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Dodson v. County Commissioners of Mayes County

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

May 8, 2019

NATASHA DODSON, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MAYES COUNTY; MAYES COUNTY SHERIFF MIKE REED, officially and individually; MAYES COUNTY UNDER SHERIFF GARY SHRUM, officially and individually; KYLE MURRY, officially and individually; JENNIFER EASTWOOD, individually; DEREK DAVIS, individually, [1] and JOHN DOES NOS. 1-8, individually, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TERENCE C. KERN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed, Mayes County Under Sheriff Gary Shrum, Mayes County Jail Administrator Kyle Murry, and Sheriff's Deputy Jennifer Eastwood (Doc. 15); and the Motion to Dismiss filed by the County Commissioners of Mayes County (Doc. 16). Plaintiff opposes both motions. (Docs. 22, 23).

         I. Introduction

         This lawsuit arises from a February 26, 2014 incident at the Mayes County, Oklahoma Sheriff Department, during which, a Mayes County Deputy shot Plaintiff in the eye with a pepper ball and strip-searched her. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Plaintiff asserts federal claims of unconstitutional use of excessive force against Sheriff Reed, Under Sheriff Gary Shrum, and Jail Administrator Kyle Murray, and Deputies Jennifer Eastwood, Derek Davis and John Does nos. 1-8[2]; and respondeat superior liability against Reed, Shrum, Murry and John Does Nos. 1-8. She asserts claims for respondeat superior liability against the County Commissioners.

         Sheriff Reed, officially and individually, Under Sheriff Shrum, officially and individually, Jail Administrator Murry, officially and individually, and Deputy Eastwood, individually, filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. P. 12(b)(6), as did the Mayes County Commissioners (Docs. 15-16).

         II. Applicable Law

         In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the claimant has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. A motion to dismiss is properly granted when a complaint provides no more than “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint must contain enough “facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its fact, ” and the factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. (citations omitted). “Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 562.

         While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (internal quotations omitted). For the purpose of making the dismissal determination, a court must accept as true all the well-pleaded allegations, even if doubtful in fact, and must construct the allegations in the light most favorable to the claimant. Id. at 555; Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 120, 1215 (10th Cir. 2007); Moffett v. Haliburton energy Servs., Inc., 291 F.3d 1227, 1231 (10th Cir. 2002).

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

          Plaintiff alleges that on February 26, 2014, she was involved in a single vehicle accident on State Highway 82 near Strang Road. Complaint at p. 2. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper investigating the accident noticed she had an odor of alcohol and slurred speech, and Plaintiff admitted to consuming alcohol prior to the accident. Id. An ambulance arrived and Plaintiff was examined. Id. at 3. Upon information and belief, the trooper patted her down and did not find any weapons or contraband on her body. Id. He arrested her for driving under the influence, took her into custody and transported her to the Mayes County Sheriff Department. Id. Plaintiff did not resist arrest and cooperated with the trooper. Id. Upon information and belief, Defendants Mike Reed, Gary Shrum, Kyle Murry, Derek Davis and John Does Nos. 1-8 were present and failed to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force and unreasonable actions taken against Plaintiff which resulted in violation of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at 11.

         The trooper escorted Plaintiff to the booking area, where there were a number of sheriff deputies, including Derek Davis and Jennifer Eastwood. Id. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff was frisked and no weapons or contraband were found on her body. Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff requested a phone call and to use the restroom, but was told she needed to wait. Id. She was placed in a detox cell and, at Eastwood's request, removed the jewelry she was wearing and gave it to Eastwood. Eastwood then escorted Plaintiff to a small room and asked her to remove her clothing so she could perform a strip search. Id. Plaintiff became upset and began crying, and asked Eastwood if she could use the restroom because she was menstruating; however, she was not combative. Id. Eastwood continued to demand that Plaintiff remove her clothing. Id. Eastwood became aggressive and told Plaintiff if she did not remove her clothing she would shoot her. Id. Eastwood pulled a gun from her holster, held it approximately twelve inches from Plaintiff's face, and told her she would ask three times, and if Plaintiff did not comply, she would shoot her. Id. at 4. Upon information and belief, Deputy Davis heard Eastwood tell Plaintiff that she would be shot if she didn't remove her clothing. Id. Eastwood asked one more time, then pulled the trigger of the gun, but the gun didn't fire. Id.

         Upon information and belief, Eastwood called out to Davis to bring her another cartridge for her gun, which he did. Id. After receiving the cartridge, Eastwood loaded her gun and shot Plaintiff in the eye with a pepper ball. Id. The force of the shot knocked Plaintiff to the ground and, upon information and belief, caused her to become unconscious. Id. Upon information and belief, while Plaintiff was unconscious, Eastwood removed all of Plaintiff's clothing and performed a strip search. Id. When Plaintiff became conscious, she was lying on the floor of the room naked, being sprayed with water by Eastwood. Id. Plaintiff was bloody and was in severe pain. Id. Plaintiff was dressed in an inmate uniform and escorted to a detox jail cell, where she remained until the next morning. Id. The next morning, she was escorted to a different cell, where she stayed for a few hours, and was then taken to an office where a nurse asked her if she could see. Id. Plaintiff said “no” and the nurse responded that she could tell that Plaintiff's eye was dilated. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff was taken back to her cell and given an ice pack for her eye. Id. at 5. She remained in the cell until she saw a judge in the afternoon, posted bail and was released. Id. Plaintiff was not given any treatment for her injuries while she was in custody. Id. She was released from custody on or about February 27, 2014, at 2:24 p.m.. Id.

         When Plaintiff was taken into the care and custody of the County and Sheriff Department a special relationship was created whereby an affirmative duty existed to ensure the protection, safety and well-being of Plaintiff during the time Dodson was taken into custody and extended through the entire time until she was released. Id. at 10. No reasonable suspicion existed to support the suspicion that Plaintiff possessed any type of contraband or drugs on her body, but despite this, Eastwood strip searched Plaintiff. Id. Eastwood's act of strip searching Plaintiff was an exaggerated response to any legitimate security interest and was an unreasonable invasion into the Plaintiff's personal rights. Id. Eastwood's use of an inflammatory agent to Plaintiff's eyes was unreasonably excessive and exceeded the amount and type of force necessary to meet he need presented. Id. It was excessive because it was not committed in self-defense, in defense of the general public, staff or inmates. Id. She was not attempting to prevent a disturbance within the jail or to ensure the security or safety of others. Id. Eastwood's use of an inflammatory agent was excessive as she inflicted severe and permanent injury to Plaintiff. Id. at 11.

         Upon information and belief, Defendants Reed, Shrum, Murry, Davis and John Does Nos. 1-8 were present at the time of Eastwood's actions and failed to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force and unreasonable actions taken against Plaintiff. Id. Defendant Davis, at Eastwood's request, brought her an additional cartridge to assist her and with full knowledge that Eastwood would shoot Plaintiff with an inflammatory agent. Id. At no time did Davis intervene to prevent the use of excessive force against Plaintiff; instead, he participated in the use of excessive force, which resulted in a violation of her right pursuant to U.S. Const. amend. IV and XIV. Id.

         Defendants Reed, Shrum, Murry, Eastwood, Davis and John Does Nos. 1-8 were aware of her injuries but failed to provide Plaintiff with the necessary and proper medical treatment, in violation of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. They failed to ensure Plaintiff's reasonable care and safety while in custody, were deliberately indifferent to her needs, and suspected or knew that her placement in custody was dangerous in violation of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 10-11.

         Deputy Eastwood's use of the pepper gun and strip search was excessive and unreasonable, given the circumstances, and it violated the Sherriff's policies and the pepper gun manufacturer user/training manual. Id.

         Plaintiff contends the frisk search violated Mayes County's Frisk Search Policy and Procedures and its Use of Force/Deadly Force Policy and ...


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