United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
JOEL D. NASELROAD, Plaintiff,
DENNIS MABRY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Danny C. Reeves United States District Judge
Plaintiff Joel D. Naselroad brings this action alleging the deprivation of his constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and related state law claims, after he was shot during an attempted “knock and talk” encounter with certain law enforcement officers. This matter is pending for consideration of several motions. Defendants Mark Craycraft, individually and in his official capacity as a Clark County Deputy Sheriff; John Justin Gurley, individually and in his official capacity as a Clark County Deputy Sheriff; Sheriff Berl Purdue,  individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of Clark County, Kentucky; and Clark County, Kentucky (collectively “Clark County Defendants”), have moved for dismissal of all claims asserted against them. [Record No. 27] Defendants Robert Puckett, individually and in his official capacity as an officer with the Paris Police Department, and the City of Paris, Kentucky, also moved for dismissal of the claims asserted against him. [Record No. 31] Finally, Plaintiff Joel D. Naselroad has moved [Record No. 33] for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint. Having considered the parties’ arguments, the Court will grant the plaintiff’s motion to file a Second Amended Complaint. The defendants’ motions will be granted, in part, and denied, in part, for the reasons outlined discussed.
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on October 8, 2013, Mabry, Craycraft, Gurley, and Puckett (collectively, the “officers”) arrived at Naselroad’s residence in Clark County, Kentucky. [Record No. 33-1] The officers did not have a warrant, but were there to “execute a ‘knock and talk’ request to search the property of the plaintiff’s family in response to a telephone call” from a third party who reported seeing marijuana there. [Record No. 33-1, ¶ 25] On the same date, immediately before the officers arrived, the Naselroad and members of his family who also lived in the residence, had “viewed a photograph from a trail camera of a masked intruder trespassing on the property.” [Id. at ¶ 26] The plaintiff allegedly exited the rear entrance of the home without realizing that the officers were there. [Id. at ¶ 27] Naselroad claims that he heard noises and then saw Craycraft with his weapon drawn moving towards him. [Id. at ¶ 28] Craycraft was not in police uniform and did not identify himself as an officer. [Id. at ¶ 29]
Upon seeing Craycraft in his backyard and with a weapon drawn, the plaintiff pulled a .25 millimeter semi-automatic handgun from his pocket and attempted to load a bullet in the chamber. [Id. at ¶30] The gun jammed, but Naselroad still pointed it toward Craycraft. [Id.] Craycraft yelled “Gun!” [Id.] The plaintiff claims that he heard someone else (later determined to be Mabry, who was also not wearing a uniform) yell, “Drop it, police!” [Id.] Naselroad alleges that, before he had an opportunity to lower or drop his weapon, Mabry shot him in the chest. [Id. at ¶¶ 31, 32] The bullet struck the plaintiff’s spine and exited his back. [Id. at ¶ 32] Naselroad was ultimately charged with three counts of wanton endangerment; cultivation of marijuana; possession of marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia. [Id. at ¶ 36] On June 25, 2014, a jury acquitted Naselroad of all charges except misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. [Id.]
Naselroad filed this action seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants Dennis Mabry, in his individual capacity; Mark Craycraft, in his individual capacity and in his official capacity as a police officer of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department; John Justin Gurley, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department; Robert Puckett, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer of the Paris Police Department; Berl Purdue, individually and in his official capacity as the Clark County Sheriff; the City of Paris, Kentucky; and Clark County, Kentucky. Naselroad claims that each defendant violated his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I). With respect to Defendants Mabry, Craycraft, Gurley, and Puckett, Naselroad asserts claims of conspiracy to violate his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 (Count II); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IV); negligence (Count V); false imprisonment (Count VII); and malicious prosecution (Count VIII). Naselroad alleges that Mabry is the only defendant who physically assaulted him (Count III). However, he asserts that Purdue, Clark County, and the City of Paris negligently trained, controlled, and supervised the officers (Count VI).
While the parties were briefing the motions to dismiss, Naselroad moved for leave to amend his Complaint to clarify the claims presented. The Clark County Defendants objected [Record No. 39] to the motion, arguing that the amendments were futile. Miller v. Calhoun Cnty., 408 F.3d 803, 817 (6th Cir. 2005) (“Amendment of a complaint is futile when the proposed amendment would not permit the complaint to survive a motion to dismiss.”). Leave to amend should be “freely given” and the Defendants will not be prejudiced by the amendment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). As discussed below,  the Court finds that the amendments are not futile and, therefore, will direct the Clerk to file the Second Amended Complaint (hereinafter, the “Complaint”).
When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met “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). Although the complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).
A. § 1983 Claims
Naselroad alleges that the defendants violated a number of his constitutional rights. Craycraft, Gurley, and Puckett move to dismiss his Fourth Amendment claims for excessive force. The parties also discuss the plaintiff’s claims for unlawful entry and seizure, but these defendants have not moved for dismissal of this claim. Naselroad concedes that he does not state a claim against Defendant Gurley for Fourth Amendment excessive force or ...