United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. PURCELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a pre-trial detainee appearing pro se, brings this
civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss
requesting the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims based on
the failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted.
Doc. No. 5. The matter has been referred to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below,
the undersigned recommends the Motion to Dismiss be granted
and Plaintiff be permitted an opportunity to amend his
Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that during a 2016 incarceration
at OCDC, a state court judge ordered his release on December
16, 2016, but he was not released until December 20, 2016.
Doc. No. 1 at 4-5. As a result of this unlawful four-day
detention, Plaintiff asserts Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
claims. Id. He names as a Defendant, “Oklahoma
County Detention Center under Custody Care Sheriff John
Whetsel.” Id. at 2. Elsewhere in the
Complaint, Plaintiff identifies the defendant as “Under
Custody and Care John Whetsel, Oklahoma County Detention
Center[, ] 201 N. Shartel[, ] Oklahoma City[, ] OK
73102.” Id. at 4.
OCDC has filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that it is not a
proper party because it does not possess the legal capacity
to be sued. See generally Doc. No. 5.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss may be granted when the plaintiff has
“failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In applying this
standard the court must assume the truth of all well-pleaded
factual allegations in the complaint and construe them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Leverington v.
City of Colo. Springs, 643 F.3d 719, 723 (10th Cir.
2011); Beedle v. Wilson, 422 F.3d 1059, 1063 (10th
Cir. 2005). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
present factual allegations that “raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This review
contemplates the assertion of “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 570. Thus, “when the allegations in a
complaint, however true, could not raise a [plausible] claim
of entitlement to relief, ” the cause of action should
be dismissed. Id. at 558.
pro se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly
construed under this standard. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the generous
construction to be given the pro se litigant's
allegations “does not relieve the plaintiff of the
burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized
legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon,
935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). See Whitney v. New
Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (courts
“will not supply additional factual allegations to
round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal
theory on a plaintiff's behalf”).
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss may consider the
complaint as well as any documents attached to it as
exhibits. Bellmon, 935 F.2d at 1112. Additionally,
“[a] district court may consider documents (1)
referenced in a complaint that are (2) central to a
plaintiff's claims, and (3) indisputably authentic when
resolving a motion to dismiss without converting the motion
to one for summary judgment.” Thomas v. Kaven,
765 F.3d 1183, 1197 (10th Cir. 2014).
noted, Defendant moves for dismissal on grounds that OCDC is
merely property owned by Oklahoma County and not a proper
party to suit. Doc. No. 5 at 2 (citing Okla. Stat. tit. 57,
§ 41). Indeed, Rule 17(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure provides that a non-corporate entity's capacity
to be sued is determined by the law of the state in which the
district court is located. A county jail in Oklahoma, as a
subdivision of the county in which it is located, has no
separate legal identity under Oklahoma law. Thus, Defendant
is not amenable to suit in this Court, and any claims against
it should be dismissed with prejudice. Lindsey v.
Thomson, No. 06-7114, 2007 WL 2693970 at *3 (10th Cir.
Sept. 10, 2007) (affirming dismissal of § 1983 claims
against police department and county sheriff's department
because they are entities with no apparent legal existence);
see e.g. White v. Utah, No. 00-4109, 2001 WL 201980
at *1 (10th Cir. March 1, 2001) (affirming dismissal of
county jail because no state law supported directing a cause
of action directly against a county's subdivisions,
including its jails).
Response, Plaintiff argues that he intended to name Sheriff
John Whetsel as a defendant in this matter. See
generally Doc. No. 7. While that may have been his
intent, the language contained in his Complaint does not
clearly support the same. Id.
the undersigned would note that merely being Sheriff is not a
sufficient basis to support a claim of liability under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 does not allow a plaintiff
to impose liability upon a defendant-supervisor based on
“a theory of respondeat superior.” Cox v.
Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231, 1248 (2015). Liability for a
constitutional violation must instead be satisfied by
establishing a defendant-supervisor's personal
participation in the violation of the plaintiff's
constitutional rights, or by showing the supervisor created,
promulgated, or implemented “a policy which subjects,
or causes to be subjected that plaintiff to the deprivation
of any rights secured by the Constitution.”
Id. (quotations and alterations omitted). “A
plaintiff arguing for the imposition of supervisory liability
therefore must show an affirmative link between the
supervisor and the constitutional violation.”
Id. (quotations omitted). The requisite showing of
an “affirmative link” between a supervisor and
the alleged constitutional injury “has ‘[come] to
have three related prongs: (1) personal involvement, (2)
sufficient causal connection, and (3) culpable state of
mind.'” Id. (quoting Dodds v.
Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1195 (10th Cir. 2010)).
same principles of participation apply to claims asserted
against non-supervisory defendants. It is well established
that “[i]ndividual liability under §1983 must be
based on personal involvement in the alleged constitutional
violation.” Foote v. Spiegel, 118 F.3d 1416,
1423 (10th Cir. 1997); see Jenkins v. Wood, 81 F.3d
988, 994 (10th Cir. 1996) (“[P]laintiff must show the
defendant personally participated in the ...