Couser v. Somers et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 114 Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint. Plaintiff is permitted to amend her Complaint to address the municipal liability claims and substitute the Boards of Commissioners for McPherson an d Harvey Counties. Plaintiff is not permitted to replead previously-dismissed claims. Plaintiff shall file her First Amended Complaint within 14 days of the District Court's ruling on the recommendation regarding her proposed indemnification cla im. As previously ordered, a Scheduling Conference is set for 11/30/20 at 11:00 a.m. by Zoom videoconference before Judge Birzer. The parties must confer and submit a planning report to chambers at KSD_Birzer_Chambers@ksd.uscourts.gov no later than 11/23/2020. (The order attached to this entry is a duplicate of ECF No. 142, entered for statistical purposes.) Signed by Magistrate Judge Gwynne E. Birzer on 11/17/20. (adc)
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 1 of 35
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
WENDY COUSER, as administrator )
of the Estate of Matthew Holmes,
CHRIS SOMERS, et al.,
Case No. 18-1221-JWB-GEB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
and REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 114). After careful consideration of Plaintiff’s motion and Reply
(ECF No. 129), all Defendants’ responses in opposition (ECF Nos. 118, 119, 120, 122)
and Defendants’ permitted surreplies (ECF Nos. 139, 140, 141), the Court GRANTS IN
PART and DENIES in part Plaintiff’s motion, and RECOMMENDS DENIAL IN
PART1 as to Plaintiff’s proposed claim for indemnification for the reasons stated below.
If a magistrate judge’s order denies a motion to amend and a claim or defense is not permitted
to be asserted in a case, multiple courts have found such a ruling to be dispositive for which
review may be sought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. See Wilson v. WalMart Stores, Inc., No. 07-2263-JWL, 2008 WL 2622895, at *1 (D. Kan. June 30, 2008).
Compare Sprint Commc'ns Co. v. Cable One, Inc., No. 11-2685-JWL, 2014 WL 588068, at *1
(D. Kan. Feb. 14, 2014) (citing Navegante Grp., Inc. v. Butler Nat'l Serv. Corp., No. 09-2554JWL, 09-2466-JWL, 2011 WL 1769088, at *3 (D. Kan. May 9, 2011) (“[F]or purposes of the
standard of review, a magistrate judge's denial of a motion to amend for reasons other than
futility is a nondispositive order) (emphasis added). Because the undersigned recommends denial
of the amendment of the proposed indemnification claim on the basis of futility, the magistrate
judge issues a report and recommendation to the district judge on that issue.
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 2 of 35
The factual background of this matter has been explored extensively in prior
orders (see Mem. and Orders, ECF Nos. 87, 88, 107) and will not be repeated here.
Summarily, Plaintiff Wendy Couser filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988 civil rights
case individually and as administrator of the estate of her son, Matthew Holmes. Mr.
Holmes died in August 2017 after leading officers on a high-speed pursuit in central
Kansas, after which a confrontation ensued between he and law enforcement officers
from three entities: the City of Newton, Harvey County, and McPherson County. Mr.
Holmes was shot and died from his wounds.
Plaintiff initially sued multiple law enforcement officers from the three involved
agencies. Defendants Anthony Hawpe, Skyler Hinton, and the City of Newton are
referenced individually and collectively referenced as the “Newton defendants.”
Defendants Harvey County Sheriff’s Office (“HCSO”), Harvey County, and Sheriff Chad
Gay, are referenced individually and collectively denoted the “Harvey County
defendants.” Defendants Jason Achilles, Sheriff Jerry Montagne, McPherson County, and
McPherson County Sheriff’s Office (“MCSO”) are referenced individually and
collectively referred to as the “McPherson County defendants.” Defendant Chris Somers
is the MCSO Deputy who fired the fatal shot and is sued and defending the case
Unless otherwise noted, the information recited in this section is taken from the briefs regarding
Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend (ECF Nos. 114, 118-120, 122, 129, 139-141), from Plaintiff’s
proposed Amended Complaint (ECF Nos. 114-1 and 129-1) and Complaint (ECF No. 1), and
from the parties’ briefs regarding Defendants’ various motions to strike (ECF Nos. 130-133).
This background information should not be construed as judicial findings or factual
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 3 of 35
individually. The Complaint also names unknown officers from each of the three entities,
bringing the case to an initial total of 14 defendants.
Despite a gap in the formal numbering, Plaintiff’s original Complaint contains
only eight counts,3 including: 1) excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,
2) denial of Equal Protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, 3) denial of
medical care in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, 4) wrongful death
and 5) survival claims, 6) municipal liability for failure to train/supervise; 7) lack of
accommodation in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(“ADA”) (mislabeled “Count IX” of the Complaint), and 8) a claim of respondeat
superior for unspecified state torts (Count X of the Complaint). All Defendants filed
motions to dismiss the Complaint (ECF Nos. 33, 38, 51, 53, and 61) and motions to stay
discovery on the case (ECF Nos. 55, 57, 58, and 71). After a hearing, the undersigned
granted the motions to stay (Mem. and Order, ECF No. 87, filed Feb. 21, 2019) and
discovery was postponed pending a decision on the dispositive motions.
On April 17, 2019 Honorable District Judge John W. Broomes granted in part and
denied in part the multiple motions to dismiss. (Mem. and Order, ECF No. 88.) The
Court dismissed six of Plaintiff’s eight claims4 in substance. The Court dismissed all
claims against McPherson County and the MCSO, all claims against Sheriff Montagne in
his individual and official capacities, all claims against Harvey County and the HCSO,
Plaintiff’s original Complaint (ECF No. 1) does not include a Count VII or VIII; rather, it skips
directly from Count VI to IX. Keeping with the same numbering, Plaintiff’s proposed amended
complaints (ECF Nos. 114-1, 129-1) do the same.
Counts 2 through 5, and Counts 7-8 (notated in the Complaint as Counts IX and X) were
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 4 of 35
and Sheriff Gay in his individual capacity; and found Wendy Couser in her individual
capacity was not a proper plaintiff and dismissed her claims. The two remaining claims
are: 1) excessive force against the individual defendants, and 2) the municipal liability
claims against Sheriff Gay in his official capacity and the City of Newton. (Id.) Soon
after the decision, Sheriff Gay filed an appeal. (Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 90.)
He then sought to stay discovery pending resolution of his appeal (Motion, ECF
No. 99), a request which other defendants joined. (ECF Nos. 101, 104.) After another
hearing on the issue of stay, the undersigned granted the stay but required all parties—
except Sheriff Gay—to serve on one another their Rule 26(a) initial disclosures and
exchange any documents identified therein. (Mem. and Order, ECF No. 107, filed July 1,
On May 22, 2020, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Broomes’
decision. (Mandate, ECF No. 115, filed in D. Kan. on June 15, 2020.) Twelve days later,
Plaintiff filed her motion for leave to amend her complaint. (ECF No. 114, filed June 3,
On October 20, 2020, the undersigned held a motion hearing to discuss the
briefing regarding Plaintiff’s request for amendment.
During this hearing, the
undersigned denied, in part, Defendants’ separate motions to strike the attachment
included in Plaintiff’s Reply brief. (Motions, ECF Nos. 130, 132; Order, ECF No. 137.)
In response to Defendants’ various arguments, Plaintiff proceeded in an unusual and
typically disallowed procedural manner by introducing a new proposed amended
pleading attached to her Reply brief (ECF No. 129-1), which Defendants opposed. But
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 5 of 35
striking Plaintiff’s revised proposed amended pleading does not further the goals of
moving this two-year-old case forward as efficiently as possible, in line with the
directives of Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. Because Plaintiff included entirely new allegations in her
Reply, though, this is a rare circumstance where Defendants should be permitted to
respond to alleviate any potential prejudice.5 In its discretion, and in furtherance of the
goals of Rule 1, rather than require Plaintiff to refile a her motion for leave to amend and
begin briefing again, the Court granted Defendants’ motions in part by permitting
Defendants to file surreply briefs. (Order, ECF No. 137.)
All briefing related to Plaintiff’s motion to amend is now complete, and the issue
of amendment is ripe for decision.
Motion to Amend (ECF No. 114)
Legal Standard for Amendment
The standard for permitting a party to amend his or her complaint is well
established. A party may amend its pleading as a matter of course under Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(1), either before the responding party answers or within 21 days after service of a
responsive pleading. However, in cases such as this, where the time to amend as a matter
of course has passed, without the opposing party’s consent a party may amend its
pleading only by leave of the court under Rule 15(a)(2).
Green v. New Mexico, 420 F.3d 1189, 1196–97 (10th Cir. 2005) (“Generally, the nonmoving
party should be given an opportunity to respond to new material raised for the first time in the
movant's reply.”). See also Pippin v. Burlington Res. Oil and Gas Co., 440 F.3d 1186, 1192
(10th Cir. 2006).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 6 of 35
Rule 15(a)(2) provides leave “shall be freely given when justice so requires,” and
the decision to allow an amendment is within the sound discretion of the court. 6 The
court considers a number of factors in deciding whether to allow an amendment,
including timeliness, prejudice to the other party, bad faith, and futility of amendment.7
In exercising its discretion, the court must be “mindful of the spirit of the federal rules of
civil procedure to encourage decisions on the merits rather than on mere technicalities.”8
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that Rule 15 is intended “to provide
litigants ‘the maximum opportunity for each claim to be decided on its merits rather than
on procedural niceties,’”9 especially in the absence of bad faith by an offending party or
prejudice to a non-moving party.10 With these standards in mind, this Court evaluates
Due to the nature of the issues, the number of parties, and each parties’ separate
briefing, the Court addresses the varying positions in turn. To the extent some
Defendants’ arguments are in union, the Court notes such agreement.
See J. Vangel Elec., Inc. v. Sugar Creek Packing Co., No. 11–2112–EFM, 2012 WL 5995283,
at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 30, 2012) (citing Panis v. Mission Hills Bank, 60 F.3d 1486, 1494 (10th Cir.
Minter v. Prime Equip. Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foman v. Davis,
371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)); see also Monge v. St. Francis Health Ctr., Inc., No. 12–2269–EFMJPO, 2013 WL 328957, at *2 (D. Kan. Jan. 10, 2013), report and recommendation adopted,
2013 WL 328986 (D. Kan. Jan. 29, 2013).
Hinkle v. Mid-Continent Cas. Co., No. 11–2652–JTM-KMH, 2012 WL 2581000, at *1 (D.
Kan. July 3, 2012) (citing Koch v. Koch Indus., 127 F.R.D. 206, 209 (D. Kan. 1989)).
Carefusion 213, LLC v. Professional Disposables, Inc., No. 09–2616–KHV–DJW, 2010 WL
4004874, at *4 (D. Kan. Oct. 12, 2010) (citing Minter, 451 F.3d at 1204) (quoting Hardin v.
Manitowoc–Forsythe Corp., 691 F.2d 449, 456 (10th Cir. 1982)).
See AK Steel Corp. v. PAC Operating Ltd. P'ship, No. 15-9260-CM-GEB, 2016 WL 6163832,
at *4 (D. Kan. Oct. 24, 2016) (collecting cases; internal citations omitted).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 7 of 35
In her initial motion, Plaintiff seeks to accomplish two primary goals through
amendment: 1) replace McPherson and Harvey Counties and the related sheriff’s offices
as parties (all of which were dismissed), with the counties’ boards of commissioners; and
2) add a Count XI of indemnification under K.S.A. § 75-6109 against the government
entity defendants. In this new indemnification claim, she seeks a court order against the
government entity defendants and sheriffs to pay any damages assessed against their
employees in this lawsuit. Plaintiff maintains the proposed amendments do not change
claims against any other parties—except, Plaintiff intends to retain the claims that were
dismissed by Judge Broomes “only to preserve any possibility of appeal of those claims.”
(ECF No. 114 at 3, n.1.)
Plaintiff argues no party will be prejudiced by amendment, given no schedule has
been entered in this case and no activity has occurred, due to the stays related to
dispositive motions and appeal.
As discussed above, in Plaintiff’s Reply brief, she addresses the Defendants’
responses, in part, by attaching a newly-proposed amended complaint to her brief. (ECF
No. 129-1.) Plaintiff’s updated pleading includes additional factual policy and practice
allegations against Sheriff Montagne and proposed defendant Board of Commissioners of
McPherson County, based upon evidence Plaintiff claims she learned in 2020. Plaintiff
contends these new facts cure the earlier dismissal of her municipal liability claims
against the McPherson County defendants by including facts demonstrating they
permitted Defendant Somers to remain on duty at the time he shot Matthew Holmes, even
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 8 of 35
though Somers had been alleged to have committed an aggravated battery. (Pl.’s Reply,
ECF No. 129 at 3-4; Proposed Amendment, ECF No. 129-1 at ¶ 46.)
Additionally, she contends her proposed indemnification claim is viable. She
argues K.S.A. § 75-6109 and § 75-6116 of the Kansas Tort Claims Act (“KTCA”)
authorize indemnification in a federal civil rights case like this. Although Sheriff Gay
cites the Tenth Circuit case of Lampkin v. Little11 to support his argument that Plaintiff
cannot bring an independent claim for indemnification, Plaintiff contends the court in
Lampkin considered the Oklahoma Tort Claims Act, not the KTCA, so the analysis does
not apply. (ECF No. 129 at 11, citing Lampkin.12)
Plaintiff admittedly does not counter the arguments raised by Defendants to
exclude the previously-dismissed parties and claims from any amended pleading.
Plaintiff maintains if the Court does not agree she must include those items in the
proposed Amended Complaint to preserve her ability to appeal their dismissal, she will
modify her proposed amendment. (ECF No. 129 at 5, n. 3.)
Defendant Achilles’ Position (Resp., ECF No. 118; Surreply,
ECF No. 139)
defendants)13 argue Plaintiff’s proposed amendment “does less to bring the pleadings in
conformity with the Court’s prior order and more to muddy the water by re-alleging
Lampkin v. Little, 85 F. App’x 167, 170 (10th Cir. 2004).
Id. (see discussion infra part II(C)(2)(c)(ii), p. 24).
In the McPherson County defendants’ initial Response brief (ECF No. 118), all the McPherson
County defendants joined the briefing, despite Sheriff Montagne, McPherson County and MCSO
having been dismissed. In the Surreply (ECF No. 139), only Achilles files the brief. For ease of
reference, the Court refers to Defendant Achilles as the filer.
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 9 of 35
claims that have already been dismissed.” (ECF No. 118 at 3.) Focusing on the futility of
the proposed amendment, Achilles initially argues it is futile for two reasons: 1) the
substitution of the McPherson County Board of Commissioners for the MCSO office
would be moot as a result of Judge Broomes’ earlier order, and 2) Plaintiff has no viable
claim for indemnification. In a footnote, Achilles also takes issue with some of Plaintiff’s
factual allegations in the proposed amendment—claiming some of the facts from the
Complaint should now be omitted and/or clarified as a result of Plaintiff having been
provided video footage from the incident. (ECF No. 118 at 3 n. 4, citing ECF No. 114-1,
Regarding the futility of the municipal liability claim, Achilles in his Response
(ECF No. 118) initially argues Judge Broomes’ prior ruling found Plaintiff failed to
allege sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for municipal liability against the MCSO
and Sheriff Montagne in his official capacity. He contends the amendment Plaintiff
proposed does nothing to fix these legal deficiencies, despite the substitution of the Board
of Commissioners, and it is therefore futile. In his Surreply, he acknowledges the newlyproposed amendment includes new facts claiming the Board and/or its Sheriff knew
Defendant Somers “was a unique risk to use excessive force” and provided two
examples: on July 23, 2017, Somers was alleged to have committed an aggravated
For example, Plaintiff continues to contend Holmes exited the vehicle with his hands raised in
surrender, but Judge Broomes observed in his order, “the videos belie the assertion that Holmes
exited the vehicle with his hands raised. Indeed, the videos depict a much more chaotic scene
than suggested by the complaint.” (ECF No. 88 at 6 n.5.) Also, Plaintiff continues to allege the
Defendants failed to provide “any medical care to Matthew Holmes.” (ECF No. 118 at 3 n.4,
citing ECF No. 114-1, ¶ 69). But Achilles infers the videos show medical care being provided.
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 10 of 35
battery, and he “subsequently faced felony charges for that incident” along with another
aggravated battery on December 24, 2017. (ECF No. 129-1 ¶ 46.) However, despite
these newly-alleged facts, Achilles maintains Plaintiff’s claim is still legally insufficient
because she fails to notate who knew what, and when. Achilles contends Plaintiff’s
allegations are vague and conclusory and do not cure the dismissed municipal liability
claims. (ECF No. 139 at 3-4.)
Additionally, in his Response (ECF No. 118), Achilles maintains the
indemnification claim is also futile, for four reasons: 1) K.S.A.§ 75-6109 provides a
limited basis for indemnification in the specific context of defending Kansas tort law
claims—but Plaintiff has not asserted any state law tort claims; 2) even if the statute
imposes municipal liability for federal civil rights claims, the right to request
indemnification belongs only to the government employee, which clearly does not apply
here; 3) if Plaintiff did intend to bring such a claim under the KTCA, she was required to
first notify the municipality under K.S.A. § 12-105b; and 4) regarding Sheriff Montagne,
the claim would fail because the KTCA imposes indemnification only on the
“governmental entity”, which is only the state agency or municipality—not on the
individual employee. In his Surreply, Achilles notes the additional statute cited by
Plaintiff still fails to state a plausible claim. He argues both K.S.A.§ 75-6109 and § 756116 apply only to state law tort claims, and a plain reading of § 75-6116 demonstrates
government entities have no obligation to indemnify unless and until Plaintiff’s claims
are settled or a judgment is entered against one of the individual officers. (ECF No. 139
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 11 of 35
Finally, Achilles argues permitting Plaintiff to retain the claims previously
dismissed would create procedural questions. He cites both a District of Nebraska case15
and the Tenth Circuit case of Davis v. TXO Production Corp.16 to support his position
that Plaintiff’s reassertion of dismissed claims is not necessary to preserve her right to
later appeal the dismissal.
Newton Defendants’ Position (Resp., ECF Nos. 119, Surreply,
ECF No. 140)
Like Achilles, the Newton defendants generally argue Plaintiffs’ motion would
necessitate additional motions to dismiss which would cause additional unnecessary
delay and should be denied for this reason.
Additionally, they contend the previously-
dismissed claims should not be included in any amendment.
In their separate argument regarding delay, the Newton defendants contend
Plaintiff relies on the same facts alleged since the inception of the case, and she could
have sought amendment years ago.
By waiting, they contend the defendants are
prejudiced. They argue “[t]his action is certainly already delayed—in almost two years
this case has barely passed the pleadings stage. Another round of dispositive motions will
add additional time and expense.” (ECF No. 119 at 4.)
In their Response, the Newton Defendants also maintain Plaintiff’s new claim of
indemnity is futile for three reasons. (Id. at 5.) First, they argue “a cause of action in
Def. Achilles’ Resp., ECF No. 118 at 11, citing Fjellin for Leonard Van Liew Living Tr. v.
Penning, No. 8:14CV77, 2015 WL 13101919, at *1, n.1 (D. Neb. May 11, 2015) (collecting
Def. Achilles’ Resp., ECF No. 118 at 12, citing Davis v. TXO Prod. Corp., 929 F.2d 1515,
1517 (10th Cir. 1991).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 12 of 35
indemnity does not accrue until the indemnitee has suffered an actual loss,” and none of
the City’s employees have suffered a loss resulting from this lawsuit; therefore, the
proposed claim is premature at best. (ECF No. 119 at 5.) Second, the indemnification
statute, K.S.A. § 75-6109, was enacted to provide indemnity to employees who act within
the scope of their employment, not to provide a separate cause of action for nonemployee plaintiffs against the employer.17 Finally, the Newton Defendants argue the
indemnification claim is duplicative. They contend even if Plaintiff had the right to assert
the indemnity held by the City of Newton’s employees, that claim is “duplicative of the
tort claims already asserted by Plaintiffs against the employees.” (Id. at 6.) In their
Surreply, the Newton Defendants note even the new statute cited by Plaintiff, K.S.A. §
75-6116, does note cure the futility of the claim because it does not apply to this case
unless or until there were a judgment against the individual officers that is not covered by
the City’s insurance policy. (ECF No. 140 at 3.)
With regard to the prior-dismissed claims, the Newton Defendants do not object to
Plaintiff’s preservation of her appeal rights, but they do object to the extent Plaintiff
seeks to replead causes of action which were previously dismissed. (Id.)
Defendants Chris Somers’ Position (Resp., ECF No. 120)
In his Response, Defendant Somers adopts and joins the arguments made by
Achilles (ECF No. 118) and those made by the Newton defendants (ECF No. 119), with
just one exception.
Somers disagrees with Achilles’ argument that the duty of
Newton Defs.’ Resp., ECF No. 119 at 6, citing Nash v. Blatchford, 56 Kan. App. 2d 592, 621,
435 P.3d 562, 582 (2019) (concurrence), review denied (Sept. 9, 2019).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 13 of 35
McPherson County to indemnify its employees for actions in the course of their
employment under K.S.A. § 75-6109 applies only to state law tort claims, not federal
claims. Somers takes issue with this and argues K.S.A. § 75-6109 contains no such
limitation. Somers also agrees Plaintiff has no viable claims under the indemnity statutes
but contends he would be entitled to indemnification by McPherson County (his
employer) under both K.S.A. § 75-6109 and K.S.A. § 75-6116(c) if a judgment is entered
against him, whether under state or federal law.
But he contends, like the other
defendants, any right to indemnification will not accrue until and unless such a judgment
is entered against him. (ECF No. 120 at 1-2.) Somers did not file a Surreply.
Defendant Sheriff Gay’s Position (Resp., ECF No. 122; Surreply,
ECF No. 141)
Sheriff Gay largely repeats the primary arguments made by other Defendants:
Plaintiff cannot replead previously-dismissed claims; and the new proposed claims are
futile. Of the three claims remaining in Plaintiff’s proposed pleading, excessive force is
not claimed against Sheriff Gay, so he takes no issue with that. However, he argues the
other two claims—municipal liability and indemnification—are both futile and leave to
amend should be denied.
Sheriff Gay contends the municipal liability claim is futile because “there is no
claim for municipal liability unless that municipality’s employee commits an underlying
violation.” (ECF No. 122 at 4.) He argues the proposed amended complaint “does not
name the officer or the entity for whom the officer works. Instead, it refers to the officer
as a John Doe defendant who was allegedly employed by one of the three responding
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 14 of 35
entities. That is insufficient as a matter of law” because it does not provide an adequate
description of the officer. (Id. at 4-5.) However, Sheriff Gay admits Judge Broomes
previously acknowledged both the Complaint and the parties’ dispositive motion briefing
“indicates that Plaintiff believes this officer was an HCSO officer.” (Id. at 5, citing ECF
No. 88 at 6 n. 6.)
Sheriff Gay adopts Achilles’ arguments (ECF No. 118 at 7-11) to reason
indemnification is not applicable to either federal claims or to Sheriff Gay. He also
argues the claim is futile because in order to claim indemnification, there must be an
underlying constitutional violation, which does not exist here. (ECF No. 122 at 5).18
Finally, Sheriff Gay agrees with the other defendants that Plaintiff cannot bring an
indemnification claim because it is a right that only county employees may invoke.19
Because the Court permitted Defendants to opine on the newly-proposed
amendment presented in Plaintiff’s Reply brief, the Court considers only this revised
proposed pleading to determine whether amendment is proper. Although the extensive
briefing suggests otherwise, the issues before the Court are not as convoluted as they
seem. The issues may be condensed to four primary disputes: 1) Plaintiff’s inclusion of
previously-dismissed claims; 2) the futility of the newly-pleaded claims against the
McPherson County defendants and Sheriff Gay; 3) the futility of the proposed
Def. Sheriff Gay’s Resp., ECF No. 122 at 5, citing Camuglia v. The City of Albuquerque, 448
F.3d 1214, 1223 (10th Cir. 2006).
Def. Sheriff Gay’s Resp., ECF No. 122 at 5, citing Lampkin v. Little, 85 F. App’x 167, 170
(10th Cir. 2004).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 15 of 35
indemnification claim; and 4) whether Plaintiff’s request to amend is unduly delayed.
Each is addressed in turn.
Plaintiff seeks to include her prior-dismissed claims and parties in her proposed
amendment out of an abundance of caution, for fear she will lose her ability to later
appeal their dismissal. But the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Davis v. TXO Prod.
Corp.20 reviewed earlier authority and clarified:
[w]hile the pleader who amends or pleads over, waives his objections to the
ruling of the court on indefiniteness, incompleteness, or insufficiency, or
more technical defects in pleadings, he does not waive his exception to the
ruling which strikes ‘a vital blow to a substantial part’ of his cause of
action. . . . [R]equiring plaintiffs who file amended complaints to replead
claims previously dismissed on their merits in order to preserve those
claims merely sets a trap for unsuspecting plaintiffs with no concomitant
benefit to the opposing party.21
In accordance with this binding authority, Plaintiff is not required to replead the
dismissed claims. The Court acknowledges there may be some trepidation on Plaintiff’s
part, given a later unpublished Tenth Circuit opinion in Nelder v. Worley;22 however, this
Court and at least one other opinion in this District 23 find Davis to be the controlling
view. If Plaintiff is unconvinced, she is free to reiterate the preservation of her dismissed
Davis v. TXO Prod. Corp., 929 F.2d 1515 (10th Cir. 1991).
Id. at 1517-18.
Nelder v. Worley, 616 Fed. Appx. 397 (10th Cir. Oct. 16, 2015).
See Robinson v. Wichita State Univ., No. 16-2138-DDC-GLR, 2018 WL 3369443, at *2 (D.
Kan. July 10, 2018) (discussing Nelder, 616 Fed. Appx. 397, which held, in a footnote, it would
not consider claims against two defendants named in the original complaint, but omitted from his
amended complaint. The Robinson court found Davis v. TXO Prod. Corp. controlling; however,
acknowledged Nelder’s finding.)
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 16 of 35
claims through some method well short of restating the dismissed claims.24 But fully
repleading them does nothing but confuse the pending issues before this Court and invite
additional motion practice in an already belabored case. Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to
amend her Complaint is DENIED to the extent she seeks to include the previouslydismissed parties and claims in her proposed Amended Complaint.25
As the party opposing amendment, Defendants bear the burden of establishing its
futility.26 “A proposed amendment is futile if the complaint, as amended, would be
subject to dismissal.”27 The proposed pleading is then analyzed using the same standard
as a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When utilizing this standard, “the
court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light
For example, Plaintiff could perhaps include a footnote or some other notation, and/or
incorporate the prior claims by reference—albeit very specifically, so as not to confuse those
claims which remain pending. See Wright & Miller, 6 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1476 (3d ed.)
(discussing, “An amended pleading may adopt some or all of the averments of the original
pleading in conformity with the incorporation by reference practice permitted by Rule 10(c).
However, the identification of the particular allegations to be incorporated must be direct, clear,
and explicit;” also citing Carroll v. Fort James Corp., 470 F.3d 1171 (5th Cir. 2006)
(“Incorporation by reference in an amended complaint validly preserved and presented the
traditional tort claims included in the original complaint when there was no indication that either
the defendant or the court was confused about the nature and extent of the incorporation.”)
(emphasis added; other internal citations omitted)).
Because this portion of Plaintiff’s motion is denied as the claims were previously dismissed,
the undersigned denies the request outright rather than issuing a recommendation to the district
judge. See generally discussion supra note 1.
Neonatal Prod. Grp., Inc. v. Shields, No. 13-2601-DDC-KGS, 2015 WL 1957782, at *2
(citing Boykin v. CFS Enter., Inc., No. 08–2249–CM–GLR, 2008 WL 4534400, at *1 (D. Kan.
Oct. 6, 2008)).
Farmers Bank & Trust, N.A. v. Witthuhn, No. 11-2011-JAR, 2011 WL 5920941, at *2 (D.
Kan. Nov. 28, 2011) (citing Jefferson Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. R–1 v. Moody's Investors's Servs.,
Inc., 175 F.3d 848, 859 (10th Cir. 1999)); see also Neonatal Prod. Grp., 2015 WL 1957782, at
*2 (internal citations omitted).
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most favorable to the pleading party.”28 Only if the court finds “the proposed claims do
not contain enough facts to state a claim for relief that are plausible on their face or the
claims otherwise fail as a matter of law”29 should the court find the amendment futile.
Futility of the Municipal Liability Claim against the
McPherson County Defendants30
As noted, the earlier order dismissed the McPherson County defendants except
Achilles. Regarding Plaintiff’s municipal liability claims against the McPherson County
defendants, including Sheriff Montagne in his official capacity, the Court found
Plaintiff’s allegations fell into two theories: 1) failure to train and 2) failing to supervise
and hold officers accountable for misconduct. (ECF No. 88 at 32.) The Court found
Plaintiff had “not sufficiently alleged deliberate indifference with respect to the MCSO”
on her failure-to-train theory, and “failed to allege any other factual support regarding the
inadequacy of the training to show that the MCSO had knowledge of its inadequacies and
deliberate indifference in failing to act.” (Id. at 34-35.) On her failure-to-supervise-anddiscipline theory, the Court found Plaintiff failed to “cite any specific incidents”
concerning the MCSO. (Id. at 35-36.)
Carefusion 213, 2010 WL 4004874, at *5 (citing Anderson v. Suiters, 499 F.3d 1228, 1238
(10th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted)).
Id. (citing Raytheon Aircraft Co. v. U.S., 501 F. Supp. 2d 1323, 1327 (D. Kan. 2007); see also
Burnett v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 706 F.3d 1231, 1235 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
As noted above, the MCSO and McPherson County were dismissed as non-suable entities.
Although only Defendant Achilles now opposes the amendment, (see supra note 13) the Court
recognizes Plaintiff seeks to substitute the McPherson County Board of Commissioners as the
entity defendant in their place. Therefore, the Court acknowledges the practical effect of
permitting such amendment by addressing the McPherson County defendants, as a whole.
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In Plaintiff’s initial Complaint, she alleged only that “On information and belief,
McPherson County, MCSO, and/or the Sheriff of MCSO have taken no action to remedy
the problem of MCSO officers’ use of excessive force despite repeated complaints about
excessive use of force by its officers.” (ECF No. 1, ¶ 47, emphasis added.) This failure to
provide any facts led to the dismissal described above. But in Plaintiff’s newly-proposed
amendment, she includes a new paragraph ¶ 46 which includes the following additional
The Board of Commissioners of McPherson County and/or the Sheriff of
MCSO have taken no action to remedy the problem of MCSO officers’
unlawful use of violence. In particular, the Board of Commissioners of
McPherson County and/or the Sheriff of MCSO knew that Defendant
Somers was a unique risk to use excessive force. For example, just one
month before he fatally shot Mr. Holmes, on July 23, 2017, Defendant
Somers was alleged to have committed an aggravated battery. He
subsequently faced felony charges for that incident as well as an aggravated
battery on December 24, 2017—four months after he fatally shot Mr.
Holmes. Despite this knowledge, the Board of Commissioners of
McPherson County and/or the Sheriff of MCSO maintained a policy and/or
practice of failing to supervise officers who unlawfully used violence that
knowingly allowed Defendant Somers, a known threat to use excessive
force, to remain on duty, including but not limited to allowing him the
ability to use excessive force, including but not limited to excessive deadly
(ECF No. 129-1 at 8-9.)
Despite these additional facts, Achilles maintains this amendment remains futile,
because Plaintiff still does not provide enough factual detail to make her claim plausible.
Achilles argues Plaintiff does not specifically allege what type of knowledge which of the
McPherson County defendants had, and at what time. (ECF No. 139 at 3-4.)
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Although slightly different standards apply to each theory of liability (“failure to
train and supervise,” or “policy and custom”) as thoroughly analyzed in the earlier Order
(ECF No. 88), the Court clearly found Plaintiff failed to allege any facts to support her
claims against the McPherson County defendants in her initial Complaint. Regarding the
failure-to-train allegations, at this early stage, the Court found Plaintiff’s claims of a
“pattern of similar constitutional violations” were sufficient to allege deliberate
indifference by the Newton and Harvey County defendants. (ECF No. 88 at 34.)
However, because Plaintiff had only alleged this single violation against Holmes, with no
other facts, Plaintiff’s claims against the McPherson County defendants for failure to
train was dismissed. (Id. at 35.)
As to Plaintiff’s failure-to-supervise-and-discipline claim, Judge Broomes
similarly found Plaintiff “failed to cite to any specific incidents concerning the MCSO.”
(Id. at 36.) Now, however, Plaintiff has cited to at least one additional incident prior to
At this stage of the proceedings, the Court must accept as true the facts presented
in Plaintiff’s proposed amendment and must view all reasonable inferences from those
facts in Plaintiff’s favor.31 Much as Judge Broomes found in the earlier order, at this
pleading stage, the burden on Plaintiff is less than that later required at summary
judgment.32 Remedying the deficiencies in her earlier pleading, Plaintiff has now alleged
Carefusion 213, 2010 WL 4004874, at *5 (citing Anderson, 499 F.3d at 1238) (internal
See ECF No. 88 at 34 n.15, noting “At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that
Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged deliberate indifference with respect to the NPD and HCSO,” but
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 20 of 35
a pattern of constitutional violations specific to the McPherson County defendants.
Viewing the newly-added allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court
finds them sufficient to permit amendment.
Therefore, the Court does not find the proposed municipal liability claims against
the McPherson County Board of Commissioners or Sheriff Montagne in his official
capacity to be clearly futile and will permit Plaintiff to amend her complaint on those
Somewhat related to the issue of futility is another argument presented by the
McPherson County defendants. As noted above, Achilles also takes issue with some of
Plaintiff’s factual allegations in the proposed amendment—claiming some of the facts
from the Complaint should now be omitted and/or clarified as a result of Plaintiff having
been provided video footage from the incident. (ECF No. 118 at 3 n. 4, citing ECF No.
114-1, ¶ 1.) However, the Court finds this to be a factual dispute best resolved through
discovery and later dispositive motions, not an issue which would prevent amendment of
the complaint. In the order on the motions to dismiss, the Court declined to consider the
videos in deciding the motions and suggested the facts should be developed through the
course of the case.33 Although Plaintiff is cautioned to ensure the allegations contained
noting that “at the summary judgment stage, however, previous complaints of excessive force
will not support a finding that there was a policy of those the complaints lacked merit. The court
declines to review the factual circumstances of the previous litigation at this stage of the
See Mem. and Order, ECF No. 88 at 3-4 (finding, “At this stage, the court cannot evaluate
competing interpretations of the videos and, having reviewed the videos, the court finds that
certain events and statements included therein may be susceptible to more than one
interpretation. Ultimately, evaluation of the videos in this case will be aided by testimony and
possibly other forms of evidence that can be considered at summary judgment or at trial.”)
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 21 of 35
in the amended pleading do not rise to the level of frivolousness, at this stage of the
litigation, the Court will not deny amendment on the basis of a factual dispute,
particularly when tasked with reviewing facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.
Futility of the Municipal Liability Claim against Sheriff
Gay (and the Harvey County Defendants)34
Sheriff Gay’s primary argument against Plaintiff’s revised proposed Amended
Complaint is that it fails to state a municipal liability claim against him because Plaintiff
failed to adequately plead an underlying constitutional violation by an HCSO officer. As
noted in Sheriff Gay’s Response, a municipal liability claim is not viable unless that
municipality’s employee commits an underlying violation.35 He claims the proposed
complaint fails because, although it names “Unknown Officers,” it does not specify the
entity for whom the officer works. However, this argument was addressed in a footnote
of the earlier order—a fact acknowledged by Sheriff Gay in his Response. (ECF No. 122
at 5, citing ECF No. 88 at 6 n. 6.) In the order, the Court notes “an unknown HCSO
officer allegedly hit Holmes on his head with the butt of a shotgun” and in a footnote
explains, “The complaint states . . . the officer was employed by HCSO [and] this officer
was from HCSO (or MCSO or NPD). The parties’ briefing indicates that Plaintiff
believes this officer was an HCSO officer.” (ECF No. 88 at 6, n. 6.) At this phase of the
As noted above, the HCSO and Harvey County were dismissed as non-suable entities.
Although only Defendant Sheriff Gay now opposes the amendment, the Court recognizes
Plaintiff’s amendment seeks to substitute the Harvey County Board of Commissioners as the
entity defendant in place of the dismissed parties. Therefore, the Court acknowledges the
practical effect of permitting such amendment by addressing the Harvey County defendants, as a
Sheriff Gay’s Resp., ECF No. 122 at 4-5 (citing e.g., Myers v. Okla. Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs,
151 F.3d 1313, 1316–17 (10th Cir. 1998); Camuglia v. City of Albuquerque, 448 F.3d 1214,
1223 (10th Cir. 2006)).
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case, the Court is obligated to views the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. The
Court previously believed the facts presented were not so lacking as to justify dismissal
of Plaintiff’s municipal liability claim against Sheriff Gay and the Harvey County
defendants; therefore, this Court will not deny amendment on this basis.
Futility of the Indemnification Claim
In Plaintiff’s proposed amended pleadings, she seeks to include a state law claim
for indemnification under two Kansas statutes, K.S.A. § 75-6109 and § 75-6116. Plaintiff
seeks to hold each entity and the two sheriffs liable to pay any damages rendered against
any individual law enforcement officer acting in his/her capacity as a law enforcement
officer. (See ECF No. 129-1 at ¶ 94.) All Defendants contend Plaintiff’s proposed
indemnification claim is futile, for a variety of reasons as outlined more specifically
above (supra sections B(2)-(5)).
A review of each statute cited by Plaintiff is prudent. The first statute, K.S.A. §
75-6109, “known as the indemnity provision, provides that ‘a governmental entity is
liable, and shall indemnify its employees against damages, for injury or damage
proximately caused by an act or omission of an employee while acting within the scope
of his or her employment.’”36 The second provision, K.S.A. § 75–6116, “requires a
governmental entity to pay ‘any judgment’ secured against an employee in his official or
individual capacity if the employee ‘violates the civil rights laws of the United States’
and if other conditions are met.”37
Jones v. Courtney, 466 F. App'x 696, 697 (10th Cir. 2012) (citing K.S.A. § 75-6109).
Courtney, 466 F. Appx. at 697 (citing K.S.A. § 75–6116(a)–(b)).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 23 of 35
Although federal law examining these statutes is sparse, a 2011 unpublished
opinion from the District of Kansas analyzing both laws is particularly instructive. In
Jones v. Courtney,38 the magistrate judge considered both K.S.A. § 75-6109 and § 756116 in the context of a plaintiff’s motion for a hearing in aid of execution of judgment.
After securing a judgment against a correctional officer, plaintiff Milo Jones—a former
inmate—was unable to locate the defendant to execute on the judgment. Plaintiff sought
to then collect the judgment directly from defendant’s employer, the Kansas Department
of Corrections (“KDOC”).
Although the magistrate judge found the plain language of
suggests that Mr. Jones has at least a colorable argument that the [KDOC]
is liable for the damages caused by [defendant]’s actions and has an
obligation to pay the judgment entered against [defendant], Mr. Jones has
not cited, and the court cannot find, any case in which a prevailing plaintiff
has been permitted to use the KTCA to recover a judgment directly from a
non-party state entity, rather than through a defendant-employee.39
The Courtney court found two Tenth Circuit opinions particularly persuasive to its
analysis: Smith v. Cummings, and Lampkin v. Little.40
Smith v. Cummings.
In the 2006 case of Smith v.
Cummings,41 the Kansas federal district court entered default judgment against a Kansas
prison guard on a prisoner’s § 1983 civil rights claim and awarded the prisoner both
Jones v. Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 (D. Kan. July 14, 2011)
Id., ECF No. 210 at 4.
Smith v. Cummings, 5445 F.3d 1254 (10th Cir. 2006).
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actual damages and punitive damages.42 Although the prisoner sought payment of the
award from the KDOC, the district court refused to order the KDOC to pay. 43 After the
prisoner appealed, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision in a single
sentence, stating, “the [KDOC] is not a party, so no judgment could be entered against
When examining Cummings, the magistrate judge in Courtney found although
“there is no indication that the prevailing plaintiff in Cummings called the court’s
attention to the indemnity provisions of the KTCA, the case nonetheless demonstrates the
Tenth Circuit’s aversion to permitting the execution directly against the [KDOC] for a
judgment entered against a prison guard.”45
Lampkin v. Little. In Lampkin v. Little, the appeals
court examined indemnification, albeit in the context of the Oklahoma Governmental
Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”), rather than the KTCA.46 In this 2004 case, judgment was
entered for the plaintiff Lampkin on a § 1983 excessive force claim against a county
police officer.47 The GTCA permitted the officer to seek indemnification from his
employer, the county, by filing an application for indemnification in the district court.48
Although the officer initially applied, he later withdrew his request. After the officer
Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 at 4 (citing Cummings, 5445 F.3d at 1259).
Id. at 4 n. 6 (citing Cummings, 5445 F.3d at 1259) (noting “Neither the Tenth Circuit opinion
nor written orders of the district court discuss the district court’s reason for this ruling.”).
Id. at 4 (quoting Cummings, 5445 F.3d at 1259).
Id. at 4-5 (analyzing Cummings, 5445 F.3d at 1259).
Id. (citing Lampkin v. Little, 85 Fed. Appx. 167 (10th Cir. Jan. 7, 2004)).
Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. 167.
Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 at 5 (citing 51 Okla. St. Ann. § 162).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 25 of 35
withdrew the request, Lampkin sought to be substituted for the officer as the real party in
interest, which the district court denied.49
Following Lampkin’s appeal, the Tenth Circuit found he lacked standing to
“invoke the GTCA on his own behalf.”50 In its analysis, the appellate court first reviewed
the plain language of the statute, noting “the GTCA provides that a county ‘shall’ be
liable for awards made to prevailing plaintiffs for torts committed by its employees if
they were acting within the scope of their employment,”51 and the county must pay any
judgment entered against its employee in federal court for any Constitutional violation
“which occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of employment.” 52 The
Tenth Circuit analyzed the plain wording of the statute, but went on to look at the
purpose of the GTCA.53 The Circuit court found “a policy of indemnification aims to
lessen the burdens of personal liability that employees may face as a result of their acts as
employees;” therefore, “the primary purpose of § 162 [GTCA] is not to ensure that a
wronged plaintiff is compensated, but to relieve an employee of the burden of paying a
judgment should he meet the statutory prerequisites.”54 The court further noted “[t]he
County is not the insurer of the judgment,’ and if the court were to disapprove the
application for indemnification, the plaintiff ‘would have no right to seek payment from
Id. (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. 167).
Id. (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 170).
Id. (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 169 (citing Okla. Stat. Ann. § 153.A)).
Id. at 6 (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 169 (citing Okla. Stat. Ann. § 162.A.2)).
Id. (citing Lampkin, v. Little, 286 F.3d 1206, 1212 (10th Cir. 2002) (cited in Lampkin, 85 Fed.
Appx. at 169)).
Id. (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 169 (emphasis in original)).
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the county, but rather would have to proceed against [the employee himself.]”55 The
Tenth Circuit found, “[t]he state has no constitutional or statutory obligation to ensure
that a prevailing plaintiff receives the . . . award.”56 The Tenth Circuit further analogized
that “Oklahoma prohibits a third-party beneficiary from seeking to enforce a contact
between others on his own behalf, ‘unless it clearly appears that the contract was made
expressly for his benefit; and the fact that he will be incidentally benefitted by
performance of the contract is insufficient.’”57 Following this analysis, the court in
Lampkin determined the prevailing plaintiff could not invoke the GTCA provisions
directly against the state.58
In Courtney’s analysis of Lampkin, the magistrate judge in Jones likened the
GTCA to § 75-6109 and § 75-6116 of the KTCA and echoed the Lampkin findings.59
Despite the differences in the Oklahoma and Kansas statutes, the Courtney court paid
particular attention to the Tenth Circuit’s analysis of the underlying purpose of the
indemnification laws.60 Finding the Lampkin analysis instructive, the magistrate judge in
Like the KTCA, the plain language of the GTCA places liability on
governmental entities for damages resulting from acts or omissions of their
employees within the scope of their employment and directs governmental
entities to pay judgments awarded against these employees for violations of
civil rights laws. Nonetheless, the Tenth Circuit precluded the plaintiff from
seeking recovery of his § 1983 judgment directly from the county. The
Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 at 6 (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 170).
Id. at 6-7 (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 170).
Id. (citing Lampkin, 85 Fed. Appx. at 170) (other internal citations omitted).
Id. at 7-8.
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court recognizes that the GTCA contains language not found in the KTCA
that requires applications for indemnification be brought in the name of the
real party in interest and not under a right of subrogation, but the absence of
this language does not change the outcome. The Tenth Circuit ruled that
policies of indemnification have the primary purpose of lessening the
burden on state employees, not of ensuring that prevailing plaintiffs collect
on judgments, and this reasoning applies to the GTCA and KTCA equally.61
Moreover, as in Oklahoma, a third party in Kansas has no right to pursue
enforcement of a contract between others unless the contract clearly
expresses that it was made for his benefit.62 The provisions of the KTCA
that provide for the payment of judgments by the state for the civil rights
violations of its employees are “agreements between the state and its
employees,” and do not make any reference to benefitting prevailing
plaintiffs. Given these considerations, the court holds that Lampkin compels
a finding that Mr. Jones may not attempt to enforce the judgment obtained
against Mr. Courtney by invoking the provisions of the KTCA directly
against the Kansas Department of Corrections.63
After the magistrate judge issued this recommendation in Courtney, the district
judge upheld the magistrate’s decision, finding, “As aptly noted by the magistrate judge,
these Tenth Circuit cases reflect the Circuit’s view that the policies of indemnification
have the primary purpose of lessening the burden on state employees, not of ensuring
that prevailing plaintiffs collect on judgments.”64 The Tenth Circuit later vacated the
district court’s judgment on other grounds, finding the KDOC was immune from suit on
Eleventh Amendment immunity grounds and the district court therefore had no
jurisdiction to consider the merits of the claim.
Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 at 7-8 (emphasis added).
Id. (citing Silvey v. Meier, 159 P.3d 1061 (Kan. Ct. App. 2007); Lewis v. Globe Const. Co.,
630 P.2d 179, 184–85 (Kan. Ct. App. 1981)).
Id. (citing Barger v. Kansas, 620 F. Supp. 1432, 1438 (D. Kan. 1985) (emphasis added).
Jones v. Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL, 2011 WL 3889242, at *1 (D. Kan. Aug. 31,
2011), judgment vacated, appeal dismissed, 466 F. Appx. 696 (10th Cir. 2012) (emphasis
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Although the District of Kansas decisions in Jones v. Courtney were ultimately
vacated on other grounds, the Court’s discussion of, and reliance on, the earlier Tenth
Circuit cases are persuasive to the Plaintiff’s request in this action.
Courtney and Cummings involved a non-party government entity, unlike the situation at
hand, ultimately this Court finds compelling the earlier courts’ analyses of the underlying
purpose behind the indemnification statutes.
Plaintiff cites no authority, aside from the statutes, to support her proposed
indemnification claim. The only authority she cites, in fact, is Lampkin, which she
attempts to distinguish because the Circuit applied Oklahoma law. But Plaintiff ignores
the application by at least two other courts in this District, as well as the Cummings case.
This Court relies on the well-reasoned opinions of others in the District of Kansas
and the Tenth Circuit to find the underlying purpose of the indemnification statutes is not
served by Plaintiff’s suggested amendment to her complaint. As previously noted in the
well-reasoned opinions from this District, policies of indemnification lessen the burden
on state employees—they do not ensure a prevailing plaintiff’s ability to collect on
judgments.65 And the KTCA provisions cited by Plaintiff are “agreements between the
state and its employees,” without reference to any intended benefit to prevailing
plaintiffs.66 Finding Plaintiff’s proposed indemnification claim is subject to dismissal
and therefore futile for these reasons, this Court RECOMMENDS DENIAL of
Plaintiff’s motion to amend to include a claim for indemnification.
Courtney, No. 04-3255-JWL-JPO, ECF No. 210 at 8.
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Moreover, even if the underlying purpose of the statutes was not enough, the
Court has other serious misgivings regarding the plausibility of the indemnification
Most significantly, the Court has concerns regarding the claim’s potential
prematurity. Kansas law is clear a “cause of action for indemnity does not accrue until
the indemnitee . . . suffers actual loss or damage by paying money for which the
indemnitee seeks indemnification.”67 Here, the indemnitees are the government
employees—the individual defendants—and they will suffer no loss until and unless a
judgment is entered against them.
Other arguments raised by Defendants give the Court pause, and though none
wholly influence the decision, in the aggregate they tend to tip the scales against
amendment. For example, by its clear language, the KTCA imposes indemnification
only on the “governmental entity,” which would appear to be only the state agency or
municipality—not individual employees, such as Sheriffs Gay and Montagne.68 Plaintiff
provides no authority for naming these individuals as defendants of any indemnification
Kansas Pub. Employees Ret. Sys. v. Reimer & Koger Assocs., Inc., 261 Kan. 17, 40, 927 P.2d
466, 484 (1996). See also Leiker v. Gafford, 249 Kan. 554, 558, 819 P.2d 655, 658
(1991), disapproved of on other grounds by Martindale v. Robert T. Tenny, M.D., P.A., 250 Kan.
621, 829 P.2d 561 (1992) (“the necessity for actual damage to the indemnitee is a condition
precedent to the liability of the indemnitor . . . a cause of action for indemnity based on tort does
not accrue until the indemnitee has suffered an actual loss.” (quoting 41 Am. Jur. 2d, Indemnity
§ 32 (emphasis in original)). As noted in Leiker, “Simply because one has been found liable for
an obligation of another, it does not necessarily follow that one is entitled to indemnification. A
condition precedent to indemnification is that the indemnitee must actually have paid on the
obligation for which he seeks indemnification.” Leiker, 249 Kan. 554, 558–59 (emphasis added.)
See, e.g., K.S.A. § 75-6109, noting “a governmental entity is liable . . . [and a] “governmental
entity shall not be liable”. . . [and the] “governmental entity shall have the right to recover . . . .”.
See, e.g., K.S.A. § 75-6116(a), reading, “. . . the government entity shall provide for the defense .
. .” and “(b) The government entity . . . shall pay . . . .” And, under K.S.A. § 75-6102,
“‘Governmental entity’ means state or municipality.” (emphases added throughout).
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claims. Additionally, Defendants initially raised the question (although it is not reiterated
in any surreply) whether Plaintiff provided the necessary notice to the municipalities
under K.S.A. § 12-105b(d) as a condition precedent to seeking relief under the
KTCA69—a question which Plaintiff ignores in her briefing.
On the whole, applying the standard for futility in amendment, the Court finds
Plaintiff’s proposed indemnification claim is subject to dismissal, even when viewing the
facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.
In addition to futility, another primary factor to be considered by the Court is the
timeliness of Plaintiff’s motion. The Newton Defendants specifically argue Plaintiff’s
motion comes after two years of litigation in this case and relies upon the same facts as
the original Complaint. (ECF No. 119.) But the Court notes since the filing of this action,
the case has been embroiled in dispositive motions and the appeal process, and twice
Defendants argued for a stay of all deadlines. However legitimate—a topic which the
Court takes no issue—the delays in this case have, to date, been caused by the defense.
Additionally, Plaintiff clearly broached the topic of amendment during dispositive motion
briefing, and Judge Broomes suggested the issue should be the topic of a later motion in
See, e.g., Achilles’ Resp., ECF No. 118 at 9-10 (citing Sleeth v. Sedan City Hosp., 298 Kan.
853, 863, 317 P.3d 782, 789 (2014), and Reindl v. City of Leavenworth, 361 F. Supp. 2d 1294,
1302 (D. Kan. 2005), to argue notice under K.S.A. 12-105b is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit
against a municipality) (other citations omitted).
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compliance with the local rules.70 It was logical for the parties to ascertain the Tenth
Circuit’s opinion on the issue of the immunity of the county sheriffs71 and avoid
additional motion practice—and in fact, the appeal divested this Court of authority over
the issues appealed.72 Plaintiff filed her motion for leave to amend within two weeks
following the Tenth Circuit’s mandate and prior to any schedule being established.
Although some defendants cite Humes v. Cummings73—a District of Kansas case
where leave to amend was denied—to contend Plaintiff should have sought leave to
amend earlier, this case is distinguishable. In Humes, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to
amend during a first round of motions to dismiss, then during a second round, when
Plaintiff again sought leave to amend, her motion was denied. She failed to comply with
D. Kan. 15.1 by attaching a copy of her proposed amendment, and the court found it had
already provided her an opportunity to amend for at least one claim.74 For another claim,
Plaintiff possessed all the necessary facts at the filing of her case, but as a “result of her
See Order, ECF No. 88 at 11, n. 8 (noting although “Plaintiff proposes amending her
complaint” to address deficiencies in her pleading (p. 11), “[t]he court declines to treat Plaintiff’s
proposal as a motion for leave to amend.” (n. 8)).
See Pl.s’ Reply, ECF No. 129 at 12. See also Sheriff Gay’s Mem. in support of Mot. To Stay,
ECF No. 100, discussing the basis of his appeal. Sheriff Gay’s interlocutory appeal addressed
the issue of whether county sheriffs were shielded by Eleventh Amendment immunity, a topic on
which courts in this District had been split. See Mem. and Order, ECF No. 88 at 26-27.
See Stewart v. Donges, 915 F.2d 572, 574 (10th Cir. 1990) (“a federal district court and a court
of appeals should not attempt to assert jurisdiction over a case simultaneously. The filing of a
notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance—it confers jurisdiction on the court of
appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the
appeal.”) (citing Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982) (per
curiam) and Marrese v. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 470 U.S. 373, 379
Humes v. Cummings, No. 18-2123-DDC-GEB, 2019 WL 1596579 at *7-8 (D. Kan. Apr. 15,
Id. at *7-8.
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 32 of 35
failure to research the governing law adequately” her proposed Second Amended
Complaint named a party who was not a viable defendant.75 The court found “another
round of leave to amend, and another rounds of motion to dismiss, will compound the
delay already imposed on this case.”76
Unlike the plaintiff in Humes, this is Plaintiff’s first request for amendment, and
this case—despite its age—is in its earliest procedural stages. A schedule has not yet
been entered, and barring additional motion practice, an amendment may actually
encourage this case to finally proceed to discovery on a significantly narrowed pleading.
Although some practical delay has, and may occur as a result of amendment, the Court
does not find this delay to be undue considering the posture of the case. This factor
weighs in favor of amendment.
Although Defendants confront primarily the issues of futility and undue delay in
their respective briefs, the other factors weighed by the Court, such as bad faith and
prejudice to the non-moving party, were not so thoroughly addressed.
parties’ lack of attention, the Court briefly considers each topic and finds all balance in
favor of amendment.
Defendants do not suggest Plaintiff is guilty of any bad faith, and the Court sees
none demonstrated in the parties’ submissions. Therefore, this factor weighs in Plaintiff’s
Id. at *8.
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 33 of 35
Most importantly, Defendants (in fact, only one set of Defendants) present
minimal argument regarding the prejudice they may might face if the amendments
suggested herein are permitted. As the parties opposing amendment, Defendants bear the
burden to demonstrate undue prejudice within the meaning of Rule 15.77 Under Rule 15,
“undue prejudice” means “undue difficulty in prosecuting or defending a lawsuit as a
result of a change of tactics or theories on the part of the movant.”78
amendment invariably causes some “practical prejudice,” undue prejudice means that the
amendment “would work an injustice to the defendant.”79
Considering the current procedural posture of the litigation, the Court struggles to
discern any true injustice which might occur from amendment. In the event this Court’s
recommendation is upheld, the claims in this case moving forward vary minimally from
the earlier operative pleading as narrowed by Judge Broomes’ earlier order, and should
elicit little challenge. Despite its age, this case is in a relatively early stage, with
discovery having not yet commenced and a scheduling conference set to occur within
days. (See Order, ECF No. 137.) All parties will have adequate time and opportunity to
fully defend the claims. For these reasons, and given the Court’s finding that Plaintiff
has not unduly delayed, the Court finds Defendants fail to demonstrate prejudice
Carefusion 213, 2010 WL 4004874, at *4 (internal citations omitted).
Id. (citing U.S. v. Sturdevant, No. 07–2233–KHV–DJW, 2008 WL 4198598, at *3 (D. Kan.
Sept. 11, 2008) (citing Minter, 451 F.3d at 1208; Jones v. Wildgen, 349 F. Supp. 2d 1358, 1361
(D. Kan. 2004))).
Id. (citing Sturdevant, 2008 WL 4198598, at *3; other internal citations omitted).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 34 of 35
sufficient to prohibit the proposed amended pleading and this “most important factor”80
weighs in favor of amendment.
Plaintiff’s request to amend her complaint is timely, no bad faith is asserted, and
Defendants failed to demonstrate undue prejudice which may occur as a result of the
amendment. Even if the eventual viability of Plaintiff’s municipal liability claims are
unclear, at this point the Court is tasked with viewing the facts in the light most favorable
Defendants will have the later opportunity to file summary judgment
motions to further clarify the claims presented. At this juncture, with minimal prejudice
outlined by Defendants, and considering the procedural posture of the case, the Court
prefers this case to proceed on its full merits.81 In the interests of justice, the Court will
allow Plaintiff to amend her Complaint, in part as described above, with two exceptions:
Plaintiff may not replead the previously-dismissed claims, and the Court recommends the
indemnification claim not be included.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File First
Amended Complaint (ECF No. 114) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as set
forth above. Plaintiff is permitted to amend her Complaint to address the municipal
liability claims and substitute the Boards of Commissioners for McPherson and Harvey
Counties. Plaintiff is not permitted to replead previously-dismissed claims. Plaintiff
Minter, 451 F.3d at 1207 (noting, “The second, and most important, factor in deciding a
motion to amend the pleadings, is whether the amendment would prejudice the nonmoving
See Hinkle, 2012 WL 2581000, at *1 (citing Koch, 127 F.R.D. at 209).
Case 6:18-cv-01221-JWB-GEB Document 143 Filed 11/17/20 Page 35 of 35
shall file her First Amended Complaint within 14 days of the District Court’s ruling on
the recommendation below.
IT IS RECOMMENDED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(b), and D. Kan. Rules 72.1.1(d) and 72.1.4 that Plaintiff’s request to include a claim
for indemnification be DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Report and Recommendation be served
electronically through the Court’s CM/ECF system.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C), Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2), and D. Kan. Rule 72.1.4 either party may file a
written objection to the proposed recommendations with the clerk of the district court
within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy of this report and
recommendation. Failure to make a timely objection waives appellate review of both
factual and legal questions.82
As previously ordered, a Scheduling Conference is set for November 30, 2020 at
11:00 a.m. by Zoom videoconference before Judge Birzer. The parties must confer and
submit a planning report to chambers at KSD_Birzer_Chambers@ksd.uscourts.gov no
later than November 23, 2020.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated at Wichita, Kansas this 17th day of November, 2020.
s/ Gwynne E. Birzer
GWYNNE E. BIRZER
United States Magistrate Judge
Morales-Fernandez v. I.N.S., 418 F.3d 1116, 1119 (10th Cir. 2005).
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