Summers v. The City of Dothan, Alabama et al

Filing 23

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that Dft John Powell's 5 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED and all claims against Dft John Powell are DISMISSED; further ORDERED that the caption in this case shall be changed to reflect that it is solely against the City of Dothan Alabama and the parties shall from this point forward use the caption as it appears above on filings in this case. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 1/30/2009. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(wcl, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA S O U T H E R N DIVISION S Y L V IA SUMMERS, P L A IN T IF F , v. T H E CITY OF DOTHAN, ALABAMA, DEFEND AN T. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 1:08cv-784-MEF M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER T h is cause is before the Court on Defendant John Powell's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 5) filed on December 9, 2008. On September 23, 2008, Plaintiff brought suit against the C ity of Dothan, Alabama and Chief John R. Powell ("Powell") in his official capacity as C h ie f of Police for Dothan, Alabama. Plaintiff's claims are made pursuant to Title VII of th e Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1981, and 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff a lle g e s unlawful discrimination on the basis of her sex and race and retaliation during the p e rio d of her employment with the City of Dothan, Alabama. Powell seeks dismissal of the claims against him in his official capacity. He contends th a t such claims are duplicative of the claims against the City of Dothan, Alabama. The C o u rt agrees. In Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985), the United States Supreme Court s o u g h t to eliminate lingering confusion about the distinction between personal-capacity and o f f icia l-c a p a c ity suits. The Supreme Court emphasized that official-capacity suits " `g e n e ra lly represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an o f f ic e r is an agent.'" Id. at 165 (quoting Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U .S . 658, 690, n.55 (1978)). Accord, Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991) (explaining that th e real party in interest in an official-capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the n am ed official). Thus, suits against municipal officials in their official capacity therefore s h o u ld be treated as suits against the municipality. See, e.g., Brown v. Neumann, 188 F.3d 1 2 8 9 , 1290 (11th Cir. 1999) (a suit against a governmental official in his official capacity is d e e m e d a suit against the entity that he represents); Busby v. City of Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 7 7 6 (11th Cir. 1991) ("Such suits against municipal officers are therefore, in actuality, suits d ire c tly against the city that the officer represents"); Gray v. City of Eufaula, 31 F. Supp. 2d 9 5 7 , 965 (M.D. Ala. 1998) (same). In this case the application of these well-established principles make it plain that the o f f ic ia l capacity claims against Powell are really claims against the governmental entity by w h ic h he is employed, the City of Dothan, Alabama. The City of Dothan, Alabama has a lre a d y been made a proper party defendant to this action. Any relief required against Powell c a n be achieved by Plaintiff's claims against the City of Dothan. Accordingly, the Court is s a tis f ie d that the official capacity claims against Powell are unnecessarily duplicative. For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant John Powell's M o tio n to Dismiss (Doc. # 5) is GRANTED and all claims against Defendant John Powell a re DISMISSED. It is further ORDERED that the caption in this case shall be changed to re f lec t that it is solely against the City of Dothan Alabama and the parties shall from this p o in t forward use the caption as it appears above on filings in this case. D O N E this the 30 th day of January, 2008. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 2

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