United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
INESSA G. BATYUKOVA, Plaintiff,
BRANDON LEE DOEGE, #1282; ROBERT SCHAFF, #306; MARK POWELL, #309; JERRY ALLEN THOMAS; MARCOS AGUILAR; MEDINA COUNTY AND ITS SHERIFF'S OFFICE; BEXAR COUNTY AND ITS SHERIFF'S OFFICE; CITY OF CASTROVILLE AND ITS POLICE DEPT., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
PULLIAM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendants City of Castroville and its
Police Department, Robert Schaff and Mark Powell's Motion
to Dismiss F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 19) to which
Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 20) and Defendants replied (ECF
No. 22) and Defendants Medina County, Marcos Aguilar, and
Jerry Allen Thomas' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
(ECF No. 38) to which Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 40). After
careful consideration of the memoranda in support of and in
opposition to the motions, the Court, for the following
reasons, GRANTS the motions.
Inessa G. Batyukova's (“Batyukova”) First
Amended Complaint, the operative pleading herein, alleges on
June 28, 2018, Batyukova was traveling from San Antonio to
Eagle Pass on U.S. Highway 90. ECF No. 5 at 4. At
approximately 11:30 p.m., Batyukova stopped her vehicle in
the left lane of the highway and activated the hazard lights.
Id. Approximately five minutes later, Bexar County
Sherriff s Deputy Brandon Lee Doege (“Doege”)
pulled up behind Batyukova's car, alighted his vehicle,
identified himself as a Deputy, and ordered Batyukova out of
her car. Id Batyukova alleges she slowly exited
her car and slowly walked toward Doege-"obviously
unarmed, ” with her hands in the air, and speaking
“offensive expletives” directed at Doege-until
she stood between his car and hers. Id. at 5.
Batyukova further alleges Doege aimed his gun at her,
“started screaming, ” and ordered her to place
her hands on the car. Id. As Batyukova “moved
her arm” to comply with the order, Doege discharged his
weapon five times, striking Batyukova in the right arm,
shoulder, leg, and stomach. Id. at 5-6. Batyukova
“dropped on the ground several feet in front of
Doege's car and started bleeding.” Id. at
6. Batyukova further alleges Doege radioed for assistance but
otherwise rendered no aid to Batyukova. Id. at 6-7.
A few minutes later, Medina County Sherriff s Deputies Jerry
Allen Thomas (“Thomas”) and Marcos Aguilar
(“Aguilar”) and Castroville Police Officers
Robert Schaff (“Schaff”) and Mark Powell
(“Powell”) arrived on the scene. Id. at
7. Batyukova alleges none of these “peace
officers” rendered medical assistance to her.
Id. Rather, “Schaff and Powell assisted in
blocking traffic” and “Aguilar and Schaff began
photographing the scene.” Id. Emergency
personnel arrived on scene at 11:49 p.m. and transported
Batyukova to Castroville Airport where she was flown by
Airlife to University Hospital in San Antonio. Id.
alleges 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Schaff, Powell,
Thomas, and Aguilar for failing to render medical assistance.
Id. at 12-14. Batyukova alleges Monell
claims against the City of Castroville and its Police
Department and Medina County and its Sheriffs office for
inadequate training. Id. at 14-16.
presented with a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a
court generally “must assess whether the complaint
contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
state a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face[.]” United States v. Bollinger Shipyards
Inc., 775 F.3d 255, 257 (5th Cir. 2014) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). “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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007)). Although a plaintiffs factual allegations need not
establish the defendant is probably liable, they must
establish more than a “sheer possibility” a
defendant has acted unlawfully. Id. Determining
plausibility is a “context-specific task, ” and
must be performed in light of a court's “judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.
assessing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
court's review is generally limited to the complaint and
any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are
referred to in the complaint and are central to the
plaintiff's claims. Tellabs Inc. v. Makor Issues
& Rights Ltd, 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007); In re
Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205
(5th Cir. 2007). When reviewing the complaint, the
“court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid
Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Jones v.
Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). While
well-pleaded facts of a complaint are to be accepted as true,
legal conclusions are not “entitled to the assumption
of truth.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (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). A 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).
Schaff and Powell assert qualified immunity. ECF No. 19 at 2.
Defendants Thomas and Aguilar assert qualified immunity and
argue Batyukova failed to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. ECF No. 38 at 3, 6. The defense of qualified
immunity protects government officials from liability for
civil damages in individual-capacity suits unless the
officer's conduct was unreasonable in light of clearly
established law. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800,
818 (1982); Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741
(2011); District of Columbia v. Wesby, 138 S.Ct.
577, 589 (2018). “When a defendant invokes qualified
immunity, the burden is on the plaintiff to demonstrate the
inapplicability of the defense.” McClendon v. City
of Columbia, 305 F.3d 314, 323 (5th Cir. 2002). To
defeat a defendant's qualified immunity assertion in a
motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plausibly allege (1) the
defendant violated a federal constitutional or statutory
right; and (2) the right was clearly established at the time
of the violation. King v. Handorf 821 F.3d 650, 653
(5th Cir. 2016) (citing Collier v. Montgomery, 569
F.3d 214, 217 (5th Cir. 2009) and quoting Morgan v.
Swanson, 659 F.3d 359, 371 (5th Cir. 2011) (en banc)).
As discussed below, Batyukova fails to allege a
constitutional violation. Therefore, the Court need not
engage in analysis of the second element.
Deliberate Indifference Claim Against Deputies Thomas and
Aguilar and Officers Schaff and Powell
state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a
specific defendant, while acting under color of state law,
deprived her of a right guaranteed under the Constitution or
a federal statute. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,
48 (1988). “A person acts under color of state law if
he misuses power possessed by virtue of state law and made
possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the
authority of state law.” Bustos v. Martini
Club, 599 F.3d 458, 464 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting
West, 487 U.S. at 49) (internal quotations omitted).
To plausibly allege entitlement to relief, a plaintiffs
complaint “must allege facts showing how each
individually named defendant caused or personally
participated in causing the harm alleged in the
complaint.” Smith v. Epps, No. 4:07CV43-P-S,
2010 WL 437075, at *2 (N.D. Miss. 2010) (citing Mouille
v. City of Live Oak, Tex., 977 F.2d 924, 929 (5th Cir.
1992). Although a plaintiff need not set forth detailed
factual allegations, she must plead facts with particularity.
A complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
556 (2007). A well-pleaded complaint includes clearly stated
claims and facts to support those claims. Id. at
555. “[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need, a plaintiff must plausibly allege that a
specific defendant was deliberately indifferent to her
serious medical needs. See Helling v. McKinney, 509
U.S. 25, 32 (1993); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
106 (1976); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556;
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A serious medical need is
“one for which treatment has been recommended or for
which the need is so apparent that even laymen would
recognize that care is required.” Gobert v.
Caldwell, 463 F.3d 339, 345 n.12 (5th Cir. 2006). An
allegation of deliberate indifference must show the
plaintiffs “exposure to a substantial risk of serious
harm” and the official's “deliberate
indifference to that risk, ” such as the intentional
denial, delay, or interference with a plaintiffs medical
care, or conduct that evinces a wanton disregard.
Gobert, 463 F.3d at 345-46; Domino v. Texas
Dep't of Criminal Justice, 239 F.3d 752, 756 (5th
Cir. 2001); see also Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-05. To
demonstrate deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show
the official knew a substantial risk of serious harm existed
and disregarded the risk. Cleveland v. Bell, 938
F.3d 672, 676 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)). “A failure to
act ‘unaccompanied by knowledge of a significant risk
of harm' is insufficient to establish a constitutional
violation.” Id. Thus, an inadvertent failure
to provide adequate medical care, negligence, a mere delay in
medical care (without more), or a difference of opinion over
proper medical treatment, are all insufficient to constitute
deliberate indifference. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at
105-07. A plaintiff must show the official “refused to
treat him, ignored his complaints, intentionally treated him
incorrectly, or engaged in any similar conduct that would
clearly evince a wanton disregard for any serious medical
needs.” Johnson v. Treen, 759 F.2d 1236, 1238
(5th Cir. 1985).
officials are obligated to provide medical care to a person
injured while being apprehended by police because “due
process rights” of an unconvicted person “are at
least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available
to a convicted prisoner.” Revere v. Mass. Gen.
Hosp.,463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983). “When the State
assumes certain custodial roles with respect to an
individual, it creates a ‘special relationship'
that imparts to the State a limited duty to provide for that
person's safety and general well-being.” M.D.
v. Abbott,907 F.3d 237, 249 (5th Cir. 2018). Therefore,
a delay in obtaining medical treatment for an
individual who has been injured while being apprehended by
police that ...