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Judd v. State

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

November 3, 2017

JAMES ARTHUR JUDD and THE ESTATE OF KEVIN BOWENS PLAINTIFFS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This civil rights action is before the Court on the motion to dismiss filed by Marshall Fisher, Jerry Williams, Earnest Lee, Timothy Morris, Brenda Cox, Tara Roland, and Ella Foster. Doc. #45.

         I

         Procedural History

         On June 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.

         On 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.

         On 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 as defendants the following past and former employees of MDOC: Christopher Epps, Marshall L. Fisher, Archie Longley, Jerry Williams, Earnest Lee, Timothy Morris, Brenda Cox, Tara Roland, Ella Foster, Jeran Turner, Tavarius Walls, and Kimberly Williams. See id. at ¶ 5.

         MDOC, Cox, Fisher, Lee, Morris, Roland, the State, and Jerry Williams, answered the amended complaint on April 25, 2017. Doc. #31. Foster filed a separate answer on May 9, 2017. Doc. #35. Both answers assert qualified immunity as a defense to Judd's action. Doc. #31; Doc. #35.

         On May 10, 2017, this Court granted the State and MDOC's motion to dismiss. Doc. #36. Twelve days later, Cox, Fisher, Foster, Lee, Morris, Roland, and Jerry Williams (“moving defendants”) filed the instant motion to dismiss the official capacity claims brought against them. Doc. #37. Judd did not respond to the motion.

         On May 23, 2017, the moving defendants filed a motion to compel a specific response to their qualified immunity defenses. Doc. #41. United States Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden granted the motion on June 13, 2017, and directed Judd to file a “specific and particular reply” to the qualified immunity defenses within fourteen days. Doc. #42. Judd filed the ordered reply on June 27, 2017, “as to Tara Rowland, Ella Foster, and Earnest Lee.” Doc. #44.

         On July 5, 2017, the moving defendants filed a motion to dismiss the individual capacity claims asserted against them. Doc. #45. Judd did not respond to this motion either.

         On October 6, 2017, this Court entered an order granting the motion to dismiss the official capacity claims. Doc. #48.

         II

         Relevant ...


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