Willis v. Oklahoma City City of et al
ORDER granting 4 City's Motion to Dismiss and DISMISSES plaintiff's claims against defendant City of Oklahoma City. Signed by Honorable Vicki Miles-LaGrange on 7/19/17. (ac)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY,
a municipality, and GRAN WHEELER,
Case No. CIV-17-620-M
Before the Court is defendant City of Oklahoma City’s (“City”) Motion to Dismiss, filed
June 5, 2017. On June 26, 2017, plaintiff filed his response, and on July 3, 2017, City filed its
On May 18, 2016, plaintiff’s wife called the police and told them that plaintiff was not
allowed to be at his current location. Defendant Officer Gran Wheeler located plaintiff, arrested
him, and kept him in the Oklahoma County Jail for three nights. Plaintiff alleges that he was
wrongfully arrested, without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion, by Defendant Wheeler
and that he was kept in the Oklahoma County Jail without cause.
On May 12, 2017, plaintiff filed the instant action in the District Court of Oklahoma
County, State of Oklahoma. Plaintiff asserts the following claims against defendants: (1) unlawful
seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Oklahoma
Constitution; (2) assault and battery and negligent entrustment; (3) false arrest; (4) negligence; and
(5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. These claims are brought under the Oklahoma
Governmental Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On June 5, 2017, City removed
this action to this Court. City now moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and (6), to dismiss it from this action.
State law claims
City asserts that it is entitled to dismissal on plaintiff’s state law claims because plaintiff
failed to comply with the notice provisions of the GTCA prior to filing this action. “Notice is a
jurisdictional prerequisite to bringing an action under the GTCA. Failure to present written notice
as required by the GTCA results in a permanent bar of any action derivative of the tort claim.”
Harmon v. Cradduck, 286 P.3d 643, 652 (Okla. 2012) (internal citations omitted). The GTCA
provides, in pertinent part:
A. Any person having a claim against the state or a political
subdivision within the scope of Section 151 et seq. of this title shall
present a claim to the state or political subdivision for any
appropriate relief including the award of money damages.
B. Except as provided in subsection H of this section, and not
withstanding any other provision of law, claims against the state or
a political subdivision are to be presented within one (1) year of the
date the loss occurs. A claim against the state or a political
subdivision shall be forever barred unless notice thereof is presented
within one (1) year after the loss occurs.
D. A claim against a political subdivision shall be in writing and
filed with the office of the clerk of the governing body.
Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 156 (A),(B),(D).
In his response, plaintiff admits he did not serve the City Clerk of the City of Oklahoma
City as required under the GTCA. Plaintiff contends that he was informed that the Oklahoma City
Police Department is under the direction and control of the Oklahoma City Office of Management
and Enterprises.1 However, the Oklahoma City Office of Management and Enterprises does not
Plaintiff does not state by whom he was given this information.
exist and the Oklahoma City Police Department is under the direction and control of the City
Council of the City of Oklahoma City.
Accordingly, because plaintiff did not present written notice of his claim to the City Clerk
of the City of Oklahoma City as required by the GTCA, the Court finds that plaintiff’s state law
claims against City are barred and should be dismissed.
§ 1983 claim
City asserts that plaintiff’s § 1983 claim should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Regarding the standard for determining whether to dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the United States Supreme Court has
To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face. 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. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability
requirement,” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that
are merely consistent with a defendant’s liability, it stops short of
the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Further,
“where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Id. at 679 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Additionally, “[a] pleading that offers labels
and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does
a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at
678 (internal quotations and citations omitted). A court “must determine whether the complaint
sufficiently alleges facts supporting all the elements necessary to establish an entitlement to relief
under the legal theory proposed.” Lane v. Simon, 495 F.3d 1182, 1186 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotations and citation omitted). Finally, “[a] court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint
presumes all of plaintiff’s factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable
to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991).
“[A] municipality cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor – or, in other
words, a municipality cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.” Monell
v. Dep’t of Social Servs. of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). In order to establish
municipal liability, a plaintiff must identify a government’s policy or custom that caused the injury
and that was enacted or maintained with deliberate indifference to an almost inevitable
constitutional injury. See Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police Dep’t, 717 F.3d 760, 769
(10th Cir. 2013).
Having carefully reviewed plaintiff’s Petition, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to
state a § 1983 claim against City. Specifically, the Court finds that plaintiff has not set forth
sufficient facts showing City had a policy or custom that caused plaintiff’s injury. In his Petition,
plaintiff does not allege any specific policy or custom or allege how said policy or custom caused
plaintiff’s injury. Plaintiff simply appears to be seeking to hold City liable under § 1983 on a
respondeat superior theory. Accordingly, the Court finds that plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against City
should be dismissed.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS City’s Motion to Dismiss [docket no.
4] and DISMISSES plaintiff’s claims against defendant City of Oklahoma City.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of July, 2017.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?