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Kirilova v. Braun

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

July 10, 2018

REINELLA S. KIRILOVA, as Administratrix of the Estate of William Allen Young, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
RUSSELL BRAUN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Reinella Kirilova brings this action as Administratrix of the Estate of her son, William Allen Young, Jr., against Defendants Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad, and LMPD Officers Russell Braun, Randall Richardson, and Paige Young. (Docket No. 12) Kirilova alleges that the officers fatally shot William Young without justification in violation of the United States Constitution and Kentucky law. (See id.) Louisville Metro and Conrad have moved to dismiss Kirilova's claims against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.N. 15; D.N. 19) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motions.

         I. Background

         The 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)).

         In 2017, William Young was a 31-year-old individual struggling with drug addiction and mental illness. (D.N. 12, PageID # 75) Besides occasionally residing with his mother, Young was homeless and would often sleep inside abandoned buildings. (Id.) On the night of February 11, 2017, Young was sleeping on the second floor of an abandoned building at 1234 Oleander Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. (Id.) Meanwhile, LMPD Officers Braun, Richardson, and Young received a report of an alleged burglary at that premises. (Id.) When they arrived at the scene, the officers entered the building, despite seeing that it was abandoned and partially boarded-up. (Id.) As they surveyed the building, the officers had their handguns drawn and held flashlights in each of their free hands. (Id., PageID # 75-76)

         The complaint alleges that in searching the building, “[the officers] failed to utilize features of the house to search and clear the premises without unnecessarily exposing themselves to a perceived risk.” (Id., PageID # 76) The officers shouted “police” on several occasions, but there is no evidence that William Young heard their warnings. (Id.) Upon seeing the officers, Young jumped up and rushed toward them with an object in his hand. (Id.) The officers proceeded to fire their weapons at Young numerous times. (Id., PageID # 77) Young sustained gunshot wounds during the altercation. (Id.) The officers handcuffed Young; tragically, Young died a few minutes later. (Id.)

         Kirilova brings this action against Louisville Metro, LMPD Chief of Police Steve Conrad, and Officers Braun, Richardson, and Young. (See D.N. 12) She asserts claims for relief under § 1983 against all Defendants. (Id., PageID # 77-78) She also asserts state-law claims against Conrad and the officers. (Id., PageID # 78) Louisville Metro and Conrad now move to dismiss Kirilova's claims against them.[1] (D.N. 15; D.N. 19)

         II. Standard

         In 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 she is entitled to relief. Id. at 679. The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” 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).

         III. Louisville Metro's Motion to Dismiss

         In order to establish municipal liability under § 1983, Kirilova must show that the alleged constitutional violation occurred because of a municipal custom or policy. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Kirilova may make the requisite showing by demonstrating one of the following: “(1) the existence of an illegal official policy or legislative enactment; (2) that an official with final decision making authority ratified illegal actions; (3) the existence of a policy of inadequate training or supervision; or (4) the existence of a custom of tolerance or acquiescence of federal rights violations, ” such as ineffective screening during the hiring process. Burgess v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462, 478 (6th Cir. 2013).

         In her complaint, Kirilova presents three theories upon which to hold Louisville Metro liable under § 1983: (i) ratification, (ii) failure to train, and (iii) ineffective screening. (See D.N. 12) Even viewing Kirilova's complaint in the light most favorable to her, see Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488, the Court concludes that Kirilova has failed to allege sufficient facts to support her claims. Additionally, while the Court is not required to grant Kirilova a second opportunity to amend her complaint, see Burkeen v. A.R.E. Accessories, LLC, No. 5:16-CV-00017-GNS-LLK, 2017 WL 5076516, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 3, 2017) (“Contrary to Plaintiffs' contentions, the Sixth Circuit has never held that district courts must grant leave to amend sua sponte when justice so requires.”), the Court has considered whether it would be appropriate here.

         “[L]eave to amend a complaint may be denied where there is . . . repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed.” Beydoun v. Sessions, 871 F.3d 459, 469 (6th Cir. 2017) (internal quotations omitted). The arguments raised in Louisville Metro's initial motion to dismiss are substantially similar to those at issue in its current motion to dismiss. (See D.N. 7-1; D.N. 15-1) Although Kirilova filed an amended complaint in response to the initial motion to dismiss (D.N. 9), for the reasons explained below, her amended complaint fails to cure her original complaint's deficiencies. The Court thus concludes that granting Kirilova an additional attempt to conform her complaint to federal pleading standards would be futile given her repeated failure “to allege a nexus between any [municipal] policy and the claimed events or injuries.” Gerald Williams v. Kentucky Ass'n of Ctys. Ins. Agency, Inc., No. 6:17-CV-222-REW-EBA, 2018 WL 3155818, at *5 (E.D. Ky. June 28, 2018); see also Hogan v. Jacobson, 823 F.3d 872, 885 n.3 (6th Cir. 2016) (finding that the district court did not err in declining to grant leave to amend sua sponte where “[t]he plaintiff never sought leave to amend before the district court and provide[d] nothing from which [the appellate court] could infer that she could amend her complaint [to conform to federal pleading standards]”).

         A. Ratification

         To proceed with her ratification claim against Louisville Metro, Kirilova “must adequately allege . . . that an official with final decision making authority ratified illegal actions.” D'Ambrosio v. Marino, 747 F.3d 378, 386 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Burgess, 735 F.3d at 478). “[R]atification of a subordinate's action requires more than acquiescence-it requires affirmative approval of a particular decision made by a subordinate.” Feliciano ...


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