United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
CHARLES A. BEISEL, IV, Plaintiff,
SVENR FINAN, et al., Defendants.
D. WHITTEMORE, United States District Judge
THE COURT are Defendants City of Tampa and Eric
Ward's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 27).
Plaintiff has not responded to the motion, and the time in
which to do so has passed. Upon consideration,
Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. 27) is
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City and Ward
in the original complaint were dismissed for failure to state
a claim. (Dkt. 22). Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro
se, then filed an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 24). The
Amended Complaint includes five counts each against the City
and Ward under section 1983. (Dkt. 24). Plaintiff bases each
count on alleged violations of his Fourth Amendment right to
be free from unreasonable search and seizure. (Dkt. 24 at pp.
7-11). The five violations consist of an unlawful traffic
stop, false arrest for possession of cocaine, unreasonable
vehicle search, unreasonable "subsequent" vehicle
searches, and false imprisonment. (Id.).
alleges that the City and Ward were the moving force behind
the violations because they "recklessly neglected to
implement proper training and/or policies, regulations,
customs and/or usages" with respect to the officers who
initiated the unlawful traffic stop, conducted an
unreasonable search of his vehicle, incorrectly performed a
chemical field test of a substance found in his vehicle, and
falsely arrested him. (Id. at p. 7). Plaintiff
further alleges that Ward and the City "had personal
knowledge of this problem/usage/custom regarding the lack of
training, " and failed to implement proper training
notwithstanding that knowledge. (Id.).
a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives
a motion to dismiss." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (citing Bell Atl Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 (2007)). All factual
allegations contained in the complaint must be accepted as
true for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, but this tenet
is "inapplicable to legal conclusions."
Id. at 678. "Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice." Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
claims against Ward in his official capacity as the officer
in charge of the Tampa Police Department must establish that
the TPD, through deliberate conduct, was the moving force
behind the injury alleged. Board of Cnty Comm'rs v.
Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997). Deliberateness may be
shown with allegations that the constitutional violations
were caused by a "policy" or "custom" of
the TPD. Id. at 403 (citing Monell v. New York
City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
694 (1978)). Likewise, "[i]t is well established that a
municipality may be held liable under § 1983 only when
the deprivation at issue was undertaken pursuant to city
'custom' or 'policy, ' and not simply on the
basis of respondeat superior” Brown v. City of Fort
Lauderdale, 923 F.2d 1474, 1479(11th Cir. 1991).
policy or custom need not be shown by an official decision,
but may be shown by a practice that "is so widespread as
to have the force of law." Board of County
Comm'rs, 520 U.S. at 404 (citing Monell,
436 U.S. at 690-91). "In limited circumstances, a...
decision not to train certain employees about their legal
duty to avoid violating citizens' rights may rise to the
level of an official government policy." Connick v.
Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 61 (2011). However, a
municipality "is not automatically liable under section
1983 even if it inadequately trained or supervised its police
officers and those officers violated [the plaintiffs]
constitutional rights." Gold v. City of Miami,
151 F.3d 1346, 1350 (11th Cir. 1998). The failure to train
"must amount to 'deliberate indifference to the
rights of persons with whom the [untrained employees] come
into contact.' " Connick, 563 U.S. at 61
(quoting Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388
(1989)). "Without notice that a course of training is
deficient in a particular respect, decisionmakers can hardly
be said to have deliberately chosen a training program that
will cause violations of constitutional rights."
Id. at 62.
that a course of training is deficient in particular areas
exists where there is a pattern of prior incidents or where
"the need to train and supervise in the particular areas
in issue was so obvious and the likelihood of constitutional
violations was highly predictable so that liability attaches
for [a] single incident." Gold, 151 F.3dat
1351-52; see also Connick, 563 U.S. at 64 (noting
that it is "rare" that the "unconstitutional
consequences of failing to train could be so patently obvious
that a city could be liable under § 1983 without proof
of a pre-existing pattern of
violations."). Absent notice of a training deficiency, a
plaintiff alleging failure to train cannot establish that a
municipal policy or custom was the moving force behind the
violation of his constitutional rights. GoId., 151
F.3d at 1354.
fails to allege facts supporting his section 1983 claims
against the City and Ward based on their alleged failure to
train TPD officers. With respect to each of the five
constitutional violations allegedly committed by the TPD
officers, he alleges that the City and Ward recklessly
neglected to implement proper training, policies,
regulations, customs, or usages relating to those particular
areas, despite their knowledge of problems with the training.
(Dkt. 24 at p, 7). Those general, conclusory statements need
not be accepted as true. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.
fails to support his conclusory section 1983 claims with
allegations demonstrating that the City and Ward were on
notice that training was deficient in particular respects.
Connick, 563 U.S. at 62. He does not allege the
existence of a pattern of prior incidents relating to traffic
stops, chemical field tests, or arrests, or that the need for
training in those areas is so obvious that a single incident
is sufficient to establish the City and Ward's deliberate
indifference to his constitutional rights. Gold, 151
F.3dat 1351-52. He makes only a threadbare recital of the
elements of section 1983 claims against the City and Ward.
See Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678. In absence of
supporting factual allegations showing that the City and Ward
were on notice of the need to train TPD officers, Plaintiffs
section 1983 claims seek to impose automatic liability on the
City and Ward based on an alleged failure to train. Those
claims, therefore, are legally insufficient. See
Gold, 151 F.3d at 1350.
also purports to sue Ward in his individual capacity and his
supervisory capacity over the officers who allegedly
committed violations of his constitutional rights. However,
Plaintiff makes no allegations that Ward directly
participated in the violations. See Mann v. Taser
Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1308 (11th Cir. 2009).
And, for the reasons stated, there are no allegations showing
a causal link between Ward's supervisory actions and the
violations. See id.; Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 13
52, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003) ("[T]he causal connection may
be established when a supervisor's custom or policy...
result[s] in deliberate indifference to constitutional rights
or when facts support an inference that the supervisor
directed the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the
subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them
from doing so." (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted)). The conclusory statement that Ward failed to train
the officers, despite having personal knowledge of problems
with training, is insufficient to establish his liability in
an individual capacity. See Cottone, 326 F.3d at
1360 (noting that the standard by which a supervisor may be
held liable in an individual capacity for the actions of
subordinates is "extremely rigorous").
Order dismissing Plaintiffs section 1983 claims against the
City and Ward in the original complaint advised him of the
deficiencies with his claims, including his failure to
adequately allege that they "knew of a need to train
officers in a particular area and that they made a
deliberate choice not to do so." (Dkt. 22 at p. 3). The
Order further advised Plaintiff that "[f]ailure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted against the City and
Ward in an amended complaint may result in dismissal of all
claims against them with prejudice." (Id. at
pp. 3-4). The Amended Complaint again fails to sufficiently
allege that the City and Ward were on notice of a need to
train TPD officers and, therefore, that their deliberate
decision not to train the officers constitutes a policy or
custom that was the moving force behind the violations of his
will be afforded another opportunity to allege legally
sufficient claims against the City and Ward. Failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted against the City and
Ward in a second amended complaint may result in dismissal of
his claims against them with prejudice, See Marantes v,
Miami-Dade Cnty, 649 Fed.Appx. 665, 673 (11th Cir. 2016)
(per curiam). ("[O]ur case law does not require a
district court to give a pro se litigant multiple
opportunities to amend.")
the City and Ward's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint
(Dkt. 27) is GRANTED. All claims against the
City and Ward are DISMISSED without
prejudice. Plaintiff is granted twenty-one (21)
days from the date of this Order to file an amended complaint
against the City and Ward, should he choose to do so. As
noted, Plaintiffs failure to allege legally sufficient claims
against the City and Ward in a second amended complaint,
after twice being put on notice of the deficiencies with his
claims, may result in dismissal of his claims against them