L.G. v. Oklahoma Department of Corrections et al
ORDER by District Judge Ronald A. White granting in part, denying in part and finding moot in part 22 Motion to Dismiss Case; terminating parties Oklahoma Board of Corrections and Oklahoma Department of Corrections (State of Oklahoma (ex rel)) (tls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
Case No. CIV-20-306-RAW
1. STATE OF OKLAHOMA, ex rel.
OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF
2. CHRISTOPHER REDEAGLE,
3. SHARON MCCOY, individually,
4. JOE ALLBAUGH, individually,
5. PENNY LEWIS, individually,
6. RABECKAH MOONYHAM,
7. HEATHER CARLSON, individually, and
8. BOARD OF CORRECTIONS,
Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint on November 24, 2020, alleging that Defendant
RedEagle sexually assaulted her while she was in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of
Corrections (“ODOC”). She brings claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of her
constitutional rights and for deliberate indifference, failure to train, and establishing a custom
and practice of indifference resulting in violations of her constitutional rights. 1 She also brings
state law claims pursuant to the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”) and Bosh
v. Cherokee Cnty. Gov’tal Bldg. Auth., 305 P.3d 994 (Okla. 2013).
Plaintiff lists the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. Defendants note that Plaintiff’s allegations appear more consistent with a claim
arising under the Eighth Amendment.
Now before the court is the motion to dismiss filed by the Oklahoma Department of
Corrections (“ODOC”), the Oklahoma Board of Corrections (the “Board”), Sharon McCoy,
Penny Lewis, Rabeckah Mooneyham, and Heather Carlson [Docket No. 22] 2 and Plaintiff’s
response thereto [Docket No. 27]. 3 No reply was filed. The motion is filed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
Failure to State a Claim
For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in
the Amended Complaint and construes those facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.
Western Watersheds Project v. Michael, 869 F.3d 1189, 1193 (10th Cir. 2017). Of course, the
court does not accept as true conclusory statements or legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
To survive the motion to dismiss, the Amended Complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Plaintiff must nudge her “claims across the line
from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The well-pleaded facts must “permit
the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
The Tenth Circuit has held that the “Twombly/Iqbal standard is a middle ground between
heightened fact pleading, which is expressly rejected, and allowing complaints that are no more
than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, which
On July 1, 2021, the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal as to Heather Carlson. The
motion to dismiss, therefore, is moot as to Ms. Carlson.
The motion to dismiss filed by Christopher Redeagle [Docket No. 21] was denied in a
previously Order [Docket No 44]. Defendant Allbaugh has not filed a motion.
the Court stated will not do.” Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012)
(citing Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008)). “In other words, Rule
8(a)(2) still lives.” Id. (emphasis added). “Under Rule 8, specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests.” Burnett v. Mortgage Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 706 F.3d 1231, 1235-36 (10th
Cir. 2013) (quoting Khalik, 671 F.3d at 1191) (emphasis added).
In a case against multiple defendants, “it is particularly important . . . that the complaint
make clear exactly who is alleged to have done what to whom, to provide each individual with
fair notice as to the basis of the claims against him or her, as distinguished from collective
allegations . . . .” Robbins, 519 F.3d at 1250 (emphasis in original). Otherwise, the Complaint
would fail to provide fair notice and to present a plausible right to relief.
Qualified Immunity Standard at the Motion to Dismiss Stage
Qualified immunity “shields public officials from damages actions unless their conduct
was unreasonable in light of clearly established law.” Turner v. Oklahoma Oklahoma Cnty. Bd.
Of Cnty. Comm’rs., No. 19-6092, 2020 WL 995729, at *2 (10th Cir. 2020) (citation omitted).
“Qualified immunity also applies to supervisory liability in § 1983 cases.” Id. (citation omitted).
“Although qualified immunity defenses are typically resolved at the summary judgment
stage, district courts may grant motions to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity.” Myers v.
Brewer, 773 Fed.Appx. 1032, 1036 (10th Cir. 2019) (citing Thomas v. Kaven, 765 F.3d 1183,
1194 (10th Cir. 2014). At the motion to dismiss stage, however, defendants are subject “to a
more challenging standard of review than would apply” at the summary judgment stage. Id. “At
the motion to dismiss stage, it is the defendant’s conduct as alleged in the complaint that is
scrutinized for objective legal reasonableness.” Turner, 2020 WL 995729, at *2 (citation
omitted and emphasis added).
Accordingly, when a defendant raises a qualified immunity defense in response to a
motion to dismiss, the court employs a two part test to determine whether Plaintiff (1) plausibly
pleaded that the defendant violated a constitutional right, and (2) shows that the constitutional
right was clearly established at the time of the defendant’s alleged misconduct. Id. at *3. The
court has discretion to decide which of the two prongs to address first considering the
circumstances of the case and need not address both. Id.
“A plaintiff may show clearly established law by pointing to either a Supreme Court or
Tenth Circuit decision, or the weight of authority from other courts, existing at the time of the
alleged violation.” Knopf v. Williams, 884 F.3d 939, 944 (10th Cir. 2018) (citation omitted). A
law is not clearly established unless existing precedent has “placed the statutory or constitutional
question beyond debate.” Id. (citation omitted). This is an objective test. Brown, 662 F.3d at
The court must not “define clearly established law at a high level of generality.”
Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (citing Ashcroft, 563 U.S. at 742); Knopf, 884 F.3d
at 944 (citing Ashcroft, 563 U.S. at 742). Of course, a prior case need not have identical facts.
Perry v. Durborow, 892 F.3d 1116, 1126 (10th Cir. 2018); Patel v. Hall, 849 F.3d 970, 980 (10th
Cir. 2017). Still, the “clearly established law must be ‘particularized’ to the facts of the case.”
Knopf, 884 F.3d at 944 (citation omitted).
As noted above, citing the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, Plaintiff alleges
claims pursuant to § 1983 for violations of her constitutional rights. She alleges Defendants
were deliberately indifferent, failed to train, and established a custom and practice of
indifference resulting in violations of her constitutional rights.
A. ODOC & the Board
Defendants first argue that ODOC and the Board are not proper parties to this action.
Defendants correctly argue both that a state agency is not a “person” acting under color of state
law as contemplated by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that ODOC and the Board are entitled to and have
not waived Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Section 1983 provides a federal forum to remedy many deprivations of civil liberties, but
it does not provide a federal forum for litigants who seek a remedy against a State for
alleged deprivations of civil liberties. The Eleventh Amendment bars such suits unless
the State has waived its immunity . . . or unless Congress has exercised its undoubted
power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to override that immunity.
Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989) (internal citation omitted). The
Court held that “neither a State nor its officials acting in their official capacities are ‘persons’
acting under § 1983.” Id. at 71. Accordingly, the § 1983 claims against ODOC and the Board
are hereby dismissed. 4
Citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), Plaintiff argues that her claims for
injunctive and declaratory relief are cognizable. Under Ex parte Young, the Eleventh
Amendment generally will not bar suits that seek injunctive rather than monetary relief for
Citing only Justice Edmondson’s concurring opinion in Barrios v. Haskell Cnty. Pub.
Facilities Auth., et al., 432 P.3d 233 (Okla. 2018), Plaintiff argues that there is no Eleventh
Amendment immunity where the state has a bond or insurance sufficient to satisfy a judgment.
The court is not convinced this concurring opinion supports Plaintiff’s position. While Justice
Edmondson discusses public funds in relation to Eleventh Amendment immunity, his opinion
does not support the proposition that by obtaining an insurance policy to protect public funds, the
state waives immunity. In fact, it is generally held that obtaining liability insurance does not
constitute a waiver of Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Englehart v. Board of Regents for
the Okla. Agric. And Mech. Coll., No. 15-C V-138-JED-PJC, 2016 WL 3645193, at *4 (N.D.
Okla. Jun. 30, 2016) (citing Thames v. Oklahoma Historical Soc., 646 F.Supp. 13, 15 (W.D.
alleged violations of federal law brought against state officers acting in their official capacities.
See Hill v. Kemp, 478 F.3d 1236, 1255-56 (10th Cir. 2007) (citing Ex part Young, 209 U.S. at
159-60. Plaintiff has not brought any official capacity claims here, and thus has not stated a
claim for injunctive relief. 5
B. Individual Defendants
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Sharon McCoy was the Warden supervising RedEagle.
Plaintiff alleges that McCoy was aware that RedEagle was spending an excessive amount of time
with Plaintiff in violation of policies, procedures, and regulations. Plaintiff alleges that McCoy
was aware that Plaintiff was wearing panties other than prison issued garb and knew that
something was wrong, such that she eventually moved Plaintiff to be away from RedEagle.
Plaintiff alleges that McCoy turned a blind eye to RedEagle’s inappropriate manipulation of
Plaintiff’s time and roster roll call. Plaintiff alleges that as the head of the facility, McCoy was
responsible for review, supervision, and direct enforcement of policies. Plaintiff alleges that
McCoy failed to personally supervise RedEagle and failed to enforce policies designed to protect
The Amended Complaint gives McCoy fair notice of the claims and the grounds upon
which they rest. Plaintiff plausibly pleaded that McCoy violated a constitutional right, that the
constitutional right was clearly established at the time of the alleged misconduct, and that
McCoy’s conduct rose to the level of deliberate indifference. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss
is denied as to McCoy.
The court also notes that the Ex parte Young exception is narrow. There must be an
ongoing violation of federal law. Johns v. Stewart, 57 F.3d 1544, 1552-53 (10th Cir. 1995).
Moreover, notice and declaratory relief are barred unless ancillary to prospective injunctive
relief. Id. at 1553. “The Eleventh Amendment ‘does not permit judgments against state officers
declaring that they violated federal law in the past.’” Id. (citation omitted).
Defendants Penny Lewis, and Rabeckah Mooneyham are specifically mentioned only in
paragraphs 6, 27, and 28 of the Amended Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that they were: (1) in the
“Compliance Unit” tasked with enforcement of specific policies relevant to this case; (2)
responsible for both issuance and review of policies regarding female inmates; and (3)
responsible for creating and enforcing policies. Plaintiff also alleges that in 2018, all Defendants
were provided with the results of an “Efficiency Review” of ODOC indicating that due to
improper staffing, improper procedures to track inmates, and an outdated software system, the
facilities are “dangerous to operate.” Plaintiff further alleges that after being informed of the
dangers to inmates, these Defendants failed not only to implement new policies, but also failed to
enforce the existing policies to protect female inmates.
While Plaintiff’s case against Lewis and Mooneyham is not as strong as her case against
McCoy, the Amended Complaint gives Lewis and Mooneyham fair notice of the claims and the
grounds upon which they rest. The court is also satisfied that Plaintiff plausibly pleaded that
Lewis and Mooneyham violated a constitutional right, that the constitutional right was clearly
established at the time of the alleged misconduct, and that Lewis and Mooneyham were
deliberately indifferent. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss is denied as to Lewis and
State Law Claims
Plaintiff’s state law claims, including the state constitutional law claims pursuant to Bosh,
against these Defendants are barred by the GTCA. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has pointed
out that after its ruling in Bosh, the State legislature responded by amending the GTCA to
include immunity for violations of the Oklahoma Constitution. Barrios v. Haskell Cnty. Pub.
Facilities Auth., et al., 432 P.3d 233, 235-41 (Okla. 2018). In Barrios, the Court held that
“because these ‘constitutional’ torts are now clearly ‘torts’ governed by the GTCA, the GTCA’s
specific prohibition against tort suits arising out of the ‘operation or maintenance of any prison,
jail or correctional facility’ bars the claims at issue here.” Id. at 239 (citing 51 OKLA. STAT. §
The court agreed with Plaintiff that this immunity provision is not applicable as to the
claims against RedEagle because sexual assault – i.e. the acts upon which Plaintiff bases her
claims against RedEagle – is not concomitant with the operation or maintenance of a correctional
facility. The claims against the other Defendants, however, are based squarely on their alleged
failures, policies, practices, and procedures in relation to their operation and maintenance of a
correctional facility. Thus, the immunity provision applies. Additionally, the GTCA also
prohibits claims against employees of the state “acting within the scope of employment.” 51
OKLA. STAT. § 153(C). There are no allegations that McCoy, Lewis, or Mooneyham were not
acting within the scope of employment. The state law claims, including the Bosh claims, are
dismissed against ODOC, the Board, McCoy, Lewis, and Mooneyham.
The motion to dismiss filed by ODOC, the Board, Sharon McCoy, Penny Lewis,
Rabeckah Mooneyham, and Heather Carlson [Docket No. 22] is hereby granted in part, denied in
part, and moot in part. All claims against ODOC and the Board are hereby dismissed. The
federal claims against Defendants McCoy, Lewis, and Mooneyham remain, but the state law
claims and any claims for declaratory and/or injunctive relief against them are dismissed. As she
has been dismissed from this action, the motion is moot as to Heather Carlson.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 15th day of July, 2021.
THE HONORABLE RONALD A. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
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