United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
INESSA G. BATYUKOVA, Plaintiff,
BRANDON LEE DOEGE, #1282; BEXAR COUNTY AND ITS SHERIFF'S OFFICE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
PULLIAM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Bexar County's Motion to Dismiss
(ECF No. 37) to which Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 39) and
Defendant replied (ECF No. 41). Plaintiff brings this civil
rights action against the named Defendants in relation to an
incident during which she was shot by a Bexar County
Detention Officer. Defendants Bexar County and the Bexar
County Sheriff's Office move the Court to dismiss
Plaintiff's Monell claims pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). After careful consideration
of the memoranda in support of and in opposition to the
motion, the Court, for the following reasons, GRANTS the
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
Sheriff'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 medical aid to her. Id. at
6-7. 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.
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 plaintiff's 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).
Bexar County Sheriffs Office
and sheriffs departments are governmental subdivisions
without capacity for independent legal action. Darby v.
Pasadena Police Dep 't, 939 F.2d 311 (5th Cir.
1991). For this reason, the Bexar Sheriffs Office is not a
legal entity capable of being sued. Id.; see Guidry v.
Jefferson Cty. Det. Ctr., 868 F.Supp. 189, 191 (E.D.
Tex. 1994). Where a plaintiff has incorrectly named the
department rather than the municipality and the defendant
will not be prejudiced by the amendment, the appropriate
disposition is dismissal with leave to amend. See Parker
v. Fort Worth Police Dep't, 980 F.2d 1023, 1026 (5th
Cir. 1993). Here, Batyukova has named the correct defendant,
Bexar County. Accordingly, dismissing the Bexar County
Sheriff's Office from the action is appropriate.
First Amended Complaint alleges Doege acted in accordance
with his training when he shot Batyukova and did not
personally provide any medical treatment. Specifically,
Batyukova alleges the following: (1) “The defendants,
in standing around allowing a woman, who had been shot
multiple times by Defendant Doege and lay bleeding in the
street, all acted in a way that . . . demonstrates that they
were all acting in accordance with their training;” (2)
“Doege's training, per Bexar County and its
sheriff's office, was that he should not only shoot Ms.
Batyukova as he did, but then to decline to provide any
treatment;” (3) “the named individual defendants
acted in accordance with their training, thereby proving that
their training was inadequate, and such inadequacy was a
driving force behind the violations of Ms. Batyukova's
constitutional rights.” ECF No. 5 ¶¶ 98, 100,
103-04. Batyukova further alleges Doege was not disciplined
“in any way” for his conduct on the night he shot
her. Id. ¶ 99. Thus, it appears Batyukova is
alleging a Monell claim against Bexar County based
upon inadequate training and ratification theories. ECF No. 5
Inadequate Training Theory of Municipal Liability
plausible inadequate training claim alleges facts that allow
the court to draw the reasonable inference that “(1)
the municipality's training procedures were inadequate;
(2) the municipality was deliberately indifferent in adopting
its training policy; and (3) the inadequate training policy
directly caused the constitutional violation.”
Saenz v. City of El Paso,637 Fed.Appx. 828, 831
(5th Cir. 2016) (citing Sanders-Burns v. City of
Plano,594 F.3d 366, 381 (5th Cir. 2010); Speck v.
Wiginton,606 Fed.Appx. 733, 736 (5th Cir. 2015)).
Batyukova can meet the Iqbal-Twombly pleading
standard by alleging the County had “actual or
constructive notice” that inadequate training caused
employees “to violate citizens' constitutional
rights.” Connick v. Thompson,563 U.S. 51, 61
(2011). Notice can be alleged with a “pattern of
similar constitutional violations.” Id. at 61.
To plausibly allege ...