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Williams v. City of Georgetown

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

November 5, 2018

LISA K. WILLIAMS, Administratrix of the Estate of Keith G. Burns, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Jim Danny C. Reeves United States District Judge

         This case arises out of a series of events tragically resulting in Keith Burns being struck and killed by a vehicle just before midnight on October 2, 2017. [Record No. 11 ¶ 19] Plaintiff Lisa Williams, the administratrix of Burns's estate, contends that the defendants violated Burns's rights guaranteed under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Record No. 11 ¶ 2] Williams also alleges several state law claims for relief. The defendants have moved to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Record Nos. 23, 34]. Additionally, Williams has filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint [Record No. 32]. For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motions to dismiss will be granted and the Williams's motion for leave to file a second amended complaint will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         The Georgetown Police Department and Scott County Sherriff's Office received a report of a reckless driver in a dark colored pickup truck at approximately 7:45 p.m. on October 2, 2017. [Record No. 11 ¶ 9] The report indicated that the truck's lights were not illuminated and that the driver of the truck was weaving, driving on the wrong side of the road, slamming on his brakes, and had almost hit several other cars. [Id.] Georgetown Police Officer Tommy Enricco responded and pulled over a truck driven by Burns. [Id. at ¶ 10] Georgetown Police Officer Jon Noel and Scott County Sherriff's Deputy Jeremy Nettles subsequently joined Enricco. [Id.]

         Burns did not make eye contact with Enricco and was unable to locate his driver's license or proof of insurance during the stop. [Id. at ¶ 11] Burns stated that he lived in London, Kentucky, but could not explain what he was doing in Georgetown, Kentucky. [Id.] Additionally, Enricco observed a scab on Burns's head and questioned him about it. [Id.] Burns responded that it was from an earlier fall and he had recently been hospitalized for a neurological disorder. [Id.] Burns further informed Enricco that he took medication for his blood pressure and a blood thinner, but he denied taking any medications that could affect his driving. [Id.]

         Noel and Nettles also spoke with Burns. [Id.] Burns told Noel that he was taking medication for diabetes, but that he had missed two doses of his medication that day. [Id.] Enricco, Noel, and Nettles summoned the Georgetown Scott County Emergency Medical Service (“EMS”) to examine Burns but Burns refused any treatment or transport to a medical facility. [Id. at ¶ 12]

         Burns's brother-in-law Les Williams received a call from Noel who advised Mr. Williams of the situation, specifically that Burns was pulled over, his truck was impounded due to improper tags, and he was in police custody. [Id. at ¶ 15] Noel then told Mr. Williams that he needed to pick up Burns in Georgetown. [Id.] Mr. Williams informed Noel that Burns had recently been hospitalized for a stroke and it would take about an hour for him to get to Georgetown after his wife, Lisa Williams, got home from church. [Id.] Noel advised Mr. Williams that he should call Georgetown Police dispatch for further instructions when he got to Georgetown. [Id.]

         Mr. Williams arrived in Georgetown around 11:00 p.m. on October 2, 2017, and called Georgetown Police dispatch who informed him that Burns had been dropped off at a McDonald's restaurant at 171 Southgate Drive in Georgetown. [Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17, 20] However, Mr. Williams could not find Burns when he arrived at the restaurant. [Id. at ¶ 17] Sadly, just before midnight, Burns was struck and killed by a van while he was walking in the roadway about two miles south of the restaurant. [Id. at ¶ 19]

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Lisa Williams filed suit on March 8, 2018, naming as defendants: the City of Georgetown, Kentucky; Michael D, Bosse; Nicholas Lodal; Gary Crump; and Jane/John Does Nos. 1 and 2. [Record No. 1] She subsequently sought leave to amended the complaint to dismiss the claims against Lodal and Crump and to add Georgetown Police Officers Noel and Enricco, as well as Scott County Deputy Sherriff Nettles, Scott County Deputy Tony Hampton, and Scott County, Kentucky, as defendants. [Record No. 9] The Court granted the request and the plaintiff filed her amended complaint on April 6, 2018. [Record Nos. 10, 11] The plaintiff asserts that the defendants violated Burns's rights guaranteed under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She also alleges several state law claims, including negligence, gross negligence, and wrongful death. Bosse, Noel, Enricco, Hampton, and Nettles are sued in their individual capacities. [Record No. 9]

         Defendants Scott County, Hampton and Nettles (collectively, the “Scott County Defendants”) moved to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on June 27, 2018. [Record No. 23] The plaintiff filed her response on July 16, 2018, and the Scott County Defendants filed their reply on July 27, 2018. The plaintiff moved for leave to file a second amended complaint on August 13, 2018, to remove the statement that the defendants “nonetheless decided that Mr. Burns was not a danger to himself or to others.” [Record No. 32 ¶ 1] Defendants City of Georgetown, Bossee, Noel and Enricco (collectively, the “Georgetown Defendants”) also moved to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on August 13, 2018. [Record No. 34] All motions have been fully briefed.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motions to Dismiss

         A 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss requires the Court to determine whether the complaint alleges “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, 555 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). While a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement of relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted). Plaintiffs are not required to plead facts showing that the defendant is likely to be responsible for the harm alleged, but they must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         B. Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint

         After a response to a complaint has been filed or a plaintiff has previously filed an amended complaint, a plaintiff may amend the complaint “only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); see also Thiokal Corp. v. Dep't of Treasury, State of Mich., Revenue Div., 987 F.2d 376, 383 (6th Cir. 1993). While Rule 15(a) states that the “court should freely give leave when justice so requires, ” denying leave is appropriate in instances of “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on party of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment, etc.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Motions to Dismiss

         1. The Officers' Liability

         Enricco, Noel, and Nettles (collectively, “the officers”) contend that they are shielded from the plaintiff's federal claims ...


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