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Crumley v. Moore

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

April 9, 2019

STEPHANIE NICOLE CRUMLEY PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF MIKE MOORE; JAIL ADMINISTRATOR JASON DAY; NURSE JODY WOODS; and OFFICER GENE ATWELL DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Currently before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 13) for failure to state a claim filed by Separate Defendants Sheriff Mike Moore and Jail Administrator Jason Day, in both their individual and official capacities, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has not responded to the Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Boone County Detention Center ("BCDC"). According to the allegations of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 16).[1] when Plaintiff was arrested on November 8, 2018, officers put their knees on her back despite her saying her back was hurt. After she complained of her back hurting, Plaintiff alleges the officers pushed down harder. When she arrived at the BCDC, Plaintiff alleges she was forced to walk despite her complaint that her back was "broken" and her leg hurt. Plaintiff maintains the jailers were only concerned with the fact that she had staples in her leg.

         Upon arrival at the BCDC, Plaintiff alleges Nurse Woods removed the staples. Plaintiff believes she should have been referred to an orthopedic doctor and undergone physical therapy. She does state that an x-ray was taken that showed no obvious break in her back. She indicates she now walks "with [a] pronounced limp & sideways." Plaintiff alleges she has burning pain in her foot and lower back, and her legs go numb.

         Finally, Plaintiff contends she suffered a head injury in an accident in August of 2018, prior to her arrest. She maintains that when she was in jail in November of 2018, she passed out and hit the call button, but received no help.

         As relief for her claims, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. She indicates she will need medical treatment to repair the damage to her body, as well as physical therapy.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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 her claims. See Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen's "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff must allege that defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).

         A. Sherriff Moore - Individual & Supervisory Liability Claims

         Sheriff Moore argues that even accepting Plaintiff's allegations as true, the Amended Complaint fails to state facts showing that he committed any wrongful activity or caused any damage or injury. "Liability under section 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the deprivation of rights. To establish personal liability of the supervisory defendant, [Plaintiff] must allege specific facts of personal involvement in, or direct responsibility for, a deprivation of his constitutional rights." Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 967 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Mayorga v. Mo., 442 F.3d 1128, 1132 (8th Cir. 2006)); Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d 1309, 1314 (8th Cir. 1997) (no evidence that the defendants were doctors or were personally involved in making medical decisions about treatment); Mark v. Nix, 983 F.2d 138, 139-40 (8th Cir. 1993) (section 1983 liability requires some personal involvement or responsibility). Here, Plaintiff has not alleged that Sheriff Moore was present during the arrest, was even aware that Plaintiff was injured in any way, or was involved in deciding the medical care she should receive. Plaintiff has established no causal link or direct responsibility of Sheriff Moore to the alleged deprivation of rights. Based on the allegations of the Amended Complaint, Sheriff Moore is not liable in his individual capacity.

         A claim of deprivation of a constitutional right cannot be based on a respondeat superior theory of liability. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 654, 694 (1978). "[A] supervisor is not vicariously liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an employee's unconstitutional activity." White v. Holmes,21 F.3d 277, 280 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Whitson v. Stone Cnty. Jail,602 F.3d 920, 928 (8th Cir. 2010) ("In a § 1983 case, an official is only liable for his own misconduct and is not accountable for the misdeeds of his agents under a theory such as respondeat superior or supervisor liability") (internal quotations omitted); Keeper v. King, 130 F.3d at 1314 ("general responsibility for supervising the operations ...


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