Morneau v. Sims et al
ORDER granting 60 Motion to Dismiss official capacity claims. The Court finds that Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Separate Defendants Runion, Rayborn, and Smith should be and hereby are DISMISSED. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on December 10, 2012. (cap)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
SANDRA KELLOGG MORNEAU
CASE NO. 4:12-CV-4109
MARK D. SIMS, et al
Before the Court is Separate Defendants Jackie Runion, Jeffrey Clay Raybord, and Justin
Smith’s Motion to Dismiss Official Capacity Claims. (ECF No. 60). This case is a civil-rights
action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff sued Separate Defendants Runion, Rayborn, and
Smith in their official and individual capacities as officers of the Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission. Separate Defendants move the Court to dismiss the official capacity claims on two
grounds: (1) because sovereign immunity applies; and (2) because in their official capacities, the
officers are not “persons” within the meaning § 1983. Plaintiff has not responded to Separate
Defendants’ motion, and the time for doing so has passed. Local Rule 7.2(b). The matter is ripe
for the Court’s consideration. Because Separate Defendant’s motion can be resolved on
sovereign immunity grounds, the Court need not address the officers’ statuses as “persons”
within the meaning of § 1983.
Sovereign immunity is created by the Eleventh Amendment, which generally provides a
state with immunity from suit by citizens in federal court absent the state’s consent. Edelman v.
Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974). That immunity also extends to actions against state officials
sued in their official capacities. Thomas v. Gunter, 32 F.3d 1258, 1261 (8th Cir. 1994). In this
case, Separate Defendants Runion, Rayborn, and Smith are state officials because they are
officers of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, an agency created by the Arkansas
Constitution. See AR CONST. AMEND. 35, § 1. Because Plaintiff has sued them in their official
capacity, such claims are barred by sovereign immunity.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s official capacity claims against Separate
Defendants Runion, Rayborn, and Smith should be and hereby are DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 10th day of December, 2012.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Hon. Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
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