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Johnson v. Rosenberg Police Dep't

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

August 19, 2019

JOHN JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSENBERG POLICE DEP'T, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          Kenneth M. Hoyt United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is the defendants', the City of Rosenberg and Rosenberg Police Department (“Rosenberg P.D.”) (collectively, the “defendants”), motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 13). The plaintiff, John Johnson (the “plaintiff”), has filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 21) and the defendants have filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 22). Also before the Court is the defendants', Jeremy Eder (“Eder”) and Dallis Warren (“Warren”) (together, the “individual defendants”), motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (Dkt. No. 14). The plaintiff has filed a response in opposition to the motion (Dkt. No. 26) and the individual defendants have filed a reply (Dkt. No. 28). After having carefully considered the motions, responses, replies, the pleadings and the applicable law, the Court determines that the defendants' motions to dismiss should be GRANTED.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff began working as a patrol officer for the Rosenberg P.D. on January 5, 1999, eventually working his way up to the position of Patrol Sergeant. On April 3, 2017, however, his employment was brought to a halt when former Lieutenant Jeremy Eder (“Eder”) discharged him for having conducted an active-shooter training in February of 2017 at a local movie theater. Eder alleged that the plaintiff's termination was necessary because the active-shooter training exercise compromised the “safety, security and integrity of Rosenberg P.D. and its operation.” (Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 15.). Days later, a Report of Separation of Licensee was filed with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, indicating that the plaintiff was dishonorably discharged.

         The plaintiff sought to appeal the dishonorable discharge designation with the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Following a comprehensive administrative hearing held on December 20, 2017, the plaintiff's discharge designation was reclassified as an honorable discharge.

         On January 15, 2019, the Rosenberg City Council held a special meeting to hear all actions concerning the hiring and firing of police personnel by the police chief so as to ratify them retroactively. All terminations at Rosenberg P.D. from January 1, 2017 to January 15, 2019 were discussed at this meeting. On February 5, 2019, those terminations were officially ratified.

         On March 27, 2019, the plaintiff commenced the instant action against the defendants alleging, inter alia, that the defendants' act of summarily dismissing him from his position with Rosenberg P.D. without complying with the City of Rosenberg's Charter deprived him of his property interest without due process of law.

         The defendants now move to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to move to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under the demanding strictures of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[t]he plaintiff's complaint is to be construed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, and the allegations contained therein are to be taken as true.” Oppenheimer v. Prudential Sec., Inc., 94 F.3d 189, 194 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing Mitchell v. McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991)). Dismissal is appropriate only if, the “[f]actual allegations [are not] 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).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).

         Moreover, in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), “[s]pecific facts are not necessary; the [factual allegations] need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964). Even so, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1964 - 65 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986)).

         In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, the Supreme Court expounded upon the Twombly standard, reasoning that “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1955).

         IV. ANALYSIS ...


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