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Dabbs v. Lombardi

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

July 9, 2019

BRANDON CURTIS DABBS, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE A. LOMBARDI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          STEPHEN R. BOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants Ausley, Barck, Boeckman, Conn, Dowd, Kohler, Ousley, Ozanich, Peterson, & Proctor's Motion to Dismiss Them from Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint. (Doc. #109). For the following reasons the motion is granted in part and denied in part. The motion is granted to the extent Plaintiff brings Counts I, III, VI, VII, VIII, and IX against Defendant Corrections Officers in their official capacities and seeks money damages. The motion is granted to the extent Plaintiff brings Count VII against Defendant Corrections Officers in their individual capacities. Otherwise, the motion is denied.

         I. Legal Standard

         Defendants Mark Ausley, Jody Barck, Stefan Boeckman, Richard Conn, James Dowd, Craig Kohler, James Ousley, Levi Ozanich, Jerald Peterson, and Arthur Proctor (collectively “Defendant Corrections Officers”) bring the present motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” “To survive a motion to dismiss [for failure to state a claim], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Zink v. Lombardi, 783 F.3d 1089, 1098 (8th Cir. 2015). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ash v. Anderson Merchs., LLC, 799 F.3d 957, 960 (8th Cir. 2015) (internal citation quotation marks omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). The Court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true when deciding a motion to dismiss. See Data Mfg., Inc. v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 557 F.3d 849, 851 (8th Cir. 2009) (noting “[t]he factual allegations of a complaint are assumed true and construed in favor of the plaintiff, even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable”).

         II. Background

         In his Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. #95) Plaintiff Brandon Curtis Dabbs alleges the following facts, which the Court accepts as true in deciding Defendant Corrections Officers' motion. Data Mfg., 557 F.3d at 851. Plaintiff is an inmate at Jefferson City Correctional Center (“JCCC”). (Doc. #95, ¶ 1). At the time of the alleged events, Defendant Corrections Officers were Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) employees working at JCCC. (Doc. #95, ¶¶ 12-21). On March 12, 2016, “Plaintiff was forcibly catheterized” by certain co-defendants, [1]“with assistance by” Defendant Corrections Officers. (Doc. #95, ¶ 28). Defendant Corrections Officers “held Plaintiff down while a catheter was forced into his urethra ultimately causing trauma to the penis.” (Doc. #95, ¶¶ 12-21). “The catheterization was carried out without Plaintiff's consent and in violation of MDOC policies.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 29). “Plaintiff clearly and unequivocally stated that he did not want to be catheterized.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 42). Plaintiff's catheterization “was neither ordered nor necessary for the care and treatment of Plaintiff.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 32). The catheterization caused Plaintiff to “bleed profusely from his penis.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 53). “Upon removal of the improperly placed catheter, Plaintiff sustained traumatic injury to his penis.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 7). “Plaintiff was taken to a hospital where it was determined that the catheter had not been placed in his bladder.” (Doc. #95, ¶ 57).

         Plaintiff brings the following claims against Defendant Corrections Officers: a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights (Count I); battery (Count III); negligence (Count VI); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VII); a § 1983 claim for unreasonable search in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights (Count VIII); and a § 1983 retaliation claim (Count IX).[2] (Doc. #95). Plaintiff requests compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief. (Doc. #95). Defendant Corrections Officers move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them on three grounds: (1) state sovereign immunity bars Plaintiff's claims; (2) various personal immunities bar Plaintiff's claims; and (3) Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts. (Doc. #102).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff appears to bring Counts I, III, VI, VII, VIII, and IX against Defendant Corrections Officers in both their official and individual capacities.[3] The Court will consider each capacity in turn.

         A. Official-Capacity Claims and State Sovereign Immunity

          Defendant Corrections Officers argue that Plaintiff's claims against them in their official capacities for money damages should be dismissed because state sovereign immunity bars claims for money damages brought against state officials in their official capacities. (Doc. #109, pp. 3- 4). Plaintiff concedes that he is “unable to state a claim against” Defendant Corrections Officers “in their official capacities for damages” and “dismisses any such claim.” (Doc. #111, p. 2 n.2). The Court agrees with the parties for reasons discussed in its prior order partially granting certain other defendants' motion to dismiss on the same grounds. (Doc. #108, pp. 3-4). To the extent Plaintiff asserts claims for money damages against Defendant Corrections Officers in their official capacities, these claims are dismissed. From here, the Court will address Counts I, III, VI, VII, VIII, and IX to the extent Plaintiff brings them against Defendant Corrections Officers in their individual capacities.

         B. Individual-Capacity § 1983 Claims and Qualified Immunity

          Defendants argue they are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's § 1983 claims for excessive force (Count I), unreasonable search (Count VIII), and retaliation (Count IX). (Doc. #109, p. 4). Plaintiff argues that his Fourth Amended Complaint “invokes three constitutional protections” that were “clearly established when Plaintiff was forcibly catheterized.” (Doc. #105, pp. 6-7). Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, a government officer sued under § 1983 in his individual capacity is “shielded from liability for civil damages” when performing discretionary functions unless his conduct “violate[s] clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). “To overcome qualified immunity, a plaintiff typically must identify either ‘cases of controlling authority in their jurisdiction at the time of the incident' or ‘a consensus of cases of persuasive authority such that a reasonable officer could not have believed that his actions were lawful.'” Jacobson v. McCormick, 763 F.3d 914, 918 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 617 (1999)).

         At the dismissal stage, defendants “must show that they are entitled to qualified immunity on the face of the complaint.” Dadd v. Anoka Cty., 827 F.3d 749, 754 (8th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Bradford v. Huckabee, 394 F.3d 1012, 1015 (8th Cir. 2005)). Courts addressing qualified immunity in a motion to dismiss “must consider ‘whether the plaintiff has stated a plausible claim for violation of a constitutional or statutory right and whether the right was clearly established at the time of the alleged infraction.'” Id. at 754-55 (quoting Hager v. Ark. Dep't of Health, 735 F.3d 1009, 1013 (8th Cir. 2013)). Whereas, “[o]n the merits, to defeat a qualified immunity defense, plaintiff has the burden of proving that defendant's conduct violated a clearly established constitutional right, ” at the dismissal stage “the issue is whether plaintiff ‘pleads factual content that allows the court ...


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