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Patton v. Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government

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

October 15, 2019

AUSTIN PATTON Plaintiff
v.
LOUISVILLE JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOVERNMENT ET AL. Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          REBECCA GRADY JENNINGS, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Austin Patton sues Defendants Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government ("Louisville"); City of Louisville Department of Metro Corrections ("LDMC") (collectively, "Municipal Defendants"); Mark Bolton, in his official and individual capacities; Dwayne A. Clark, in his official and individual capacities (collectively "Individual Defendants"); all unknown correctional officers for City of Louisville Department of Metro Corrections ("Unknown Officers"); and all unknown ranked supervisors for City of Louisville Department of Metro Corrections ("Unknown Supervisors") (collectively, "Unknown Defendants"). [DE 1]. Patton alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the Constitution and Kentucky law while he was a pretrial detainee. [Id.]. The Municipal and Individual Defendants have moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [DE 4]. Briefing is complete, and this matter is ripe. For the reasons below, the Motion to Dismiss will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court takes the following factual allegations in the complaint as true for its consideration of the present motion. 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)).

         Patton is, and has been, in LDMC's custody, awaiting trial. [DE 1 at 5-6, ¶ 17]. Patton has received death threats from inmates associated with Patton's alleged victim. [Id. at 6, ¶18]. A judge ordered that Patton be held in Christian County for his safety, however, LDMC has periodically transported Patton to Jefferson County for court appearances. [Id. at 6, ¶¶ 19-20]. While held in Jefferson County, LDMC placed Patton on the fifth floor in the general population with the individuals who had threatened him. [Id. at 6, ¶ 22]. He was supposed to be placed in protective custody and/or the fourth floor for seclusion from his alleged victim's friends. [Id. at 6, ¶ 21]. Patton's alleged victim's friends assaulted him in the shower room on the fifth floor, and Patton "suffered a fractured skull, a fractured eye socket, a broken arm, and various other bodily injuries." [Id. at 6, ¶ 23-24]. Despite the known health and safety risk to Patton, the Unknown Officers and Unknown Supervisors were not checking on Patton that day during their rounds. [Id. at 7, ¶ 26-27]. Patton lay "in the shower room seriously injured and nearly dead for five hours before Unknown COs found him, only after [Patton's] Mom visited [LDMC] and inquired into his whereabouts." [Id. at 6, ¶ 25].

         Patton alleges Bolton is the "Director of the [LMDC] and a [Louisville] employee . . . and is responsible, in part for forming, administering, monitoring, and supervising the policies and activities involved in those of the . . . known and unknown [LMDC] employees." [Id. at 4-5, ¶¶ 10-12]. Patton alleges Clark is the "Chief of Staff of [LMDC] and a [Louisville] employee ... and is responsible, in part for administering, monitoring, and supervising the policies and activities involved in those of the . . . known and unknown [LMDC] employees." [Id. at 5, ¶¶ 12-13]. Patton alleges the Municipal Defendants are "responsible, in part, for administering, monitoring, and supervising the policies and activities ... of the . . . known and unknown [MCDC] employees." [Id. at 4, ¶¶ 8-9]. Patton further alleges that Defendants knew, or should have known, that there was a substantial risk of harm when he transferred back to Jefferson County for trial purposes, that they were on notice of the Christian County's Judge's order, and that they disregarded that risk by placing him in the general population. [Id. at 8, ¶ 36].

         Patton sued Defendants, alleging violations of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process (Federal Count I), Conspiracy to violate the Constitution (Federal Count II), Failure to train, supervise, audit, and discipline (Federal Count III), and violations of his rights under Kentucky law, violation of due process under the Kentucky Constitution (State Count I), Conspiracy to Violate the Kentucky Constitution (State Count II), Negligence (State Count III), Reckless/Negligent failure to train and supervise (State Count IV). [Id.]. In his prayer for relief, Patton requests compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. [Id. at 12]. The Individual and Municipal Defendants moved to dismiss the counts against them, [DE 4], and Patton responded, [DE 5]. No. replies were filed.

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) instructs that a court must dismiss a complaint if the complaint "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a claim, 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 considering a motion to dismiss, courts must presume all factual allegations in the complaint to be true and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). "But the district court need not accept a bare assertion of legal conclusions." Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). 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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "A complaint will be dismissed ... if no law supports the claims made, if the facts alleged are insufficient to state a claim, or if the face of the complaint presents an insurmountable bar to relief." Southfield Educ. Ass 'n v. Southfield Bd. of Educ, 570 Fed.Appx. 485, 487 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 561-64).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Federal Claims

         "[Section] 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred." Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989) (internal quotation omitted). To state a claim under Section 1983, "a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law." Burley v. Gagacki, 729 F.3d 610, 619 (6th Cir. 2013). Defendants do not dispute that they were acting under color of state law, and so the only issue disputed is whether Patton has adequately alleged that Defendants violated his constitutional rights.

         To assert a cognizable § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must allege specific facts. Chapman v. City of Detroit, 808 F.2d 459, 465 (6th Cir. 1986). "The required facts must provide adequate detail to support the claim, such as specific incidents of deprivation of a plaintiffs rights, how each defendant was involved, the names of other persons involved, dates, and places." Allen v. Aramark Corp., Civil Action No. 3:07CV-P260-M, 2009 WL 1126093, at *3 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 27, 2009). The specific facts must explain how each defendant is responsible for the alleged injuries. Smith v. Rowe, 761 F.2d 360, 369 (7th Cir. 1985). Allegations premised on mere conclusions and opinions fail to state an adequate claim, Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987), and bare and conclusory allegations that a defendant personally deprived the plaintiff of constitutional or statutory rights are insufficient to state a cognizable claim, Hall v. United States, 704 F.2d 246, 251 (6th Cir. 1983). Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not constitute a "hyper-technical, code-pleading regime," it "does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

         1. Individual Defendants

         Patton sues Mark Bolton, Director for LDMC, and Dwayne A. Clark, Chief of Staff for LDMC, alleging that the Individual Defendants violated Patton's Fourteenth Amendment rights directly, conspired to violate his Fourteenth Amendment rights, and violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to train and supervise the Unknown Defendants. He brings these claims against the Individual Defendants both in their individual and official capacities.

         i. Count I - Individual Capacity - Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment

         In Count I, Patton asserts that the Individual Defendants "knew, or should have known" that there was "a substantial risk of serious harm to [Patton] when transferred back to The Department" and that the Individual Defendants "disregarded the risk ... by placing him in the general population of the Department and not ...


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