United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F.VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss filed by
Defendant Kentucky State Police. Plaintiffs Sandra Jones and
her husband, Barry Wesley Jones, seek damages after the
arrest of Ms. Jones resulted in substantial physical injury.
However, the claims against the Kentucky State Police are
barred by sovereign immunity. Therefore, the motion to
dismiss is GRANTED, and all claims in this
matter against the Kentucky State Police are
about February 20, 2018, Trooper Nicholas Hale became
involved in a verbal altercation with Plaintiff Sandra Jones.
[R. 1-2 at 2.] When Ms. Jones did not calm down, Trooper Hale
placed her under arrest and attempted to handcuff her.
Id. at 4. According to Trooper Hale, he
“continued trying to gain compliance and she started
swinging her hands, ” hitting his neck and scratching
him. Id. He then performed a “leg sweep,
” knocking Ms. Jones to the ground and causing serious
physical injury. Id. Ms. Jones was first transported
to TJ Samson Hospital for treatment, then she was released
and transported to jail. Id. at 4-5.
Jones, along with her husband, Barry Wesley Jones, sued the
Kentucky State Police as well as Trooper Nicholas Hale in his
individual capacity in Franklin Circuit Court in Frankfort,
Kentucky. [R. 1-2 at 2.] In her complaint, she seeks
compensatory and punitive damages for violations of 442
U.S.C. § 1983, excessive force, assault, battery, and
negligence, while Mr. Jones seeks compensatory damages for
loss of consortium. Id. at 5-7.
removed this action for original jurisdiction, based on the
alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. §1983. [R. 1 at 1-2.]
Immediately thereafter, the Kentucky State Police filed a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
[R. 5.] Neither Ms. Jones nor Mr. Jones responded to this
motion. The time to file such a response has now expired. LR
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a defendant
may assert lack of subject-matter jurisdiction as a defense.
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is different from a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) because it challenges
the Court's power to hear the case before it. When
jurisdiction is challenged under this rule, the burden is on
the plaintiff to prove that jurisdiction exists. RMI
Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125,
1134 (6th Cir. 1996). In answering this question, the Court
is “empowered to resolve factual disputes” and
need not presume that either parties' factual allegations
are true. Id.
Kentucky State Police contend that the Court has no subject
matter jurisdiction over the official capacity claims because
official defendants enjoy sovereign immunity against all
claims asserted by the Plaintiffs. [R. 5 at 3.] The Court
notes, at the outset here, Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones maintain
the burden of proving jurisdiction, however, they have filed
no response to the motion by the Kentucky State Police.
RMI Titanium Co., 78 F.3d at 1134. The Eleventh
Amendment prohibits a citizen from suing a state unless the
state has waived sovereign immunity. This restriction extends
even to federal § 1983 claims which originated in state
court. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 66-69 (1989). The Commonwealth of Kentucky has not
expressly waived immunity in this situation or in any way
consented to suit in this Court. [R. 5 at 7.] Such waiver or
consent must be express and unequivocal in order to bypass
immunity. Pennhurst State School & Hospital v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 99 (1984). As an agency of the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky State Police enjoys
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment.
Pennhurst, 465 at 100. Actions against state
officials in their official capacity are also considered
suits against the state, and thus also barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. Great Northern Life Ins. Co. v. Read, 322
U.S. 47, 50-51 (1944); see also Ford Motor Co. v.
Dep't of Treasury of State of Ind., 323 U.S. 459,
Parte Young creates a narrow exception to the Eleventh
Amendment, permitting injunctive action against a state
official when the official has some connection with the
enforcement of an unconstitutional act. 209 U.S. 123, 157
(1908). However, neither Ms. Jones nor Mr. Jones have
requested any type of injunctive relief, and therefore, the
Ex Parte Young exception does not apply here. Even
if a § 1983 claim asserts a violation of the
Constitution, the Eleventh Amendment completely bars a
federal court from awarding damages against the state
treasury. Pennhurst, 465 at 120. Accordingly, the
Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim against the Kentucky State
Police must be dismissed.
plaintiff asserts a § 1983 claim, the district court
maintains supplemental jurisdiction to address state law
claims related to those federal claims. Voyticky v.
Timberlake, 412 F.3d 669, 674-75 (6th Cir. 2005).
However, the constitutional bar under the Eleventh Amendment
applies to supplemental state claims just as it applies to
federal claims. Pennhurst, 465 at 120. As the
Supreme Court has stated, “If we were to hold
otherwise, a federal court could award damages against a
State on the basis of a pendent claim. Our decision in
Edelman v. Jordan, supra, makes clear that pendent
jurisdiction does not permit such an evasion of the immunity
guaranteed by the Eleventh Amendment.” Id. at
120-21 (citing Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651
(1974). Claims that state officials violated state law is a
claim against the state, and here, Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones
seek damages for such violations. See id. Therefore,
the Plaintiffs' state law claims against the Kentucky
State Police must also be dismissed for lack of subject
Ms. Jones alleges serious injury by the actions of a Kentucky
State Trooper, sovereign immunity prevents the Court from
awarding her or her husband any monetary relief from the
Commonwealth of Kentucky or its agencies. Accordingly, the
Kentucky State Police's Motion to Dismiss [R.
5] is GRANTED and all claims filed
by Plaintiffs Sandra Jones and Barry Wesley Jones ...