United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUGDE.
before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Partial
Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 15) and Plaintiff's
Motion for Hearing on Defendants' motion (Doc. 23) . For
the reasons below, the Court GRANTS IN PART
and DENIES IN PART the motion for judgment
on the pleadings and DENIES the motion for
case arises out of Plaintiff Tyler Bowen's injuries
sustained as a member of Telfair County High School's
football team. (Compl., Doc. 1, Ex. 2.) While playing in a
football game on September 9, 2016, Tyler suffered a
concussion. The football team's coach and Telfair County
High School employee, Matthew Burleson, allowed Tyler to
continue playing after Tyler exhibited symptoms of a
concussion. (Id. ¶¶ 7-13.) Tyler then
suffered more blows to the head during the game. A doctor
later diagnosed Tyler with a concussion, his symptoms
including cognitive impairment, memory alteration, mood
swings, diminished academic ability, and reduced ability to
complete everyday activities. (Id. ¶¶
sued in state court naming Matthew Burleson and Telfair
County School District ("TCSD") as two defendants
among others. Plaintiffs assert negligence and intentional
tort claims in addition to a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. The
case was removed to this Court on October 31, 2018. (Doc. 1.)
Now, Defendants Matthew Burleson and TCSD move for judgment
on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).
(Doc. 15.) Plaintiffs also move for a hearing on
Defendants' motion. The Court will address each in turn.
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
legal standards applicable to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(c) motions for judgment on the pleadings and Rule 12(b)(6)
motions to dismiss are the same. Carbone v. Cable News
Network, Inc. 910 F.3d 1345, 1350 (11th Cir. 2018). A
motion for judgment on the pleadings does not test whether
the plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits of the
case. Rather, it tests the legal sufficiency of the
complaint. Scheur v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
(1974), abrogated on other grounds by Davis v.
Scherer, 468 U.S. 183, 191 (1984). Therefore, the court
must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint and
construe all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Hoffman-Pugh v.
Ramsey, 312 F.3d 1222, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002). The court,
however, need not accept the complaint's legal
conclusions as true, only its well-pleaded facts.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009).
complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, *to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Io\ at 678 (citing Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The
plaintiff is required to plead "factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. Although there is no probability requirement at
the pleading stage, "something beyond [a] mere
possibility . . . must be alleged." Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557-58 (citing Durma Pharm., Inc. v.
Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005)). When, however, based
on a dispositive issue of law, no construction of the factual
allegations of the complaint will support the cause of
action, dismissal of the complaint is appropriate. See
Executive 100, Inc. v. Martin Cty., 922 F.2d 1536, 1539
(11th Cir. 1991).
motion is based on three arguments: 1) Matthew Burleson has
qualified immunity for the § 1983 claim against him; 2)
TCSD has sovereign immunity under the Georgia Constitution
for the state law claims against it; and 3) Burleson has
official immunity under the Georgia Constitution for the
state law claims against him in his individual capacity.
Qualified Immunity as to the § 1983 Claim
immunity offers complete protection to government officials
acting in their discretionary capacity when sued in their
individual capacities so long as their conduct does not
violate clearly established law. Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 815-18 (1982). An official
acts within his or her discretionary authority when the
"objective circumstances . . . compel the conclusion
that his actions were undertaken pursuant to the performance
of his duties and within the scope of his authority."
Courson v. McMillian, 939 F.2d 1479, 1487 (11th Cir.
1991) (quotation omitted). Burleson was acting within his
discretionary authority here; there is nothing in the
Complaint alleging that Burleson was acting outside his
authority, and Plaintiff alleges Burleson was an employee of
TCSD acting within the scope of his employment at the time of
the alleged injury. (Compl. ¶ 14.)
overcome qualified immunity a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1)
that the official's conduct violated a statutory or
constitutional right and (2) the right was clearly
established at the time of the challenged conduct.
Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 715 (11th Cir.
2010); see also Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223,
232-36 (2009) (holding that courts have ...