United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE, JUDGE
the Court is Defendant City of Dallas's motion to dismiss
for failure to state a claim, filed on Novemer 20, 2018. Doc.
9. For the reasons stated below, the motion is
and Cory Hughes (“Plaintiffs”) are two brothers
who attended a protest against police brutality in Dallas,
Texas on July 7, 2016. Doc. 1, Pls.' Orig. Compl., ¶
12. During the protest, Mark Hughes carried a long-gun as a
statement affirming the Second Amendment rights of African
Americans. Id. ¶ 13. Before joining the rest of
the protestors, Mark Hughes presented his rifle to a
law-enforcement officer for inspection. Id. ¶
about 8:55 p.m., shots rang out at the protest site.
Id. ¶ 16. Mark Hughes, following the advice of
Cory Hughes, turned his rifle over to the police to limit the
risk of being mistaken for the shooter. Id. The
police provided Mark Hughes with a receipt and business card
so the gun could be retrieved the next day. Id.
Around 10:52 p.m., the Dallas Police Department
(“DPD”) released a photograph of Mark Hughes on
Twitter with the caption “This is our suspect! Please
help us find him!” Id. ¶ 17. After
learning of the Twitter post, Mark Hughes turned himself in
to the police. Id. ¶ 18. The police then placed
Mark Hughes under arrest, confiscating his shirt and car keys
before taking him to police headquarters. Id. Cory
Hughes went to police headquarters after learning of his
brother's arrest. Id. ¶ 19. Upon his
arrival at police headquarters, Cory Hughes was also detained
by the authorities. Id. Plaintiffs were allegedly
then questioned without proper Miranda warnings, while a
lawyer hired by the Hughes family was denied access to the
Hughes brothers. Id. ¶ 20. After the brothers
“denied any involvement with the shooting and passed
forensic testing, ” they were returned to the downtown
area. Id. However, the police did not return Mark
Hughes's gun, car keys, or shirt at that time.
Id. Additionally, the police did not remove the
Twitter post identifying Mark Hughes as a suspect for two
months. Id. ¶ 21. DPD also allegedly rebuffed
repeated requests made by Mark Hughes that his possessions be
returned. Id. ¶ 22.
9, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a complaint with this Court against
the City of Dallas (“City”) and DPD alleging
various federal and state claims: unlawful seizure of a
person (id. ¶¶ 23-27), unlawful seizure of
property (id. ¶¶ 28-31), negligent
training (id. ¶¶ 32-38),
conversion/trespass (id. ¶¶ 39-44), and
the intentional infliction of emotional distress
(id. at 11). On November 20, 2018, the City filed a
motion to dismiss all of Plaintiffs' claims under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Doc. 9, Def.'s Mot.
Plaintiffs filed a response on January 15, 2019. Doc. 14.
Defendant replied on February 5, 2019. Doc. 17. Thus, the
motion is now ripe for review.
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes
the court to dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for
“failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In considering a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “[t]he 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)
(quoting Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid
Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004)). To survive
a motion to dismiss, 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). “Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A 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.”
Id. “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. When well-pleaded facts fail
to achieve this plausibility standard, “the complaint
has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotation
marks and alterations omitted). The court will “not
look beyond the face of the pleadings to determine whether
relief should be granted based on the alleged facts.”
Spivey v. Robertson, 197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir.
1999), cert. denied, 530 U.S. 1229 (2000).
Plaintiffs' original complaint, five separate claims are
made for: (1) unlawful seizure of a person; (2) Fourth
Amendment property seizure; (3) negligent training; (4)
conversion/trespass, and; (5) intentional infliction of
emotional distress. It is not always clear which claims are
alleged against which defendant, but it appears that the City
is implicated in all five claims.
first three claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The final two claims, conversion/trespass and the intentional
infliction of emotional distress, stem from state tort law.
The Court first addresses whether DPD is an entity capable of
being sued at all. The Court then will discuss the state-law
claims, then the § 1983 claims.
DPD is a non-jural entity and cannot be sued
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that the
capacity of an entity like DPD to be sued shall be determined
by the law of the state in which the district court is
seated. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(b)(3). Thus, Texas
law determines whether DPD possesses the capacity to be sued.
Because the City of Dallas is a home-rule municipality, Texas
law grants the City the authority to organize a police force.
See Tex. Loc. Gov't Code § 341.003. The
City's Charter states that the City may sue and be sued,
but does not grant the same right to DPD. See
Dallas, Tex., Charter ch. II, § 1(2). Because the City
Charter does not give DPD the power to sue or be sued,
Plaintiffs may not bring suit against DPD, since it has no
legal existence. Darby v. Pasadena Police Dep't,
939 F.2d 311, 313 (5th Cir. 1991) (applying similar logic to
another police department); Maxwell v. Henry, 815
F.Supp. 213, 215 (S.D. Tex. 1993) (same). Plaintiffs did not
respond to the City's characterization of DPD as a
Court agrees that DPD is not capable of being sued.
Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES with