United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
P. JORDAN, III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hinds County Sheriff's Department  and Tyrone Lewis
 seek judgment on the pleadings in this § 1983 case.
Because it is not a separate legal entity amenable to suit,
the Sheriff's Department's motion is granted.
Lewis's motion is granted in part and denied in part as
Facts and Procedural History
3, 2015, three inmates escaped from the Hinds County
Detention Center in Jackson, Mississippi. On May 20, 2015,
Plaintiffs Reginald Butler and Jacobs Johnson, both employees
of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, were arrested
and charged with aiding the escape of prisoners under
Mississippi Code section 97-9-39. The charges against Butler
and Johnson were dropped at their misdemeanor trials, with
the deputy who filed the affidavits against them
“stating that former sheriff Tyrone Lewis told her to
blame Mr. Butler for the recent escapes” and
“apologiz[ing] to Mr. Johnson for having to put him
through all of this, [saying] that she didn't have a
choice, due to the fear of retaliation by Tyrone Lewis, if
she refused.” Am. Compl.  ¶ 13.
and Johnson filed this lawsuit asserting § 1983
false-arrest and related claims against Hinds County,
Mississippi, the Hinds County Sheriff's Department, and
former Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, in his official and
individual capacities, on May 20, 2018. Defendants answered
the Amended Complaint, and on July 11, 2018, the
Sheriff's Department and Lewis filed their motions for
judgment on the pleadings. Following the entry of a
show-cause order, Plaintiffs responded to Lewis's
motion-but not the Sheriff's Department's motion-and
Lewis filed a reply. The Court has personal and
standard for deciding a Rule 12(c) motion [for judgment on
the pleadings] is the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss.” Guidry v. Am. Pub. Life Ins. Co.,
512 F.3d 177, 180 (5th Cir. 2007). 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 Rule 12(c) motion, 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
Hinds County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff's Department argues that it “does not enjoy
a separate legal existence from that of Hinds County,
Mississippi, ” such that Plaintiffs' claims against
it cannot go forward. Def.'s Mot.  ¶ 4.
Plaintiffs did not respond to the Sheriff's
Department's argument, which is legally correct. See
Cunningham v. Hinds Cty. Sheriff's Dep't, No.
3:12-CV-634-CWR-FKB, 2012 WL 5384642, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Nov.
1, 2012). The Sheriff's Department's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings  is granted.
says the official-capacity claims against him should be
dismissed because they are duplicative of the claims against
Hinds County. See Castro Romero v. Becken, 256 F.3d
349, 355 (5th Cir. 2001) (affirming dismissal of
official-capacity claims against municipal officers “as
these allegations duplicate claims against the respective
governmental entities themselves”); Williams v.
Hargrove, No. 1:16-CV-266-KS-MTP, 2018 WL 310043, at *2
(S.D.Miss. Jan. 5, 2018) (dismissing official-capacity claims
as “duplicative and redundant” where relevant
government entity was also named as defendant). Plaintiffs
did not respond to this argument, which appears correct. The
official-capacity claims against Lewis are dismissed.
the individual-capacity claims against him, Lewis asserts the
defense of qualified immunity.
[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 ...