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Bagwell v. Hall County

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

April 28, 2015

DANNY BAGWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
HALL COUNTY, and, SHERIFF GERALD COUCH, Individually and in his official capacity as Hall County Sheriff, and ANDY LONG, Individually, and in his official capacity as Hall County Deputy Sheriff, and JOHN DOES 1-3, Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD W. STORY, District Judge.

This case comes before the Court on Defendants Hall County, Sheriff Gerald Couch, and Sergeant Andy Long's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [11]. After reviewing the record, the Court enters the following order.

Background

This case arises out of Plaintiff's arrest and subsequent incarceration. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-17.) On or around July 21, 2012, Plaintiff was staying at a motel on Atlanta Highway. While Plaintiff was outside his locked room, Sergeant Long arrested Plaintiff on an outstanding warrant from White County. Sergeant Long unlocked, entered, and searched Plaintiff's motel room in spite of Plaintiff refusing entry. (Id. ¶ 8.) Sergeant Long grabbed Plaintiff, threw him on the ground, and beat him. (Id. ¶ 9.)

While in the custody of Hall County, over the course of the following nine days, Plaintiff complained of pain, broken bones, and injuries. (Id. ¶ 10.) According to Plaintiff, unspecified Defendants denied that Plaintiff had broken bones and refused to provide a medical examination or medical attention, besides giving him some ibuprofen. (Id.) Plaintiff also contends that Defendants did not allow him to make written medical requests, falsely stated on a report that Plaintiff did not accept medical attention, and implied that Plaintiff was not seriously injured. (Id. ¶ 11.) These actions were in violation of Hall County's procedures that require an injured arrestee with "more than superficial injuries" to immediately be taken to a medical facility. (Id. ¶ 12.)

After Plaintiff was sent to White County on the outstanding warrant, Plaintiff requested medical assistance, and it was discovered that Plaintiff had a broken jaw and broken ribs. (Id. ¶ 13.) According to Plaintiff, Defendants failed to preserve evidence of Plaintiff's injuries. (Id. ¶ 14.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' actions violated various constitutional rights and state law and that Defendants were negligent by breaching a duty to exercise appropriate care of inmates in Hall County. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-34, 35-40.) Defendants now move for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(c).

Discussion

I. Judgment on the Pleadings Legal Standard

"Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where no issue of material fact remains unresolved and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Mergens v. Dreyfoos , 166 F.3d 1114, 1117 (11th Cir. 1999). "When reviewing judgment on the pleadings, [the Court] must take the facts alleged in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id. A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) may be premised on failure to state a claim. Mills v. Fitzgerald , 668 F.Supp. 1554, 1556 n.1 (N.D.Ga. 1987) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 12(h)).

In order to determine whether a plaintiff has stated a claim, 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. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (internal citations omitted); Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc. , 187 F.3d 1271, 1273 n.1 (11th Cir. 1999). 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.

II. Analysis

In support of Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, Defendants argue that: (1) Plaintiff's claims against Sheriff Couch in his individual capacity fail to state a claim given that he was not the Sheriff on the date of the incident, (2) Plaintiff's "Violation of Constitutional Rights and State Law by Defendants" claims fail to comply with Rules 8 and 10 and are shotgun allegations, (3) Plaintiff fails to state a federal claim against Hall County and Sheriff Couch and Sergeant Long in their official capacities because no alleged constitutional violation was inflicted pursuant to a government policy or custom, (4) Plaintiff's state law negligence claims against Hall County and Sheriff Couch and Sergeant Long in their official capacities are barred by sovereign immunity, (5) the negligence claim against Sergeant Long in his individual capacity is barred by official immunity, (6) Sheriff Couch and Sergeant Long in their individual capacities have not been properly served with process in accordance with state and/or federal law, (7) punitive damages are not recoverable against Hall ...


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