United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MAURICE GALLION, as Administrator, of the Estate of TRACEY GALLION, SR., and on behalf of and as natural uncle of TRACEY GALLION, JR., a minor, and on behalf of all heirs and wrongful-death beneficiaries of TRACEY GALLION, SR., deceased Plaintiff,
HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al., Defendants, MAURICE GALLION, as Administrator, Plaintiff, of the Estate of TRACEY GALLION, SR., and on behalf of and as natural uncle of TRACEY GALLION, JR., a minor, and on behalf of all heirs and wrongful-death beneficiaries of TRACEY GALLION, SR., deceased
HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, Defendant.
DANIEL P. JORDAN, III, District Judge.
This wrongful-death action is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss State Law Claims and Claim for Punitive Damages . The state-law claims are brought pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, Miss. Code Ann. §§ 11-46-1 et seq. ("MTCA"). The Court, having considered the issues and the parties' submissions in light of the applicable standards, finds that Defendant's Motion should be granted.
I. Facts and Procedural History
This case arises from the April 2012 detention of Plaintiff's decedent, Tracey Gallion, Sr. Gallion suffered from medical problems at Hinds County Detention Center and, after receiving some medical attention there, was transferred to Central Mississippi Medical Center. He became unresponsive in the emergency room and died April 23, 2012.
On November 1, 2012, Plaintiff brought federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Hinds County Sheriff and several other county employees. On October 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed this separate suit adding state-law claims against Hinds County. The two cases were consolidated on June 11, 2014. Defendant Hinds County has now moved the Court to dismiss the state-law and punitive-damages claims against it . The Court has personal and subjectmatter jurisdiction and is prepared to rule.
II. Standard of Review
In considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the "court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'" Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, Plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555 (citation and footnote omitted). "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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). It follows that "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.'" Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "This standard simply calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary claims or elements." In re S. Scrap Material Co., LLC, 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
A. State-Law Claims
Plaintiff pursues the state-law claims under the MTCA. Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 2. But section 11-49-9(1) of the MTCA lists 25 specific scenarios where immunity protects governmental entities and their employees from tort claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court has routinely held that if any one of those subsections applies, immunity exists. See, e.g., Little v. Miss. Dep't of Transp., 129 So.3d 132, 139 (Miss. 2013) (explaining that section 11-46-9(1) is written in the disjunctive, and that an alternative application would be "contrary to this Court's consistent application of the MTCA for the last twenty years").
In this case, Defendant seeks immunity from Plaintiff's tort claims under section 11-46-9(1)(m), which states that:
(1) A governmental entity and its employees acting within the course and scope of their employment or duties shall not be liable for any claim:
(m) Of any claimant who at the time the claim arises is an inmate of any detention center, jail, workhouse, penal farm, penitentiary or other such institution, regardless of whether such claimant is or is not an inmate of any detention center, jail, workhouse, penal ...