Potter v. City of Dothan, Alabama et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: It is ORDERED that the individual defendants' motion to dismiss the claims against them in their official capacities (doc. # 28 ) be and is hereby GRANTED, and the claims against Chief Parrish and Officers Traynham and Mock in their official capacities be and are hereby DISMISSED with prejudice. It is further ORDERED that the defendants motion to dismiss (doc. # 16 ) filed on October 11, 2016 be and is hereby DENIED as moot. Signed by Honorable Judge Charles S. Coody on 12/20/2016. (kh, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CITY OF DOTHAN, ALABAMA, et al.,
CIVIL ACT. NO. 1:16cv749-CSC
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
On October 11, 2016, the individual defendants filed a motion to dismiss claims
against them in their official capacities. (Doc. # 16). In response, the plaintiff filed an
amended complaint. See Doc. # 23. On November 14, 2016, the individual defendants again
filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint’s official capacity claims against them. See
Doc. # 28. The plaintiff agrees that the official capacity claims against Officers Traynham
and Mock should be dismissed. However, he contends that Chief Parrish should not be
dismissed in his official capacity. The City of Dothan is also named as a defendant but did
not file any motion. On December 20, 2016, the court heard argument on the motion to
dismiss. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) and M.D. Ala. LR 73.1, the parties have
consented to the United States Magistrate Judge conducting all proceedings in this case and
ordering the entry of final judgment.
“Official-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent only another way of pleading an
action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.’” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159,
165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv. of New York, 436 U .S. 658, 690 n. 55
(1978)). Where, as here, “the government entity receives notice and an opportunity to
respond, an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit
against the entity.” Id. at 166. “Because suits against a municipal officer sued in his official
capacity and direct suits against municipalities are functionally equivalent, there no longer
exists a need to bring official-capacity actions against local government officials, because
local government units can be sued directly.” Busby v. City of Orlando, 931 F.2d 764, 776
(11th Cir.1991); see also Dickinson v. City of Huntsville, 822 So.2d 411, 415 (Ala. 2001)
(panel decision) (holding, in a case involving claims of fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation,
negligent supervision and hiring, negligence, and wantonness, that the mayor of Huntsville,
Alabama, “is, in her official capacity, within the line and scope of her office, the agent of the
City, through whom the City acts. Thus, to sue the mayor in her official capacity is simply
another way of suing the City.”). Accordingly, the court will dismiss Mr. Potter's official
capacity claims against Chief Parrish and Officers Traynham and Mock because the suits
against municipal officers in their official capacities are treated as suits against the
municipality itself. Mr. Potter has named the City of Dothan as a defendant in this action, so
his official capacity claims are unnecessary.
Upon consideration of the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff’s response, and for good
cause, it is
ORDERED that the individual defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims against them
in their official capacities (doc. # 28) be and is hereby GRANTED, and the claims against
Chief Parrish and Officers Traynham and Mock in their official capacities be and are hereby
DISMISSED with prejudice.
It is further
ORDERED that the defendants’ motion to dismiss (doc. # 16) filed on October 11,
2016 be and is hereby DENIED as moot.
Done this 20th day of December, 2016.
/s/Charles S. Coody
CHARLES S. COODY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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