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Brock v. Issaquena County

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

October 15, 2014

MARK BROCK, Plaintiff,


DAVID BRAMLETTE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's, City of Vicksburg, Motions to Dismiss [docket entries 12, 25, and 28] and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike [docket entry 34] the third Motion to Dismiss. Having considered the motions and responses, the applicable statutory and case law, and being otherwise fully informed in the premises, the Court finds as follows:

I. Factual and Procedural History

Plaintiff Mark Brock was arrested in August of 2012 and taken to the Issaquena County Correctional Facility ("ICCF"). Am. Compl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 18. Brock was arrested on a warrant issued by the City of Vicksburg ("Vicksburg") for unpaid parking tickets and incarcerated to pay off the tickets at a rate of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) a day. Am. Compl. ¶ 13-14. While incarcerated, Brock was attacked by another inmate in the presence of the guards and suffered injuries requiring stitches, an MRI, and eventual surgery. Officials at ICCF took Brock to the Sharkey-Issaquena County Hospital ("SICH") where he received stitches and an MRI. However, after reviewing the results of the MRI, unnamed members of the SICH staff told the officials who brought Brock to take him elsewhere as they were unable to treat him at SICH. Am. Compl. ¶ 18. Instead, the ICCF officials returned Brock to ICCF from which he was then transferred to the Warren County Jail ("WCJ") by a member of the Issaquena County Sheriff's Department. Am. Compl. ¶ 23. The next day, Brock was released and left to seek treatment for his injuries on his own. Am. Compl. ¶ 24.

Brock filed his initial complaint on December 6, 2013, alleging seven counts of injury: (1) § 1983 deprivation of civil rights, (2) § 1985 conspiracy to interfere with civil rights, (3) § 1986 neglect or failure to prevent conspiracy, (4) failure to adequately train and supervise deputies or negligent hiring, (5) civil conspiracy, (6) negligent infliction of emotional distress, and (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Compl. p. 7-15, ECF No. 1. Vicksburg filed its first motion to dismiss on March 19, 2014, arguing a failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 12. Thereafter, Brock filed an amended complaint on April 1, 2014, alleging the same counts but with additional facts. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 18. Vicksburg then filed its second motion to dismiss on April 15, 2014, arguing that Brock still failed to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).[1] Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 25. Vicksburg then filed a third motion to dismiss on April 30, 2014, arguing that Brock had failed to comply with the notice of claim requirements of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act ("MTCA"). Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 28. On May 16, 2014, Brock filed a motion to strike Vicksburg's third motion to dismiss as procedurally improper. Mot. Strike, ECF No. 34.

II. Analysis

A. First Motion to Dismiss

Filing "[a]n amended complaint supersedes the original complaint and renders it of no legal effect unless the amended complaint specifically refers to and adopts or incorporates by reference the earlier pleading." Stewart v. City of Houston Police Dep't , 372 F.Appx. 475, 478 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting King v. Dogan , 31 F.3d 344, 346 (5th Cir. 1994)). Brock's amended complaint did not adopt or incorporate his first complaint. Because a motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading, Whitaker v. City of Houston, Tex. , 963 F.2d 831, 834-35 (5th Cir. 1992), when the complaint it addresses has been rendered of no legal effect, the motion to dismiss becomes moot. See e.g., Reyna v. Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. , 892 F.Supp.2d 829, 834 (W.D. Tex. 2012) (citing Smallwood v. Bank of Am., No. 3:11cv1283, 2011 WL 4941044 at *1 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 17, 2011)). Therefore, the Court holds that the first motion to dismiss is denied as moot.

B. Second Motion to Dismiss

Rule 8(a) requires a plaintiff to plead a "short and plain statement" of his claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has raised the plaintiff's burden by holding this short and plain statement to a plausibility standard. In ruling on a motion to dismiss, "[t]he court's task is to determine whether the plaintiff has stated a legally cognizable claim that is plausible...." Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank, PLC , 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Determining plausibility is a "context-specific task" requiring the application of "judicial experience and common sense." Id., at 679. But "[a] complaint must fail if it offers only naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Doe v. Robertson , 751 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678)).

Brock pleads four facts tying Vicksburg to his claims: (1) he was arrested on a warrant issued by Vicksburg for unpaid traffic tickets, (2) he was taken from the WCJ to ICCF by the City of Vicksburg Police Department ("VPD"), (3) VPD had a policy of transporting individuals arrested for misdemeanors to ICCF, and (4) VPD was involved in the decision to release Brock without further medical treatment. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 13, 36, ECF No. 18. These facts are accepted as true, see Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit , 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004), even if their proof appears improbable, see Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556 ("[A] wellpleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable...."). Further, motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) are viewed with disfavor and rarely granted. Lowrey v. Texas A&M Univ. Sys. , 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th Cir. 1997).

The Court finds that Brock has sufficiently pled enough facts to survive this motion to dismiss on most of his claims. Choosing to release Brock without further treatment supports Brock's claims under § 1983. Making that decision in concert with ICCF and the Warren County Sheriff's Department supports Brock's claims under §§ 1985 and 1986. That Brock was released, still bleeding, supports Brock's claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, the Court finds that Brock has not alleged any facts to show Vicksburg's liability on a failure to train or negligent hiring theory. Therefore, Vicksburg's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

C. Third Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Strike

In its Response to Brock's motion to strike, Vicksburg admits that its third motion to dismiss is procedurally improper. However, it argues that its motion to dismiss should instead be interpreted as a motion for summary judgment because it relies on matters beyond the pleadings. Resp. ¶ 7, ECF No. 46. Vicksburg attached the notice of claim to its motion as an exhibit. See Mot. Dismiss Ex. 1 ("Notice of Claim"), ECF No. 28-1. Finding this ...

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