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Kocsis v. Sedgwick County

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 17, 2015

BRADLEY KOCSIS, Plaintiff,
v.
SEDGWICK COUNTY, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CARLOS MURGUIA, District Judge.

The matter before the court is a motion to dismiss or strike (Doc. 55) filed by defendants Robert Hinshaw and Sedgwick County.[1] For the reasons below, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Plaintiff Bradley Kocsis, currently an inmate at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility, brings this action against defendants Sedgwick County, Kansas; Robert Hinshaw, the Sedgwick County Sheriff during plaintiff's incarceration at the Sedgwick County Detention Center (the "Jail"); and defendant David E. Kendall, then a detention deputy at the Jail. Plaintiff alleges that, on April 15, 2012, he was subjected to unwanted sexual contact by defendant Kendall while plaintiff was a prisoner at the Jail. (Doc. 1 at 2, ¶ 1.) Plaintiff brings a claim against defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and two negligence claims under the Kansas Tort Claims Act. Defendants Hinshaw and Sedgwick County, Kansas move the court to dismiss or strike plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failing to state a claim that is plausible on its face. If plaintiff has a plausible claim, defendants dispute plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief and exemplary damages.

II. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) governs motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court set forth the standard for pleadings in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, stating that pleadings should include "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and views these allegations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Smith, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). But the court does not have to accept legal conclusions as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Thus, mere labels and conclusions' and formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' will not suffice." Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[U]nder Rule 8, [s]pecific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Id. at 1192 (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007)). Ultimately, the issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail, but whether he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claims. Beedle v. Wilson, 422 F.3d 1059, 1063 (10th Cir. 2005).

III. Analysis

The court will first analyze whether plaintiff has stated a plausible § 1983 claim upon which relief may be granted. If plaintiff has alleged a plausible claim, the court will review plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief and exemplary damages.

1. Stating a Plausible § 1983 Claim

Defendants argue plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 51) fails to state a claim under Twombly and Iqbal. Specifically, they argue each of plaintiff's allegations-defendants' custom of misconduct, failure to train employees, failure to protect inmates, and their ratification or approval of such misconduct-lacks the facts necessary to support a § 1983 claim that is plausible on its face. The court disagrees.

The court begins by noting that, at the motion to dismiss stage, the issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail, but whether he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claims. Beedle, 422 F.3d at 1063. This is important because, here, defendants' arguments are better suited in a motion for summary judgment with a more fully-developed record. Indeed, almost every case defendants cite in support of their arguments is a case decided at the summary judgment stage-not the motion to dismiss stage. For this and the reasons below, the court denies defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a § 1983 claim.

"Government officials may not be held liable for the unconstitutional conduct of their subordinates under a theory of respondeat superior. " Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 at 676. Similarly, "[a] municipality may not be held liable under § 1983 solely because its employees inflicted injury on the plaintiff." Hinton v. City of Elwood, Kan., 997 F.2d 774, 782 (10th Cir. 1993). In either case, the Tenth Circuit held that, even under Iqbal,

§ 1983 allows a plaintiff to impose liability upon a defendant-supervisor who creates, promulgates, implements, or in some other way possesses responsibility for the continued operation of a policy the enforcement (by the defendant-supervisor or her subordinates) of which "subjects, or causes to be subjected" that plaintiff "to the deprivation of any rights... secured by the Constitution...."

Dodds v. Richardson, 614 F.3d 1185, 1199 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). A defendant's supervisory status, alone, does not create liability under § 1983. Sanaah v. Howell, 384 F.Appx. 737, 740 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing ...


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