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Graham v. Garfield County Detention Center

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 24, 2018

JAMES GRAHAM, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Anthony Huff, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
GARFIELD COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, an Oklahoma Title 60 authority, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LaGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is defendant Turn Key Health Clinics, LLC's (“Turn Key”) Motion to Dismiss, filed July 5, 2017. On July 26, 2017, plaintiff filed his response, and on August 2, 2017, Turn Key filed its reply.

         I. Introduction

         On June 4, 2016, Anthony Huff was arrested on a public intoxication charge and booked into the Garfield County Detention Center (“GCDC”). While incarcerated at GCDC, Mr. Huff was placed in a restraint chair. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Huff was in the restraint chair for a period in excess of two days without restroom breaks, medical or mental health treatment, or adequate food or water. On June 8, 2016, Mr. Huff died. On June 6, 2017, plaintiff filed the instant action asserting a negligence claim, an alternative assault and battery claim, and a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. Turn Key now moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), to dismiss all claims asserted against it for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Standard for dismissal

         Regarding the standard for determining whether to dismiss a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the United States Supreme Court has held:

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Further, “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Additionally, “[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 if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at 678 (internal quotations and citations omitted). A court “must determine whether the complaint sufficiently alleges facts supporting all the elements necessary to establish an entitlement to relief under the legal theory proposed.” Lane v. Simon, 495 F.3d 1182, 1186 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Finally, “[a] court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991).

         III. Discussion

         A. § 1983 claim

Although the Supreme Court's interpretation of § 1983 in Monell[1]applied to municipal governments and not to private entities acting under color of state law, caselaw from [the Tenth Circuit] and other circuits has extended the Monell doctrine to private § 1983 defendants. Therefore, a private actor cannot be held liable solely because it employs a tortfeasor - or, in other words . . . cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat superior theory.

Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1216 (10th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis in original). In Monell, the Supreme Court held that to be liable, a municipality must have had an official municipal policy of some nature that was the direct cause or moving force behind the constitutional violations. See Dubbs, 336 F.3d at 1215. Thus, for a private entity acting under color of state law to be liable, that entity must have had an official policy of some nature that was the direct cause or moving force behind the constitutional violations.

         Having carefully reviewed plaintiff's Complaint, and presuming all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the Court finds that plaintiff has not set forth sufficient factual allegations to state a § 1983 claim against Turn Key. Specifically, the Court finds that in his Complaint plaintiff has set forth no allegations regarding any policies or procedures of Turn Key and no allegations that any policies or procedures of Turn Key were the direct cause behind the alleged constitutional violations. Accordingly, the Court finds that plaintiff's § 1983 claim against Turn Key should be dismissed.

         B.Negligence ...


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