United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
R. ROYALE, Plaintiff,
KNIGHTVEST MANAGEMENT, LLC, et al., Defendants.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
HARRIS TOLIVER JUDGE
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and District Judge Fitzwater's
orders of reference, Doc. 50 & Doc. 38, Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. No.
22) for Failure to State a Claim, Doc. 48, and Defendant
Knightvest Management, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment,
Doc. 35, are each before the Court for findings of fact and a
recommended disposition. For the reasons stated herein,
Defendants' motion to dismiss should be GRANTED
IN PART and Plaintiff's federal claims
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court should
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's remaining state law claim, which should be
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. And, as
acceptance of this recommendation would dispose of all of
Plaintiff's claims pending before this Court, Defendant
Knightvest Management, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment
should be TERMINATED AS MOOT.
plaintiff R. Royale filed this civil action arising from a
confrontation with an off-duty City of Dallas police officer
and Defendant Vicki Hibdon (“Hibdon”), manager of
an apartment complex owned by Defendant Knightvest
Management, LLC, where Plaintiff resided (“the
Incident”). Doc. 22 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that, in
December 2015, while at the apartment complex, he was
“viciously harassed, verbally threatened, and . . .
provoked violently into a physical confrontation” by
the complex's “courtesy officer, ” Taylor
Smith, an off-duty City of Dallas police officer. Doc. 22 at
3. Plaintiff further alleges that Hibdon, “encouraged
and join[ed]” Officer Smith, and that both Officer
Smith and Hibdon conspired to “pester[ ] and violate[
]” his Constitutional rights. Doc. 22 at 3.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was
“detained” when Officer Smith questioned him in
the complex's parking lot, and again for more than ten
minutes in Hibdon's office with the door closed. Doc. 22
at 16-17. Plaintiff further alleges that, during this time,
Hibdon and Officer Smith “intimidated and threatened to
handcuff and arrest him without no [sic] criminal
charges.” Doc. 22 at 8, 17. The confrontation ended
when Plaintiff “stormed out” of the office. Doc.
22 at 8. Two days later, Hibdon allegedly placed a notice on
Plaintiff's apartment door stating that Plaintiff's
lease had been terminated and demanding that he vacate the
premises. Doc. 22 at 3. The purported lease termination and
demand to vacate were retracted three weeks later. Doc. 22 at
October 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed this civil action, and on
July 18, 2017, he filed his second amended complaint (the
operative complaint) against Knightvest Management, LLC;
Knightvest Holdings, LLC; Foxmoor Apartments, LLC;
Knightvest, LLC; Knightvest Capital, LLC; Knightvest
Fairways; Knightvest PB, LLC; K. C. Kronbach; and Vicki
Hibdon (collectively “Defendants”). Doc. 22. In it,
Plaintiff asserts civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1981, 1983, and a state law tort claim for
intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”). Doc. 22, passim. A few days later, on
July 26, 2017, Defendant Knightfest Management LLC filed its
motion for summary judgment. Doc. 35. And, on August 9, 2017,
Defendants jointly filed the instant motion, pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), seeking dismissal
of all of Plaintiff's claims for failure to state a
claim. Doc. 48. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion for
summary judgment, Doc. 51 & Doc. 52, but did not file a
response to Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief under Rule
12(b)(6) when the complaint does not contain “enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). In making this determination, the court
accepts “all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” In re
Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir.
2007) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
However, the court cannot “accept as true conclusory
allegations or unwarranted deductions of fact.”
Collins, 224 F.3d at 498 (internal citation and quotation
marks omitted). In sum, a plaintiff's factual 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 (even if doubtful in fact).”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations and footnote
42 U.S.C. § 1983
move to dismiss Plaintiff's section 1983 claims on the
grounds that Plaintiff fails to allege facts from which it
can be inferred that: (1) Defendants are state actors; (2)
there was personal involvement of the Knightvest Defendants
and Kronbach in the events at issue; (3) a conspiracy existed
between Hibdon and Officer Smith; and (4) there was a
constitutional violation. Doc. 49 at 3-5.
1983 “provides a federal cause of action for the
deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen's rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
laws of the United States[.]” Livadas v.
Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 132 (1994) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). To state a claim under
section 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts that demonstrate
he has been deprived of a right secured by the Constitution
and the laws of the United States, and that the defendant was
acting under color of state law. See Flagg Bros., Inc. v.
Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155 (1978). “[T]he
under-color-of-state-law element of § 1983 excludes from
its reach merely private conduct, no matter how
discriminatory or wrongful.” Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins.
Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). However, private acts may
incur section 1983 liability, if the individual “is a
willing participant in joint action with the state or its
agents.” Hale v. Harney, 786 F.2d 688, 690
(5th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted). To allege such joint
action, the plaintiff must set forth specific facts that tend
to show an agreement among the defendants to commit an
illegal act. Arsenaux v. Roberts, 726 F.2d 1022,
1024 (5th Cir. 1982). Conclusory allegations of a conspiracy
are insufficient. See Id. (“[M]ore than a
blanket of accusation is necessary to support a § 1983
“[p]ersonal involvement is an essential element of a
civil rights cause of action.” Thompson v.
Steele, 709 F.2d 381, 382 (5th Cir. 1983) (citation
omitted). Thus, section 1983 excludes from its reach
vicarious liability based on assertions that a defendant is
responsibility for another's actions. Monell v. New
York Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 693
Plaintiff has failed to state a viable section 1983 claim
against the Knightvest Defendants and Defendant
Plaintiff has not alleged facts to establish that the
Knightvest Defendants and Kronbach are state actors, or that
they conspired with state actors to commit illegal acts.
Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 50; Arsenaux, 726 F.2d at 1024.
Moreover, Plaintiff's second amended complaint is devoid
of any discussion of the Knightvest Defendants' or
Kronbach's personal involvement in the Incident.
Thompson, 709 F.2d at 382. Indeed, the descriptions in the
complaint of each Defendant's role conclusively
establishes that the Knightvest Defendants and Kronbach are