Knisley v. Hickman County, Tennessee et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara D. Holmes on 7/6/2017. (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(eh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
GARRETT KNISLEY, as Administrator for the
Estate of Rhonda Michelle Bock-Deleon, Deceased )
HICKMAN COUNTY, TENNESSEE, et al.
Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Rule 73(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the parties have consented to have the magistrate judge conduct any and all proceedings
in this action, including the entry of a final judgment. See Order entered February 1, 2017 (Docket
Entry No. 29).
Pending before the Court is the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Tommy McClanahan
and the City of Centerville. See Docket Entry No. 6. Plaintiff has responded in opposition to the
motion. See Docket Entry No. 27. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.
In the early evening hours of October 27, 2015, Rhonda Michelle Brock-Deleon (“Deleon”)
and Freddy Breece (“Breece”) were passengers in a vehicle that was being driven by Rachel Arnold
(“Arnold”) in Hickman County, Tennessee. The vehicle was stopped for a traffic infraction by
Hickman County Sheriff’s Deputies Tory Bowman (“Officer Bowman”) and Leif Carlsen (“Officer
Carlsen”). See Complaint at ¶ 25. Prior to the stop at approximately 6:32 p.m., a confidential
The background facts are summarized from the allegations contained in the Complaint
(Docket Entry No. 1) and for purposes of the pending motion to dismiss only are accepted as true.
informant had advised Officer Bowman that Breece and Deleon were planning on making a drug sale
at a local residence and also informed him of the make and model of the vehicle in which they would
be traveling, the name of the vehicle owner, and the amount and type of drug that was to be involved
in the sale. Id. at ¶¶ 22-23.
Upon being stopped and questioned by Officer Bowman, Arnold told Officer Bowman that
Breece had drugs “in his pants” and gave consent for a search of the vehicle. See Complaint at ¶ 27.
Breece and Deleon were directed to exit the vehicle and were frisk searched. Id. at ¶ 28. After a
search of the vehicle uncovered a drug “meth” pipe and a glucose test strip bottle with pills in the
back seat, Breece and Deleon were arrested and taken into custody. Id. at ¶ 33. Officer Bowman
transported Breece to the Hickman County Jail (“Jail”). Breece was transported to the Jail by Officer
Tommy McClanahan (“Officer McClanahan”), a police officer with the City of Centerville Police
Department who had stopped at the arrest scene, and arrived at the Jail at approximately 8:38 p.m.
Id. at ¶¶ 35-36. Arnold was released with a verbal warning regarding the traffic infractions.
While at the arrest scene, Officer Bowman noticed Deleon walking with her hands over her
buttocks in a manner that made him believe that she was attempting to conceal additional drugs on
her person, a belief that he conveyed to others at the scene prior to Deleon being transported to the
Jail. Id. at ¶¶ 29 & 31. Although Deleon was searched by Jail staff Felicia Roberson (“Roberson”),
Tiffani Mari Shelton (“Shelton”), and Shanda Reneee Hall (“Hall”) after arriving at the Jail and no
drugs were discovered, at some point that evening, Officer Bowman was notified by Jail staff that
Deleon had been observed squatting in the corner of a Jail cell and had pulled a white bottle from
her rectum. Id. at ¶ ¶ 39 and 43. Officer Bowman subsequently discovered a white pill bottle in the
booking area containing a bag with one gram of a white crystal substance. Id. at ¶ 40. He was
further informed by Roberson that she believed Deleon had ingested narcotics that were located
inside the pill bottle. Id. at ¶ 42. At some point that evening, Defendant Bowman conducted a
recorded interview of Deleon, at which time she was “clearly exhibiting signs of serious effects of
drugs.” Id. at ¶ 41.
At approximately 12:10 a.m. on October 28, 2015, the Hickman County Ambulance Service
was called about Deleon. Id. at ¶ 45. The paramedics who arrived at the Jail were told that Deleon
had ingested 1-3 grams of methamphetamine and Percocet about an hour prior thereto. Id. at ¶ 46.
Although Plaintiff was taken for emergency treatment to a local hospital and then to a larger hospital,
her life was unable to be saved and she was pronounced dead at 2:09 p.m. on October 28, 2015. Id.
at ¶¶ 49-51. The cause of death was noted as acute methamphetamine intoxication, and autopsy
findings noted two empty plastic bags were found in both her stomach and duodenum and one intact
plastic bag with white contents was found in her vagina. Id. at ¶ 52.
On October 25, 2016, Garrett Knisley, the Administrator for the Estate of Deleon, filed this
lawsuit seeking damages and other relief against Hickman County Tennessee (“Hickman County”),
the City of Centerville, Tennessee (“City of Centerville”), Bowman, Carlsen, Roberson, Shelton,
Hall, Hickman County employee Christopher Jolly (“Jolly”), McClanahan, and “John Does I-X.”
Plaintiff brings a count under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of Deleon’s civil rights (Count I), as
well as counts under state law for violations of Tennessee Code Annotated ¶ 41-21-201 and ¶ 41-21204 (Count II), and for negligence (Count III). Hickman County, Bowman, Carlsen, Roberson,
Shelton, Hall, and Jolly (hereinafter referred to collectively as the “Hickman County Defendants”)
filed a joint answer to the Complaint. See Docket Entry No. 4.
II. MOTION TO DISMISS
In lieu of an answer, the City of Centerville and McClanahan (hereinafter referred to
collectively as the “Centerville Defendants”) filed the pending motion, seeking dismissal under
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Defendant McClanahan argues that Plaintiff fails to allege facts that plausibly show
that he violated Deleon’s constitutional rights. He further raises the defense of qualified immunity
from the assessment of any individual damage against him for a violation of Deleon’s constitutional
rights. The City of Centerville contends that, in the absence of allegations that support a conclusion
that Defendant McClanahan violated Deleon’s constitutional rights, the claim against it under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 must also fail. The City of Centerville also contends that, 1) there are no facts
alleged in the Complaint supporting a claim that an unconstitutional policy or custom of the City of
Centerville caused any of Deleon’s injuries, and 2) Count II of the Complaint fails to support a claim
against it because it has no role in the management of detainees or prisoners at the Jail. Finally, the
City of Centerville asserts that Plaintiff’s negligence claim under the Tennessee Governmental Tort
Liability Act (“TGTLA”) arises out of the same circumstances giving rise to Plaintiff’s civil rights
claims under § 1983 and that it retains immunity against the negligence claim under Tenn. Code
Ann. § 29-20-205(2). Alternatively, the City of Centerville requests that the Court decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the TGTLA claim under principles of comity. See
Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 7).
In response, Plaintiff argues that the Complaint’s allegations are sufficient to state a claim
that Defendant McClanahan violated Deleon’s constitutional rights. Plaintiff contends that the facts
alleged to be known to the officers at the scene of Deleon’s arrest and the facts which can be
reasonably inferred to have been known by Defendant McClanahan are enough to state a plausible
claim that he was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to Deleon’s health and
safety that was caused by her actual drug ingestion and by the possibility of the ingestion of drugs
that she had hidden on her person. See Response (Docket Entry No. 27). Plaintiff further argues that
it has sufficiently stated a municipal liability claim under Section 1983 by pleading that Defendant
McClanahan’s individual conduct occurred in compliance with the policies, practices, and customs
of the City of Centerville and was ratified by the City of Centerville. Plaintiff finally alleges that it
has adequately pled common law negligence claims against the City of Centerville that are not barred
by the TGTLA and that should be heard by this Court. See Response (Docket Entry No. 27).
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A motion to dismiss is reviewed under the standard that the Court must accept as true all of
the allegations contained in the complaint, resolve all doubts in Plaintiff’s favor, and draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of Plaintiff. See In re Travel Agent Com'n Antitrust Litig., 583 F.3d
896, 903 (6th Cir.2009). Although the complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations,
Plaintiff must provide the grounds for the entitlement to relief sought. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (abrogating Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). See also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
The factual allegations contained in the complaint must be enough to show a plausible right
to relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-61. More than bare assertions of legal conclusions are required
to withstand a motion to dismiss and the complaint must contain either direct or inferential
allegations respecting all of the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal
theory. Id.; Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1988). The
Court need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See Gregory v.
Shelby Cnty., 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000), abrogated in part on other grounds, Buckhannon
Bd. & Care Home, Inc. v. West Va. Dep’t of Health & Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 121 S.Ct. 1835,
149 L.Ed.2d 855 (2001). A complaint does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
A. The Applicable Constitutional Protections
Although Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated the rights secured to Deleon by the
Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, see Complaint at ¶¶ 61 and 66, the protections of the
Eighth Amendment apply to convicted prisoners, not pretrial detainees, City of Revere v.
Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244, 103 S.Ct. 2979, 77 L.Ed.2d 605 (1983), and Plaintiff
concedes that he is not proceeding upon the basis of Fourth Amendment protections. See Response
As a pretrial detainee, it is settled that Plaintiff’s constitutional rights at issue arise from the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Kingsley v. Hendrickson,
U.S. , 135 S. Ct.
2466, 2473, 192 L. Ed. 2d 416 (2015); City of Revere, supra; Leary v. Livingston Cty., 528 F.3d 438,
443 (6th Cir. 2008). Within the protections provided to pretrial detainees is the right to a certain
level of attention to a detainee’s need for health and safety. See Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, 273
F.3d 682, 685-86 (6th Cir. 2001). To sustain a cause of action for a violation of this protection, a
plaintiff must show that he has been injured because a defendant acted with deliberate indifference
to a substantial risk of serious harm to the detainee’s health or safety. Id. Such a claim encompasses
both an objective and a subjective component. Estate of Harbin v. City of Detroit, 147 Fed.App'x
566, 570 (6th Cir. 2005). To satisfy the objective component, there must be a showing that risk of
harm or medical need at issue was substantial and serious. In the absence of a diagnosed medical
need, the risk or harm or medical need must be so patent or obvious that “even a layperson would
easily recognize the necessity” for prompt attention or treatment. Blackmore v. Kalamazoo County,
390 F.3d 890, 899-900 (6th Cir. 2005).
With respect to the subjective standard of deliberate indifference, the Sixth Circuit has
Deliberate indifference is not mere negligence. Deliberate indifference requires that
the defendants knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to [the
detainee’s] health and safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835-37, 114 S.Ct.
1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). This standard is subjective. It is not enough that
there was a danger of which an officer should objectively have been aware. “[T]he
official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Id. at
837, 114 S.Ct. 1970. If an officer fails to act in the face of an obvious risk of which
he should have known but did not, the officer has not violated the Eighth or
Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 837-38, 114 S.Ct. 1970.
Watkins, 273 F.3d at 686.2
The Supreme Court held in Kingsley that excessive force claims brought by pretrial
detainees are measured by an objective standard. While Kinglsey may foreshadow how other
constitutional claims made by pretrial detainees should be analyzed, neither the Supreme Court nor
the Sixth Circuit has yet to expand the holding in Kingsley to other claims, and the Court will thus
continue to apply a subjective standard of deliberate indifference to a claim such as the one brought
by Plaintiff. Cf. Morabito v. Holmes, 628 Fed.App’x 353, 358 (Oct. 7, 2015) (applying subjective
deliberate indifference standard to analysis of medical care claim post-Kingsley).
B. Section 1983 Claims
Defendant McClanahan raises the defense of qualified immunity to the Section 1983 claim
brought against him. Qualified immunity shields government officials performing discretionary
functions from civil damages liability in personal-capacity lawsuits so long as their actions do not
violate clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.
Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). To determine
whether qualified immunity applies when the defense is raised in the stance of a motion to dismiss,
the Court uses the following two-step analysis: 1) viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, do the allegations give rise to a constitutional violation; and 2) was the right at issue clearly
established at the time of the incident. Coley v. Lucas Cty., Ohio, 799 F.3d 530, 537 (6th Cir. 2015);
Burgess v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462, 472 (6th Cir. 2013). It is up to the discretion of the Court as to
which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first. Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236, 129 S.Ct. 808, 172 L.Ed.2d 565 (2009). It is Plaintiff's burden to show
that Defendant McClanahan is not entitled to qualified immunity, Gardenhire v. Schubert, 205 F.3d
303, 311 (6th Cir. 2000).
In analyzing the constitutional claim brought against Defendant McClanahan, it is important
to note that McClanahan’s only alleged interaction with Plaintiff consisted of taking her into custody
at the scene of the arrest and transporting her to the Jail. Plaintiff makes no allegations that
McClanahan had any interaction with Deleon after delivering her to the Jail, and any conduct
occurring at the Jail cannot form the basis for a constitutional claim against him.
Even though Defendant McClanahan’s involvement with Deleon was limited, Plaintiff points
to the following allegations as support for a plausible Section 1983 claim against him: 1) the officers
at the scene believed Deleon to have smoked methamphetamine and to have possibly taken other
drugs; 2) Officer Bowman witnessed Deleon acting in a manner that led him to believe that she was
hiding additional drugs on her person; and 3) Officer Bowman communicated this belief to the other
officers at the scene. In light of these facts, Plaintiff argues that Defendant McClanahan knew that
Deleon faced a substantial risk of serious harm because of potentially-fatal methamphetamine
poisoning and consciously disregarded this risk by transporting her to the Jail instead of taking steps
to seek medical attention for her.3 Id. at 5-8.
The Court disagrees that these factual allegations relied on by Plaintiff even if taken as true
and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, are sufficient to state a plausible claim that
Defendant McClanahan violated Deleon’s constitutional rights. While Deleon’s death is tragic, the
allegations of what occurred at the arrest scene are unremarkable. There are no allegations that
Deleon was in obvious distress or in obvious need of medical attention at the time. There are no
allegations that she or anyone else stated anything to the officers that indicated that she needed
medical attention. There are no allegations that Deleon was observed actually swallowing or
attempting to swallow any substance. In short, there are no factual allegations in the Complaint that
support a conclusion that a substantial risk of serious harm existed at the time of Deleon’s arrest
about which McClanahan was aware yet ignored.
Plaintiff’s arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive. Certainly, Deleon was not required
to “collapse in an unresponsive heap,” see Response at 9, before there would be a constitutional duty
Although Plaintiff also appears to suggest that Defendant McClanahan should have
conducted “a thorough search for latent dangers” and, presumably, uncovered the drugs Deleon had
hidden on her person, see Response at 8, Plaintiff nonetheless acknowledges that he is not
proceeding on a theory of a “failure to search.” Id.
to provide medical attention to her. However, there must have been more indicators of a need for
medical attention than are alleged in this case. Further, the Court does not find, as argued by
Plaintiff, that the City of Centerville Defendants have conceded in their motion that Deleon had a
serious medical need at the time of her interactions with Defendant McClanahan. Id. at 5. To the
contrary, Defendant McClanahan specifically states that “[t]he Complaint is devoid of any factual
allegations showing that decedent manifested any signs of a “serious medical condition” while in the
presence of Officer McClanahan.” See Memorandum in Support (Docket Entry No. 7) at 6.
The Court’s review of relevant and analogous case law within the Sixth Circuit supports
dismissal of the Section 1983 claim. An arrestee’s mere intoxication, by itself, is insufficient to alert
an arresting officer that a serious risk exists to the arrestee’s health and safety. See Border v.
Trumbull Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 414 Fed.App'x 831, 837 (6th Cir. 2011). Further, a plaintiff’s
assertion that an officer should have known that a pretrial detainee had ingested drugs does not
suffice to establish a claim of deliberate indifference. Weaver v. Shadoan, 340 F.3d 398, 411 (6th
Cir. 2003); Watkins, supra. See also Meier v. Cnty. of Presque Isle, 376 Fed.Appx. 524, 528–29 (6th
Cir. 2010) (holding that detainee's intoxication alone did not put officers and jail officials on notice
that detainee, who lapsed into a coma from a head injury, needed medical attention, where the
detainee cooperated, communicated effectively, and walked unassisted); Spears v. Ruth, 589 F.3d
249, 255–56 (6th Cir. 2009) (holding that there was no evidence that the defendant police officer was
aware of facts from which an inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm existed
to the pretrial detainee, who died from smoking crack cocaine, or that the officer drew that inference
and chose to disregard the risk, for purposes of a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs); Smith v. Pike, 338 Fed.Appx. 481, 482 (6th Cir. 2009) (holding that defendants were entitled
to qualified immunity because “[t] he evidence does not establish that jail officials were aware that
[the detainee who died from drug overdose] had a sufficiently serious medical need or that they acted
in conscious disregard by refusing medical care[;][a] lthough [the detainee] was clearly intoxicated,
jail personnel had no indication that she was experiencing an overdose, and she did not appear to
exhibit symptoms that would make it objectively clear that she had overdosed or was in immediate
need of medical attention”); Weaver, 340 F.3d at 410–12 (holding that police officer was not
deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of pretrial detainee, who died in custody from a drug
overdose, where the officer did not have knowledge that the detainee ingested cocaine and the
detainee repeatedly denied swallowing drugs); Watkins, 273 F.3d at 685–86 (holding that arresting
officers and jail personnel were not deliberately indifferent to a pretrial detainee's rights in violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment, where the detainee, who appeared to be drunk or high when he
arrived at the jail, repeatedly denied that he had ingested cocaine and refused medical treatment, but
died approximately three hours after his arrival).
The Court’s finding that Plaintiff’s factual allegations do not state a constitutional claim
against Defendant McClanahan warrants the dismissal of the Section 1983 claim against him without
full analysis of the qualified immunity defense. See Jones v. Byrnes, 585 F.3d 971, 975 (6th Cir.
2009). Furthermore, the Court’s finding is also sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the municipal
liability claim against the City of Centerville. In the absence of facts showing a viable claim that
McClanahan, as the individual police officer with the City of Centerville, violated Deleon’s
constitutional rights, there is no basis for a Section 1983 claim of municipal liability against the City
of Centerville. See City of Los Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799, 106 S.Ct. 1571, 89 L.Ed.2d 806
(1986); Thomas v. City of Columbus, Ohio, 854 F.3d 361, 367 (6th Cir. 2017); Lee v. Metro. Gov't
of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 432 Fed.Appx. 435, 449 (6th Cir. 2011). All claims brought under
Section 1983 against Defendants McClanahan and the City of Centerville will be dismissed.
C. Count II of the Complaint
Count II of the Complaint is based upon allegations of negligence per se for alleged
violations of two Tennessee statutory provisions, Tenn. Code Ann. § 41-21-201 and Tenn. Code
Ann. § 41-21-204, that pertain to the treatment of inmates. See Complaint at 19-20. Although
Count II is asserted against the collective Defendants, Plaintiff appears to concede the this Count is
not applicable to the City of Centerville and McClanahan. See Response at 9, n.1. Accordingly,
Count II will be dismissed as to these two Defendants.
D. TGTLA Claim
In Count III, Plaintiff brings claims for negligence against the City of Centerville. The City
of Centerville raises three challenges to this count: 1) failure to state a claim for relief; 2) statutory
immunity; and 3) dismissal based on principles of comity. See Memorandum in Support at 9-11.
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s negligence claims against the City of Centerville will be
The Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“TGTLA”), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-20-101
et seq., codifies Tennessee’s common law rules concerning sovereign immunity and sets out
exceptions to the general grant of immunity from suit that applies to governmental entities. See
Limbaugh v. Coffee Med. Ctr., 59 S.W.3d 73, 79 (Tenn. 2001). Thus, claims against a governmental
entity such as the City of Centerville, must be brought in strict compliance with the TGTLA. See
Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-201(a) (“Except as may be otherwise provided in this chapter, all
governmental entities shall be immune from suit for any injury which may result from the activities
of such governmental entities wherein such governmental entities are engaged in the exercise and
discharge of any of their functions, governmental or proprietary.”); Crawley v. Hamilton County, 193
S.W.3d 453, 456 (Tenn. 2006).
The Court’s general preference is to decline discretionary supplemental jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) over TGTLA claims, leaving resolution of such claims and the issues of law
arising from the TGTLA to the Tennessee courts. This preference is consistent with other rulings
within this District. See Heyne v. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, 686 F.Supp.2d 724, 735
(M.D.Tenn. 2009); Lee v. Metropolitan Gov’t of Nashville and Davidson County, 2008 WL 501327
(M.D. Tenn. Feb. 21, 2008) (Trauger, J.); Spurlock v. Whitley, 971 F.Supp. 1166, 1185 (M.D. Tenn.
However, after review of Count III as alleged against the City of Centerville, the Court sees
no reason to delay resolution of this count and exercises its discretion to review the count. See
Johnson v. Gannon, 2010 WL 1658616 at *7 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 23, 2010) (Echols, J.) (the court
heard TGTLA claim in lieu of dismissing the claim so it could be pursued in state court). Although
the TGTLA removes governmental immunity from suits for injuries “proximately caused by a
negligent act or omission of any employee within the scope of his employment,” Tenn.Code Ann.
§ 29-20-205, the TGTLA specifically preserves immunity for suits involving an injury that arise out
of “[t]he exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function,”
Tenn.CodeAnn. § 29-20-205(1), or out of “civil rights.” Tenn.CodeAnn. § 29-20-205(2).
The Court finds that these exceptions preserve the City of Centerville’s immunity from
Plaintiff’s negligence claims under the TGTLA. To the extent that the negligence claims are based
upon the same facts and circumstances that underlay Plaintiff’s civil rights claim under Section
1983, the City of Centerville retains its immunity from suit. See Bryant v. City of Memphis, 644
Fed.App'x 381, 384 (6th Cir. 2016); Partee v. City of Memphis, Tenn., 449 Fed.App'x 444, 448 (6th
Cir. 2011); Johnson v. City of Memphis, 617 F.3d 864, 872 (6th Cir. 2010). Lynn v. Davis, 2016 WL
3553029 at *6 (M.D. Tenn. June 29, 2016) (Sharp, J.) (“Plaintiff's negligence and deliberate
indifference claims arise from the same circumstances and are based on the same facts. As such, a
claim for negligence against Overton County is barred by the TGTLA.”).
In an effort to get around the “civil rights” exception to the wavier of immunity, Plaintiff
argues that he has pled, in the alternative to the Section 1983 claim, common law negligence claims
that are distinct and do not arise out of the same circumstances as the Section 1983 claim. See
Response at 10-15. However, this argument does not carry the day for Plaintiff. As summarized by
Plaintiff, the alternatively pled negligence claims “are for failing to provide adequate ‘custodial care,
treatment, and services,’ failing to staff agencies with ‘sufficient numbers of persons to meet the
custodial needs’ of detainees, failing to exercise due care in sufficiently hiring, training, and
supervising employees, and the like.” See Response at 11. Such alleged actions, as well as the
additional negligence allegations in the Complaint, see Complaint at ¶¶ 83-87, involve matters,
actions, and decisions that fall squarely within the TGTLA’s discretionary-function exception, for
which the City of Centerville retains immunity. See Savage v. City of Memphis, 620 Fed.App'x 425,
429 (6th Cir. 2015) (“the sorts of determinations the [Memphis Police Department] must make in
how it trains and supervises its employees, staffs its departments, and investigates the alleged
wrongdoing of its employees place the Plaintiffs' direct-negligence claims squarely within the
discretionary function exception.”); Peatross v. City of Memphis, 2015 WL 13021901 at *8 (W.D.
Tenn. Mar. 12, 2015), aff'd, 818 F.3d 233 (6th Cir. 2016). Plaintiff has not alleged grounds for a
negligence claim against the City of Centerville that is based upon anything that would fall outside
the discretionary-function exception to the wavier of immunity.
For the reasons set out above, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss brought by
Defendants Tommy McClanahan and the City of Centerville as to all claims brought against them.
An appropriate Order will enter.
BARBARA D. HOLMES
United States Magistrate Judge
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