Means v. Bearden

Decision Date15 September 2022
Docket NumberCivil Action 3:21-cv-711-RGJ
PartiesDARCELLA MEANS Plaintiff v. OFFICER LASHA BEARDEN, ET AL. Defendants
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Kentucky

DARCELLA MEANS Plaintiff
v.

OFFICER LASHA BEARDEN, ET AL.
Defendants

Civil Action No. 3:21-cv-711-RGJ

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

September 15, 2022


MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

REBECCA GRADY JENNINGS JUDGE

Officers Lasha Bearden and Keshonda Rudolph (both, “Defendants”) move to dismiss Plaintiff Darcella Means' (“Means”) Complaint. [DE 4]. Means responded [DE 7], and Defendants replied. [DE 9]. Means moves to amend her Complaint. [DE 8]. Defendants responded [DE 10] and Means replied. [DE 11]. For the reasons below, Defendants Motion to Dismiss [DE 4] is DENIED, and Mean's Motion to Amend [DE 8] is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

The factual allegations in the Complaint [DE 1-2] and Amended Complaint [DE 8-3] are considered true for purposes of this motion. See Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009)).

On September 2, 2020, a Jefferson County Judge ordered Means to enter a 90-day drug recovery program at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (“LMDC”). [DE 1-2 at 8]. The same day, when Defendants processed her through booking procedures, they removed her wig and clothes and “paraded [her past] at least seven (7) male officers and at least five (5) male detainees present in the booking area.” [Id. at 9-13].

Later the same day, Means asked LMDC employees and officers about the process for filing a complaint and was ignored. [DE 8-3 at 64]. Means ultimately filed a grievance. From

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September 3, 2020 to October 21, 2020, Means inquired and requested updates about her filed grievance. [Id.]. Means “filed other grievance complaining of the defendants' conduct” on October 21, 2020. [Id. at 65]. Her grievance was denied on October 23, 2020. [Id.]. Means requested her denial be appealed and continued to inquire about updates about her appeal until January 2021. [Id.].

Means sued Defendants in Jefferson Circuit Court on October 20, 2021, alleging violations of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Kentucky law. [DE 1-2]. Defendants removed the case to this court under original federal question jurisdiction for the constitutional claims and supplemental jurisdiction for the state law claim. [DE 1]. Defendants now move to dismiss Means' claims for failing to state a claim for which relief may be granted, primarily based on statute of limitations. [DE 4]. Means moved in response to amend her complaint. [DE 8].

II. STANDARD

“When there are pending before the court both a dispositive motion and a motion to amend the complaint, the court must first address the motion to amend complaint.” Gallaher & Assocs., Inc. v. Emerald TC, LLC, No. 3:08-CV-459, 2010 WL 670078, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 19, 2010) (citing Ellison v. FordMotor Co., 847 F.2d 297, 300 (6th Cir. 1988)). If the court grants a motion to amend, “the original pleading no longer performs any function in the case.” Clark v. Johnston, 413 Fed.Appx. 804, 811 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Thus, “when the court grants leave to amend the complaint, a motion to dismiss the original complaint will be denied as moot if the amended complaint adequately addresses the grounds for dismissal.” Stepp v. Alibaba.com, Inc., No. 3:16-CV-00389-CRS, 2016 WL 5844097, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 4, 2016).

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Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave. The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. “The grant or denial of leave to amend is within the discretion of the trial court, and review is for abuse of discretion.” Sec. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Kevin Tucker & Assocs., Inc., 64 F.3d 1001, 1008 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Roth Steel Prod. v. Sharon Steel Corp., 705 F.2d 134, 155 (6th Cir. 1983)). “In deciding whether to grant a motion to amend, courts should consider undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment.” Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Centers, Inc., 427 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Coe v. Bell, 161 F.3d 320, 341-42 (6th Cir. 1998)). “A proposed amendment is futile if the amendment could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 420 (6th Cir. 2000). An action may be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) instructs that a court must dismiss a complaint if the complaint “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a claim, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When considering a motion to dismiss, courts must presume all factual allegations in the complaint to be true and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Plan. Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). “But the district court need not accept a bare assertion of legal conclusions.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “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

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if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “A complaint will be dismissed . . . if no law supports the claims made, if the facts alleged are insufficient to state a claim, or if the face of the complaint presents an insurmountable bar to relief.” Southfield Educ. Ass'n v. Southfield Bd. of Educ., 570 Fed.Appx. 485, 487 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 561-64).

Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, if “matters outside the pleadings are presented and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” The Court, however, “may consider the Complaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to defendant's motion to dismiss so long as they are referred to in the Complaint and are central to the claims contained therein” without converting to a summary judgment. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008).

Dismissal of a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) on grounds that it is barred by a limitations period is warranted only if “the allegations in the complaint affirmatively show that the claim is time-barred.” Cataldo v. U.S. Steel Corp., 676 F.3d 542, 547 (6th Cir. 2012) (emphasis added). In other words, it must be “apparent from the face of the complaint that the limit for bringing the claim[s] has passed.” Bishop v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 520 F.3d 516, 520 (6th Cir. 2008) (alteration in original) (quoting Hoover v. Langston Equip. Assocs., Inc., 958 F.2d 742, 744 (6th Cir. 1992)).

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III. DISCUSSION

Because Means has moved to amend her Complaint, the Court first considers this motion. See Gallaher & Associates, Inc., 2010 WL 670078, at *1, Brumbalough, 427 F.3d at 1001. See also AutoZone, Inc. v. Glidden Co., 737 F.Supp.2d 936, 943 (W.D. Tenn. 2010) (observing that the court must first consider whether amendment is futile, and if so, the pertinent cause of action in the original complaint cannot survive the motion to dismiss). The parties do not assert undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, or lack of proper notice, so the Court's analysis will be limited to futility. See Brumbalough, 427 F.3d at 1001. Because the standard for futility mirrors the review applied in motions to dismiss, the Court will address Means' amended allegations as if included in her original Complaint. See Saunders v. Ford Motor Co., No. 3:14-CV-00594-JHM, 2015 WL 1980215, at *4 (W.D. Ky. May 1, 2015) (addressing plaintiff's amended allegations as if included in first complaint); Midkiff v. Adams Cnty. Reg'l Water Dist., 409 F.3d 758, 767 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Martin v. Associated Truck Lines, Inc., 801 F.2d 246, 249 (6th Cir. 1986)) (“A motion for leave to amend may be denied for futility ‘if the court concludes that the pleading as amended could not withstand a motion to dismiss.'”).

i. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim, State Law Assault and Battery Claims: Statute of Limitations

Means' § 1983 and state law assault and battery claims in her original and proposed amended complaint are identical. Defendants argue that Means' § 1983 and state law assault and battery claims should be dismissed and are futile because the statute of limitations-one year- has tolled on each of these claims. [DE 9 at 76; DE 10 at 92]. Means argues that Defendants' affirmative defense is best raised in a motion for summary judgment, and that she need not respond with factual matters raising triable issues of fact at this stage. [DE 7-1 at 36-39; DE 8-1 at 54-55].

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She regardless moves to amend the factual basis in her...

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