United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
JAMES GRAHAM, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Anthony Huff, Deceased, Plaintiff,
GARFIELD COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, an Oklahoma Title 60 authority, et al., Defendants.
MILES-LaGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is defendant Jennifer Niles'
(“Niles”) Partial Motion to Dismiss, filed July
31, 2017. On August 21, 2017, plaintiff filed his response,
and on August 28, 2017, Niles filed her reply.
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. Niles
now moves to dismiss the state law negligence and assault and
battery claims asserted against her because they fail to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Standard for dismissal
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
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).
asserts that plaintiff's state law claims are barred by
the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act
(“OGTCA”). Specifically, Niles contends that
under the OGTCA, a governmental employee may not be named as
a defendant in a tort action that arises out of the
performance of her official duties and because plaintiff has
alleged that Niles was acting within the scope of her
employment with Garfield County, plaintiff's state law
claims against her cannot be maintained. Plaintiff asserts
that the OGTCA does not immunize employees from torts
committed outside the scope of their employment and that at
this early stage of the litigation, it is not possible to
determine whether or not Niles was or was not acting within
the scope of her employment with respect to each of her acts
or omissions leading to the death of Mr. Huff.
OGTCA provides: “In no instance shall an employee of
the state or political subdivision acting within the scope of
his employment be named as [a] defendant . . . .” Okla.
Stat. tit. 51, § 163(C). Additionally, the OGTCA defines
“scope of employment” as follows:
performance by an employee acting in good faith within the
duties of the employee's office or employment or of tasks
lawfully assigned by a competent authority including the
operation or use of an agency vehicle or equipment with
actual or implied consent of the supervisor of the employee,
but shall not include corruption or fraud; . . . .
Okla. Stat. tit. 51, § 152(12).
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 showing that Niles was not acting within
the scope of her employment. In fact, in her Complaint,
plaintiff specifically alleges that Niles was acting within
the course and scope of her employment. See
Complaint at ¶ 10. The remaining allegations in the
Complaint do not support any finding to the contrary.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Niles can not be named as a