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Murphy v. Pike County Detention Center

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville

July 31, 2018

CONSWELLA MURPHY, Plaintiff,
v.
PIKE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Pike County Detention Center; Brian Morris, in his official capacity as Pike County Jailer; and Freddie Lewis, in his previous official capacity as Pike County Jailer. (DE 3.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff Conswella Murphy's Complaint. (DE 1-1.) Murphy was arrested on August 6, 2017 for flagrant non-support and taken to Pike County Detention Center. (Compl. ¶¶ 15, 16.) The next day, while still in Pike County Detention Center's custody, Murphy was severely beaten by ten unknown John and Jane Does. (Compl. ¶ 17.) As a result of this attack, Murphy suffered severe physical and mental trauma. (Compl. ¶ 26.)

         Murphy initiated this action in Pike Circuit Court on December 8, 2017. She named as Defendants Pike County Detention Center; Brian Morris, in his official capacity as Pike County Jailer; Freddie Lewis, in his official capacity as Pike County Jailer when the alleged beating occurred; and ten unknown John and Jane Does who she alleges attacked her. The known Defendants have moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (DE 3.) Briefing has been completed and this matter is now ripe for review.

         II. Standard of Review

         A civil complaint is subject to dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To state a claim for relief, a 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). When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “[t]he complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff]; the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in [the plaintiff's] favor.” Gavitt v. Born 835 F.3d 623, 640 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Jelovsek v. Bredesen, 545 F.3d 431, 434 (6th Cir. 2008)). Legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations, however, need not be accepted. Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         The Supreme Court has further elaborated on the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) in two cases: Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). The pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A pleading that merely “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action'” is insufficient. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Thus, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Plausible does not mean probable; a claim is 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, ” but falls short if the “complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57).

         III. Analysis

         Murphy asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of her Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. She also asserts state law claims for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention against Pike County Detention Center and Lewis, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against all Defendants. Pike County Detention Center, Morris, and Lewis have moved to dismiss, or alternatively for summary judgment, Plaintiff's claims against Pike County Detention Center, state law claims, and § 1983 claims based upon violations of the Fourth and Eight Amendment. (DE 3.) Defendants arguments are addressed below.

         A. Section 1983 claims against Pike County Detention Center

         Plaintiff's claims against the Pike County Detention Center fail because the Pike County Detention Center is not a person or legal entity which may be sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Marby v. Corr. Med. Servs., No. 99-6706, 2000 WL 1720959, at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2000) (holding county jail was not subject to suit under § 1983). Therefore, the § 1983 claims against Pike County Detention Center must be dismissed.

         B. Section 1983 Fourth and Eighth Amendment Claims against Morris and Lewis

         Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of her Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights.[1] A § 1983 against a county official in his official capacity is properly treated as a claim against the county itself. See Laubis v. Witt, 597 Fed.Appx. 827, 832 (6th Cir. 2015) (“The district court correctly held that the official capacity suit against [a county sheriff] should be treated as a claim against the county itself.” (citing Shamaeizadeh v. Cunigan, 338 F.3d 535, 556 (6th Cir. 2003)). To succeed on a § 1983 claim against a local government, the plaintiff “must prove that ‘action ...


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