Moore v. Hopkins County, Kentucky et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Signed by Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. on 1/8/2018 granting in part and denying in part 44 Motion to Dismiss: It is GRANTED as it applies to claims against Hopkins County and those employees of the Hopkins County Jail sued in their official capacities and DENIED as it applies to claims against those Hopkins County Jail employees sued in their individual capacities. cc: Counsel, Richard Moore (JM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO: 4:17-CV-00039-JHM
RICHARD E. MOORE
HOPKINS COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et. al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Hopkins
County, Joe Blue, Carl Coy, Amber Eagles, Brandon Lampton, Angela Hopper, Jarrett
Backhurst, Victoria Davenport, Tracy Griffith, James Manns, Chris Melton, and Adam Qualls.
[DN 44]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the
Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Plaintiff Richard E. Moore III filed this lawsuit alleging the defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his medical needs while he was incarcerated at the Hopkins County Jail. This is the
second lawsuit filed by Moore alleging the denial of medical treatment during his incarceration.
On May 27, 2016, when Moore was still incarcerated, he filed a pro se complaint alleging
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming the Hopkins County Jail as the only defendant. (See No.
4:16-CV-P65-JHM) During initial screening, the Court, noting that the Hopkins County Jail was
not subject to suit under § 1983, construed the allegations to be made against Hopkins County,
and since there were no allegations that the denial of medical care was the result of a custom or
policy on the part of Hopkins County, the claims were dismissed. However, the Court gave the
Plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint.
The Court noted that any newly named
Defendants must be sued in their individual capacities due to Plaintiff’s failure to identify any
policy or custom as the moving force behind Plaintiff’s alleged injuries. Plaintiff did not take
advantage of the opportunity to amend and the case was dismissed on August 3, 2016
This suit was filed on March 17, 2017, by Plaintiff, through counsel, after the Plaintiff’s
release from incarceration. The initial complaint named, among others, Hopkins County, Jailer
Joe Blue, in his official and individual capacities, Sergeant Carl Coy, in his official and
individual capacity, and Unknown Guard or Deputies, in their official and individual capacities.
On July 20, 2017, the Court allowed an amended complaint to be filed which identified the
“Unknown Guards and Deputies” as Defendants Backhurst, Davenport, Griffith, Manns, Melton,
Eagles, Lampton, Hopper and Qualls, all sued in their official and individual capacities. All of
the Defendants referred to above will be referred to as the “Hopkins County Defendants”.
The Hopkins County Defendants have filed this Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), claiming that the doctrine of res judicata prevents Moore from relitigating the claims that were brought or should have been brought in his first lawsuit.
The Hopkins County Defendants argue that Moore’s claims against them are precluded
by the doctrine of res judicata. Under res judicata, a “final judgment on the merits of an action
precludes the parties or their privies from relitigating issues that were or could have been raised
in that action.” Federated Dep’t Stores v. Moitie, 452 U.S. 394, 398 (1981). The Sixth Circuit
has articulated that claim preclusion will bar any future litigation if the following elements are
present: (1) a final decision on the merits; (2) a subsequent action between the same parties or
their privies; (3) an issue in the subsequent action which was litigated or which should have been
litigated in the prior action; and (4) an identity of the causes of action. Wilkins v. Jakeway, 183
F.3d 528, 532 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Kane v. Magna Mixer Co., 71 F.3d 555, 560 (6th Cir.
In response, the Plaintiff makes two arguments. First, Plaintiff argues that the two actions
are not between the same parties because the first action involved only official capacity claims
and not individual capacity claims. Plaintiff appears to concede however, that the claims made
here against Hopkins County and all other official capacity claims are precluded by the doctrine
of res judicata as long as those claims are identical to those made in the first action---which is
Plaintiff’s second argument---that some of the claims made in this case were not, and could not
have been included in the first case.
Addressing the second argument first, the Court finds that the claims alleged in this
action are the same as those brought in the first action and there is an identity in the causes of
action. The Sixth Circuit has instructed that there is an identity in the cause of action if two
lawsuits “were founded upon the same transaction, arose out of the same nucleus of operative
facts, and sought redress for essentially the same basic wrong, the two suits advanced the same
cause of action notwithstanding any differences in remedies sought or theories of recovery
pleaded.” Sherman v. Ludington, No. 91-3936, 1992 WL 158878 (6th Cir. July 7, 1992) (citing
Kale v. Combined Ins. Co. of America, 924 F.2d 1161, 1164 (1st Cir. 1991)). Using this
guideline, the Court finds that the present lawsuit is the same as Moore’s previous lawsuit
regardless of the fact that Moore cites to additional grievances made between May12, 2016 and
June 18, 2016. All of the claims from the present lawsuit arise out of the same set of facts that
formed the basis of the first lawsuit – Moore’s denial of medical and dental treatment during the
period that he was incarcerated in the Hopkins County Jail. Therefore, all claims against Hopkins
County and the official capacity claims asserted against the individual Hopkins County
Defendants are precluded and dismissed.
However, the Court agrees with the Plaintiff’s argument that the individual capacity
claims may go forward here because only official capacity claims were presented in the first
action. The Hopkins County Defendants argue that Plaintiff could have brought individual
capacity claims in the first action, and that, in fact, he was prompted to do so by the court. But,
for whatever reason, he did not bring those individual capacity claims in the first action and res
judicata does not prevent him from pursuing them now in this action.
For the reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss is GRANTED as it applies to claims against Hopkins County and those employees of
the Hopkins County Jail sued in their official capacities and DENIED as it applies to claims
against those Hopkins County Jail employees sued in their individual capacities.
January 8, 2018
cc: counsel of record
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