United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
KELLY HICKS, individually and as next friend of J.E., Plaintiff,
DAN KILGORE, Y CLARK, DAVID WALKER, CHAD SEYMOUR, and TRACY WAINWRIGHT, Defendants.
J. ABRAMS, JUDGE.
the Court are Defendants Chad Seymour and Tracy
Wainwright's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17) and
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint (Doc. 27). For the
following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
17) is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend (Doc. 27)
Kelly Hicks initiated this action on September 20, 2016 (Doc.
1) and amended her complaint as a matter of right on December
22, 2016 (Doc. 13). On January 5, 2017, Defendants Chad
Seymour and Tracy Wainwright filed the Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 17) that is now before the Court. Defendants Dan
Kilgore, Casey Clark, and David Walker answered the Amended
Complaint on January 11, 2017. (Doc. 21). Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint (hereafter, “Complaint”),
alleges that Defendants Seymour and Wainwright (hereafter,
“Defendants”) violated her son's Fourth,
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, deprived her son of
his personal liberty under the Georgia Constitution, and
committed the tort of illegal arrest under Georgia state law.
(Doc. 13, ¶¶ 28, 33, 47-49).
Kelly Hicks is the mother and custodian of J.E. (Doc. 13,
¶ 5). At the time of the incident, J.E. was a nine-year
old child with autism, attending school pursuant to an
Individualized Education Program (IEP). Id.
Defendant Chad Seymour was the principal of J.E.'s
school, and Defendant Tracy Wainwright was the
vice-principal. Id. at ¶ 9. On December 3,
2014, J.E. witnessed students at his school being escorted
out of the building due to a bomb threat that had been
written on the wall of a bathroom stall. Id. at
¶¶ 6-7. On December 8, 2014, J.E. tried to
re-create the situation by writing “bone thrat”
on the wall of a bathroom stall and telling a student monitor
about the threat. Id. at ¶ 8. Pursuant to local
school district policy, the student monitor told a teacher,
who told administrative personnel, who then telephoned 911.
Casey Clark and David Walker are the law-enforcement officers
who arrived at the school. After their arrival, Clark,
Walker, Seymour, and Wainwright all began questioning J.E.
without Plaintiff being present and without giving J.E. his
Miranda warnings. Id. at ¶ 9. At all times,
Defendants Seymour and Wainwright were aware of J.E.'s
age and that he was autistic. Id. at ¶ 10. In
the course of questioning, J.E. admitted to writing
“bone thrat” on the bathroom wall. Id.
at ¶ 11. Clark and Walker then arrested J.E. and
transported him the Sheriff's office, where he was
charged with terroristic threats under O.C.G.A. §
16-11-37. Id. at ¶ 14, 18, 19. At the
Sheriff's office, J.E. was questioned again outside of
his mother's presence. Approximately an hour after
arriving at the Sheriff's office, J.E. was released to
Plaintiff's custody. Id. at ¶ 19.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to assert the
defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6),
the complaint must plead enough facts to state a claim for
relief that is plausible- not just conceivable-on its face.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). Restated, “the factual allegations in the
complaint must possess enough heft to set forth a plausible
entitlement to relief.” Edwards v. Prime,
Inc., 602 F.3d 1276, 1291 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal
citation and punctuation marks omitted).
motion to dismiss, the Court “construes the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts all
well-pled facts alleged [ ] in the complaint as true.”
Sinaltrainal v.Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260
(11th Cir. 2009), abrogated on other grounds by Mohamad
v. Palestinian Auth., 132 S.Ct. 1702 (2012). The
“tenet that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.”Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). While notice pleading is a liberal standard,
“it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a
plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.”
Id. at 678-79. A “plaintiff's obligations
to provide the grounds of his entitlement to 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 citations
omitted). Moreover, when evaluating the sufficiency of a
complaint, the Court must “make reasonable inferences
in plaintiff's favor;” however, the Court is
“not required to draw plaintiff's
inference[s].” Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co.,
578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Aldana v.
Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248
(11th Cir. 2005)), abrogated on other grounds by Mohamad
v. Palestinian Auth., 132 S.Ct. 1702 (2012).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must
allege: “(1) that the conduct complained of was
committed by a person acting under color of state law; and
(2) that the conduct deprived a person of rights secured by
the Constitution or law of the United States.”
Morrison v. Washington Cty., Ala., 700 F.2d 678, 682
(11th Cir. 1983). Pursuant to § 1983, “a
government official who neither arrests plaintiff nor
procures the arrest warrant but who instigates or causes an
unlawful arrest may be held liable under the Fourth
Amendment.” Buckner v. Shetterley, 621
F.Supp.2d 1300, 1303 (M.D. Ga. 2008); see also
Jordan v. Mosley, 487 F.3d 1350, 1354 (11th
Cir. 2007). Such a claim, however, is still subject to the
same requirements of damages and causation as common law tort
claims. See Dixon v. Burke Cty., Ga., 303 F.3d 1271,
1274-75 (11th Cir. 2002) (“The Constitution is the
substantive fuel powering § 1983, but its mechanical
structure is similar to the common law of Torts.”);
Jackson v. Sauls, 206 F.3d 1156, 1168 (11th Cir.
2000) (“[W]e are guided by certain common law tort
principles of damages and causation which apply in this
§ 1983 context.”); Monroe v. Pape, 365
U.S. 167, 187 (1961) (explaining that § 1983
“should be read against the background of tort
liability that makes a man responsible for the natural
consequences of his actions.”).
with any common law tort, Plaintiff must establish an
adequate causal link between the alleged harm and the alleged
unlawful conduct.” Dixon, 303 F.3d at 1275;
see also Troupe v. Sarasota Cty., Fla., 419 F.3d
1160, 1165 (11th Cir. 2005) (“A § 1983 claim
requires proof of an affirmative causal connection between
the defendant's acts or omissions and the alleged
constitutional deprivation.”). Without this causal
link, a § 1983 claim “fails as a matter of
law.” Id. “Under traditional tort
principles, causation has two required elements:
cause-in-fact and legal or proximate cause.”
Jackson, 200 F.3d at 1168 n. 16. “To establish
cause-in-fact, the plaintiff must show that except for the
constitutional tort, such injuries and damages would not have
occurred.” Id. To establish proximate cause,
the plaintiff must show that “the injury or damages was
a reasonably foreseeable consequence of ...