Kinzer v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, No. 3:06cv0649.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtWiseman
Citation451 F.Supp.2d 931
PartiesRandolph KINZER and Mona Lisa Kinzer, Plaintiffs, v. METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE and Davidson County, and John A. Wells, IV, individually and in his official capacity, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 3:06cv0649.
Decision Date11 September 2006
451 F.Supp.2d 931
Randolph KINZER and Mona Lisa Kinzer, Plaintiffs,
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE and Davidson County, and John A. Wells, IV, individually and in his official capacity, Defendants.
No. 3:06cv0649.
United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division.
September 11, 2006.

Billy Joe Marlowe, Jr., Marlowe Law Offices, PLLC, Nashville, TN, David A. Carter, John B. Stark, Hermitage, TN, for Plaintiffs.

Allison L. Bussell, Francis Howard Young, Metropolitan Legal Department, John M.L. Brown, Nashville, TN, for Defendants.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

WISEMAN, Senior District Judge.


Before the Court is the Motion for Partial Dismissal (Doc. No. 7) filed by Defendant John A. Wells, IV ("Defendant Wells"), which Defendant Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Defendant Metro") has joined (Doc. No. 16). Defendants contend that the loss-of-consortium claim brought by Plaintiff Mona Lisa Kinzer must be dismissed as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, because such a claim is not cognizable "under" 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As discussed below, the Court finds that there is no binding case law in this circuit requiring dismissal of Ms. Kinzer's claim for loss of consortium, and that it is permissible as a pendant state-law claim. Defendants' motion will therefore be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Randolph and Mona Lisa Kinzer allege in their complaint that Mr. Kinzer was shot and injured by Defendant Wells, a park police officer employed by Defendant Metro, in violation of Mr. Kinzer's constitutional rights. The complaint expressly states that it is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and this Court's jurisdiction is invoked under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question) and 1343 (civil rights violations). Plaintiffs do not specifically assert that the Court has supplemental jurisdiction of any claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

Count I of the complaint asserts a claim by Mr. Kinzer under § 1983 against Defendant Wells individually, based upon the alleged use of excessive force in shooting and severely injuring Mr. Kinzer, in violation of his constitutional rights. Count. II asserts a claim against Defendant Metro for, among other things, failure to train, supervise and discipline Wells, evidencing a deliberate indifference to Mr. Kinzer's rights. Count III states simply: "The conduct of Defendant [sic] resulted in the loss of consortium, love, affection, services and companionship of Plaintiff Mona Lisa Kinzer with respect to her husband, Randolph Kinzer." (Compl.¶ 18.)

Defendants now seek dismissal of Count III on the basis that a loss-of-consortium claim is not cognizable under § 1983.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must allege facts which, if proved, would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). In reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. See Scheyer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974); Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 377 (6th Cir.1995). Consequently, a complaint will be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) only if there is no law to support the claims made, if the facts alleged are insufficient to state a claim, or if on the face of the complaint there is an insurmountable bar to relief. In addition, Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which provides that a pleading for relief shall contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a); 5A Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 1356 (1990). The moving party is entitled to relief only when the complaint fails to meet this liberal standard.

II, DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

A. Introduction

Defendants' argument, in a nutshell, is that a derivative claim for loss of consortium is not cognizable under § 1983. In

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response, plaintiffs point out that loss of consortium, while derivative, is a separate state-law claim authorized by Tennessee statute, over which this Court has supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Thus, the loss-of-consortium claim is not asserted under § 1983 but alongside it as a pendent claim. The issue presented here is whether such a pendent claim is permissible when the sole substantive claim from which it is derived and to which it is appended is brought under § 1983.

As discussed below, the Sixth Circuit has not addressed this precise issue, though it has considered the issue of whether wrongful-death claims may be brought either under or alongside § 1983 claims. The law in that area, though complex because it involves the intersection between state and federal law, is also fairly clear and well established: Wrongful-death actions, if authorized by state law, may be brought in conjunction with § 1983 actions and may provide for damages to a decedent's family members, including lossof-consortium-type damages. Section 1983 itself, however, does not provide a mechanism for a decedent's family members to recover their own damages, regardless of whether such damages are or are not available under state law.

Because wrongful-death claims are similar to loss-of-consortium claims insofar as they are both derivative actions that permit the recovery of damages by persons other than the party directly injured by the alleged wrongful actions, this Court believes that the Sixth Circuit, if confronted with the issue, would hold that a loss-of-consortium claim, to the extent permitted by state law, may be appended to a § 1983 claim even though consortium-type damages are not permitted under § 1983 per se. The case law in this area is confusing, however. Other district courts confronted with this same issue have reached the opposite conclusion, purportedly based upon pronouncements made by the Sixth Circuit and other courts in the context of wrongful-death claims asserted under § 1983, instead of through the mechanism of a pendent state claim. This Court believes that district courts that have concluded that loss-of-consortium claims are not permissible when appended to a § 1983 claim have misconstrued Sixth Circuit precedent. Consequently, what follows below is a fairly extensive, though not exhaustive, review of the case law leading to this Court's ultimate conclusion. In making that journey, the Court will first consider whether Ms. Kinzer has succeeded in stating a cause of action under Tennessee law for loss of consortium. Finding that she has done so, the Court will then trace the development of the case law in the area of derivative claims appended to § 1983 actions, which leads to a conclusion that Defendants' motion here must be denied.

B. Whether Ms. Kinzer Has Stated a Claim of Loss of Consortium Under Tennessee Law

As part of their motion to dismiss Ms. Kinzer's loss-of-consortium claim, Defendants point out that Plaintiffs did not specifically reference 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) as the basis for this Court's jurisdiction over the that claim. In response to Defendants' motion, Ms. Kinzer confirms her intent to "bring this cause of action . . . as her own individual, viable state law claim for loss of spousal consortium" under Tenn. Code Ann. § 25-1-106. (Doc. No. 18, at 3.) See McPeek v. Lockhart, 174 S.W.3d 751, 755 (Tenn.Ct.App.2005) ("While a loss of consortium claim is a derivative claim, it is also a distinct and separate cause of action from that of the injured spouse's claim.") (citing Hunley v. Silver Furniture Mfg. Co., 38 S.W.3d 555, 557-58 (Tenn. 2001)). The Kinzers now assert, on that

Page 934

basis, that the Court may exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the loss-of-consortium claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure only require that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new grounds of jurisdiction to support it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1) (emphasis added). Rule 8(a)(1) is satisfied if the complaint generally "say[s] enough about jurisdiction to create some reasonable likelihood that the court is not about to hear a case that it is not supposed to have the power to hear." Hammes v. AAMCO Transmissions, Inc., 33 F.3d 774, 778 (7th Cir.1994). Thus, it is "not essential that a complaint set forth the, statutory basis for the court's jurisdiction in order to assume jurisdiction, if the facts alleged provide a basis for the assumption of jurisdiction." AmSouth Bank v. Dale, 386 F.3d 763, 779 (6th Cir. 2004) (quoting Rohler v. TRW, Inc., 576 F.2d 1260, 1264 (7th Cir.1978)). See also Eriline Co. S.A. v..Johnson, 440 F.3d 648 (4th Cir.2006) (holding that exercise of jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims was proper on the basis of supplemental jurisdiction even though the plaintiffs had erroneously claimed diversity jurisdiction, because a legitimate federal question was also presented and the state law claims formed part of the same case or controversy .as the federal claim); Blanchard v. Terry & Wright, Inc., 331 F.2d 467 (6th Cir.1964) (finding federal-question jurisdiction existed even though the asserted basis for jurisdiction was diversity of citizenship and it turned out that the parties were not completely diverse).

Here, the complaint sets forth a federal question—Mr. Kinzer's § 1983 claim—as the primary basis for this Court's jurisdicdon, so it is obvious the Court is "not about to hear a case that it is not supposed to have the power to hear." Hammes, 33 F.3d at 778. In addition, the complaint articulates a separate claim for loss of consortium, and, as Defendants acknowledge, it alleges facts that would support such a claim under...

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16 practice notes
  • Hyung Seok Koh v. Graf, No. 11 C 02605
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 30, 2018
    ...force claim survived); Boyer v. Lacey , 665 Fed.Appx. 476, 485 (6th Cir. 2016) ; see also Kinzer v. Metropolitan Govt. of Nashville , 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 934–947 (M.D. Tenn. 2006). The Seventh Circuit implied in dicta that a state-law consortium claim can be joined to a spouse's constitution......
  • H.M. v. Bd. of Educ. of the Kings Local Sch. Dist., CASE NO.: 1:14–cv–64
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • August 3, 2015
    ...*12–13, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123631, *35–36 (N.D.Ohio Aug. 30, 2012) (citing Kinzer v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 946–47 (M.D.Tenn.2006) ). As Ohio law permits a parental claim for loss of consortium of a minor child where a third-party negligently or in......
  • Hill ex rel. S.H. v. Blount Cnty. Sch., No.: 3:14-CV-96-PLR-HBG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • February 19, 2015
    ...of services claim of a parent under Title VI or § 1983 for the personal injury to a child. See Kinzer v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville, 451 F.Supp.2d 931 (M.D.Tenn 2006). Accordingly, all claims brought by Chi Hill and Jim Hill, Individually, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (Title VI)......
  • Pattee v. Georgia Ports Authority, No. 406CV028.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • January 24, 2007
    ...bringing a claim under § 1983 and bringing a pendent state-law claim alongside the § 1983 claim." Kinzer. v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville, 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 945 (M.D.Tenn.2006). Thus, in Kinzer the court reasoned [b]ecause Tennessee law permits a wife to maintain an action for loss of consort......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Hyung Seok Koh v. Graf, No. 11 C 02605
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 30, 2018
    ...force claim survived); Boyer v. Lacey , 665 Fed.Appx. 476, 485 (6th Cir. 2016) ; see also Kinzer v. Metropolitan Govt. of Nashville , 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 934–947 (M.D. Tenn. 2006). The Seventh Circuit implied in dicta that a state-law consortium claim can be joined to a spouse's constitution......
  • H.M. v. Bd. of Educ. of the Kings Local Sch. Dist., CASE NO.: 1:14–cv–64
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Ohio
    • August 3, 2015
    ...*12–13, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123631, *35–36 (N.D.Ohio Aug. 30, 2012) (citing Kinzer v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 946–47 (M.D.Tenn.2006) ). As Ohio law permits a parental claim for loss of consortium of a minor child where a third-party negligently or in......
  • Hill ex rel. S.H. v. Blount Cnty. Sch., No.: 3:14-CV-96-PLR-HBG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • February 19, 2015
    ...of services claim of a parent under Title VI or § 1983 for the personal injury to a child. See Kinzer v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville, 451 F.Supp.2d 931 (M.D.Tenn 2006). Accordingly, all claims brought by Chi Hill and Jim Hill, Individually, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (Title VI)......
  • Pattee v. Georgia Ports Authority, No. 406CV028.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)
    • January 24, 2007
    ...bringing a claim under § 1983 and bringing a pendent state-law claim alongside the § 1983 claim." Kinzer. v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville, 451 F.Supp.2d 931, 945 (M.D.Tenn.2006). Thus, in Kinzer the court reasoned [b]ecause Tennessee law permits a wife to maintain an action for loss of consort......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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