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Webster v. Brazell

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

February 16, 2016

KAIRI WAYNE WEBSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN BRAZELL, ET. AL., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff Kairi Wayne Webster, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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 are separate Motions to Dismiss by Defendants Brazell, Adams, McClure, and Stovall ("Miller County Defendants"), and Defendant Harris. ECF Nos. 11 and 13.

I. BACKGROUND

The events that are the subject of this lawsuit occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated in the Miller County Correctional Facility. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed this Complaint on September 25, 2014. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated as a practicing Muslim when he repeatedly received food items containing pork and pork by-products, received food too close to the time he had to start fasting for Ramadan to eat it, and received medication four times when he was already into the fasting period for the day. Plaintiff brought this action against all Defendants in their official capacities only. Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief. ECF. No. 1.

Defendant Harris filed her Motion to Dismiss on March 31, 2015. ECF No. 11. The Miller County Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on April 22, 2015. ECF No. 13.

II. 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).

III. DISCUSSION

All Defendants argue Plaintiff failed to state a claim against any Defendant in an official capacity because he failed to identify any policy or custom of either Miller County or Southern Health Partners (Defendant Harris' employer).

Under Section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or in his official capacity, or in both. In Gorman v. Bartch, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ("Eighth Circuit") discussed the distinction between individual and official capacity suits. As explained by the Gorman case:

Claims against government actors in their individual capacities differ from those in their official capacities as to the type of conduct that is actionable and as to the type of defense that is available. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 112 S.Ct. 358, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 (1991). Claims against individuals in their official capacities are equivalent to claims against the entity for which they work; they require proof that a policy or custom of the entity violated the plaintiff's rights, and the only type of immunity available is one belonging to the entity itself. Id. 502 U.S. at 24-27, 112 S.Ct. at 361-62 (1991). Personal capacity claims, on the other hand, are those which allege personal liability for individual actions by officials in the course of their duties; these claims do not require proof of any policy and qualified immunity may be raised as a defense. Id. 502 U.S. at 25-27, 112 S.Ct. at 362.

Gorman, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir.1998). "[R]igorous standards of culpability and causation must be applied to ensure that the [county] is not held liable solely for the actions of its employee" in cases where a plaintiff claims a county has caused an employee to violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights. ...


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