Garrison v. Hadder et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge R David Proctor on 11/5/2012. (AVC)
2012 Nov-05 AM 10:45
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LOWELL ADAM HADDER, et al.,
Case No.: 6:12-CV-2659-RDP
Before the court is Defendant Sheriff John Mark Tirey’s Motion to Dismiss Official Capacity
Claims and Declaratory Equitable Relief Claims (Doc. #21). The Motion has been fully briefed.
(Docs. #21, 25, 28). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion (Doc. #21) is due to be granted
in part and denied in part.
BACKGROUND AND RELEVANT FACTS
This case arose out of an incident occurring on July 17, 2012 that began near Defendant
Adam Hadder’s (“Hadder”) home and ended with Defendant Hadder arresting Plaintiff Gerald
Garrison. (Doc. #18). A discussion of the relevant facts can be found in the court’s Memorandum
Opinion on Defendant Hadder’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #30). However, the following additional
evidence of record is relevant to the claims against Sheriff Tirey.
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Hadder was acting in accordance with
“customs or practice” of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office when he arrested Plaintiff and searched
and impounded Plaintiff’s vehicle. (Doc. #18, ¶ 62). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Tirey had seen
videotape of Defendant Hadder “unjustly assaulting citizens” and that Defendant Tirey had received
“numerous written and/or verbal complaints of Defendant Hadder engaging in excessive force and
other improper conduct.” (Id. at ¶ 63).1 Plaintiff states that Defendant Tirey was on notice “of the
widespread abuse and deprivations” and that Defendant Tirey had “direct notice of Defendant
Hadder’s history of widespread abuse of policy, procedure, and failure to follow protocol.” (Id. at
Plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Defendant Tirey in his official
and individual capacity under vicarious liability or respondeat superior theories alleging failure to
train, sanction, or discipline Defendant Hadder. (Id. at ¶¶ 96-101). Plaintiff also seeks declaratory
relief against Defendant Tirey. (Id. at ¶¶ 103-105). Defendant Tirey’s Motion to Dismiss argues
that: (1) Plaintiff cannot state a claim pursuant to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution; (2)
Specifically, Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Tirey was aware of the following written
and/or verbal complaints regarding Defendant Hadder’s behavior:
a. Defendant Hadder and other off duty personnel of the [Walker County Sheriff’s
Office] physically attacking a young man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, resulting in a
recent civil verdict in favor of the young man assaulted and against Defendant
Hadder; b. Defendant Hadder and another Deputy Sheriff physically attacking a
young man who was occupying a parked car prior to Defendant Hadder’s attack and
subsequent arrest of the individual resulting in a civil lawsuit being filed which is
currently pending in Walker County, Alabama; c. Defendant Hadder and another
Deputy Sheriff physically attacking and subsequently arresting a Walker County
home owner and her pregnant daughter during the execution of a purported search
warrant when the home owner asked to see the search warrant; d. Defendant Hadder
and another Deputy Sheriff attacking a Walker County man who was eating in a
Walker County restaurant with his brother and subsequently arresting both the and
his brother resulting in each person filing civil lawsuits; e. Defendant Hadder and
another Deputy Sheriff assaulting a Walker County woman at a local high school
football game for taking pictures at the ballgame and subsequently arresting the
individual requiring her to have to defend herself in criminal court where she was
found not guilty of the charges brought Defendant Hadder with a civil lawsuit
having been filed against the Defendants in this case because of the actions of
Defendant Hadder; f. Defendant Hadder and another Deputy Sheriff arresting a
Walker County man and accusing him of being in a criminal conspiracy with his
brother to fight dogs and subsequently arresting the man without just cause with a
civil lawsuit having been filed against the Defendants in this case because of the
actions of Defendant Hadder.
(Id. at ¶ 63. a-f).
Plaintiff’s official capacity claims are due to be dismissed because the claims are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution; (3) Plaintiff’s official capacity claims are
due to be dismissed because Defendant Tirey is not a “person” capable of being sued pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983; and (4) Plaintiff does not have standing to bring claims for declaratory and injunctive
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
Challenges to subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure can exist in two substantially different forms: facial attacks and factual attacks.
Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009). When presented with a facial
attack on the complaint, the court determines whether the complaint has sufficiently alleged subjectmatter jurisdiction. Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1260. The court proceeds as if it were evaluating a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion; that is, it views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
accepts all well-pled facts alleged in the complaint as true. Id.
On the other hand, factual attacks question “the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in
fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and
affidavits, are considered.” Id. (citing Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)).
When a court is confronted with a factual attack, the standard of review diverges considerably:
[T]he trial court may proceed as it never could under 12(b)(6) or Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56. Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial
court’s jurisdiction - its very power to hear the case - there is
substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence
and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In
short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff’s allegations,
and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial
court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.
Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1529 (citing Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412 (5th Cir.), cert. denied,
454 U.S. 897 (1981)). “When a district court has pending before it both a 12(b)(1) motion and a
12(b)(6) motion, the generally preferable approach, if the 12(b)(1) motion essentially challenges the
existence of a federal cause of action, is for the court to find jurisdiction and then decide the 12(b)(6)
motion.” Jones v. State of Ga., 725 F.2d 622, 623 (11th Cir. 1984).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
Having said that, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet
Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or
“naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int’l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir.
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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 v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Although “[t]he
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,’” the complaint must demonstrate
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for
relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence”
to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
The Supreme Court has recently identified “two working principles” for a district court to
use in applying the facial plausibility standard. First, in evaluating motions to dismiss, the court
must assume the veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the court does not have to
accept as true legal conclusions when they are “couched as  factual allegation[s].” Iqbal, 129 S.
Ct. at 1950. Second, “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss.” Id. Application of the facial plausibility standard involves two steps. Under prong one,
the court must determine the scope and nature of the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and
assume their veracity; and under prong two, the court must proceed to determine the claim’s
plausibility given the well-pleaded facts. That task is context specific and, to survive the motion,
the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts,
accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Id.
Defendant Tirey is Entitled to Immunity as to Plaintiff’s Official Capacity
Section 1983 Claims
Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims against Defendant in his official capacity are barred because
Defendant is a state official not amenable to suit under Section 1983 and because Defendant is
entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Courts have long held that a state official sued in his
official capacity is not considered a “person” subject to suit for money damages under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Will v. Mich. Dept. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); see also Greffey v. State of Ala.
Dept. of Corrections, 996 F. Supp. 1368, 1378 (N.D. Ala. 1998). The Supreme Court has recognized
that suits against an individual acting in his official capacity impose liability on the governmental
entity the official represents. See Will, 491 U.S. at 71 (“Obviously state officials literally are persons.
But, a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is not a suit against the official but
rather is a suit against the official’s office . . . . As such, it is no different from a suit against the State
itself.”). Therefore, Defendant is not a “person” subject to suit for money damages under Section
Under Alabama law, sheriffs are state officers. See, e.g., Hereford v. Jefferson Cnty., 586
So. 2d 209, 210 (Ala. 1991); Parker v. Amerson, 519 So. 2d 442 (Ala. 1987). Here, Plaintiff’s
claims for money damages against Defendant in his official capacity are the functional equivalent
of claims against the state. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 659, 690 n. 55 (1978)
(noting that suits against officials in their official capacities “generally represent only another way
of pleading an action against an entity of which an official is an agent”). Thus, Plaintiff’s Section
1983 claims against Defendant in his official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See
Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215 n.5 (11th Cir. 1992) (holding that suit against a sheriff in his
official capacity “is prohibited by the Eleventh Amendment because the State of Alabama is the real
party in interest.”). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims against Defendant in his official
capacity are due to be dismissed. However, with the exception of any Eighth Amendment claims,2
The purpose of the Eighth Amendment is to protect persons convicted of crimes from cruel and unusual
punishment. See, e.g., United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 317-18 (1946); Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 318
(1986). Generally, the Eighth Amendment does not apply to claims brought by arrestees and pretrial detainees. Cottrell
that is not the correct outcome (at least at this point) with respect to Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims
against Defendant in his individual capacity.3
On the Pleadings, Defendant Tirey is Not Entitled to Dismissal of Plaintiff’s
Supervisory Liability Section 1983 Claims
Plaintiff asserts a Section 1983 claim against Defendant under either a vicarious liability or
respondeat superior theory.4 “It is well established in this Circuit that supervisory officials are not
liable under [Section] 1983 for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability.” Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Hartley v. Parnell, 193 F.3d 1263, 1269 (11th Cir. 1999)). However, supervisory liability
under Section 1983 may occur “‘when the supervisor personally participates in the alleged
constitutional violation or when there is a causal connection between the actions of the supervising
official and the alleged deprivation.’” Valdes v. Crosby, 450 F.3d 1231, 1236 (11th Cir. 2006)
v. Caldwell, 85 F.3d 1480, 1490 (11 th Cir. 1996) (“Claims involving the mistreatment of arrestees or pretrial detainees
in custody are governed by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause instead of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel
and Unusual Punishment Clause, which applies to such claims by convicted prisoners.”). Thus, any Section 1983
individual capacity claims against Defendant on the basis of Eighth Amendment violations are due to be dismissed.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss does not argue that the Section 1983 claims against him in individual capacity
should be dismissed. Although implicitly conceded, the court notes that suits against state officials in their individual
capacities are claims against the officials themselves as relief is sought from the person, not the governmental entity he
represents. See Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). Accordingly, Defendant is a “person” subject to suit under
Section 1983, when sued in his individual capacity. See Toth v. City of Dothan, 953 F. Supp. 1502, 1507 (M.D. Ala.
1996) (noting that state officials sued in their individual capacities are “persons” for purposes of Section 1983 and that
they may be held personally liable for damages under Section 1983 for actions taken in their official capacities).
Therefore, with the exception of any claims based upon violations of the Eighth Amendment, see supra note 2, Plaintiff’s
Section 1983 claims against Defendant in his individual capacity are not subject to dismissal.
Count Four of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is titled “Civil Rights–42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Vicarious
Liability/Respondeat Superior). Of course, the “title” of Count Four is not controlling. Rather, it is the substance of the
allegations under this heading that should be considered. See Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local Union No. 323 v. Coral
Elec. Corp., 576 F. Supp. 1128, 1134 (S.D. Fla.1984) (noting that “a court should not elevate form over substance in
reviewing the pleadings of a case”). And, the substance of the allegations make clear that Plaintiff is actually asserting
a claim of supervisory liability against Defendant Tirey. Specifically, paragraphs 98-101 allege that Defendant Tirey
was on notice of Defendant Hadder’s purported unconstitutional behavior and failed to correct it. Therefore, the court
considers Count Four as a claim of supervisory liability.
(quoting Miller v. King, 384 F. 3d 1248, 1261 (11th Cir. 2004)). Based on the pleadings, there is no
evidence that Defendant personally participated in Plaintiff’s arrest and the subsequent search of his
car. The question then is whether there is a sufficient causal connection between Defendant’s action
or inaction and the arrest and search.
A causal connection may be established when: 1) a “history of widespread abuse” puts the
responsible supervisor on notice of the need to correct the alleged deprivation, and he or she fails
to do so; 2) a supervisor’s custom or policy results in deliberate indifference to constitutional rights;
or 3) facts support an inference that the supervisor directed subordinates to act unlawfully or knew
that subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so. Cottone v. Jenne, 326
F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003). Here, the court must accept as true Plaintiff’s well-plead
allegations and, in light of that, it would be inappropriate to dismiss Plaintiff’s supervisory liability
Section 1983 claims against Defendant Tirey. Plaintiff has alleged facts that could, at this stage,
support a finding that Defendant was aware of Defendant Hadder’s abuses such that Defendant was
on notice of the alleged constitutional violations. Plaintiff has also alleged facts that could support
an inference that Defendant knew that Defendant Hadder would act unlawfully but failed to
intervene or was deliberately indifferent. See Bd of Cnty. Comm’rs of Bryan Cnty, Okla v. Brown,
520 U.S. 397, 410 (1997) (deliberate indifference exists when supervisor disregards a known or
obvious consequence of his action). Thus, Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims against Defendant in his
individual capacity are not subject to dismissal at this point.
Plaintiff’s Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Claims Against Defendant are
Although Defendant is not immune to suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, the court
concludes that Plaintiff lacks standing to bring these claims. Declaratory and injunctive claims
concern future conduct and injuries. See, e.g., Church v. City of Huntsville, 30 F.3d 1332, 1336
(11th Cir. 1994); Emory v. Peeler, 756 F.2d 1547, 1552 (11th Cir. 1985). Thus, a party who does
not face a real and immediate threat of future injury lacks standing to seek declaratory or injunctive
relief. See City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 105 (1983) (finding that a plaintiff lacked
standing because he was unable to show an imminent threat of future police brutality).
Plaintiff’s declaratory and injunctive claims against Defendant are based on the actions of
Defendant Hadder. (See Doc. #18). Defendant terminated Defendant Hadder’s employment with
the Walker County Sheriff’s Office on September 27, 2012. (Doc. #28). Because Defendant Hadder
is no longer employed with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Plaintiff faces no threat of future
harm from Defendant Hadder. Therefore, Plaintiff has no standing to seek declaratory and injunctive
relief. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s declaratory and injunctive claims against Defendant are due to be
For the reasons stated above, Defendant’s Motion (Doc. #22) is due to be granted. The
following claims are due to be dismissed with prejudice against Defendant Tirey in his official
capacity, but not in his individual capacity:
Count Four: 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Furthermore, the following claims are due to be dismissed with prejudice against Defendant in his
official and individual capacities:
Count Five: Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.
A separate order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion will be issued.
DONE and ORDERED this
day of November, 2012.
R. DAVID PROCTOR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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