United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Lindsay United States District Judge
the court are Defendant Carrie Kazda's Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 17), filed November
19, 2018; and Defendant Officers' Motion to Dismiss Under
Rule 12(b)(6) and Brief in Support (Doc. 19), filed November
21, 2018. After carefully considering the motions, briefs,
responses, replies, pleadings, and applicable law, the court
grants Defendant Carrie Kazda's Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 17);
grants Defendant Officers' Motion to
Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6) and Brief in Support (Doc. 19);
and grants Plaintiff's request to
replead his section 1983 claims against these Defendants.
Factual and Procedural Background
October 15, 2018, Plaintiff Bradyn S.
(“Plaintiff” or “Bradyn S.”), a
minor, through his parents Justin & Megan S., filed the
Original Complaint (“Complaint”), asserting a
section 1983 claim against Defendants Carrie Kazda
(“Kazda”), Derrick Young (“Officer
Young”), and Mike Lewis (“Officer Lewis), in
their individual and official capacities. The allegations
giving rise to the claim relate to an event that took place
on March 3, 2017, at Felty Elementary School in the
Waxahachie Independent School District (“WISD”).
S. is a student at Felty Elementary who has autism and a
speech impairment, and qualifies for special education
services. Pl.'s Original Compl. ¶ 4.1. Bradyn S. has
a history of engaging in serious behavioral incidents at
school. During the 2014-2015 school year, his first year at
Felty Elementary, Bradyn S. was involved in “a number
of documented incidents of violent behavioral
outbursts.” Id. Between August 22, 2016 and
October 11, 2016, Bradyn S. “engaged in at least [nine]
serious documented behavioral incidents[, ] including
attempting to stab another student with a pencil, slapping
another student with a ruler, hitting a staff member, hitting
students, and spitting in another student[']s
face.” Id. ¶ 4.2. On September 28, 2016,
Bradyn S. caused an incident that required the staff to
restrain him, and “a use of restraint form was placed
in his file.” Id. During another one of these
nine behavioral incidents, a classroom had to be evacuated.
Id. In February 2017, “major disciplinary
events occurred” on the following dates: February 8, 9,
15, 16, and 27. Id. ¶ 4.5. Each incident
involved either self-harm, harm to students, harm to staff,
or a combination of the three. Id.
March 3, 2017, the day on which the incident at issue
occurred, Bradyn S. allegedly engaged in four behavioral
incidents documented by WISD, during which he attacked
another student. Id. ¶ 4.9. These incidents
culminated “in a major incident in which[, ] after
continuing to attack students and staff, [Bradyn S.'s]
classroom was evacuated.” Id. A teacher, Tracy
Gooch (“Gooch”) called the Waxahachie Police
Department and informed it that this type of incident had
occurred “many times.” Id. Bradyn S. was
eight years old at the time. Id.
Young, a City of Waxahachie police officer, “arrived at
the classroom, confronted Bradyn S., took [him] down to the
ground, pinned him to [the] ground, and restrained his hands
 while [he] screamed in agony and frustration for several
minutes.” Id. Kazda, principal at Felty
Elementary School, “participated in the restraint of
the child.” Id. Neither Kazda nor Gooch
initially informed the officers that Bradyn S. was an
autistic child with a speech impairment, “even while
the police [later] attempted to ask the child questions[, ]
that continued to exacerbate his already elevated emotional
state.” Id. ¶ 4.9. Officer Lewis, a
lieutenant with the City of Waxahachie police department,
“arrived and placed the child in handcuffs.”
Id. ¶ 4.9. The officers “then elicited
that they were dealing with a special needs child.”
Id. ¶ 4.9. Bradyn S. contends that he
“was taken through the school in handcuffs and brought
to the school's office w[h]ere he remained in handcuffs
for an extended period, and continued to be questioned by the
police.” Id. He contends that he
“remained in handcuffs well after [his] mother had
arrived and the emergency or any need had subsided.”
Id. Following this incident, Bradyn S. contends
that, on March 16, 2017, he was hospitalized at the Dallas
Behavioral Healthcare Hospital for eight days and treated for
suicidal ideation and aggression. Id. ¶ 4.11.
on the allegations relating to Defendants' participation
in the March 3, 2017 incident, Plaintiff asserts a section
1983 claim against Kazda, Officer Young, and Officer Lewis in
their official and individual capacities. In alleging this
claim, Plaintiff sets forth the following allegations:
Plaintiff Bradyn S. has a constitutional right under the
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution to be free
from unreasonable seizures and to be secure in his person and
to maintain his bodily integrity against unreasonable
assaults of his person.
Plaintiff Bradyn S. has a constitutionally protected liberty
interest under the Fourteenth Amendment in personal security,
bodily integrity and freedom from unjustified intrusions on
their personal security, including bodily restraint and
punishment without due process of law.
Defendants Derrick Young, Mike Lewis[, ] and Carrie Kazda
acting under color of state law, regulation, custom or usage
in their capacity as Waxahachie police officers and an
employee of WISD respectively deprived Plaintiff of his
constitutional rights when they caused, and participated in
Plaintiff's seizure with unjustified and unreasonable
force; Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to the
risk of harm to Plaintiff Bradyn S.
Defendants Derrick Young[, ] Mike Lewis and Carrie
Kazda's actions, as described above, were objectively
unreasonable, willful and wanton, in light of the facts and
As a result of Defendants' unconstitutional action and/or
omission Plaintiff has been injured and harmed in the form of
stress, anxiety, and emotional damage[, ] and/or has
otherwise been harmed and is entitled to compensation.
Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 7.2-7.6.
November 19, 2018, Kazda filed her Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 17). With respect to
the section 1983 claim asserted against her in her official
capacity, Kazda asserts that Bradyn S. has failed to
sufficiently plead facts supporting a municipal liability
claim against WISD “[b]ecause an official capacity suit
is treated as a claim against the governmental entity,
” thus “[Bradyn S.]'s constitutional claims
against  Kazda in her official capacity require [Bradyn S.]
to establish municipal liability.” Kazda Mot. to
Dismiss 9-10. With respect to the section 1983 claim asserted
against her in her individual capacity, she argues that she
is entitled to qualified immunity because “it is not
clearly established that she is unable to participate in the
restraint of a student who engaged in behavior requiring the
evacuation of his classroom.” Id. at 13. Kazda
further argues that Bradyn S. “cannot maintain a
substantive due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment
stemming from [Kazda's] participation in [his]
restraint” as his claim is cognizable under the Fourth
Amendment, not the Fourteenth. Id. at 7.
Accordingly, Kazda asserts that the Fourth Amendment is the
sole constitutional basis upon which Bradyn S. may assert his
section 1983 claim.
November 21, 2018, Officer Young and Officer Lewis
(collectively, the “Officers”) jointly filed
their Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6) on similar
grounds as those set forth in Kazda's motion. With
respect to the section 1983 claim asserted against them in
their official capacities, they contend that Bradyn S. has
failed to plead a municipal liability claim against the City
of Waxahachie (the “City”), which is required to
assert a claim against the Officers in their official
capacity. With respect to the section 1983 claim asserted
against them in their individual capacities, they assert a
qualified immunity defense and argue that Bradyn S. has
failed to adequately plead that their actions on March 3,
2017 were objectively unreasonable in light of
clearly-established law. As Kazda similarly argues, Young and
Lewis further assert that Bradyn S. has not sufficiently
pleaded facts to establish a cognizable substantive due
process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment that is separate
and distinct from his excessive use of force claim under the
Fourth Amendment, and, on that basis, the court should
dismiss Bradyn S.'s section 1983 claim to the extent it
relies on the Fourteenth Amendment.
Rule 12(b)(6) - Failure to State a Claim
defeat a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Reliable
Consultants, Inc. v. Earle, 517 F.3d 738, 742 (5th Cir.
2008); Guidry v. American Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512
F.3d 177, 180 (5th Cir. 2007). A claim meets the plausibility
test “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. 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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(internal citations omitted). While a complaint need not
contain detailed factual allegations, it must set forth
“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 (citation
omitted). The “[f]actual allegations of [a complaint]
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).” Id. (quotation marks, citations, and
footnote omitted). When the allegations of the pleading do
not allow the court to infer more than the mere possibility
of wrongdoing, they fall short of showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept all
well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true and view them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Sonnier v.
State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 509 F.3d 673, 675 (5th
Cir. 2007); Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area
Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004);
Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996).
In ruling on such a motion, the court cannot look beyond the
pleadings. Id.; Spivey v. Robertson, 197
F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999). The pleadings include the
complaint and any documents attached to it. Collins v.
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th
Cir. 2000). Likewise, “‘[d]ocuments that a
defendant attaches to a motion to dismiss are considered part
of the pleadings if they are referred to in the
plaintiff's complaint and are central to [the
plaintiff's] claims.'” Id. (quoting
Venture Assocs. Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987
F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993)). In this regard, a document
that is part of the record but not referred to in a
plaintiff's complaint and not attached to a motion to
dismiss may not be considered by the court in ruling on a
12(b)(6) motion. Gines v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 699
F.3d 812, 820 & n.9 (5th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).
Further, it is well-established and ‘“clearly
proper in deciding a 12(b)(6) motion [that a court may] take
judicial notice of matters of public record.”'
Funk v. Stryker Corp., 631 F.3d 777, 783 (5th Cir.
2011) (quoting Norris v. Hearst Trust, 500 F.3d 454,
461 n.9 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Cinel v. Connick, 15
F.3d 1338, 1343 n.6 (5th Cir. 1994)).
ultimate question in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is whether the
complaint states a valid claim when it is viewed in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Great Plains Trust Co.
v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th
Cir. 2002). While well-pleaded facts of a complaint are to be
accepted as true, legal conclusions are not “entitled
to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679 (citation omitted). Further, a court is not to strain
to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff and is not to
accept conclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions, or
legal conclusions. R2 Invs. LDC v. Phillips, 401
F.3d 638, 642 (5th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). The court
does not evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success;
instead, it only determines whether the plaintiff has pleaded
a legally cognizable claim. United States ex rel. Riley
v. St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp., 355 F.3d 370, 376
(5th Cir. 2004). Stated another way, when a court deals with
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, its task is to test the sufficiency
of the allegations contained in the pleadings to determine
whether they are adequate enough to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Mann v. Adams Realty Co., 556
F.2d 288, 293 (5th Cir. 1977); Doe v. Hillsboro Indep.
Sch. Dist., 81 F.3d 1395, 1401 (5th Cir. 1996),
rev'd on other grounds, 113 F.3d 1412 (5th Cir.
1997) (en banc). Accordingly, denial of a 12(b)(6) motion has
no bearing on whether a plaintiff ultimately establishes the
necessary proof to prevail on a claim that withstands a
12(b)(6) challenge. Adams, 556 F.2d at 293.
Municipal Liability Under ...