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Tidaback v. City of Georgetown

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

March 31, 2017

JAMIE S. TIDABACK, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF GEORGETOWN, GEORGETOWN POLICE DEPARTMENT, RICHARD WILLIAMS, in his individual capacity, and RICHARD WILLIAMS, as an employee of the City of Georgetown and Georgetown Police Department, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Defendants City of Georgetown, Georgetown Police Department, and Richard Williams in his individual capacity and as an employee of the City of Georgetown and Georgetown Police Department [DE 7]. Plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition [DE 8] and Defendants have filed a Reply [DE 9]. Thus, this matter is fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         According to the allegations of the Complaint, on July 2, 2014, Georgetown Police Officer Richard Williams responded to a call for assistance at 1075 Degaris Mill Rd. #18 in Georgetown, Kentucky [DE 1-1, Complaint at ¶5]. When Officer Williams arrived at the residence, Plaintiff was on a couch inside the apartment [Id.]. Although Plaintiff lived in the same apartment complex, this particular apartment was not her own [Id.]. Officer Williams told Plaintiff that she had to leave and that he would walk her to her own residence which was located in apartment #25 in the same complex [Id.]. After Plaintiff indicated that she did not want to leave, Officer Williams threatened to arrest her [Id. at ¶6]. At this time, Plaintiff agreed to walk back to her residence [Id.].

         After Plaintiff left the apartment and reached the bottom stairs, Officer Williams arrested Plaintiff for alcohol intoxication [Id.]. While Plaintiff was handcuffed, Officer Williams kicked Plaintiff's feet and legs, causing her to hit the ground and causing severe pain [Id. at ¶7]. Once Plaintiff was on the ground, Officer Williams placed his left knee across her back [Id.]. When Plaintiff begin to question the police action and complain of pain and injuries, Officer Williams charged her with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct [Id. at ¶8].

         Officer Williams then placed Plaintiff in a police car and transported her to the Scott County Detention Center [Id. at ¶9]. The Detention Center refused to take her due to her intoxicated state and directed that she be taken to the Georgetown Community Hospital for evaluation [Id.]. After the evaluation, Plaintiff was transported back to the Detention Center by Officer Williams for booking, arriving at the Detention Center on July 3, 2014 at approximately 1:12 a.m. [Id. at ¶10]. When Officer Williams reached the sally port, he reached into the car and grabbed Plaintiff by her hands, which were still handcuffed behind her back, pulling her hands almost over her head and yanking her aggressively out of the vehicle [Id.]. Officer Williams refused assistance from the Detention Center staff when offered [Id.].

         Officer Williams then walked Plaintiff inside to the booking area and, while grasping Plaintiff's handcuffed hands with one hand, took his other hand to Plaintiff's head, slamming her face into the counter in the booking area and causing physical injuries to Plaintiff [Id. at ¶11]. The Detention Staff called the Scott County EMS for treatment of Plaintiff's injuries [Id. at ¶12]. The EMS team evaluated Plaintiff and advised that she would need further medical care at the hospital [Id.]. Officer Williams refused to allow the EMS team to transport Plaintiff back to the hospital, but instead took her back to Georgetown Community Hospital himself [Id.]. After evaluation, it was determined that Plaintiff had suffered lacerations to her face, nasal fracture, and inflamed paranasal sinuses [Id. at ¶13]. Plaintiff then received appropriate treatment [Id.].

         Plaintiff further alleges that, in an attempt to cover up and conceal these actions, Officer Williams, his supervisors and the other Defendants conspired and committed fraud by adding additional felony charges and submitting reports claiming that Plaintiff's injuries were the result of an accident caused by her intoxication [Id. at ¶14]. Plaintiff also alleges that, as a result of the blow to her head inflicted by Officer Williams, she “lost all memory temporarily of the events at the jail” [Id. at ¶ 16]. She claims that, after being released from the Detention Center, she began to ask about what happened and how she was injured [Id. at ¶17]. She further claims that the police department withheld and did not make the reports submitted by Officer Williams describing the events surrounding her arrest available to her until after her preliminary hearing on the criminal charges that were brought against her on or about September 2, 2014 [Id.]. She also alleges that she did not receive a copy of the jail video tape showing the alleged assault, battery and civil rights violations and, was therefore unaware of the actions of Defendants until on or after August 1, 2014 [Id. at ¶ 18].

         Based on these allegations, on July 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in Scott Circuit Court alleging that Officer Williams's actions establish a cause of action for violation of her federal constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983, specifically false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, use of excessive force, fraud, abuse of authority, and malicious prosecution [Id. at ¶15]. She further alleges that, as Officer Williams's employer, the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Police Department are also liable [Id.]. Plaintiff also alleges that the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Police Department failed to properly train, supervise and/or discipline Officer Williams in the treatment and care of individuals including Plaintiff, which was and is a proximate and direct cause of her serious physical injuries, as well as the violation of her rights [Id. at ¶16].

         Defendants filed a Notice of Removal of this action on August 6, 2015 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441, as it is a civil action wherein Plaintiff alleges that her action arises under the laws of the United States, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [DE 1]. Defendants have now filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, arguing that Plaintiff failed to file this action within one year from the date nearly all of her causes of action accrued and, accordingly, these causes of action are barred by the statute of limitations; Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim is not yet ripe; and Plaintiffs claims for fraud and municipal liability are insufficiently pled [DE 7].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “After the pleadings are closed[, ]...a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “For purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment.” JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget, 510 F.3d 577, 581 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting S. Ohio Bank v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 479 F.2d 478, 480 (6th Cir. 1973)). “A Rule 12(c) motion is granted when no material issue of fact exists and the party making the motion is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. at 582 (quoting Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n, 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir. 1991))(internal quotation marks omitted). The standard of review applied to a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadsings “is the same as that for a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” EEOC v. J.H. Routh Packing Co., 246 F.3d 850, 851 (6th Cir.2001).

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. The Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations contained within it. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “To 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Dismissal of Georgetown Police Department

         As an initial matter, Defendants have correctly noted that the Georgetown Police Department is a city police department and is, accordingly, not a legal entity capable of being sued. Hornback v. Lexington-Fayette Urban Co. Gov't., 905 F.Supp.2d 747, 749 (E.D.Ky. 2012). Plaintiff did not address this argument in her response, apparently conceding the issue. As Plaintiff has not objected, the Georgetown Police Department shall be dismissed as a party.

         B. Statute of Limitations

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims must be dismissed because they were filed outside of the statute of limitations. “The statute of limitations applicable to a § 1983 action is the state statute of limitations applicable to personal injury actions under the law of the state in which the § 1983 claim arises.” Eidson v. State of Tenn. Dept. of Children's Servs., 510 F.3d 631, 634 (2007) (citing Kuhnle Bros., Inc. v. Cnty. of Geauga, 103 F.3d 516, 519 (6th Cir. 1997)). In Kentucky, the statute requires all personal injury actions to be brought within one year after the cause of action accrues. KRS ยง ...


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