United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
JEFFREY L. VIKEN CHIEF JUDGE.
Clayton Walker initiated this action against defendants.
(Docket 1). On July 9, 2015, plaintiff had an interaction
with Rapid City Police Officer Cory Shafer (“Officer
Shafer”) that plaintiff claims resulted in violations
of his constitutional and statutory rights. Id. at
p. 3. Plaintiff asserts Officer Shafer stopped him on the
street and proceeded to place him in handcuffs, search his
backpack and inspect his wallet's contents. Id.
Officer Shafer checked whether plaintiff had outstanding
warrants and discovered there was a warrant. Id.
While Officer Shafer placed plaintiff in his police vehicle,
plaintiff claims he suffered a head injury. Id.
asserts Article III of the United States Constitution
provides the proper basis for filing his case. Id.
at p. 1. In stating the relief he seeks, plaintiff cites a
variety of authorities: the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth,
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the
Federal Tort Claims Act; Bivens; and several South Dakota
statutes. Id. at p. 3. Plaintiff seeks
money damages. Id. at p. 4.
court granted plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis
and directed service. (Docket 6). Aside from Officer Shafer,
who filed an answer, (Docket 22), each defendant filed a
motion to dismiss. (Dockets 14, 27, 28, 29 & 33).
Plaintiff failed to file his required responses until the
court specifically ordered him to do so. (Dockets 37 &
court addresses each motion to dismiss in turn.
Rapid City Police Department
Rapid City Police Department (“Police Department”
or “Department”) moves to dismiss plaintiff's
complaint based on Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. (Docket 27). The Police Department claims it
is not an entity amenable to suit. Id. at pp. 2-6.
If the Department was an entity plaintiff could sue, it
claims plaintiff fails to establish a legitimate claim
against it. Id. at pp. 6-7.
Rule 12(b)(6), 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). Two “working principles” underlie Rule
12(b)(6) analysis. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009). First, courts are not required to accept as
true legal conclusions “couched as . . . factual
allegation[s]” in the complaint. See Id.
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555) (internal quotation marks omitted). The court does,
however, “take the plaintiff's factual allegations
as true.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588
F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). Second, the plausibility
standard is a “context-specific task that requires the
reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). The
complaint is analyzed “as a whole, not parsed piece by
piece to determine whether each allegation, in isolation, is
plausible.” Braden, 588 F.3d at 594.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(b)(3), the court assesses
the Department's capacity to be sued under South Dakota
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b)(3). The Department demonstrates that
under SDCL §§ 9-29-1 & 2 it is not an entity
separate from the municipality of Rapid City. (Docket 27 at
p. 3). The applicable sections of the Rapid City Municipal
Code confirm this finding. Id. at p. 4 (citing RCMC
§ 2.20.020). As this court has held before,
“police departments . . . are not suable
entities.” Purchase v. Sturgis Police
Dep't, CIV. No. 13-5060, 2015 WL 1477733, at *12
(D.S.D. Mar. 31, 2015); see Ketchum v. City of W.
Memphis, Ark., 974 F.2d 81, 82 (8th Cir. 1992) (holding
that a police department was not a “juridical entit[y]
suable as such”); Diggs v. City of Osceola,
270 Fed.Appx. 469, at *1 (8th Cir. 2008) (unpublished);
Shannon v. Koehler, No. C 08-4059, 2008 WL 4735265,
at *2-4 (N.D. Iowa Oct. 13, 2008) (collecting cases). The
court finds it must dismiss plaintiff's complaint against
the Police Department on this basis under Rule 12(b)(6).
Because dismissal is required on this ground, the court need
not reach the Department's second argument.
the complaint does not name Karl Jegeris, the
Department's Police Chief, he was served with a copy of
the summons and complaint. (Docket 9 at p. 7). To the extent
the complaint does attempt to hold Mr. Jegeris liable, it
fails and must be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6).
“Supervisors [such as Mr. Jegeris] cannot be held
vicariously liable under § 1983 for the actions of a
subordinate.” L.L. Nelson Enterprises, Inc. v. Cty.
of St. Louis, Mo., 673 F.3d 799, 810 (8th Cir. 2012)
(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675-76). Plaintiff has not
“plead that the supervising official, through his own
individual actions, has violated the Constitution.”
City of Rapid City
City of Rapid City (“the City”) moves to dismiss
plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(5) for
“insufficient service of process.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(5); (Docket 29). The City points out South Dakota law
requires plaintiff to serve the Mayor of Rapid City. (Docket
29 at pp. 2-3) (citing SDCL § 15-6-4(d)(2)(ii)). The
court denies the City's motion because the record shows