United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DALTON JR United States District Judge
instant civil rights action, Defendant City of Altamonte
Springs moves to dismiss several counts of Plaintiff's
complaint. (Doc. 5.) Plaintiff responded on December 23,
2016. (Doc. 13.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds that the motion is due to be granted in part and denied
Jennifer Skyles (“Plaintiff”) initiated this
action on behalf of her deceased husband, Anthony Skyles
(“Decedent”), who was shot and killed by a member
of the Altamonte Springs Police Department (“the
ASPD”) on June 15, 2014 (“Shooting”). (Doc.
3, ¶¶ 2, 8.)
date in question, Plaintiff called the Seminole County Fire
Department for assistance hospitalizing Decedent, who was
exhibiting suicidal behavior and holding a knife to his
throat. (Id. ¶ 18.) The Seminole County Fire
Department responded by placing a call to the ASPD; in turn,
the ASPD dispatched Officer Matthew Fowler (“Officer
Fowler”) to the Skyles residence
(“Residence”). (Id. ¶¶ 19-20,
22.) According to Plaintiff, this was not the first time that
the ASPD had been called to the Residence; thus, the ASPD
should have been aware that Decedent “suffered from a
mental condition and had been previously released from a
mental hospital facility.” (Id. ¶ 20.)
despite such history, upon his arrival, Officer Fowler
approached the doorway “with his gun pulled and pointed
at [Decedent].” (Id. ¶ 22.) Although
Decedent's mental condition was “clear, ” and
he “had not committed a crime or offense[, ] nor was he
engaged in or planning to commit a crime, ” Officer
Fowler kept his gun pointed at Decedent. (Id.
¶¶ 23, 24.)
then informed Officer Fowler that he had a pocket knife and
intended to place it on the table. (Id. ¶ 26.)
At this time, Officer Fowler began shooting at Decedent,
firing six shots, four of which struck Decedent.
(Id. ¶¶ 26, 27.) Skyles was ultimately
pronounced dead at the scene. (Id. ¶ 28.)
on the foregoing, Plaintiff asserts: (1) a claim against
Officer Fowler under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unreasonable
seizure (“Count I”); (2) § 1983 claims for
excessive force against Officer Fowler (“Count
II”) and ASPD Chief of Police Michael McCoy
(“Chief McCoy”) (“Count VI”); (3)
state law claims for wrongful death against the City of
Altamonte Springs (“the City”) (“Count
III”) and Officer Fowler (“Count IV”); (4)
state law claims for assault and battery against the City
(“Count V”); and (5) state law claims for
negligent hiring, retention, and supervision against the City
(“Count VII”) and Chief McCoy (“Count
VIII”). (Doc. 3.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the City moves to dismiss all counts
asserted against it and Chief McCoy. (Doc. 5.) Plaintiff
responded (Doc. 13), and the matter is ripe for adjudication.
12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a claimant must
plead “a short and plain statement of the claim.”
On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court limits
its consideration to the “well-pleaded factual
allegations.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679 (2009). The factual allegations in the complaint
must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). In making this plausibility determination,
the Court must accept the factual allegations as true;
however, this “tenet . . . is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (2009). A
pleading that offers mere “labels and
conclusions” is therefore insufficient.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
1983 provides aggrieved persons with a procedural mechanism
to seek redress for constitutional violations that are
committed while a defendant is acting under color of state
law. Acts performed by law enforcement officers-even if
illegal or unauthorized-are considered to have been performed
under color of state law so long as the acts are done in the
defendant's capacity as a law enforcement officer.
See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49-50 (1988).
However, a § 1983 claim will fail if the plaintiff does
not properly allege a constitutional violation. See
Collins v. City of Harker Heights, Tex., 503 U.S. 115,
119 (1992) (“Although [§ 1983] provides the
citizen with an effective remedy against those abuses of
state power that violate federal law, it does not provide a
remedy for abuses that do not violate federal law.”).
Statute of Limitations
initial matter, the City argues that Plaintiff's claims
are barred by the applicable statute of limitations
(“SOL”). (Doc. 5, pp. 3-5.) Not so.
law dictates the SOL governing a § 1983 claim.
Penoyer v. Briggs, 206 F.App'x 962, 964 (11th
Cir. 2006). Under Florida law, “a cause of action for
wrongful death accrues on the date of death, ”
Fulton Cty. Adm'r v. Sullivan, 753 So.2d 549,
552 (Fla. 1999), and must be brought “against a state
or one of its agencies or subdivisions” within two
years after the claim accrues, Fla. Stat. §§
768.28(14), § 95.11(4)(d).
before an individual may institute a wrongful death action
against a municipality, the claimant must present a claim to
the appropriate agency and receive a written
denial. Fla. Stat. § 768.28(6)(a). Although
these requirements are conditions precedent to maintaining a
wrongful death action against a state agency, they do not
affect the date on which the cause of action accrues. Fla.
Stat. § 768.28(6)(a)(2)(b). Rather, the SOL is tolled
for the period of time taken by the appropriate agency to
deny the claim. Fla. Stat. § 768.28(6)(a)(2)(d). In
wrongful death actions, the failure of the agency to make a
final disposition of a claim within ninety days is deemed a
light of such tolling, the Court finds that the instant
action is not barred by the SOL. Though Decedent's death
occurred on June 15, 2014 (Doc. 3, ¶ 2), Plaintiff sent
the Florida League of Cities (“the City Agency”)
a “notice of intent to sue” on July 21, 2014
(“Filing Date”) (Doc. 13, p. 7). Therefore, the
SOL was tolled until the City Agency denied her claim, unless
such time exceeded ninety days.
the City Agency denied Plaintiff's claim on May 11,
2015. (Id. at 10.) Because this
disposition did not occur within ninety days of the Filing
Date, Plaintiff's claim was deemed denied ...