United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Renewed Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 50)
filed by Defendants Baxter County, John Montgomery, Brad
Lewis, and Sergeant Eric Neal. Plaintiff Human Rights Defense
Center ("HRDC") has filed a Response in Opposition
(Doc. 52). The Court previously issued a Memorandum Opinion
and Order (Doc. 49) dismissing the individual capacity claims
against the named officials on the basis of qualified
immunity. Following that Order, the only claims currently
remaining in this case are a claim against Baxter County and
the official capacity claims against these county officials.
Defendants now file a renewed Motion to Dismiss in the wake
of what they refer to as "important developments"
in the law on postcard-only policies. As further explained
below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND
DENIED IN PART.
preliminary matter, although Defendants style the present
Motion as a renewed Motion to Dismiss, it is more properly
construed as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings under
Rule 12(c) since it was filed almost five months after their
Answer (Doc. 20). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b), (c). As
a practical matter, the distinction between a motion to
dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6) and a motion for judgment
on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) "is purely formal,
because we review [a] 12(c) motion under the standard that
governs 12(b)(6) motions." Westcott v. City of
Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990). To avoid
confusion, however, the Court will continue to refer to the
instant Motion as a Motion to Dismiss.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide "a
short and plain statement of the claim that [the plaintiff]
is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The
purpose of this requirement is to "give the defendant
fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court must accept all of a
complaint's factual allegations as true, and construe
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing
all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor. See
Ashley Cnty., Ark. v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659, 665
(8th Cir. 2009). However, the complaint "must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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."
Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]'
devoid of'further factual enhancement."'
Id. In other words, while "the pleading
standard that Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed
factual allegations, ' ... it demands more than an
unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
first argue that recent legal developments, primarily the
Eighth Circuit's recent decision in Simpson v. County
of Cape Girardeau, suggest that dismissal of all remaining
claims is appropriate at this time. The Court disagrees.
the Eighth Circuit upheld a postcard-only policy in
Simpson, it importantly ended its opinion with the
following: "We note, however, that our holding in this
case is narrow, as a Turner analysis is a
fact-intensive inquiry requiring careful examination of the
policies and institutions at issue in each case." 879
F.3d 273, 282 (8th Cir. 2017). Thus, Simpson does
not, as Defendants seem to suggest, stand for the proposition
that a postcard-only policy is, by its very nature,
automatically constitutional. A holding to that effect would
ignore the significant cautionary language from the Eighth
Circuit and water down the Turner test which, while
deferential, "is not toothless." Prison Legal
News v. Chapman, 44 F.Supp.3d 1289, 1298 (M.D. Ga. 2014)
(quoting Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401, 407-08
(1989)). Thus, to the extent that Defendants' renewed
Motion to Dismiss is predicated on an argument that
Simpson insulated all postcard-only policies from
challenge, it is clearly mistaken and will be
although outright dismissal of the remaining claims in this
case is not warranted, the Court will dismiss the remaining
official capacity claims against the individually named
officers. This is because "[a] suit against a government
officer in his official capacity is functionally equivalent
to a suit against the employing governmental entity."
Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, 627 F.3d 1254, 1257
(8th Cir. 2010). Thus, because the county is, in both cases,
the real party in interest, the claims are duplicative. The
law is clear that dismissal of duplicative claims is proper.
Id. ("Thus, the court properly dismissed the
claim against Leonard as redundant of the claim against the
City."); Williams v. Robinson, 623 Fed.
App'x. 832, 833 (8th Cir. 2015) ("We also conclude
that the official-capacity claims against the JCDC employees
were subject to dismissal as duplicative of the claims
against Jackson County.").
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendants' Renewed
Motion (Doc. 50) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
PART. The remaining official capacity claims against
the individually named officers are dismissed as duplicative
of the claim against Baxter County. Because there are no
pending claims against these individual officers, they are
terminated from the case, leaving Baxter County as the sole
remaining Defendant. .
IS SO ORDERED
 Defendants also cite a recent case,
Rasheed v. City of Texarkana, where this
District's Chief Judge adopted a Report and
Recommendation from Magistrate Judge Barry A. Bryant.
However, that decision focused solely on qualified immunity,
looking only to see whether there was clearly established law
that such a postcard-only policy was unconstitutional. Case
4:17-cv-04057, Doc. 44, p. 3. In light of Simpson,
the answer to that question was very straightforward. But,
that decision does not mean that every such postcard-only
policy is constitutional, as there could potentially be
differences between the policies or institutions at issue
that would compel a different conclusion under
 The Court would also note that it has
learned that Eric Neal, one of the named Defendants in this
case, has passed away. The Court joins Plaintiff in extending