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Turner v. Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 6, 2019

RAUSHI TEAREZ TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF THE COUNTY OF OKLAHOMA, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          SCOTT L. PALK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 53] of United States Magistrate Judge Shon T. Erwin. The Report and Recommendation addresses the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Stephen Scott [Doc. No. 42]. Magistrate Judge Erwin has recommended dismissal of Plaintiff's individual capacity claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on qualified immunity and dismissal of Plaintiff's state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff objects to the dismissal of his § 1983 claim but has not addressed the state law claim and, therefore, has waived any objection to dismissal of the state law claim. See Pl.'s Obj. [Doc. No. 57].

         I. Introduction

         At all times relevant to the claims alleged, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee housed at the Oklahoma County Detention Center (OCDC). On October 28, 2015 another inmate, Demetrius Stamps, stabbed Plaintiff in the lower right back and in the lower right leg. Plaintiff required medical treatment as a result.

         Defendant Scott was an employee of the OCDC and present at the time of the incident. Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against Defendant Scott in his individual capacity alleges Defendant Scott failed to protect him from being attacked and stabbed by Mr. Stamps.

         II. Governing Standard

         Plaintiff's objection to the Report and Recommendation triggers de novo review by this Court of the proposed findings or recommendations to which an objection has been made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2).

         A. Plaintiff's Pro Se Status

         The Court liberally construes the allegations of a pro se litigant. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). “[T] his rule means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so despite the plaintiff's failure to cite proper legal authority, his confusion of various legal theories, his poor syntax and sentence construction, or his unfamiliarity with pleading requirements.” Id. But “this rule of liberal construction stops . . . at the point at which [the court] begin[s] to serve as his advocate.” United States v. Pinson, 584 F.3d 972, 975 (10th Cir. 2009).

         B. Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can be Granted

         A pleading 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). Dismissal of the complaint is proper if the plaintiff fails to plead allegations sufficient “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         In reviewing the sufficiency of the allegations, the Court “accept[s] as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and view[s] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” SEC v. Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014) (quotations and citation omitted). A plaintiff must set forth specific factual allegations to support each claim, i.e., “mere labels and conclusions and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice.” Safe Streets All. v. Hickenlooper, 859 F.3d 865, 878 (10th Cir. 2017) (quotations and citation omitted). A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff had “pled factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (quotations and citations omitted).

         C. Qualified Immunity

         Qualified immunity is immunity from suit, rather than a mere defense to liability. Estate of Reat v. Rodriguez, 824 F.3d 960, 964 (10th Cir. 2016) (citing Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)). “The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (quotation marks omitted). To resolve a claim of qualified immunity, the Court must consider two elements: (1) whether the plaintiff has alleged a constitutional violation, and (2) whether the violated right was “clearly established” at the time of the violation. Id. at 230-31. “The judges of the district courts . . .[may] exercise their sound discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in light of the circumstances in the particular case at hand.” Id. at 236. Qualified ...


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