United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
P. JORDAN III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil-rights case is before the Court on Defendants'
motions to dismiss [4, 10] filed under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c). For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants the Motion to Dismiss  filed by Defendants Rankin
County, Mississippi, and Sheriff Bryan Bailey (the
“Rankin Defendants”). The Motion to Dismiss 
filed by the City of Pearl, Mississippi, and Officer Bradford
Chisholm (the “Pearl Defendants”) is denied in
part as to some of the individual-capacity claims against
Officer Chisholm and otherwise granted.
Jack Evern says he was wrongfully charged with two felony
offenses and then remained in the Rankin County Jail for
almost a year before being released. It all started on
November 27, 2014, when Evern was a passenger in a car that
was stopped at a checkpoint. Compl.  ¶ 10. Officers
discovered that Evern possessed a 9mm firearm, and Defendant
Bradford Chisholm,  an officer with the Pearl Police
Department, ran a background check on Evern and on the
firearm. Id. ¶¶ 11-14. He learned that
Evern had three felony arrests. Id. ¶
12. He was also told the “hit confirmation [on the
firearm] could not be sent to the Pearl Police Department,
and further that the Jackson Police Department advised
holding off on the hit confirmation.” Id.
¶ 11. Nevertheless, Chisholm arrested Evern and later
swore out two affidavits-one charging him with being a felon
in possession of a firearm and the other with possessing a
stolen firearm. Id. ¶ 13. But contrary to those
affidavits, Evern was not actually a convicted felon and
“there has never been a hit confirmation on the
validity of the firearm that Mr. Evern was accused of
possessing.” Id. ¶ 14.
his professed innocence, Evern waived his preliminary hearing
and was remanded to the Rankin County Jail where he remained
for 342 days before being released. Id. ¶ 16.
He says that in that time he “suffered physical
injuries, and developed an onset of seizures and even had to
be hospitalized.” Id. ¶ 17.
November 27, 2017, Evern sued Officer Chisholm; the City of
Pearl, Mississippi; Rankin County, Mississippi; and Rankin
County Sheriff Bryan Bailey in his individual and official
capacities. In general terms, the pleaded claims against the
Pearl Defendants relate to the arrest and affidavits, whereas
the claims against the Rankin Defendants relate to
Evern's injuries while incarcerated. All four defendants
seek dismissal under Rule 12(c), and the Court has personal
and subject-matter jurisdiction.
Standards of Review
Rule 12(c), the Court applies “the same standard as a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Doe v.
MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008).
Accordingly, 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) (per curiam)). But “the tenet that a
court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in
a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). To overcome a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “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
(citations and footnote omitted).
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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (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).
sues both Chisholm and Bailey in their individual capacities,
and both Defendants assert their right to qualified immunity.
As the Fifth Circuit neatly summarized:
[T]he doctrine of qualified immunity protects government
officials from civil damages liability when their actions
could reasonably have been believed to be legal. This
immunity protects all but the plainly incompetent or those
who knowingly violate the law. Accordingly, we do not deny
immunity unless existing precedent must have placed the
statutory or constitutional question beyond debate. The basic
steps of this court's qualified-immunity inquiry are
well-known: a plaintiff seeking to defeat qualified immunity
must show: (1) that the official violated a statutory or
constitutional right, and (2) that the right was clearly
established at the time of the challenged conduct.
Anderson v. Valdez, 845 F.3d 580, 599-600 (5th Cir.
2016) (citation and quotation marks omitted, punctuation
hold that the defendant violated the law at step one of the
qualified-immunity analysis . . . is simply to say that the
plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359, 384
(5th Cir. 2011). To meet that burden, a plaintiff “must
plead specific facts that both allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
harm he has alleged and that defeat a qualified immunity
defense with equal specificity.” Hinojosa v.
Livingston, 807 F.3d 657, 664 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Significantly, the
burden is on the plaintiff to “demonstrate the
inapplicability of the defense.” McClendon v. City
of Columbia, 305 F.3d 314, 323 (5th Cir. 2002).
two, the plaintiff must show that the legal principle has
“a sufficiently clear foundation in then existing
precedent.” District of Columbia v. Wesby, 138
S.Ct. 577, 589 (2018). “The rule must be settled law,
which means it is dictated by controlling authority or a
robust consensus of cases of persuasive authority.”
Id. (citations omitted). The rule cannot merely be
“suggested by then-existing precedent, ” but must
instead “be clear enough that every reasonable official
would interpret it to establish the particular rule the
plaintiff seeks to apply.” Id. at 589-90.
asserts his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
provides a cause of action against any person who, under
color of law, deprives another of “any rights,
privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws.” Here, the Complaint asserts claims against all
Defendants under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. This Order
separately examines Defendants' Rule 12(c) motions
seeking dismissal of those claims.
Rankin Defendants' Rule 12(c) Motion
the Complaint asserts a host of alleged constitutional
violations against the Rankin Defendants, Evern refined the
scope of his case in his response to their Motion to Dismiss
. In it, he states:
The vast majority of the claims set forth in Mr.
Evern[']s Complaint are directed towards Officer Chisholm
and The City of Pearl, Mississippi. Mr. Evern's claims
against Sheriff Bailey and Rankin County, Mississippi are
narrow - injuries sustained while in the Sheriff's
custody and failure to provide adequate medical care for
Pl.'s Mem.  at 3.
result, the Court dismisses the Fourth Amendment claims
unrelated to events at the Rankin County Jail. In addition,
Evern did not respond to the Rankin Defendants' arguments
regarding claims based on the Fifth Amendment, the Eighth
Amendment, or state law. Accordingly, those claims are
likewise dismissed. That leaves two potential claims-failure
to protect against injuries while incarcerated and alleged
denial of medical care-both of which fall under the
Fourteenth Amendment. See Gutierrez v. City of San
Antonio, 139 F.3d 441, 452 (5th Cir. 1998) (noting that
post-arrest claims by pre-trial detainees in state custody
fall under the Fourteenth Amendment).
Evern's purported claims are cognizable when properly
pleaded. First, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment creates a duty to protect pretrial detainees.
See Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633, 639 (5th
Cir. 1996) (en banc). To establish a failure-to-protect
claim, a prisoner must show that he was “incarcerated
under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm
and that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to
[his] need for protection.” Neals v. Norwood,
59 F.3d 530, 533 (5th Cir. 1995).
a pretrial detainee has a due-process right to receive
reasonable medical care. See Hare, 74 F.3d at 650.
The right is equivalent to the Eighth Amendment right enjoyed
by prisoners. Id. Thus, a pretrial detainee seeking
to recover for a denial of reasonable medical care must
allege deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.
See Varnado v. ...