United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
T. TREADWELL, JUDGE.
Defendants jointly move to dismiss the Plaintiff's claims
against Defendant Monroe County, to dismiss the state law
claims against all Defendants in their official capacities,
and to substitute Sheriff Shackelford for former Sheriff
Bittick on the official-capacity claims against former
Sheriff Bittick. For the following reasons, Defendant Monroe
County's motion to dismiss (Doc. 18) is
GRANTED, and all claims against it are
DISMISSED with prejudice. The other
Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 18) is
Micka Martin brings this suit following an alleged beating by
William Jackson, a Deputy of the Monroe County Sheriff's
Department. Doc. 1. According to the Plaintiff, she was
arrested and brought to the Monroe County jail by Jackson.
Id. ¶ 18. She was highly intoxicated and placed
in handcuffs. Id. ¶ 19. Then, following a
verbal altercation, Jackson shoved her into a wall and
slapped, punched, kicked, and elbowed her, injuring the
Plaintiff's face and head. Id. ¶¶
20-21. Defendants Brown and Lopez, employees of the
Sheriff's Department, allegedly helped Jackson put the
Plaintiff in a full-body restraint, but did not intervene in
Jackson's beating of her. Id. ¶¶ 9,
10, 22. According to the Plaintiff, a jail officer attempted
to restrain Defendant Jackson, but Brown prevented him from
doing so. Id. ¶ 23. Following the beating, the
Plaintiff alleges she was denied medical care by Defendant
Prescott, who is a nurse, and by other jail staff, which
worsened her injuries. Id. ¶¶ 24-25.
Plaintiff brings the following claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983: use of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments, by Defendants Jackson, Brown, and
Lopez (Id. ¶¶ 31-35); deprivation of
medical treatment by all Defendants (Id. ¶ 41);
and failure to train and promulgation of policies, customs,
and procedures causing the excessive force and deprivation of
medical care, against Defendant Monroe County and Defendant
Bittick, the Sheriff of Monroe County (Id.
¶¶ 7, 46). She also brings state law claims against
Monroe County and Bittick for negligent retention
(Id. ¶ 49); against Jackson for battery
(Id. ¶ 51); and against Jackson, Brown, Lopez,
and unidentified defendants for negligence (Id.
¶ 55). She requests punitive damages against Jackson,
Brown, and Lopez, and she claims entitlement to
attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Id.
¶¶ 60, 62. Apparently, all claims against the
individual Defendants are brought in both their individual
and official capacities. Id. ¶ 17.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a pleading
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To avoid dismissal pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter to “‘state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “At
the motion to dismiss stage, all well-pleaded facts are
accepted as true, and the reasonable inferences therefrom are
construed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Garfield v. NDC Health Corp., 466
F.3d 1255, 1261 (11th Cir. 2006) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). However, “where the well-pleaded
facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it
has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is
entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “[C]onclusory
allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal
conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent
dismissal.” Oxford Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v.
Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002). The
complaint must “give the defendant fair notice of what
the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). Where there are dispositive issues of
law, a court may dismiss a claim regardless of the alleged
facts. Marshall Cty. Bd. of Educ. v. Marshall Cty. Gas
Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir. 1993).
Claims against Monroe County
Monroe County argues it should be dismissed because it is not
responsible for the actions of the Monroe County
Sheriff's Office. Doc. 18-1 at 3. It argues the
sheriff's office and the county are different,
independent constitutional entities. Id. at 3-4.
Further, Monroe County argues, counties in Georgia do not
have control over sheriff's offices. Id. The
Plaintiff notes in her response, counties may be sued under
§ 1983 for their constitutional violations. Doc. 20 at
2; Knight v. Miami-Dade Cty., 856 F.3d 795, 819
(11th Cir. 2017) (citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978)).
To establish that a county carried out a constitutional
violation, “a plaintiff ‘must identify either (1)
an officially promulgated county policy or (2) an unofficial
custom or practice of the county shown through the repeated
acts of a final policymaker for the county.'”
Id. (quoting Grech v. Clayton Cty., 335
F.3d 1326, 1329 (11th Cir. 2003)). Unless an official county
policy exists, the plaintiff “must show that the county
has authority and responsibility over the governmental
function in issue and must also identify those officials who
speak with final policymaking authority for that local
governmental entity.” Id. (quotation marks and
citation omitted). On the other hand, “[counties] can
never be liable under § 1983 for the acts of those whom
the local government has no authority to control.”
Turquitt v. Jefferson Cty., 137 F.3d 1285, 1292
(11th Cir. 1998). Whether an official is acting as a
policymaker for the State or for the county depends on the
function the official is serving and “on the definition
of the official's functions under relevant state
law.” McMillian v. Monroe Cty., 520 U.S. 781,
785-86 (1997) (citation omitted).
sheriff's office is an independent entity not subject to
the control of the county in which it is located. Bd. of
Comm'rs of Spalding Cty. v. Stewart, 284 Ga. 573,
574, 668 S.E.2d 644, 645 (2008) (citation omitted) (upholding
an injunction preventing county from interfering in the
provision of medical care); see Manders v. Lee, 338
F.3d 1304, 1322 (11th Cir. 2003) (en banc); Lake v.
Skelton, 840 F.3d 1334, 1339 (11th Cir. 2016), cert.
denied, 138 S.Ct. 1549 (2018). County officials outside
the sheriff's office do not, therefore, make policy for
the sheriff's office. The Plaintiff has no meaningful
response to this argument. See Doc. 20 at 2-3.
Accordingly, Defendant Monroe County's motion to dismiss
(Doc. 18) is GRANTED.
State law claims against the ...