United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
KAMEKO R. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
ADAM ZACHARY, et al. DEFENDANTS
P. JORDAN III, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court has before it Defendants James Meyers and Cody
Shankle's motion for judgment on the pleadings, Doc. 10,
; Defendant Chris Gilliard's motion to dismiss, Doc. 15;
and Plaintiff Kameko Williams's motion to amend the
complaint, Doc. 23. For the reasons set forth below
Williams's motion to amend should be granted in part and
denied in part, Gilliard's motion to dismiss should be
granted, and Meyers and Shankle's motion for judgment on
the pleadings should be denied as moot.
to the original complaint, on July 4, 2016, Adam Zachary, a
patrolman with the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol,
arrested James Lee Brownlee. Compl. ¶ 12, Doc. 1. Both
during the actual arrest itself, and while Zachary
transported him to jail, Brownlee repeatedly complained to
Zachary of sharp pains in his extremities and chest.
Id. ¶ 14.
took Brownlee directly to the Chickasaw County Detention
Center. Id. ¶ 16. There two deputies with the
Chickasaw County Sheriffs Department, Cody Shankle and Diana
Westmoreland, took custody of Brownlee. Brownlee repeated his
complaints to them. Id. ¶ 17. Despite these
complaints, Shankle and Westmoreland placed Brownlee into a
solitary confinement cell and did not provide him any medical
attention. The next morning, July 5, 2016, Brownlee died of a
heart attack at the jail. Id. ¶¶ 18-20.
then brought this § 1983 wrongful death action. The
complaint asserts that Zachary, Shankle, and Westmoreland
violated Brownlee's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights by deliberately ignoring his medical needs and that
that ignorance caused his death. Williams also sued Chris
Gilliard, the Director of the Mississippi Highway Safety
Patrol, in his official capacity, asserting that he failed to
train Zachary, and that that failure caused Zachary to
violate Brownlee's constitutional rights. Likewise, she
sued James Meyers, the Sheriff of Chickasaw County, in his
official capacity for failing to train Shankle and
filed a motion to dismiss asserting Eleventh Amendment
immunity and Meyers and Shankle filed a motion for judgment
in the pleadings, or in the alternative, a motion for summary
judgment asserting qualified immunity. The Court dismissed
Williams' claims against Zachary and Westmoreland without
prejudice for failure to serve those defendants with process.
then filed a motion to amend her complaint. With respect to
Gilliard, the proposed amended complaint now asserts
injunctive relief against him. Prop. First Am. Compl. ¶
61, Doc. 23-1. With respect to Meyers and Shankles, the
proposed amended complaint contains additional factional
assertions related to the causes of action against them.
Id. ¶¶ 19-27, 37-46 Gilliard, Meyers, and
Shankle oppose this amended complaint, arguing that it does
not correct any of the alleged deficiencies of the original.
should freely give leave to amend a pleading when justice
requires. Fed. R. Civ. P 15(a)(2). "In the context of
motions to amend pleadings, 'discretion' may be
misleading, because Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) 'evinces a bias in
favor of granting leave to amend.'" Martin's
Her end Imports, Inc. v. Diamond & Gem Trading United
States of Am. Co., 195 F.3d 765, 770 (5th Cir. 1999)
(quoting Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d
"[t]he district court may deny leave to amend if the
amendment would be futile because 'the amended complaint
would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be
granted.'" McGee v. CitiMortage, Inc., 680
Fed.Appx. 287, 291 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Stripling v.
Jordan Prod. Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 873 (5th Cir.
2000)). To determine whether the amended complaint is futile,
the court should apply "the same standard of legal
sufficiency as applies under Rule 12(b)(6)."
Stripling, 234 F.3d at 873.
this standard, Williams's motion to amend should be
denied with respect to the claims against Gilliard. The
proposed amended complaint fails to assert any claim against
Gilliard over which this Court has jurisdiction.
Eleventh Amendment provides that "[t]he judicial power
of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any
suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of
the United States by Citizens of another State, or by
Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const,
amend. XI; "The Eleventh Amendment strips courts of
jurisdiction over claims against a state that has not
consented to suit." Pierce v. Hearn Indep. Sck
Dist, 600 Fed.Appx. 194, 197 (5th Cir. 2015) (per
curiam) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100-01, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79
L.Ed.2d 67 (1984)). It "grants a State immunity from
suit in federal court by citizens of other States, and by its
own citizens as well." Lapides v. Bd. of
Regents, 535 U.S. 613, 616, 122 S.Ct. 1640, 152 L.Ed.2d
806 (2002) (citation omitted). Both federal and pendent state
law claims are barred from being asserted against a state in
federal court. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp., 465
U.S. at 119-21, 104 S.Ct. 900. This "immunity operates
like ajurisdictional bar, depriving federal courts of the
power to adjudicate suits against a state." Union
Pac. R. Co. v. La. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 662 F.3d 336,
340 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).
Amendment immunity "extends to any state agency or
entity deemed an 'alter ego' or 'arm' of the
state." Perez v. Region 20 Educ. Serv. Ctr.,307 F.3d 318, 326 (5th Cir. 2002). "This immunity also
extends to state officials who are sued in their official
capacities because such a suit is actually one against the
state itself." New Orleans TowingAss'n, Inc. v. Foster,248 F.3d 1143, 2001 WL
185033, at *3 (5th Cir. Feb. 6, 2001); see Hafer v.
Melo,502 U.S. 21, 25, 112 S.Ct 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301
(1991) (citing Kentucky ...