United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court are Augusta-Richmond County and Mayor Hardie Davis,
Jr.'s (collectively, "Defendants") motion to
dismiss and motion to dismiss the amended complaint. (Docs.
60, 86.) For the following reasons, the motions are denied as
moot and granted, respectively.
alleged facts relevant to the instant motion are as follows.
Plaintiff Roscoe Rhodes was detained at the Richmond County
Jail on November 18, 2016. Plaintiff suffered from a number
of medical conditions, including asthma, hypertension, and
diabetes. In December of 2016, Plaintiff suffered an asthma
attack requiring emergency hospitalization resulting in a
loss of lung function and cognitive injury. Plaintiff is
suing over twenty defendants under various legal theories but
asserts only Section 1983 claims for deliberate indifference
to medical needs against Augusta-Richmond County (the
"County") and its Mayor in his official capacity,
who now move to dismiss the claims against them.
motion to dismiss a complaint does not test whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits of the case.
Rather, it tests the legal sufficiency of the pleading.
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 pleading's legal conclusions as true, only its
well-pleaded facts. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, 'to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Id. 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 is appropriate. See Exec. 100,
Inc. v. Martin Cty., 922 F.2d 1536, 1539 (11th Cir.
filed two motions to dismiss: one applies to the original
complaint and one to the amended complaint. Because the first
complaint is no longer operative, Defendants' first
motion to dismiss is moot.
second motion to dismiss is based on one argument, namely
that a defendant county can only be liable under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 if it is responsible for an official policy that
causes a constitutional violation and that the County could
not possibly be responsible for such a policy in this case.
county is 'liable under section 1983 only for acts for
which [it] is actually responsible.' Indeed, a county is
liable only when the county's "official policy'
causes a constitutional violation." Grech v. Clayton
Cty., 335 F.3d 1326, 1329 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
694 (2018); quoting Marsh v. Butler Cty., 268 F.3d
1014, 1027 (11th Cir. 2001) (en Jbanc)) . A plaintiff has two
methods of establishing a county's official policy: (1)
by identifying an officially promulgated county policy, or
(2) by identifying an "unofficial custom or practice of
the county shown through the repeated acts of a final policy
maker for the county." Id. (citing
Monell, 436 U.S. at 690-91; Brown v.
Neumann, 188 F.3d 1289, 1290 (11th Cir. 1999)). In
either event, a plaintiff must show that the government
entity has authority and responsibility over the governmental
function at issue. See id. at 1330. This is the
hurdle Plaintiff cannot clear in this case. Defendants are
not responsible for providing medical treatment to detainees
housed in the County jail.
law governs the provision of medical services in county
jails. O.C.G.A. § 42-4-4 states that it is the
sheriff's duty to "furnish persons confined in the
jail with medical aid." Further, the sheriff's duty
and authority to manage the jail is derived from the State
and not the county. See Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d
1304, 1315 (11th Cir. 2003); see also Lake v.
Skelton, 840 F.3d 1334, 1338 (11th Cir. 2016)
(w[T]he [sheriff's] office is independent from
[the] County and its governing body." (citing Ga. Const,
art. IX, § II, para. 1(c)(1))).
O.C.G.A. § 42-5-2(a) provides that the
"governmental unit, subdivision, or agency having the
physical custody of an inmate" is responsible for
providing medical care to the inmate, the Eleventh Circuit
has ruled that the sheriff, and not the county, is the
governmental agency with custody of inmates. See
Lake, 84 0 F.3d at 134 0 ("The sheriff, not the
county, is the 'governmental unit, subdivision, or
agency' having custody of inmates in county jails.")
All Section 42-5-2 requires of counties is to fund the
provision of medical care. See id. at 1341
("[T]he county must fund the provision of medical care,
and the sheriff must select an appropriate provider and
ensure that inmates receive care when necessary.")
more succinctly, beyond funding, the County is in no way
involved with the provision of medical care in its jails. The
State delegates those duties to the sheriff, who does not act
on behalf of the county when fulfilling them. Thus,
Plaintiff's claim against Defendants fails as a matter of
law. No matter what Plaintiff alleges, Defendants are not
actually responsible for providing his medical care. See
Grech, 335 F.3d at ...