United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Louisville Metro
Police Department Officer Greg Mudd's Motion to Dismiss
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
under Rule 12(b)(6). [DN 36.] The time for filing a response
has passed, and therefore this matter is now ripe for
adjudication. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
relevant facts as set out in the complaint [DN 1-1] and taken
as true are as follows. Plaintiff Maki Juillerat
(“Juillerat”) is a United States Army veteran
who, in March 2015, was receiving treatment at the Robley Rex
Veterans Affairs Medical Center (“RRVAMC”) in
Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. [DN 1-1 at
¶¶ 2-3; 23.] Juillerat was obtaining treatment for
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was the result of his
seventeen years of military service. [Id. at ¶
31.] On or around March 20, 2015, Juillerat had a counseling
session with Dr. Mary Sweeny, during which Juillerat and Dr.
Sweeny discussed confidential matters, including
Juillerat's mental status, judgment and insight, and risk
factors. [Id. at ¶¶ 32-36.] Additionally,
Juillerat and Dr. Sweeny discussed a recent encounter
Juillerat had with Louisville Metro Police Department
(“LMPD”) Officer Greg Mudd during a traffic stop
and during which Officer Mudd issued Juillerat a citation.
[Id. at ¶¶ 37, 40.] During the
conversation with Dr. Sweeny, Juillerat reported that he had
“‘thoughts' of shooting Officer Greg Mudd,
” but further stated that he did not plan to carry out
such a shooting. [Id. at ¶¶ 38-39.]
Juillerat also informed Dr. Sweeny about an upcoming court
appearance that was scheduled as a result of the citation.
[Id. at ¶ 40.] Juillerat told Dr. Sweeny that
if his thoughts “progressed further toward action,
” he would call emergency services or go to a hospital.
[Id. at ¶ 41.]
around March 27, 2015, Sonny Hatfield, a Veterans Outreach
Specialist at RRVAMC, attended a risk management meeting
where he learned of Juillerat's statements regarding his
thoughts about Officer Mudd. [Id. at ¶¶ 5;
42-43.] Upon learning this information, Hatfield sent an
email to the LMPD stating “I was made aware after
viewing a note that an Officer Mudd was threatened ‘to
be shot' by a patient at the VA. The person in question
is Maki James Juillerat.” [Id. at ¶¶
44-45.] On or around March 31, 2015, Hatfield noted the
sending of this email in Juillerat's file. [Id.
at ¶ 46.] Hatfield wrote that he “
‘[i]nformed Off. Jack that this writer was the second
hand report' and he ‘did not hear the
‘HI' (comment) directly.' ” [Id.
at ¶ 47.] Hatfield additionally provided LMPD with Dr.
Sweeny's telephone number and noted this in
Juillerat's file as well. [Id. at ¶¶
48-49.] The LMPD did not attempt to contact Dr. Sweeny,
however. [Id. at ¶ 50.] Also on or around March
31, 2015, Dr. Sweeny made an entry in Juillerat's file
stating “Patient never said anything about killing the
officer or anybody else, ” that “He (Patient)
said he ‘thought about shooting' the cop, ”
but that Juillerat “went on to say he had no intentions
of doing this.” [Id. at ¶¶ 51-54.]
Dr. Sweeny also wrote that Juillerat had promised to
“go to the ER or call 911 if he felt he was losing
control over his impulses to hurt self or others.”
[Id. at ¶ 55.]
April 2, 2015, Juillerat attended the hearing on his traffic
citation, and the next day, on April 3, an electronic arrest
warrant was issued charging Juillerat with terroristic
threatening. [Id. at ¶¶ 56-57.] The arrest
warrant was executed on April 5, 2015 by an unnamed LMPD
officer, who arrested Juillerat and took him into custody.
[Id. at ¶¶ 58-59.] Juillerat remained in
LMPD custody until being discharged on April 15, 2015.
[Id. at ¶ 60.] On May 7, 2015, the terroristic
threatening charge was dismissed on the merits “on
grounds that the charge was ‘insufficient on its face
to be terroristic threatening.' ” [Id. at
originally filed the instant tort action in Kentucky state
court on or around April 5, 2016. [DN 1.] Among several other
defendants, Plaintiff brought suit against Sonny Hatfield and
Jamie Watts, employees of the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs
Medical Center, a facility operated by the Department of
Veterans Affairs. [Id.] Pursuant to §
2679(d)(1) of the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort
Compensation Act of 1988, (the “Westfall Act”),
United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. certified that
Hatfield and Watts “were acting within the scope of
their employment with the United State Department of Veterans
Affairs at the time of the conduct alleged in the
complaint.” [DN 1 at 2.] Hatfield and Watts were
accordingly dismissed from the action, and the United States
was substituted as the proper party. [Id.] It
removed this case to the United States District Court for the
Western District of Kentucky on April 16, 2016. [Id.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to survive a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a party must
“plead enough ‘factual matter' to raise a
‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.”
16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank,
F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A
claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss,
the court must presume all of the factual allegations in the
complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning
Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552
F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Great Lakes Steel
v. Deggendorf, 716 F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir. 1983)).
“The court need not, however, accept unwarranted
factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v.
Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir.
1987)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then
dismissal is warranted. Iqbal, 556 U.S at 679. The
Court may grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after
drawing all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the
complaint in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still
fails to allege a plausible theory of relief.”
Garceau v. City of Flint, 572 F. App'x. 369, 371
(6th Cir. 2014) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-79).
action, Plaintiff asserts several state law tort claims
against multiple defendants. Against Officer Mudd, Plaintiff
asserts claims of negligence, gross negligence, intentional
infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of
emotional distress, and false imprisonment. [DN 1-1 at
11-20.] Of the Defendants who are public employees, including
Officer Mudd, Plaintiff asserts his claims against those
individuals both in their official and individual capacities.
[Id. at ¶ 21.] The Court previously denied
Officer Mudd's motion to dismiss the claims against him
in his individual capacity. [DN 32.] In the instant motion,
Officer Mudd has moved to dismiss all claims brought against
him in his official capacity on the grounds that Plaintiff
has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted under
Rule 12(b)(6). [DN 17.] Specifically, Officer Mudd argues
that he works for and represents “Louisville Metro
Government. As Louisville Metro Government is entitled to
sovereign immunity, Ofc. Mudd is also entitled to sovereign
immunity.” [DN 36 at 2 (citations omitted).] Indeed, as
Officer Mudd points out, this Court previously dismissed
Louisville Metro Government and the claims against Mayor Greg
Fischer and LMPD Chief of Police Steve Conrad in their
official capacities on the ground that Louisville Metro, and,
by extension, Mayor Fischer and Chief Conrad, were entitled
to sovereign immunity. [DN 31 at 5-8.] See
Louisville/Jefferson Cty. Metro Gov't v. Cowan, No.
2015-CA-000600, 2016 WL 5319295, at *2 (Ky. Ct. App. Sept.
23, 2016) (“Because Louisville Metro is essentially an
arm of the Commonwealth . . . Louisville Metro is entitled to
sovereign immunity . . . and is thus absolutely immune from
Court further noted in its previous opinion, the Supreme
Court of Kentucky has explained that, when defendants are
“specifically sued ‘in their official
capacities' . . . each is cloaked with the same immunity
as the government or agency he/she represents.”
Schwindel v. Meade Cty., 113 S.W.3d 159, 169 (Ky.
2003) (citing Yanero v. Davis, 65 S.W.3d 510, 522
(Ky. 2001)). See also Jones v. Cross, 260 S.W.3d
343, 345 (Ky. 2008) (“Official immunity protects
governmental officials or employees from tort liability for
performance of their discretionary functions . . .
Furthermore, official immunity is absolute when an
official's or an employee's actions are subject to
suit in his official capacity.”). Kentucky courts have
also expressly noted that, when “defendant officers . .
. [are] sued . . . in their official capacities, [they] are
afforded the same immunity as that to which Jefferson County
is itself entitled.” St. Matthews Fire Prot. Dist.
v. Aubrey, 304 S.W.3d 56, 60 (Ky. Ct. App. 2009). As
Officer Mudd was sued both in his individual and official
capacity, based upon the foregoing authorities, the Court
will grant his motion to dismiss all claims made against him
in his official capacity as he is entitled to sovereign
immunity on those claims.
foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the claims made against him in ...