United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson, United stales District Judge
this court is Officer James Huling's
("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss Quewaune
Henderson's ("Plaintiff") Complaint pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Having reviewed
the Parties' filings in this case, the Court finds this
matter is ripe for judicial determination. For the reasons
set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed a successive complaint against Defendants on two
counts on November 10, 2016. ECF No. 1 at 1-5.
Count One charges Defendant with violating 42 U.S.C. §
1983, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution. Id. at 2-5. Count Two charges
Defendants with negligence and gross negligence under the
laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Id. at 4-5.
Plaintiff also moved for judgment against Defendants, jointly
and severally, for compensatory and punitive damages.
Id. at 5.
Spence filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on December 9, 2016. ECF
No. 4. Defendant Huling also filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure on December 12, 2016. ECF No. 10. Plaintiff filed a
response to both motions on December 22, 2016. ECF Nos. 14,
15. Defendants filed rebuttal briefs to Plaintiffs response
on January 10, 2017. ECF Nos. 16, 17. Defendants also
requested a hearing on January 10, 2017, and January 30,
2017. ECF Nos. 18, 19. The Court granted Defendants'
request for a hearing and held the hearing on April 24, 2017.
ECF No. 20-21. The Court dismissed with prejudice all claims
as to Officer Thomas Spence. Id. The Court also
dismissed with prejudice all claims as to Officer James
Huling, but granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended
complaint, within 15 days, as to excessive force and gross
filed his amended complaint against Officer Huling on May 8,
2017. ECF No. 22. Officer Huling filed the answer to the
complaint on May 24, 2017. ECF No. 29. Officer Huling also
filed this Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on May 24, 2017. ECF No. 27.
Plaintiff filed his response on June 6, 2017. ECF No. 30.
Officer Huling filed his rebuttal brief on June 12, 2017, and
requested a hearing on this matter. ECF No. 31-32.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of actions that fail to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. For purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, courts
may only rely upon the complaint's allegations and those
documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference.
See Simons v. Montgomery Cty. Police Officers, 762
F.2d 30, 31 (4th Cir. 1985). Courts will favorably construe
the allegations of the complainant and assume that the facts
alleged in the complaint are true. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007); Mylan
Laboratories, Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th
Cir. 1993). A court will only grant a motion to dismiss if
"it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff would be
entitled to no relief under any state of facts which could be
proved in support of his claim." Johnson v.
Mueller, 415 F.2d 354, 355 (4th Cir. 1969).
a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations,
"[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true." Bell
All. Corp. v. Twomhly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). If the
factual allegations alleged by the plaintiff do not nudge the
plaintiffs claims "across the line from conceivable to
plausible, their complaint must be dismissed."
Id. at 570.
One: Eight & Fourteenth Amendments (Cruel and
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated his Eighth
Eighth Amendment, which applies to the states through the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the
infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. U.S. Const,
amend. VIII. Accordingly, the Due Process Clause governs a
pretrial detainee's excessive force claims. Sawyer v.
Asbury, 537 F.App'x 283, 290 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing
Carr v. Deeds, 453 F.3d 593, 605 (4th Cir. 2006)).
To prevail on an excessive force claim, a plaintiff must
prove '"that Defendants inflicted unnecessary and
wanton pain and suffering' upon the detainee."
Id. (quoting Taylor v. McDuffie, 155 F.3d
479, 483 (4th Cir. 1998)). "The proper inquiry is
whether the force applied was in a good faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm."
Id. (quoting McDuffie, 155 F.3d at 483). A
plaintiff is no longer required to demonstrate that his
injuries are not de minimis. Id. (quoting
Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 35 (2010)).
determining whether an officer's actions have violated
due process, a court must consider "the need for the
application of force, the relationship between the need and
the amount of force used, the extent of the injury inflicted,
and whether the force was applied in a good faith effort to
maintain and restore discipline or maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm."
Id. (quoting Orem v. Rephann, 523 F.3d 442,
446 (4th Cir.2008)).
Plaintiff never directly claims that Defendant used excessive
force in arresting him. Plaintiff simply suggests that
Defendant used excessive force by stating, "[w]hile
Plaintiff was restrained in handcuffs, Defendant Huling,
unlawfully and without just cause or provocation slammed the
Plaintiff with force to the ground and began beating on him
and tased him." Compl.¶ 13.
regard to Plaintiff's medical claims, Plaintiff never
alleges any specific injury. In fact, Plaintiff simply says
that after he was "brutally beaten, " the
"police" called an ambulance to examine Plaintiff.
Compl. ¶ 14. Shortly after the paramedics assessed and
"acknowledged his injuries without treating Plaintiff...
[a] Newport News patrol police officer proceeded to take the
plaintiff to jail. . . ." Although Plaintiff claims he
demanded to be taken to the emergency room, Plaintiff never
specifies the type of injury he endured, and never claims to
have visited the doctor after being released from jail to
address said injuries. Accordingly, the Complaint admits that
the Plaintiff received attention from a medical provider at
the time of the incident. Compl. ¶ 14 ("The
paramedic opened the door to the police car, looked at ...