United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil rights action is before the Court on the motion to
dismiss filed by the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi
Department of Corrections. Doc. #11.
10, 2016, James Arthur Judd, as a wrongful death beneficiary
and administrator of the estate of Kevin Bowens, filed a
complaint in this Court against numerous persons and
entities, including the State of Mississippi and the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”).
Doc. #1. The complaint alleged that the defendants acted with
negligence and violated the constitutional rights of Bowens,
a former inmate at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, by
failing to protect Bowens from an attack by a fellow inmate
which resulted in Bowens' death. Id.
February 7, 2017, the State and MDOC filed a joint answer
asserting various affirmative defenses, including sovereign
immunity. Doc. #10. The same day, the State and MDOC filed a
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Doc. #11.
March 23, 2017, Judd, with leave of the Court, filed an
amended complaint. Doc. #17. The amended complaint includes
the same general allegations but adds an array of individual
moving defendants seek dismissal on the grounds that they are
protected by sovereign immunity and that they are not
“persons” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Doc. #12 at 3. The first of these defenses clearly
implicates Rule 12(b)(1), the rule cited in the motion.
See Warnock v. Pecos Cty., 88 F.3d 341, 343 (5th
Cir. 1996) (“Because sovereign immunity deprives the
[federal] court of jurisdiction, … claims barred by
sovereign immunity can be dismissed only under Rule 12(b)(1)
and not with prejudice.”). However, the second defense
- that the defendants are not “persons” within
the meaning of § 1983 - concerns a plaintiff's
ability to state a claim, thus mandating a Rule 12(b)(6)
inquiry. See Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of Univ.
Sys. of Ga., 535 U.S. 613, 617 (2002) (§ 1983 claim
against non-person supplied supplemental
jurisdiction); Fontana v. Paeste v. Gov't of
Guam, 798 F.3d 1228, 1234 (9th Cir. 2015) (“Three
circuits have held that whether a party is a person under
§ 1983 is not a jurisdictional question, but rather a
statutory one. We agree and so hold.”) (internal
quotation marks and alterations omitted).
filed under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure allow a party to challenge the subject matter
jurisdiction of the district court to hear a case.”
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
Cir. 2001). A court may dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction based on: “(1) the complaint alone; (2)
the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in
the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed
facts plus the court's resolution of disputed
facts.” Crane v. Johnson, 783 F.3d 244, 251
(5th Cir. 2015).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint does
not need detailed factual allegations, but it must provide
the plaintiff's grounds for entitlement for relief-
including factual allegations that, when assumed to be true,
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Ruiz v. Brennan, 851 F.3d 464, 468 (5th Cir. 2017).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of