United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
JUSTIN E. COOK, Plaintiff,
LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOVERNMENT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. HALE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
action follows from a car wreck between Plaintiff Justin Cook
and an off-duty police officer, resulting in Cook's
arrest. (Docket No. 10) Cook brings this action against
Defendant Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government and
Louisville Metro Police Department Officer Zachariah Aubrey,
alleging violations of state law and seeking relief under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his
constitutional rights. (See id.) Louisville Metro
moves to dismiss all claims against it. (D.N. 11) Because
Cook fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted
as to Louisville Metro, the Court will grant Louisville
Metro's motion to dismiss.
following facts are set out in the complaint and accepted as
true for purposes of the present motions. See Tackett v.
M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th
Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d
461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).
2016, Cook fell asleep while driving. (D.N. 10, PageID # 230)
As a result, he veered over the center line and struck
Aubrey's personal car. (Id.) Aubrey was off-duty
at the time. (Id., PageID # 233) Cook alleges that
after the collision, Aubrey pointed a gun at him, screamed
expletives, and dragged him out of his car. (Id.,
PageID # 231) Aubrey kicked Cook in the ribs and ignored
Cook's attempt to comply with Aubrey's orders.
(Id.) The confrontation continued, with Aubrey
eventually jumping on top of Cook and driving Cook's chin
into the pavement. (Id.) Ultimately, additional
officers arrived at the scene, conducted a field sobriety
test, and placed Cook under arrest. (Id., PageID #
232) Cook maintains that during the entire ordeal, he was not
combative nor did he resist arrest. (Id.)
Jefferson County Attorney's Office brought charges
against Officer Aubrey for his actions during the encounter
with Cook. (Id., PageID # 232) A jury convicted
Aubrey of official misconduct in the second degree for his
violation of LMPD's Standard Operating Procedures and his
unauthorized exercise of official functions. (Id.,
PageID # 233-34)
filed suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court on June 12,
2017. (See D.N. 1-3) While a motion to
dismiss by Louisville Metro was pending, Cook moved to amend
his complaint to add alleged violations of the U.S.
Constitution. (See D.N. 1-6) The state court granted
his motion. (See D.N. 1-7) On August 3, 2017,
Louisville Metro removed the action to this Court on the
basis of federal-question jurisdiction. (D.N. 1) Thereafter,
Louisville Metro filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12. (D.N. 4) In light of
Cook's motion to file a second amended complaint (D.N.
5), the Court denied Louisville Metro's motion and
granted Cook leave to file a second amended complaint. (D.N.
second amended complaint, Cook divides his original federal
claim into three counts: (i) violation of the Fourth
Amendment, (ii) violation of due process, and (iii) failure
to train, supervise, audit, and discipline. (D.N. 10, PageID
# 235-38) Cook also alleges various violations of state law.
(Id., PageID # 238-41) Louisville Metro now moves to
dismiss Cook's second amended complaint pursuant to Rule
12 and to stay discovery pending a ruling on the motion to
dismiss. (D.N. 11; D.N. 12) Cook failed to respond to either
order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim,
“a complaint must contain 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, 570 (2007)). If
“the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ”
the plaintiff has not shown that he is entitled to relief.
Id. at 679. The complaint need not contain
“detailed factual allegations, ” but it must
provide “more than an unadorned,
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555). “Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss
[the Court] must take all of the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, [the Court is] not bound to accept as true
a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Furthermore, “[w]hile a complaint will survive a motion
to dismiss if it contains either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all material elements necessary for
recovery under a viable legal theory . . . legal conclusions
masquerading as factual allegations will not suffice.”
Phila. Indem. Ins. Co. v. Youth Alive, Inc., 732
F.3d 645, 649 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal quotations omitted).
motion to dismiss, Louisville Metro raises two arguments.
First, Louisville Metro argues that it is entitled to
sovereign immunity as to Cook's state-law claims. (D.N.
11, PageID # 244) The Court agrees. “[U]rban county
governments constitute a new classification of county
government . . . [and are] entitled to sovereign
immunity.” Lexington-Fayette Urban Cty. Gov't
v. Smolcic, 142 S.W.3d 128, 132 (Ky. 2004); see
also Ky. Rev. Stat. § 67C.101(2)(e) (granting to
consolidated local governments “the same sovereign
immunity granted to counties, their agencies, officers, and
employees”). Although Cook maintains that “the
state claims found in the conduct complained of . . . are not
directed at Louisville Metro” (D.N. 6, PageID # 147),
his second amended complaint asserts three state-law claims
against “the Defendants, including The City and The
Department.” (D.N. 10, PageID # 238-40) Thus, to the
extent Cook asserts any state-law claims against Louisville
Metro, those claims are barred by sovereign
Louisville Metro argues that it is entitled to dismissal of
Cook's claims for relief under § 1983 because
Cook's allegations are merely formulaic recitations of
the elements of a § 1983 claim. (D.N. 11, PageID #
245-46 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678)) Even when
viewing Cook's second amended complaint in the light most
favorable to him, see Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488, the
Court agrees with Louisville Metro.
1983 suits against municipalities “must assert both an
alleged constitutional violation and a claim that the city
was responsible for the violation.” New v.
Louisville Metro Gov't, No. 3:15-cv-653-DJH, 2016 WL
1268299, at *3 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 31, 2016) (citing Collins
v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115, 120
(1992)). In his second amended complaint's first two
counts, Cook alleges that Louisville Metro is responsible for
Aubrey's alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment and