United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. HICKEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Party. ECF No.
6. Defendants move to dismiss the Miller County Sheriff's
Department as a party to this action pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 41(b). Plaintiff has not responded to the
motion and the time to do so has passed. The Court finds this
matter ripe for consideration.
August 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Complaint against
Defendants alleging claims of sex discrimination and
retaliation under Title VII of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(“§ 1983”) and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act
(“ACRA”). Plaintiff was formerly employed by the
Miller County Sheriff's Department as a deputy sheriff.
Plaintiff alleges that while she was employed by the Miller
County Sheriff's Department she was routinely subjected
to sexual harassment and discrimination because she was
female. Plaintiff further alleges that she was demoted and
ultimately terminated for reporting incidents of sexual
harassment and disparate treatment to her superiors and the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
named Miller County, Arkansas; the Miller County
Sheriff's Department; Ron Stovall, individually and in
his capacity as sheriff of Miller County, Arkansas; and Jesse
Grigsby, individually and in his capacity as a Miller County
deputy sheriff, as defendants in her Complaint. On October
10, 2018, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss the Miller
County Sheriff's Department as a party to this action.
Defendants argue that the Miller County Sherriff's
Department is not a proper party because a sheriff's
department is not recognized as an entity capable of suing
and being sued under state law and is, therefore, not a
“person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C.
§1983. Plaintiff has failed to respond to
Defendant's motion and the time to do so has passed.
See Local Rule 7.2.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a pleading
must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). The Court must accept as true all factual
allegations set forth in the complaint by the plaintiff,
drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's
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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.”
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a
complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent
with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short
of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will
. . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Id. at 679. In considering a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “the complaint should be
read as a whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine
whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible.”
Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594
(8th Cir. 2009).
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 assertions' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (internal
citations and alterations omitted) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, 557). In other words, “the pleading
standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations,' but it demands more than an
accusation.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do
not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility
of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.' Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
argue that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against the
Miller County Sheriff's Department because a
sheriff's department is not an entity amenable to suit
under § 1983 or ACRA.
§ 1983 a “person” who deprives another of
their Constitutional rights while acting under the color of
state law is subject to civil liability. 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Originally, the only “persons” that could
be held liable under § 1983 were natural persons.
Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of N.Y.,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). However, the meaning of
“person” for the purposes of § 1983 has been
expanded to include recognized political corporate entities.
Id. The decision of what entities are
“persons” amenable to suit under § 1983 is
to be made by referencing state law. See Edwards v.
Baer, 863 F.2d 606, 609 (8th Cir. 1988). Under Arkansas
law, unincorporated associations do not have the capacity to
sue or be sued absent an express grant of statutory
authority. Fausett & Co. v. Bogard, 285 Ark.
124, 126, 685 S.W.2d 153, 155 (1985). However, the Court can
find no Arkansas authority establishing a sheriff's
department as an entity amenable to suit. Additionally, the
Eighth Circuit has recognized sheriff's departments are
not usually considered legal entities subject to suit.
See, e.g., De La Garza v. Kandiyohi Cnty. Jail,
Corr. Inst., 18 Fed.Appx. 436, 437 (8th Cir. 2001);
Ketchum v. City of W. Memphis, 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th
instant case, it is clear that the Miller County
Sheriff's Department, by virtue of being a sheriff's
department, is not a person or other entity subject to suit
under § 1983 or the ACRA. Moreover, the Court finds that
naming the Miller County Sheriff's Department as a party
to this action is unnecessary and redundant because Plaintiff
has sued Defendants Stovall and Grigsby in their official
capacities and has named Miller County as a defendant in this