Groden v. City of Dallas, No. 15-10073 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, the author of several books regarding the Kennedy assassination, filed suit against the city under Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, alleging that the City was liable for plaintiff's unconstitutional arrest. Plaintiff claimed that the city adopted an unconstitutional policy of retaliating against unpopular-but constitutionally-protected speech and that, acting under this policy, plaintiff was illegally arrested. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims against the city of Dallas under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), primarily because his complaint did not name the specific municipal policymaker. The court held that, for purposes of Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff is not required to single out the specific policymaker in his complaint. Instead, a plaintiff need only plead facts that show that the defendant or defendants acted pursuant to a specific official policy, which was promulgated or ratified by the legally authorized policymaker. In this case, the court found that the statutorily authorized policymaker is the Dallas city council. The court concluded that plaintiff pled sufficient facts to show that the city council promulgated or ratified the illegal-arrest policy and thus that this policy was attributable to the city of Dallas. The court further concluded that, in all other relevant respects, plaintiff pled a sufficient complaint to survive a dismissal on the pleadings. Accordingly, the court reversed the dismissal of the Monell claim.