United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rodney Montgomery, through counsel, brought this civil rights
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Dallas
and eight current or former Dallas police officers, alleging
that one officer, Defendant Sterling Hollins, used excessive
force against him while other officers stood by.
Montgomery's lawsuit has been referred to the undersigned
United States magistrate judge for pretrial management under
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and an order of reference from Chief
Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn. See Dkt. No. 6.
City answered Montgomery's initial complaint.
See Dkt. No. 7. After Defendants Hollins, Danquell
Cameron, Marty Hotchkiss, Kristopher Mendoza, Rene
Villanueva, Lawrence Christian, Fernando Del Rio, and Jacob
Alanis (collectively the “Officer Defendants”)
moved to dismiss the initial complaint, see Dkt. No.
17, Montgomery filed an amended complaint, see Dkt.
No. 20, and a response to the Officer Defendants' motion
to dismiss, see Dkt. No. 21. The amended complaint
drops Alanis. See Dkt. No. 20 at 1-3.
Officer Defendants then filed a reply brief, see
Dkt. No. 25, explaining that “the Plaintiff's
bystander claims against Officers Cameron, Hotchkiss,
Mendoza, Villanueva, Christian, and Del Rio continue to
suffer from the same fatal pleading and legal flaws found in
the original complaint” and requesting that the Court
consider their motion to dismiss “as being directed
solely towards the bystander liability claims alleged against
them in the amended complaint, ” id. at 1 n.2.
same day, the City moved to dismiss the amended complaint,
see Dkt. No. 26, and Hollins answered the amended
complaint, see Dkt. No. 27. Montgomery responded to
the City's motion to dismiss. See Dkt. Nos. 29,
30, 31, 32, & 33. And the City filed a reply.
See Dkt. No. 34.
before the Court now are the remaining Officer
Defendants' motion to dismiss bystander liability claims
asserted against them and the City's motion to dismiss
the claims asserted against it.
undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and recommendation that, to the extent and for the
reasons explained below, the Court should grant in part and
deny in part the Officer Defendants' motion to dismiss
[Dkt. No. 17] and grant the City's motion to dismiss
[Dkt. No. 26].
deciding motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, 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, 205-06 (5th Cir. 2007).
But a plaintiff must plead “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), and must plead those facts with enough specificity
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level, ” id. at 555.
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. “A claim for relief is
implausible on its face when ‘the well-pleaded facts do
not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility
of misconduct.'” Harold H. Huggins Realty, Inc.
v. FNC, Inc., 634 F.3d 787, 796 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679); see also Inclusive
Communities Project, Inc. v. Lincoln Prop. Co., 920 F.3d
890, 899 (5th Cir. 2019) (“Where the well-pleaded facts
of a complaint do not permit a court to infer more than the
mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -
but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader
is entitled to relief.'” (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678 (quoting, in turn, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)))).
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint
need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff
must allege more than labels and conclusions, and, while a
court must accept all of a plaintiff's allegations as
true, it is “not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). A threadbare or formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, will not suffice. See id. Instead,
“to survive a motion to dismiss” under
Twombly and Iqbal, a plaintiff need only
“plead facts sufficient to show” that the claims
asserted have “substantive plausibility” by
stating “simply, concisely, and directly events”
that the plaintiff contends entitle him or her to relief.
Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S. ___, 135
S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)-(3), (d)(1), (e)); see also Inclusive Communities
Project, 920 F.2d at 899 (“‘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
sense.'” (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679;
citing Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1248
(10th Cir. 2008) (“[T]he degree of specificity
necessary to establish plausibility and fair notice, and
therefore the need to include sufficient factual allegations,
depends on context.”))).
from “matters of which judicial notice may be taken
under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, ” Inclusive
Communities Project, 920 F.2d at 900 (citations
omitted), a court cannot look beyond the pleadings in
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Spivey v.
Robertson, 197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999). Pleadings
in the Rule 12(b)(6) context include attachments to the
complaint. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495
F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). Documents “attache[d] to
a motion to dismiss are considered to be part of the
pleadings, if they are referred to in the plaintiff's
complaint and are central to her claim.” Collins v.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th
Cir. 2000) (quoting Venture Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data
Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993)).
the United States Court of Appeals for “the Fifth
Circuit has not articulated a test for determining when a
document is central to a plaintiff's claims, the case law
suggests that documents are central when they are necessary
to establish an element of one of the plaintiff's claims.
Thus, when a plaintiff's claim is based on the terms of a
contract, the documents constituting the contract are central
to the plaintiff's claim.” Kaye v. Lone Star
Fund V (U.S.), L.P., 453 B.R. 645, 662 (N.D. Tex. 2011).
“However, if a document referenced in the
plaintiff's complaint is merely evidence of an element of
the plaintiff's claim, then the court may not incorporate
it into the complaint.” Id.
Montgomery's dropping Alanis in the amended complaint
means that Alanis “is no longer part of this
lawsuit.” Canal Ins. Co. v. Coleman, 625 F.3d
244, 246 n.2 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing King v. Dogan,
31 F.3d 344, 346 (5th Cir. 1994) (“An amended complaint
supersedes the original complaint and renders it of no legal
effect unless the amended complaint ...