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D.H. v. Matti

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

July 27, 2015

D.H., a minor, by and through RICHARD HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
TODD MATTI, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

The complaint in this case asserts over 150 causes of action-nine against each of seventeen defendants. It alleges federal claims (under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments) and related state claims (wrongful imprisonment, assault, battery, negligent hiring, training, and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress). Originally filed in Meade Circuit Court, at issue now is whether many of those claims are cognizable in federal court.[1]

Plaintiff is D.H., a minor proceeding through Richard Harris; Defendants are law enforcement officials and government entities. Four of the defendants filed two separate motions to dismiss several of the claims. (Docket Nos. 12 & 13). Because the government entities are entitled to state or federal sovereign immunity, and because the complaint fails to state plausible claims against other defendants, the Court will grant the motions and dismiss numerous claims. This will leave Plaintiff's core claims-under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, wrongful imprisonment, assault, and battery-against the individual defendants accused of sexual assault.

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff's counsel seemingly alleged every conceivable claim against every conceivable defendant. While the allegations here are serious, many of the claims Plaintiff's counsel has asserted are legally deficient. Before the Court sorts through these claims, it will identify the named defendants and causes of action.

A. Plaintiff named seventeen defendants

The first three defendants are from Brandenburg, Kentucky. Todd Matti was a police officer for the City of Brandenburg; Plaintiff sued him in his individual and official capacities. Scotty Singleton was the Police Chief for the Police Department of the City of Brandenburg; Plaintiff also sued him in his individual and official capacities. Plaintiff also named the "City of Brandenburg, Kentucky, d/b/a Police Department of the City of Brandenburg." The Court will simply refer to this Defendant as the "City."

The next three defendants are connected with the Breckinridge County, Kentucky, Sheriff's Office. Chris Woosley was Deputy Sheriff of Breckinridge County; he was sued in his official and individual capacities. Todd Pate was Sheriff of Breckinridge County; he was also sued in his official and individual capacities. Plaintiff also separately named the Breckinridge County Sheriff's Office.

The final defendants are all associated with the Kentucky State Police. Stratford Young was a Kentucky State Police Trooper; he was sued in both his individual and official capacities. Jerry Clanton was also a Kentucky State Police Trooper sued in his individual and official capacities. Plaintiff also named Rodney Brewer, the Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, in his individual and official capacities. And finally, Plaintiff sued the "Commonwealth of Kentucky d/b/a Kentucky State Police, " which the Court will call "KSP."

B. Plaintiff asserts nine causes of action against each defendant

The claims against each party all use the same or similar language. Because this is a motion to dismiss, the Court will ignore any facts outside the four corners of the complaint.[2] The complaint is separated into sections labeled "Counts, " though each Count represents a different set of defendants and not a cause of action. Within each Count, Plaintiff asserts up to seven causes of action-often with just a sentence to support each. There is no separate facts section.

The first paragraph of the complaint-under the heading "JURISDICTION"-appears to assert 28 U.S.C. § 1983 claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments against all seventeen defendants. It states:

1. This is an action at law to redress the deprivation under color of statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of a right, privilege, and immunity secured to the Plaintiff by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and arising under the laws and statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

DN 1-3, PageID # 3, ¶ 1. In the following section, Plaintiff identifies the defendants and says that all of the individuals were acting under color of law and as agents of their respective government entities. Then, the complaint lists Plaintiff's causes of action. In Count 1, Plaintiff lays out his causes of action against the Brandenburg Defendants as follows:

22. Defendant Todd Matti, while in the course of his employment and duties with the Police Department of the City of Brandenburg, Kentucky, wrongfully restrained the minor Plaintiff, transported the minor Plaintiff, and sexually assaulted the minor Plaintiff.
23. Defendant Scotty Singleton, acting in his capacity as Chief of Police for the Police Department of the City of Brandenburg, Kentucky failed to adequately screen and research the background of Defendant Todd Matti prior to employing him as a Police Officer for the City of Brandenburg and as a result of his negligence in this regard, Defendant Todd Matti, was hired and cloaked with authority as a Police Officer for the City of Brandenburg thereby enabling him to perform the acts and wrongful conduct complained herein.
24. Defendant Singleton and the Police Department of The City of Brandenburg were negligent in their hiring, training, supervision, and retention of Defendant Matti.
25. The agents, servants, employees, or other personnel for the Police Department of the City of Brandenburg, Kentucky were negligent in their hiring, training, supervision and retention of Defendant Matti.
26. That the aforementioned acts and wrongful conduct of Defendant Matti constituted an assault and battery for which Plaintiff is entitled to damages alleged herein.
27. That the allegations herein constitute a wrongful detention or imprisonment of Plaintiff, for which Defendants are liable to the Plaintiff in an amount to be determined at trial.
28. That the allegations herein constitute a sexual assault upon the minor Plaintiff.
29. That the acts and wrongful conduct of the Defendants constituted an intentional infliction of emotional distress for which Plaintiff is entitled to damages against ...

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