Williams et al v. Baton Rouge Police Department et al
ORDER granting 14 Motion for More Definite Statement; granting 15 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Plaintiff shall amend her Complaint within twenty-one day from the date of this order to more specifically allege any complaint against Enterprise.Signed by Chief Judge Brian A. Jackson on 12/06/2017. (ELW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
YASKITHA WILLIAMS, ET AL.
BATON ROUGE POLICE
DEPARTMENT, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
(Doc. 15) filed by Defendant, then-Chief of Police Carl Dabadie, Jr., (“Chief
Dabadie”), and the Motion for a More Definite Statement (Doc. 14), filed by
Defendant, misidentified as “Enterprise Rental Car” (“Enterprise”). For the reasons
that follow, the motions are GRANTED.
Pro se Plaintiffs Yaskitha Williams and Bonnie Baker filed this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claim, alleging that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated. (Doc. 1 at
p. 1; Doc. 1-1 at p. 2). Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that on February 18, 2017, they
were wrongfully stopped, wrongfully detained, illegally handcuffed, falsely accused
of theft, and wrongfully held against their free will by Baton Rouge police officers.
(Doc. 1-1 at pp. 2–3).
Plaintiffs are bringing this action pro se; therefore, the court must liberally
construe their pleadings. McClellon v. Lone Star Gas Co., 66 F.3d 98, 103 (5th Cir.
1995). When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must “accept all well-pleaded
facts as true and view those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hines
v. Alldredge, 783 F.3d 197, 200–01 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting True v. Robles, 571 F.3d
412, 417 (5th Cir. 2009)). Even so, a complaint must be “plausible on its face.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim
for relief [is] . . . a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on
its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. Although the complaint need
not set out “detailed factual allegations,” it must set forth something “more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court “may
rely on the complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated into the
complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.”
Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011)
“If a complaint is ambiguous or does not contain sufficient information to allow
a responsive pleading to be framed, the proper remedy is a motion for a more definite
statement under Rule 12(e).” Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc., 197 F.3d 161, 164
(5th Cir. 1999). Rule 12(e) allows a party to move for “a more definite statement of a
pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(e); see also 5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 1376 (3d ed. 2004) (explaining that it is appropriate to employ a Rule
12(e) motion when the pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the opposing party
cannot respond to it, even with a simple denial as permitted by Rule 8(b), with a
pleading that can be interposed in good faith or without prejudice to himself.”). Given
the liberal pleading standard set forth in Rule 8(a), Rule 12(e) motions are disfavored.
See Mitchell v. E–Z Way Towers, Inc., 269 F.2d 126, 132 (5th Cir. 1959). The Supreme
Court has noted, however, that “[i]f a pleading fails to specify the allegations in a
manner that provides sufficient notice,” then a Rule 12(e) motion may be appropriate.
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002). The trial judge is given
considerable discretion in deciding whether to grant a Rule 12(e) motion. Factor
King, LLC v. Block Builders, LLC, No. 14-587, 2015 WL 3440255, at *3 (M.D. La. May
27, 2015) (citing Murungi v. Tex. Guaranteed, 646 F.Supp.2d 804, 811 (E.D. La.2009)).
Motion to Dismiss
Section 1983 holds a supervisory official liable only to the extent that “(1) he
affirmatively participates in the acts that cause the constitutional deprivation, or
(2) he implements unconstitutional policies that causally result in the constitutional
injury.” Gates v. Tex. Dep’t of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 537 F.3d 404, 435 (5th
Cir. 2008). A policy is normally an official statement, ordinance, or regulation, but in
certain circumstances a persistent, widespread practice that is so commonplace as to
constitute a custom can also be treated as policy. See Piotrowski v. City of Houston,
237 F.3d 567, 579 (5th Cir. 2001). “A customary municipal policy cannot ordinarily
be inferred from single constitutional violations.” Id. at 581.
When alleging a failure to train or supervise, Plaintiffs “must show that ‘(1)
the supervisor either failed to supervise or train the subordinate official; (2) a causal
link exists between the failure to train or supervise and the violation of the plaintiff's
rights; and (3) the failure to train or supervise amounts to deliberate indifference.’”
Gates, 537 F.3d at 435 (quoting Estate of Davis ex rel. McCully v. City of N. Richland
Hills, 406 F.3d 375, 381 (5th Cir. 2005)).
In all but the most exceptional of
circumstances, a failure-to-train claim requires a pattern of similar occurrences. See
Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 62 (2011).
Even construing the pro se Plaintiffs’ claims liberally, the Court finds that
Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim against Chief Dabadie. He is not alleged to have
been personally involved in the action. Plaintiffs also do not cite a custom, policy, or
practice, and they do no refer to any similar incident. For substantially the same
reason, even if the Court construes Plaintiffs’ Complaint to allege a failure to train
claim, a single incident of police misconduct is inadequate to state a plausible claim
for failure to train. See Connick, 563 at 62. Therefore, the claims against Chief
Dabadie are DISMISSED.
Motion for a More Definite Statement
Plaintiffs’ complaint lists Enterprise as a defendant in their 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action. (Doc. 1 at p. 1). However, the complaint simply states that Defendants were
“wrongfully stopped, wrongfully detained, illegally handcuffed, falsely accused of
theft, wrongfully held my body [sic] against my free will.” (Doc. 1-1 at p. 2). Apart
from the caption for parties (see Doc. 1 at p. 1), Enterprise is never mentioned. Even
construing Plaintiffs’ pro se complaint as liberally as possible, the complaint “does
not contain sufficient information to allow a responsive pleading to be framed.” See
Beanal, 197 F.3d at 164.
Therefore, Enterprise’s motion for a more definite
Statement is GRANTED.
IT IS ORDERED that Chief Dabadie’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 15) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all claims against Chief Dabadie are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Enterprise’s Motion for a More Definite
Statement (Doc. 14) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall amend her Complaint
within twenty-one day from the date of this order to more specifically allege any
complaint against Enterprise.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this 6th day of December, 2017.
BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
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