Lewis v. Louisville/Jefferson Cnty. Metro Gov't

Decision Date30 October 2020
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 3:18-CV-00071-GNS-CHL
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Kentucky

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (DN 27). This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


In 2016, Plaintiff Troy Lewis ("Lewis") was a pretrial detainee housed at the Community Corrections Center ("CCC") facility operated by Defendant Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, ("LMDC"). (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 36, DN 1-1). LDMC is a department of Defendant Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government ("Louisville Metro"). Lewis alleges that another inmate, Defendant Kenneth McBride ("McBride"), was at CCC during the same time period and "routinely bullied other individuals housed within [the facility] . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 38). According to Lewis, there was minimal supervision at that facility, and "McBride would routinely masturbate in other people's rack(s), turn the television off, etc. . . . ." (Compl. ¶¶ 39-40).

On or about December 26, 2016, McBride allegedly directed another inmate to perform oral sex on him in Lewis' presence. (Compl. ¶ 41). When Lewis tried to leave the area, there allegedly was a verbal exchange between Lewis and McBride, and McBride attacked Lewis. (Compl. ¶ 42). Corrections officers intervened and put Lewis and McBride in separate rooms. (Compl. ¶ 44). While in one of those rooms, McBride allegedly yelled threats of harm towards Lewis and his family, and then McBride later told Lewis that he "would be 'touched in jail' in every cell he was placed . . . ." (Compl. ¶ 46). As a result of that incident, both McBride and Lewis were transferred to Metro Corrections Jail Complex ("MCJC"), which is another LMDC facility, and a "keep-from" order was put in place to prohibit any further contact between them in accordance with LMDC policies. (Compl. ¶¶ 47-48). Despite that order, Lewis alleges that McBride continued to make threats. (Compl. ¶ 49).

Following breakfast on the morning of December 31, 2016, a corrections officer allegedly took Lewis to the fourth floor of the MCJC and placed Lewis in a cell with about 30 other inmates. (Compl. ¶ 50). McBride and at least four other inmates allegedly attacked Lewis in that cell, and Lewis' efforts to summon assistance from corrections officers was unsuccessful. (Compl. ¶¶ 51-53). During the attacked, Lewis lost consciousness. (Compl. ¶ 55). Lewis also alleges that other inmates affiliated with McBride attacked Lewis on subsequent occasions. (Compl. ¶ 55).

On December 26, 2017, Lewis filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court (Kentucky) against Louisville Metro, LDMC, various named corrections officers employed by LDMC (sued in their individual capacities), McBride, and four unknown inmates. (Compl. ¶¶ 2-32). In the Complaint, Lewis asserted a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims of negligence, negligence supervision, negligence per se, negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"). (Compl. ¶¶ 57-96).

Subsequently, January 2, 2018, Lewis filed the Amended Complaint in Jefferson Circuit Court in which he named eight additional corrections officers as Defendants. (Am. Comp. ¶¶ 3- 10, DN 1-1). Lewis also reasserted his causes of action against those new Defendants. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2).

On February 5, 2018, Defendants removed the lawsuit to this Court. (Notice Removal, DN 1). Subsequently, on September 3, 2019, Lewis moved for leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, which the Court granted on November 7, 2019. (Pl.'s Mot. Leave File Second Am. Compl., DN 21; Order, DN 23). In the Second Amended Complaint, Lewis dropped claims against some individual Defendants but also named an additional eleven corrections officers as Defendants: Brandon Bolton, James Cox, Jimmy Crawford, Jeffrey Edens, Ashley Harris, Timothy Huber, Richard Longoria, Andrew McCullough, Carlos Montano, Ella Thomas, and Carl Williams (collectively "Individual Defendants"). (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 19-26, 29-31, DN 24). The Second Amended Complaint asserted the same original causes of action against Individual Defendants. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2).

Louisville Metro and Individual Defendants moved to dismiss the claims asserted against them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). (Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, DN 27). Individual Defendants contend that Lewis' claims are time barred because the claims asserted against them in the Second Amended Complaint do not relate back to the original Complaint. (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 3-7, DN 27-1). Louisville Metro also argues that LDMC should be dismissed because it is not a proper party, that Lewis failed to state a Monell claim, and that Lewis' state law claims against Louisville Metro are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 7-11).


This Court has subject-matter jurisdiction of this matter based upon federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In addition, the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).


A complaint is subject to dismissal if it "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accepting "as true all factual allegations and permissible inferences therein." Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Westlake v. Lucas, 537 F.2d 857, 858 (6th Cir. 1976)). The nonmoving party, however, must plead more than bare legal conclusions. See Lillard v. Shelby Cty. Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "[the] complaint must contain (1) 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible,' (2) more than 'a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements,' and (3) allegations that suggest a 'right to relief above a speculative level.'" Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The pleading need not contain detailed factual allegations, but the nonmoving party must allege facts that, when "accepted as true . . . 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (citation omitted).

A. Statute of Limitations

Individual Defendants move to dismiss Lewis' claims as time barred. (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss 3-7). As the Sixth Circuit has noted:

"Generally, a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), which considers only the allegations in the complaint, is an 'inappropriate vehicle' for dismissing a claim based upon a statute of limitations." And that is because a plaintiff has no obligation under Rule 8 to plead compliance with the statute of limitations. Instead, the burden of pleading, and proving, [an] affirmative defense . . . rests with the defendant.

Michalak v. LVNV Funding, LLC, 604 F. App'x 492, 493 (internal citations omitted) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c)(1)).

1. Federal Claims

Individual Defendants move to dismiss Lewis' Section 1983 claim based on the statute of limitations. Because Congress did not impose a statute of limitations for Section 1983 claims, federal courts look to the state's personal injury statute of limitations. See Collard v. Ky. Bd. of Nursing, 896 F.2d 179, 180-81 (6th Cir. 1990). Under Kentucky law, that limitations period is one year. See id. at 181-82 (discussing the application of KRS 413.140(1).

In contrast, federal law determines when the statute of limitation accrues. See Sharpe v. Cureton, 319 F.3d 259, 266 (6th Cir. 2003) (internal citation omitted) (citing Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 267 (1985); Sevier v. Turner, 742 F.2d 262, 272 (6th Cir. 1986)). "The statute of limitations commences to run when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is the basis of his action. A plaintiff has reason to know of his injury when he should have discovered it through the exercise of reasonable diligence." Roberson v. Tennessee, 399 F.3d 792, 794 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Sevier, 742 F.2d at 273). "In applying a discovery accrual rule . . . discovery of the injury, not discovery of the other elements of the claim, is what starts the clock." Rotella v. Wood, 528 U.S. 549, 555 (2000). Thus, "[a] plaintiff's action accrues when he discovers that he has been injured, not when he determines that the injury was unlawful." Amini v. Oberlin Coll., 259 F.3d 493, 500 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Thelen v. Marc's Big Boy Corp., 64 F.3d 264, 267 (7th Cir. 1995)).

Lewis argues that the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled due to the incomplete responses provided by LMDC to his Open Records requests. (Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 12-14, DN 32). Equitable tolling allows a federal court "to toll a statute of limitations when a litigant's failure to meet a legally-mandated deadline unavoidably arose from circumstances beyond that litigant's control." Jackson v. United States, 751 F.3d 712, 718 (6th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). To determine whether equitable tolling is available to a plaintiff, a court considers five factors:

(1) the plaintiff's lack of notice of the filing requirement; (2) the plaintiff's lack of constructive knowledge of the filing requirement; (3) the plaintiff's diligence in pursuing [his] rights; (4) an absence of prejudice to the defendant; and (5) the plaintiff's reasonableness in remaining ignorant of the particular legal requirement.

Id. at 719 (citation omitted). Not all of these considerations may be material in every case, nor is the list...

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