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Pedraza v. Hall County

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Gainesville Division

March 31, 2015

ANDRONICO PEDRAZA, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
HALL COUNTY, GEORGIA, Defendant.

ORDER

RICHARD W. STORY, District Judge.

This case comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [5]. After reviewing the record, the Court enters the following Order.

Background

On December 30, 2012, Plaintiff Andronico Pedraza, Jr. was arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to Hall County Jail. (Compl. ¶¶ 5-6). While Plaintiff was handcuffed at the jail, Deputy David Pirkle ("Pirkle") struck him in the back of the head. (Compl. ¶¶ 7). As a result of this incident, Pirkle was indicted for violation of his oath of office and battery, and pled guilty to the battery charge. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-9).

Plaintiff now brings this action against Defendant Hall County, Georgia, alleging two claims. First, Plaintiff brings a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged violation of his Eighth Amendment "right to be free from excessive force and from cruel and unusual punishment." (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 16). Second, Plaintiff seeks to hold Hall County liable under state law for the battery committed by Pirkle. (Compl. ¶¶ 17). Hall County then filed this motion to dismiss both claims for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. [5] at 1).

Discussion

I. Motion to Dismiss Legal Standard

When considering a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a federal court is to accept as true "all facts set forth in the plaintiff's complaint." Grossman v. Nationsbank, N.A., 225 F.3d 1228, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Further, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc., 187 F.3d 1271, 1273 n.1 (11th Cir. 1999); see also Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (internal citations omitted). However, "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id.

The United States Supreme Court has dispensed with the rule that a complaint may only be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) when "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 561 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). The Supreme Court has replaced that rule with the "plausibility standard, " which requires that factual allegations "raise the right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 556. The plausibility standard "does not[, however, ] impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence [supporting the claim]." Id.

Hall County has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim. This motion is unopposed. See L.R. 7.1(B), NDGa ("Failure to file a response shall indicate that there is no opposition to the motion."). However, an unopposed motion does not mean that the moving party automatically prevails; rather, the Court is still to consider the merits of the motion. See Dunlap v. Transamerica Occidental Life Ins. Co., 858 F.2d 629, 632 (11th Cir. 1988) (in an unopposed motion for summary judgment, the district court must "indicate that the merits of the motion were addressed"); Simpson v. Countrywide Home Loans, 2010 WL 3190693, at *3 (N.D.Ga. Apr. 26, 2010) (holding that "unopposed" under Northern District of Georgia Local Rule 7.1(B) does not mean the non-responsive party "abandoned" its claims in the motion to dismiss context). Therefore, the Court will consider the merits of Hall County's Motion to Dismiss [5].

II. Hall County's Motion to Dismiss

A. Section 1983

Plaintiff raises his first claim against Hall County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eight Amendment. Under Section 1983,

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to ...

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