Potter v. Sebastian County, Arkansas et al
OPINION AND ORDER denying 20 Motion to Intervene; denying as moot 24 Motion to Dismiss Case; granting 26 Motion to Substitute Party. Scott Courtney substituted for Gordon Potter (as Special Administrator of the Estate of Amanda Potter, deceased). Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on March 11, 2015. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
GORDON POTTER, as Special Administrator of the
Estate of Amanda Potter, deceased
Case No. 2:14-CV-02264
SEBASTIAN COUNTY, ARKANSAS; BILL
HOLLENBECK, in his individual and official capacity
as Sheriff of Sebastian County; DAVID HUDSON, in
his individual and official capacity as County Judge of
the Sebastian County Quorum Court; and SEBASTIAN
COUNTY QUORUM COURT
OPINION AND ORDER
In the Complaint (Doc. 1) filed in this case, Plaintiff Gordon Potter, purporting to act in his
capacity as special administrator of the estate of Amanda Potter, alleged claims brought pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, § 1988, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution. Potter also brought state-law claims pursuant to the Arkansas Civil Rights Act and
Arkansas Code §§ 16-62-101 (“survival of actions - wrongs to person or property”) and 16-62-102
(“wrongful death”). All claims stem from the death of Amanda Potter while she was in the custody
of the Sebastian County Detention Center.
“[F]ederal law provides no remedy under § 1983 for wrongful death. Thus, courts applying
§ 1983 look to the states’ wrongful death statutes for a suitable remedy not inconsistent with the
Constitution and laws of the United States.” Gill v. Maciejewski, 546 F.3d 557, 565 (8th Cir. 2008).
The Arkansas wrongful death statute provides that every action brought pursuant to that statute “shall
be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of the deceased person.” Ark. Code
Ann. § 16-62-102(b). The survival statute likewise requires that claims be brought by a personal
representative of the deceased’s estate. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-62-101. These statutes are not
inconsistent with the Constitution or laws of the United States and so likewise require that any
cognizable federal claims be brought by the personal representative of a deceased’s estate.
In bringing this action, Mr. Potter represented that he was the administrator of Amanda
Potter’s estate. (Doc. 1, ¶ 1). It is now apparent, however, that any designation of Mr. Potter as
administrator of Amanda Potter’s estate was in error, and his appointment has been revoked effective
February 3, 2015. (Doc. 25-1). The current and actual administrator of the estate is Scott Courtney.
Mr. Courtney originally filed a motion to intervene (Doc. 20) in this action. It is not at all clear that
allowing intervention in this action would be appropriate. Mr. Courtney has now, however, filed a
motion (Doc. 26) to substitute himself as plaintiff in this action. Both Mr. Potter (Doc. 28) and
Defendants (Doc. 29) have filed responses in support of Mr. Courtney’s motion.
Because it appears Mr. Courtney is the personal representative of the estate of Amanda
Potter, the Court finds that substitution of Mr. Courtney as plaintiff in place of Mr. Potter is proper.
Mr. Courtney’s motion to substitute will therefore be granted.
Defendants recognize in their response to Mr. Courtney’s motion for substitution that Mr.
Courtney’s substitution as plaintiff “is a better mechanism than dismissal for dealing with the current
Plaintiff’s lack of standing.” (Doc. 29, p. 1). Defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing
(Doc. 24) will therefore be denied as moot.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Mr. Courtney’s motion to intervene (Doc. 20) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ motion to dismiss (Doc. 24) is DENIED AS
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mr. Courtney’s motion to substitute (Doc. 26) is
GRANTED, as supported by the currently named Plaintiff. Scott Courtney, as Special Administrator
of the Estate of Amanda Potter, is substituted for Gordon Potter as plaintiff in this case.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Mr. Courtney will have until Monday, March 23, 2015 to
file any response to Defendants’ currently pending motion (Doc. 13) to dismiss claims against
Defendant Sebastian County Quorum Court.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of March, 2015.
/s/P. K. Holmes, III
P.K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?