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Judd v. State

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

April 5, 2018

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. #50.

         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 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 a June 2013 attack by a fellow inmate resulting 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.

         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 a motion to dismiss the official capacity claims brought against them. Doc. #37. Judd did not respond to the motion. 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, the Court entered an order granting the motion to dismiss the official capacity claims. Doc. #48. Approximately one month later, the Court granted the moving defendants' motion to the extent it sought dismissal of the federal claims. Doc. #49. However, citing inadequate briefing, the Court denied the motion to the extent it sought dismissal of the state law claims. Id. at 4-5.

         On November 6, 2017, the moving defendants filed a motion to dismiss the state law claims brought against them. Doc. #50. Judd did not respond to this motion.

         II

         Relevant Standards

         The moving defendants seek dismissal of the state law claims brought against them in their individual capacities under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and dismissal of the state law claims brought against them in their official capacities under Rule 12(b)(1). Because this Court has already dismissed the state law claims brought against the moving defendants, the Rule 12(b)(1) motion will be denied as moot.

         As a general matter, 12(b)(6) relief is unavailable where a moving party has filed a responsive pleading, such as an answer. Young v. City of Houston, 599 F. App'x 553, 554 (5th Cir. 2015). However, because “[t]he standard for dismissal under Rule 12(c) is the same as that for dismissal for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), ” Edionwe v. Bailey, 860 F.3d 287, 291 (5th Cir. 2017), a district court may treat a post-answer ...


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