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Horner v. City of Highland Village

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

May 22, 2018




         Pending before the Court is Defendants City of Highland Village, City of Highland Village Police Department, Douglas Reim (“Reim”), and Officer Cory Gullo's (“Gullo”) (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or in the Alternative for a More Definite Statement Pursuant to Rule 12(e) (the “Motion”) (Dkt. 29). Pro se Plaintiffs Crystal Horner and Alysha Horner (“Plaintiffs”) filed a response in opposition (Dkt. 32); Defendants filed a reply (Dkt. 33); Plaintiffs filed two additional sur-replies (Dkts. 34, 46); and Defendant filed a reply solely to address information first raised in Plaintiffs' sur-reply (Dkt. 56). After review of the pleadings, the Court finds that Defendants' Motion (Dkt. 29) is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE in their entirety.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 27, 2017, pro se Plaintiff Crystal Horner (“C. Horner”) filed her original complaint (Dkt. 3) against Defendants, seeking compensatory damages in the amount of $2, 500, 000.00. On November 1, 2017, the Court informed C. Horner that, as she is proceeding pro se, she may not bring a lawsuit on behalf of Plaintiff Alysha Horner (“A. Horner”). See Dkt. 9. To comply with the Court's order, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint (Dkt. 11) bearing both of their signatures. See Dkt. 11.

         The Court denied Plaintiffs' motion to amend the complaint (Dkt. 31) on January 18, 2018 (see Dkt. 49) for failing to include an actual amended complaint and for failing to include the original claims in the “amendment” information, which was included in the Motion to Amend (Dkt. 31). In the January 18, 2018 Order, the Court allowed Plaintiffs additional time to properly amend their complaint; however, they failed to do so. See Dkt. 49. Although Plaintiffs did not properly amend their pleadings in the allotted extra time, being mindful of Plaintiffs' pro se status, the Court considered and liberally construed all of Plaintiffs' filings, including the original complaint (Dkt. 3), amended complaint (Dkt. 11), and information contained in Plaintiffs' motion to amend (Dkt. 31) (collectively, the “Complaint”). Further, Plaintiffs submitted two sur-replies (Dkts. 34, 46) to Defendants' Motion (Dkt. 29), both of which the Court fully considered.

         Plaintiffs allege that on October 24, 2016, Plaintiff A. Horner was picked up from her job at 6:00 p.m., by Darreon Johnson (“Johnson”). See Dkt. 11 at 2. The Complaint alleges that while driving with Plaintiff A. Horner, Johnson was “being harassed” by two vehicles and eventually ended up in an altercation with the persons in those vehicles at a location within Highland Village. See Id. During the altercation, firearms were presented, and at some point, a gun discharged. See Id. That night, at 8:30 p.m., Defendant Reim, Chief of Police for Highland Village Police Department, contacted Plaintiff C. Horner and told her that Plaintiff A. Horner was involved in an incident, and he needed her to come to the police station. See Dkt. 11 at 3. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff A. Horner and Johnson were traveling to Oklahoma City. See Id. In an apparent coordinated effort, Oklahoma City police arrested Plaintiff A. Horner and Johnson in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on October 25, 2016, at 3:00 a.m., on behalf of the City of Highland Village Police Department. See Id. at 1. Plaintiff A. Horner was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. See Id. Incident to the arrest, Plaintiff A. Horner's vehicle was impounded and her cell phone was confiscated. See Id. at 3, 5. After the arrest, Plaintiff A. Horner was held in the City of Oklahoma jail for thirteen days. See Dkt. 32 at 5. Plaintiffs allege that Plaintiff A. Horner's jail stay lasted for nearly two weeks because the bail set for her release was excessive under the Eighth Amendment. See Id. at 4.

         Upon review of the Complaint (Dkts. 3, 11, 31) and Plaintiffs' briefing in response to the Motion (Dkts. 32, 34, 36), Plaintiffs appear to assert the following claims: (1) improper arrest of Plaintiff A. Horner; (2) malicious prosecution; (3) Fourth Amendment violation for improper impoundment of Plaintiff A. Horner's vehicle and confiscation of her phone; (4) failure to provide adequate medical care in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”); (5) Eighth Amendment violation for excessive bail; (6) defamation of character; and (7) witness tampering. See Dkts. 3, 11, 31, 32, 34, 36.

         In response to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Defendants filed the current Motion (Dkt. 29) on December 7, 2017, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. In the Motion, Defendants argue Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed as to the individual Defendants because the Complaint is devoid of facts demonstrating a violation of any federal rights. See Dkt. 29 at 6. Further, Defendants argue Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed as to the municipality and police department because there are no facts illustrating any form of misconduct by the entities regarding failure to train or any unlawful policy-the only bases for civil recourse against such entities. See Id. at 6-7.

         The Court has evaluated the substance of Plaintiffs' allegations, rather than the form. In its findings below, the Court has been mindful that pro se pleadings are entitled to a liberal construction that includes all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from them. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972); Tassio v. Onemain Fin., Inc., 2016 WL 410024, *1 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 3, 2016).


         A. RULE 12(b)(6)

         Rule 12(b)(6) provides a party may move for dismissal of an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts contained in the plaintiff's complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996). A complaint must provide a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint that does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face” will not survive a motion to dismiss. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

         When considering a motion to dismiss, the court's review is limited to the complaint, any documents attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint. See Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th Cir. 2000)).

         III. ANALYSIS


         Prior to reaching the merits of any case, the Court must undertake a “careful judicial examination of a complaint's allegations to ascertain whether the particular plaintiff is entitled to an adjudication of the particular claims asserted, ” i.e., whether a plaintiff has “standing.” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1867 (2006) (quoting Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 752 (1984)). The question of standing involves the determination of whether a particular litigant is entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal court in order to decide the merits of a dispute or of particular issues. Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 11 (2004). A party has standing if: (1) she has suffered a “concrete and particularized” injury that is actual or imminent rather than conjectural or hypothetical; (2) there is a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct; and (3) it is likely and not merely speculative that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992); Westfall v. Miller, 77 F.3d 868, 871 (5th Cir. 1996). A plaintiff has the burden of proof and persuasion as to the existence of standing as to her claims. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561; Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers v. Goodrich Corp., 410 F.3d 204, 211-12 (5th Cir. 2005).

         In order to bring a claim for civil rights violations, a party must establish a personal deprivation of one of her own rights or privileges secured by the Constitution. Brumfield v. Jones,849 F.2d 152, 154 (5th Cir. 1988). Indeed, “[t]he right to sue under the Civil Rights Act is personal in nature.” Id.; see also Johnson v. Fordice, 996 F.2d 306, 306 (5th Cir. 1993) (affirming dismissal of complaint where plaintiff did not allege or argue that he was personally affected by the order he challenged). Plaintiff C. Horner has not shown how she has suffered any “concrete and particularized” injury sufficient to confer standing on her. Lujan, ...

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