United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
McBRYDE United States District Judge
for consideration the motion of defendants Corporal Darby
("Darby") and Officer Mayorga
("Mayorga"), the motion of defendant City of
Westworth Village ("Village"), and the deemed
motion of defendant Penny Loyd ("Loyd")
to dismiss. The court, having considered the motions, the
responses of plaintiffs, Rita Johnston and Angie Watkins, as
next friend of LMW, a minor, the replies of Darby, Mayorga,
and Village, the record, and applicable authorities, finds
that the motions should be granted.
April 5, 2017, plaintiffs filed their original complaint.
Rita Johnston ("Rita") is the mother of Jason
Johnston ("Johnston") and Angie Watkins is the
mother of Johnston's minor son. They allege:
and Mayorga are police officers employed by Village. On April
10, 2015, Darby and Mayorga arrested Johnston, a black tar
heroin addict, for misdemeanor theft. They took Johnston to
the Village jail. Johnston appeared nervous and upset. During
the booking process, Johnston was undressed to put on a jail
uniform. Mayorga took Johnston's socks because he
realized the long socks could be used by Johnston to harm
himself. Mayorga permitted Johnston to keep his athletic
shorts, in violation of Village policy and procedure. The
shorts were size 3XL and contained a removable drawstring.
Mayorga placed Johnston alone in cell #3, where he remained
until his arraignment on April 11 at about 11:44 a.m. After
the arraignment, Darby placed Johnston back in cell #3 at
about 2:00 p.m. on April 11. Video footage shows Johnston
sweating and pacing around the cell and, at 2:12 p.m.,
attempting to commit suicide by strangling himself with a
telephone cord. At or about 2:50 p.m., Rita called and told
Loyd that she would not be able to post bond for Johnston;
Loyd relayed the message to Johnston via intercom. Johnston
became irate and Loyd observed him pacing around the cell
with his hands around the inner waistband of his jail-issued
pants. Loyd minimized the camera and actively browsed
Facebook. At 5:15 p.m., Loyd observed Johnston
sitting on the ground against his bunk. At or about 5:30
p.m., Loyd dispatched Darby to Johnston's cell.
Defendants discovered that Johnston had hung himself by the
drawstring from his athletic shorts. Doc. 1 at 3-7,
counts of the complaint are curiously worded, but it appears
that both plaintiffs are asserting claims against Mayorga for
deliberate indifference and cruel and unusual
punishment, against Darby and Loyd for deliberate
indifference, and against Village for engaging in certain
policies, practices and customs.
Grounds of the Motions
maintain that plaintiffs have failed to plead facts
sufficient to state plausible claims against them. The
individual defendants additionally assert that they are
entitled to qualified immunity.
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in
a general way, the applicable standard of pleading. It
requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "in order to
give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests, " Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation
marks and ellipsis omitted). Although a complaint need not
contain detailed factual allegations, the "showing"
contemplated by Rule 8 requires the plaintiff to do more than
simply allege legal conclusions or recite the elements of a
cause of action. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3.
Thus, while a court must accept all of the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, it need not credit bare
legal conclusions that are unsupported by any factual
underpinnings. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
679 (2009) ("While legal conclusions can provide the
framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim,
the facts pleaded must allow the court to infer that the
plaintiff's right to relief is plausible. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678. To allege a plausible right to relief, the
facts pleaded must suggest liability; allegations that are
merely consistent with unlawful conduct are insufficient.
Id. In other words, where the facts pleaded do no
more than permit the court to infer the possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has not shown that the pleader is
entitled to relief. Id. at 679. "Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . .
[is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
Fifth Circuit has explained: "Where the complaint is
devoid of facts that would put the defendant on notice as to
what conduct supports the claims, the complaint fails to
satisfy the requirement of notice pleading."
Anderson v. U.S. Dep't of Housing & Urban
Dev.. 554 F.3d 525, 528 (5th Cir. 2008). In
sum, "a complaint must do more than name laws that may
have been violated by the defendant; it must also allege
facts regarding what conduct violated those laws. In other
words, a ...