United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
T. DAWSON SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss filed by separate
defendant Malvern City Police Department (ECF No. 29).
Plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition (ECF No. 33),
and the matter is ripe for consideration. For the reasons set
out herein, the motion will be GRANTED.
facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and considered
true for purposes of analyzing this motion under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff
filed suit for damages under 42. U.S.C. §1983 alleging
deprivation of his civil rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United
States, the Arkansas Constitution, and other claims which
arise out of state law. Specifically, Plaintiff claims his
Constitutional rights were violated as a result of
Defendants' excessive use of force, deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs, and other wrongful
acts that took place during and after a traffic stop by
officers of the Malvern Police Department in Malvern,
Arkansas on December 7, 2016. During the traffic stop,
Plaintiff was placed under arrest and instructed to put his
hands behind his back to be handcuffed. Despite informing the
officers that he was unable to comply with the instruction
because he suffered from arthritis, the officers forced
Plaintiff's hands behind his back causing him substantial
pain. When Plaintiff reacted to the pain by jerking his arms
back, the officers “slammed [Plaintiff] on the ground,
breaking two of [his] ribs and held his face in the gravel
concrete cutting his face, while they proceeded to force his
arms behind his back to place the handcuff's on
[Plaintiff], despite the pain it caused as a result of
[Plaintiff]'s medical condition.” (Compl. ¶
26, ECF 1.) Plaintiff was transported to the Hot Spring
County Jail, taken inside, and handcuffed to a metal bench.
Despite verbally complaining of pain and having blood running
down his face, the jail staff and officers denied Plaintiff
medical attention or assistance. Plaintiff remained cuffed to
the metal bench “all night long, never being taken to
the hospital or receiving any kind of medial [sic]
help.” (Compl. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff filed this lawsuit
on December 6, 2018, naming as defendants 4 officers of the
Malvern Police Department in their individual and official
capacities; the City of Malvern, Arkansas; the Malvern City
Police Department; the Arkansas Municipal League; Hot Spring
County, Arkansas; the Sheriff of Hot Spring County, Arkansas,
in his official capacity; and the Hot Spring County
Malvern Police Department responded to the Complaint by
filing its Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 29) arguing that the
Police Department is not subject to suit and should be
dismissed with prejudice from this litigation, because it is
not a legal entity separate and apart from the City of
Malvern, Arkansas. Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition
to the Motion (ECF No. 33) denying that Defendant Police
Department should be dismissed, however Plaintiff failed to
brief the issue or otherwise proffer a single point or
authority to refute Defendant's argument.
Standard of Review
motion is made generally pursuant to Rule 12, and the Court
will construe it as being specifically made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dismissal
is proper if Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
factual allegations in the complaint must be taken as true
and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim shall not be granted unless it
appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of
facts in support of the claim entitling him to relief.
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 76 S.Ct. 99, 2
L.Ed.Ed 80 (1957). Only a complaint that states a plausible
claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950, 173
L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); McIvor v. Credit Control Servs.,
Inc., 773 F.3d 909 912-13 (8th Cir. 2014).
“[A] dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is likely to be
granted only in the unusual case in which a plaintiff
includes allegations that show on the face of the complaint
that there is some insuperable bar to relief.”
Thomas W. Garland, Inc. v. City of St. Louis, 596
F.2d 784, 787 (8th Cir. 1979).
governing bodies and local officials sued in their official
capacities may be sued directly under § 1983 for
monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief when the action
alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a
policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision adopted
by those whose acts may fairly be said to represent official
policy. Monell v. Department of Social Services of City
of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 659, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2019, 56
L. Ed, 2d 611 (1978). However, the issue before the Court is
not whether the Malvern City Police Department may be
considered a “person” for purposes of liability
under §1983, but whether the Police Department is a
legal entity subject to suit. The capacity of a local
government entity, such as a city police department, to sue
or be sued is determined by the law of the state where the
court is located. Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 17(b); Dean v.
Barber, 951 F.2d 1210 (11th Cir. 1992);
Catlett v. Jefferson County, 299 F.Supp.2d 967 (E.D.
Mo. 2004) (granting motion to dismiss because sheriff's
department and medical department lacked capacity to be sued
under Missouri law);.
ago, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the
dismissal of the West Memphis (Arkansas) Police Department
from a § 1983 case holding that a police department is
only a subdivision of the City and not a suable entity.
Ketchum v. City of West Memphis, Arkansas, 974 F.2d
81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992) (“The West Memphis
Police Department and West Memphis Paramedic Services are not
juridical entities suable as such. They are simply
departments or divisions of the City government.”).
See also Diggs v. City of Osceola, 270 Fed.Appx.
469, 2008 WL 786662 (8thCir. 2008) (police
department is simply subdivision of city government and not
amendable to suit).
this Court concludes that in Arkansas a city police
department is a department or division of the City government
and not a legal entity subject to suit. The Court notes that
the City of Malvern, Arkansas and Officers Dickson, Coke,
Kyle, and Moreland, in their official capacities as Officers
of the City of Malvern Police Department, remain named
defendants in this case. Accordingly, Defendant's motion
to dismiss should be and hereby is GRANTED, and the Malvern
City Police Department is hereby dismissed from this case