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Hall v. Clark

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

February 23, 2015

JERRIC HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
LIEUTENANT CLARK; and WARDEN DALE REED, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff Jerric Hall pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is not currently incarcerated. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2011), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a report and recommendation.

Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff did not respond. After careful consideration the Court makes the following Report and Recommendation.

1. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 3, 2013 in the Eastern District of Arkansas. ECF No. 2. The Eastern District properly transferred the case to this Court on October 10, 2013. ECF No. 3. In his Complaint, Plaintiff names Lieutenant Clark and Warden Reed as Defendants. ECF No. 2. Plaintiff indicates he is suing each of the Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on September 25, 2013 Defendant Clark subjected him to excessive force. Specifically, while Plaintiff was walking to the "turn out gate" Defendant Clark ordered Plaintiff to get with his squad. Defendant Clark used profanity in this order. In response to the order, Plaintiff informed Defendant Clark that he would be speaking with Defendant Clark's supervisor. Defendant Clark responded with more profanity and then gave Plaintiff a second order to join his squad. Plaintiff responded by putting his hands in the air and informing the shift commander that he was having a problem with Defendant Clark. Defendant Clark then grabbed Plaintiff by the neck and threw his head into the door. Defendant Clark then used "unnecessary force" to place Plaintiff in cuffs. ECF No. 2, p. 4.

Also in his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Reed attempted to blackmail him regarding the incident with Defendant Clark. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Reed told him: "If you don't pursue this complaint, we will drop the displinary and I will let you go home." ECF No. 2, p. 4 (errors in original).

In their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim. Defendants first argue Plaintiff's official capacity claims should be dismissed based on sovereign immunity. Next, Defendants argue Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against Defendants Reed and Clark in their individual capacity.

2. APPLICABLE LAW

Rule 8(a) contains the general pleading rules and requires a complaint to present "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "In order to meet this standard, and survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations omitted)). "A 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." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. While the Court will liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint, the plaintiff must allege sufficient facts to support their claims. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).

3. DISCUSSION

A. Official Capacity Claims

Under section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or his official capacity, or in both. Plaintiff indicated in his Complaint that he was suing Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Claims against individuals in their official capacities are equivalent to claims against the entity for which they work. Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir.1998). Therefore, Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Defendants are equivalent to claims against the Arkansas Department of Correction which is an arm of the State of Arkansas.

Plaintiff's claims against the State of Arkansas are subject to dismissal. The claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 109 S.Ct. 2304, 105 L.Ed.2d 45 (1989). "The Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a State by citizens of that same State in federal court." Williams v. Missouri, 973 F.2d 599, 599-600 (8th Cir. 1992) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 276, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 2939, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986)). "This bar exists whether the relief sought is legal or equitable.'" Id. ( quoting Papasan, 478 U.S. at 276). "Congress did not abrogate constitutional sovereign immunity when enacting the law that was to become section 1983." Burk v. Beene, 948 F.2d 489, 493 ...


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