United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
ELIJAH MALACHI X. MOTHERSHED BEY, Plaintiff,
CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY, a municipality, and JAMES WATSON, police officer, Defendants.
HEATON CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Elijah Malachi X Mothershed Bey filed this § 1983 action
against James Watson, an Oklahoma City police officer, and
the City of Oklahoma City (“City”). He asserts he
was seized without probable cause and held for twenty-nine
days in the Oklahoma County Detention Center. Based on those
underlying facts, plaintiff alleges violations of his Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and also asserts claims
under state law.
City has filed a partial motion to dismiss. When considering
whether a plaintiff's claim should be dismissed under
Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and views them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff as the nonmoving party. S.E.C.
v. Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014). All that
is required is “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must, though, contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face” and “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 555 (2007). Because
plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court liberally
construes his pleadings. Wilson v. City of Oklahoma
City, 447 Fed.Appx. 913, 914 (10th Cir. 2012).
Considering the complaint under this standard, the court
concludes defendant's motion should be granted.
complaint, plaintiff alleges that, on June 7, 2015, his
former girlfriend filed a false report of physical abuse with
the Oklahoma City Police Department. Plaintiff further
alleges that Officer Watson, by omitting pertinent facts from
his report to the district attorney's office, submitted a
false report which resulted in plaintiff being charged with
misdemeanor assault and battery. According to the complaint,
plaintiff was arrested for domestic abuse on September 18,
2015, was “unreasonably seized and detained, ”
was incarcerated for ten days and then eventually released on
bond. The complaint further alleges that, on December 2,
2015, plaintiff was incarcerated again when a state judge
(Judge Hall) found him in indirect contempt of court.
Plaintiff alleges the contempt determination was based on his
filing a motion to represent himself and that he was
incarcerated an additional fourteen days as a result. Doc.
#1, p. 4, ¶15. According to the complaint, plaintiff was
eventually acquitted by a jury of the domestic abuse charge
on January 28, 2016.
first cause of action appears to be asserted against the City
and against defendant Watson in both his individual and
official capacities. It is a § 1983 claim based on
alleged violations of plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights. His second cause of action asserts claims
against the City for false arrest, wrongful imprisonment,
malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. These are asserted pursuant to the Governmental
Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”), 51 Okla. Stat.
§§ 151-172. In his third cause of action, plaintiff
asserts a § 1983 claim against the City based on its
alleged failure to adequately discipline or train its police
City seeks to dismiss the “official capacity”
claim against defendant Watson on the basis such a claim is
actually against the city, that Watson is not a policymaker
for the City and because the City is already a defendant.
“Suing individual defendants in their official
capacities under § 1983 . . . is essentially another way
of pleading an action against the county or municipality they
represent.” Porro v. Barnes, 624 F.3d 1322,
1328 (10th Cir. 2010). As the City is already a named
defendant, an official capacity claim against Officer Watson
has no impact and is unnecessary. The purported claim against
defendant Watson in his official capacity will therefore be
City also seeks to dismiss any claim based on the Fourteenth
Amendment. It argues that while the complaint
references both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, the
substance of plaintiff's § 1983 claim --- the
assertion that there was no probable cause for his arrest ---
is actually based on the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff
responds that he “was denied due process of law because
James Watson is bias, ” and that his Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated as a result. Doc.
#14, pp. 2, 5. However, as the City notes, the constitutional
claim against defendant Watson is based on the assertion that
plaintiff was arrested without probable cause. Whether the
arrest was with or without a warrant, the Fourth Amendment
“establishes ‘the standards and procedures'
governing pretrial detention.” Manuel v. City of
Joliet, 137 S.Ct. 911, 914 (2017) (quoting Gerstein
v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 111 (1975)). “[E]ven beyond
the start of legal process, ” the “Fourth
Amendment governs a claim for unlawful pretrial
detention.” Id. at 920. As the complaint does
not allege facts suggesting a due process violation by
defendant Watson, plaintiff's claim based on the
Fourteenth Amendment will be dismissed.
the City seeks dismissal of the state law claims for false
arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and
intentional infliction of emotional distress on the basis
they are time-barred by the GTCA. The City argues that,
notwithstanding the complaint's allegation of a
“timely claim to the City of Oklahoma City, ”
this case was not filed within the time required by the GTCA
and the state law claims are therefore barred. The City
contends, and plaintiff does not dispute, that
plaintiff's notice of claim was filed with the City on
April 29, 2016. That means, the City argues, that
plaintiff's claim was deemed denied on July 28, 2016, and
he then had to file suit on the claim within 180 days
thereafter. It asserts the 180 days would have run on January
24, 2017, but this case was not filed under March 27, 2017.
GTCA is the exclusive means by which a plaintiff can recover
from a governmental entity for tort violations based on state
law. 51 Okla. Stat. § 152.1. The Act requires that a
claimant provide the political subdivision with notice of the
claim within one year after the tort occurs, and that any
lawsuit be filed within 180 days if the claim is denied. If
the subdivision fails to act on the claim within 90 days, the
claim is deemed denied. See 52 Okla. Stat.
§§ 156, 157. Compliance with these requirements,
including the notice requirement, is jurisdictional as a
matter of substantive Oklahoma law. See Hall v. GEO
Group, Inc., 324 P.3d 399, 400-01 (Okla. 2014).
does not dispute that his GTCA claim was untimely, but argues
he “should be allowed tolling due to trailing
paperwork.” Doc. #14, p. 11. He cites no authority for
such an exception from the GTCA's limitations period and
“trailing paperwork” is not a recognized
statutory basis for tolling. See e.g., 51 Okla.
Stat. § 156(E) (90 day tolling period applies to time
period for giving written notice of claim to person
incapacitated due to injury). As no basis for tolling has
been shown, the result is that this case was not commenced
within the time limits prescribed by the GTCA.
Plaintiff's state law claims against the City are
therefore untimely and must be dismissed.
final matter needs to be addressed. In the complaint
plaintiff states that “[t]his action for damages is
authorized by laws of the State of Oklahoma, in particular
Article 2 Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, ”
Doc. #1, p. 2, ¶5. This is the provision of the Oklahoma
Constitution pertaining to unreasonable searches and
seizures. In his response to the City's motion to
dismiss, plaintiff also refers to art. 2, § 7 of the
Oklahoma Constitution, which pertains to due
process. In Bosh v. Cherokee Cnty. Bldg.
Auth., 305 P.3d 994, 1001 (2013) the Oklahoma Supreme
Court recognized a private right of action against a
governmental entity for excessive force based on Art. 2,
§ 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution, notwithstanding the
limitations of the Governmental Tort Claims Act. This court
has concluded that Bosh should be narrowly
interpreted and applied only to excessive force claims.
See Hedger. v. Kramer, 2013 WL 5873348, at *3
(W.D.Okla. Oct. 30, 2013), appeal filed (10th Cir.
Sept. 14, 2016). Bosh does not serve to create a
private right of action for all claims arguably arising under
the Oklahoma Constitution. Therefore, lacking a basis for a
private right of action separate and apart from the GTCA, the
court sua sponte dismisses plaintiff's claim
based on Okla. Const. art. 2, § 30.
the City's partial motion to dismiss [Doc. #12] is
granted. Plaintiff's claims against defendant Watson in
his official capacity and his claims based on the Fourteenth
Amendment and Okla. Const. art. 2, § 30 are dismissed.
Plaintiff's state law claims asserted against the City
under the GTCA also are dismissed. Remaining for resolution
are plaintiff's § 1983 claim against the City based
on the Fourth Amendment, as well as the § 1983 claim
against defendant Watson in his individual capacity and any
state law claims asserted against him.