Johnson et al v. Champion
ORDER granting 25 Motion to Dismiss. Defendants "City of Satsuma Officials" and "City of Satsuma Roads/Zoning Employees" are dismissed, without prejudice to the plaintiffs' ability to seek leave to file a timely second amended complaint asserting claims against additional named defendants. The Satsuma Police Department is dismissed, without prejudice. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 2/5/2013. copies to parties. (sdb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
REGINALD JOHNSON, et al.,
RANDALL CHAMPIONS, et al.,
) CIVIL ACTION 12-0334-WS-M
This matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss filed by certain
defendants. (Doc. 25). The parties have filed briefs in support of their respective
positions, (Docs. 26, 40), and the motion is ripe for resolution. After careful
consideration, the Court concludes the motion is due to be granted.
A. Fictitious Defendants.
Among the defendants listed in the style of the amended complaint are
“City of Satsuma Officials – names unknown” and “City of Satsuma
Roads/Zoning Employees, names unknown.” (Doc. 17 at 1).
As the movants point out, (Doc. 26 at 7), “[a]s a general matter, fictitiousparty pleading is not permitted in federal court.” Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d
734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010). There is a “limited exception” to this rule “when the
plaintiff’s description of the defendant is so specific as to be at the very worst,
surplusage.” Id. (internal quotes omitted). Simply identifying a defendant as
“John Doe (Unknown Legal Name), Guard, Charlotte Correctional Institute” does
not implicate this exception, because it is “insufficient to identify the defendant
among the many guards employed at CCI.” Id. Dismissal of a purported claim
against such an inadequately identified defendant is proper. Id.
The amended complaint does not provide any detail concerning who these
unknown individuals are or even what positions they held, certainly not enough to
render their names mere surplusage. Accordingly, all claims against these
fictitious defendants will be dismissed.
B. Satsuma Police Department.
Although the amended complaint names the Satsuma Police Department
(“the Department”) as a defendant, the Department is not mentioned in either the
statement of facts or in the identification of defendants under the various counts.
Randall Champions is the only defendant under Count One. As to the other five
counts, the defendants are identified as “the City of Satsuma and its officials
(unknown individuals), in concert with Mr. Maurice Kirk Harless and MKH
Properties in their official and individual capacities.” (Doc. 17 at 9-12).
The amended complaint’s only allegations concerning the police are
assertions that, while the plaintiffs were attending federal court, they were
escorted to a holding cell pending arrival of a Department police officer
(defendant Champions), who handcuffed them and drove them to the Satsuma city
jail, where they were booked on charges of second degree criminal mischief.
(Doc. 17 at 6-7).
The Department argues that the amended complaint fails to state a claim
against it, for failure to make allegations concerning each element of any asserted
cause of action. (Doc. 26 at 6). Since the amended complaint does not identify
the Department as a defendant under any of the counts contained therein, it
certainly fails to state a claim against the Department.1 The plaintiffs offer no
effective response. Accordingly, the Department is due to be dismissed.
For the reasons set forth above, the motion to dismiss is granted.
Defendants “City of Satsuma Officials” and “City of Satsuma Roads/Zoning
Other deficiencies in the plaintiffs’ pleading are apparent, but this one is
Employees” are dismissed, without prejudice to the plaintiffs’ ability to seek leave
to file a timely second amended complaint asserting claims against additional
named defendants. The Satsuma Police Department is dismissed, without
prejudice to the plaintiffs’ ability to seek leave to file a timely second amended
complaint properly stating a claim against the Department.2
DONE and ORDERED this 5th day of February, 2013.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before dismissal with prejudice of a defendant for failure to state a claim, a pro
se plaintiff must be given an opportunity to amend the complaint if a more carefully
drafted version might state a claim. E.g., Lee v. Alachua County, 461 Fed. Appx. 859,
860 (11th Cir. 2012); Schmitt v. United States Office of Personnel Management, 403 Fed.
Appx. 460, 462 (11th Cir. 2010).
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