Cravens v. Benton County Detention Facility et al
ORDER granting 33 Motion for Summary Judgment and plaintiff's claims are dismissed with prejudice; adopting in part and not adopting in part re 41 Report and Recommendations. Signed by Honorable Jimm Larry Hendren on September 19, 2011. (tg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
ALAN W. CRAVENS
Civil No. 09-5187
DR. JOHN HUSKINS; SHERIFF
KEITH FERGUSON; and CAPTAIN
O R D E R
consideration defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment (document
#33); the Magistrate Judge's Report And Recommendation ("R&R")
(document #41); and defendants' Objections To Magistrate Judge's
Report And Recommendation ("Objections") (document #42), and from
said documents, the Court finds and orders as follows:
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants denied him
adequate medical care and access to mail during his incarceration
at the Benton County Detention Center.
Defendants moved for summary judgment, and the United States
Magistrate Judge promulgated a questionnaire to assist Cravens in
formulating his response to that motion.
Cravens completed this
issued the R&R now under consideration.
The R&R recommends that defendant's Motion For Summary
Judgment be granted as to all claims asserted against them in
their official capacities, but that it be denied as to individual
capacity claims against defendants Dr. John Huskins ("Huskins")and
specifically plead individual capacity claims against defendants,
the R&R notes that pro se pleadings are to be liberally construed;
that the distinction between individual and official capacity
claims can be confusing, even to lawyers; that defendants pled
qualified immunity (an individual capacity defense) in their
Answer; and that defendants argued in their Motion For Summary
Judgment for dismissal of individual capacity claims.
these factors, the Magistrate Judge determined that Cravens'
Complaint should be construed as asserting individual capacity
The R&R then analyzed the evidence and recommended that the
Motion be denied as to individual capacity claims against Huskins
It recommended that the Motion be granted as to
Huskins and Holly object to the R&R, insofar as it
construes Cravens' claims against them as individual capacity
They cite authorities to the effect that individual
capacity claims must be specifically pled as such, and point out
that one of the questions in the questionnaire completed by
Cravens was "[a]re you suing the Defendants in their individual or
"Individual," "Official," or "Both individual and official."
Cravens checked the blank beside the choice "Official."
individual and official capacity suits is confusing.
v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985), the Supreme Court attempted to
define it more clearly "[b]ecause this distinction apparently
continues to confuse lawyers and confound lower courts."
Court therein explained that
[p]ersonal-capacity suits seek to impose personal
liability upon a government official for actions he
takes under color of state law.
suits, in contrast, generally represent only another way
of pleading an action against an entity of which an
officer is an agent. As long as 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. It is
not a suit against the official personally, for the real
party in interest is the entity.
In the Eighth Circuit, a corollary to the individual
capacity/official capacity dichotomy is that a plaintiff must
specifically so state if he is suing a defendant in his individual
This court has held that, in order to sue a public
official in his or her individual capacity, a plaintiff
must expressly and unambiguously state so in the
pleadings, otherwise, it will be assumed that the
defendant is sued only in his or her official capacity.
Because section 1983 liability exposes public servants
to civil liability and damages, we have held that only
an express statement that they are being sued in their
individual capacity will suffice to give proper notice
to the defendants.
Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir.
1999) (internal citations omitted).
The Eighth Circuit has affirmed this principle in several
recent unpublished decisions1, and has only departed from it under
the rule of liberal construction of pro se pleadings when a basis
to do so was found in the pro se plaintiff's pleadings (as opposed
to the pleadings of defendants)2.
The recommendation here for
departure from the rule is based not on clues to be found in
Cravens' submissions, but rather on protective arguments made by
defendants in their Answer and Motion For Summary Judgment.
Given the rule in Johnson, and the Eighth Circuit's
Objection well taken, and it will be sustained.
therefore, be adopted only in part.
The R&R will,
It will not be adopted
insofar as it recommends denial of the Motion For Summary Judgment
as to Huskins and Holly in their individual capacities.
being no claims asserted against Huskins and Holly in their
individual capacities, the Court finds that the Motion For Summary
Judgment should be granted in its entirety.
See Bishop v. Savage, 406 Fed.Appx. 85 (8th Cir. 2010); McCroy v. Douglas County
Corrections Center, 394 Fed.Appx. 325 (8th Cir. 2010); and Moore v. Plock, 377 Fed.Appx.
563 (8th Cir. 2010).
Bird v. Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept., 363 Fed.Appx. 425 (8th Cir. 2010).
Magistrate Judge's Report And Recommendation (document #42) are
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Magistrate Judge's Report And
Recommendation ("R&R") (document #41) is adopted in part and not
adopted in part.
The R&R is adopted insofar as it recommends
granting defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment and dismissing
capacities, and against Sheriff Keith Ferguson in his individual
The R&R is not adopted insofar as it recommends denial
of defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment as to claims against
Dr. John Huskins and Captain Robert Holly in their individual
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants' Motion For Summary
Judgment (document #33) is granted, and plaintiff's claims are
dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Jimm Larry Hendren
JIMM LARRY HENDREN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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