, Individually, and in her Official Capacity as Kentucky State Police Trooper, UNNAMED CARROLL COUNTY DETENTION CENTER MEDICAL DIRECTOR, and TANYA ABNEY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants the Kentucky State Police (KSP) and Jennifer Johnson, Kentucky State Police Trooper, in both her official and individual capacities. [R. 15.] For the reasons stated below, Kentucky State Police's Motion will be GRANTED and Johnson's Motion will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiff Jack Wilson was driving his truck on October 7, 2011 when Defendant Jennifer Johnson, Kentucky State Police Trooper, noticed that Wilson was driving erratically. [R. 1 at 3.] Johnson engaged in a traffic stop of Wilson and noticed that he was confused and disoriented. [ Id. ] He also displayed "facial tremors, " "constricted pupils, " "drymouth, " and "droopy eyelids." [ Id. at 4.] Johnson believed these were manifestations of being under the influence of some substance. [ Id. ] She responded by arresting him, giving him a breathalyzer test, transporting him to the hospital for additional tests, and finally releasing him to the custody of the Carroll County Detention Center. [ Id. ] Johnson was housed in the detention center for eight days before being released.
According to the Complaint, Wilson eventually found out that he had suffered a stroke near the time Johnson stopped him. [ Id. at 3-4.] Consequently, the nine charges that were brought against Wilson due to this incident were dismissed. [ Id. at 4.] Just before the one-year anniversary of Wilson's release by Carroll County, he filed this lawsuit asserting state tort claims and violations of his federal civil rights against various defendants.
In a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), "[t]he defendant has the burden of showing that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief." DirecTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454-55 (6th Cir. 1991)). While reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court "construe[s] the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept[s] its allegations as true, and draw[s] all inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Id. (citation omitted). Such a motion "should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitled him to relief." Id. (quoting Ricco v. Potter, 377 F.3d 599, 602 (6th Cir. 2004)). The Court, however, "need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences." Id. (quoting Gregory v. Shelby County, 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000)). Moreover, the facts that are pled must rise to the level of plausibility, not just possibility: "facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). "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 KSP rests its Motion to Dismiss Wilson's federal claims on Eleventh Amendment Immunity. Federal claims against Johnson in her official capacity are also due that protection. State claims against the KSP and Johnson in her official capacity, it is argued, should be dismissed because of governmental immunity. Finally, Johnson contends that she was not on notice that causes of action under federal or state law were asserted against her in her individual capacity.
Any claims brought against Johnson in her official capacity are functionally equivalent to claims against the KSP: "individuals sued in their official capacities stand in the shoes of the entity they represent." Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 810 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985)). This is because a plaintiff seeking to "recover on a damages judgment in an official-capacity suit must look to the government entity itself." Id. Thus, the KSP is the true defendant and Wilson's federal claims against Johnson in her official capacity are dismissed.
While "§ 1983 provides a federal forum to remedy many deprivations of civil liberties, ... it does not provide a federal forum for litigants who seek a remedy against a State for alleged deprivations of civil liberties. The Eleventh Amendment bars such suits." Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). Because KSP is a subdivision of the state, it is protected by the Eleventh Amendment. Walker v. Kentucky, 2009 WL 1374260, at *8 (E.D. Ky. May 15, 2009) (citing Hess v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp., 513 U.S. 30 (1994)); McCrystal v. Moore, 2009 WL 192770, at *1-2 (E.D. Ky. Jan. 23, 2009); see also Belk v. Hubbard, 2009 WL 3839477, at *4 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 16, 2009) (quoting City of Newport ...