United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT
DAVIESS/DEKALB REGIONAL JAIL'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Defendant Daviess/DeKalb Regional Jail's (“the
Jail') Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Doc.
#15. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part
and denied in part.
Julia Amber Mitchell is a former detainee of Defendant
Daviess/DeKalb Regional Jail (“the Jail”).
Plaintiff alleges Michael Byrd (“Byrd”), a now
former employee of the Jail, made inappropriate sexual
comments to her, exposed himself, forced her to have unwanted
sexual contact with him, and sexually assaulted her. Doc. #1,
at 2-4. The Jail moved to dismiss Plaintiff's common law
claims because it was shielded from liability by
Missouri's sovereign immunity statute. Doc. #4. The
Honorable Beth Phillips granted the motion, and dismissed the
common law claims against the Jail. Doc. #8. This matter was
then transferred to the undersigned, and consolidated with
Porter v. Byrd, No. 18-6099, for purposes of
discovery. Docs. #9-11.
Jail now moves to dismiss the remaining claims (Counts I,
III, IV, and VIII) because there are insufficient allegations
of fact to support viable claims against the Jail under
section 1983. Doc. #15. Plaintiff failed to timely respond to
the Jail's motion. The Court directed Plaintiff to show
cause why the Jail's motion should not be granted. Doc.
#17. Thereafter, without explanation or a request to file out
of time, Plaintiff filed her opposition to Defendant's
motion. Doc. #18. The Jail filed its reply (Doc. #19), and
the motion is now fully briefed.
on the pleadings is appropriate where no material issue of
fact remains to be resolved and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Faibisch v. Univ. of
Minn., 304 F.3d 797, 803 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations
omitted). In considering a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, the court “accept[s] as true all facts
pleaded by the non-moving party and grant[s] all reasonable
inferences from the pleadings in favor of the non-moving
party.” Id. (citations omitted). The Court
reviews a motion for judgment on the pleadings under the same
standard that governs motions to dismiss for failure to state
a claim. Ashley Cty. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659,
665 (8th Cir. 2009); Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901
F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). The claim for relief must be “‘plausible
on its face, '” meaning it must “plead
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 554, 556 (2007)). Mere “‘labels and
conclusions, '” “‘formulaic
recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action,
'” and “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid
of ‘further factual enhancement'” are
insufficient. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555, 557).
Jail moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims based upon
respondeat superior. The United States Supreme Court has held
a governmental entity “may not be sued under §
1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or
agents.” Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of New
York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). That is, a local
government cannot be held liable under section 1983 based
upon a theory of respondeat superior. Id. at 691.
Likewise, the Eighth Circuit has held governmental entities
“may not be held liable for unconstitutional conduct
under a theory of respondeat superior.” Rogers v.
King, 885 F.3d 1118, 1122-23 (8th Cir. 2018) (citations
omitted); see also Vaughn v. Greene Cty., 438 F.3d
845, 851 (8th Cir. 2006) (stating “it is well settled
the doctrine of respondeat superior is inapplicable
to section 1983 claims”) (citations omitted).
however, argues she stated a plausible claim of respondeat
superior because she asserted Byrd was acting with the scope
of his employment. Doc. #18, at 4-8. But the legal
authorities to which she cites do not demonstrate a claim
based upon respondeat superior is plausible under section
1983. Rather, Plaintiff's cited cases pertain to
respondeat superior in the context of common law claims,
which are not at issue. Id. at 5-8; Mann v.
Heckler & Koch Def., Inc., No. 1:08CV611, 2008 WL
4551104, at *7-8 (E.D. Va. Oc. 7, 2008) (finding the
plaintiff stated a sufficient claim of vicarious liability
for defamatory statements); Gina Chin & Assocs., Inc.
v. First Union Bank, 260 Va. 533 (2000) (discussing
respondeat superior in the context of a negligence claim and
abrogating Kensington Assocs. v. West, 234 Va. 430
(1987)); Majorana v. Crown Cent. Petroleum Corp.,
260 Va. 521 (2000) (addressing respondeat superior related to
tort and negligence claims); Plummer v. Ctr.
Psychiatrists, Ltd., 252 Va. 233 (1996) (considering
application of respondeat superior to assault and battery
claims); Commercial Bus. Sys., Inc. v. Bellsouth Servs.,
Inc., 249 Va. 39 (1995) (finding a fact issue remained
as to the application of respondeat superior to a tort
argument ignores the precedent this Court must follow with
regard to section 1983 claims based upon respondeat superior.
As set forth above, respondeat superior does not apply to
claims brought pursuant to section 1983. Accordingly, the
Court grants the Jail's motion for judgment on the
pleadings with regard to Count I. To the extent Plaintiff is
also attempting to assert respondeat superior claims under
Counts III and IV, the Court grants the Jail's motion for
judgment on pleadings.
Policy or Custom
Jail also moves for judgment on the pleadings with regard to
Plaintiffs claims based upon an alleged constitutional
violation resulting from the Jail's policy and/or custom.
Section 1983 liability may attach to a local government if a
constitutional violation resulted from its official policy or
custom. Corwin v. City of Independence, 829 F.3d
695, 699 (8th Cir. 2016) (quotations and citations omitted);
see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 694-95.
A policy is an official policy, a deliberate choice of a
guiding principle or procedure made by the municipal official
who has final authority regarding such matters.
Alternatively, a plaintiff may establish municipal liability
through an unofficial custom of the municipality by
demonstrating (1) the existence of a continuing, widespread,
persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct by the
governmental entity's employees; (2) deliberate
indifference to or tacit authorization of such conduct by the
governmental entity's policymaking officials after notice
to the officials of that misconduct; and (3) that ...