JOHN R. BROWN, Circuit Judge:
Alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, pretrial detainee's survivors appeal the 12(b)(6) dismissal of their claims against Brazos County, its Sheriff and "unnamed employees." For the following reasons, we (1) hold that we do not have jurisdiction over all Plaintiffs on appeal, (2) affirm the dismissal of the unnamed defendants, (3) reverse the dismissal of Brazos County and Sheriff Ronnie Miller in his capacity as Sheriff, and (4) reverse the dismissal of Sheriff Ronnie Miller, individually.
How It All Began
The complaint filed by Richard Lee Colle's survivors alleges the following facts. On February 20, 1985, Colle was arrested pursuant to a felony warrant and confined as a pretrial detainee in the Brazos County Jail in Bryan, Texas. Colle was visibly intoxicated. Two days later, Colle slipped and fell in the jail. A physician examined him at St. Joseph's Hospital in Bryan and determined that the injuries were minor. The doctor advised the jail personnel to monitor Colle's condition because of his alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver and possible onset of delirium tremens.
The Second Original Amended Complaint asserted in part that policies of Sheriff Miller caused a deprivation of Colle's Fourteenth Amendment right, which included the right to adequate medical treatment.
On February 7, 1990, the trial judge by order dismissed Plaintiffs' claims against Brazos County for failure to state a federal claim upon which relief can be granted and against Sheriff Miller for failure to allege facts that would deny Miller qualified immunity.
On April 7, 1990, Plaintiffs filed a motion for continuance and to extend the time for filing the joint pretrial order. At an April 16 hearing, Plaintiffs moved for a continuance. The trial judge stated that the case had been on file for three years and that the "unnamed employees" had not yet been identified or served. To this Plaintiffs' counsel suggested, "the Court might want to consider dismissing as to those two remaining Defendants. I, quite honestly, don't see any problems with doing that." The court responded:
Plaintiffs' counsel failed to object, and the dismissal order was filed on April 18, 1990.
A Stumbling Block of Jurisdictional Proportion
The initial issue before this court is jurisdictional. We raise the question sua sponte because we have an independent duty to determine our jurisdiction over any case presented to us for decision.
Fed.R.App.P. 3(c) provides in pertinent part that a notice of appeal "shall specify the party or parties taking the appeal." The Supreme Court has made clear that the language "et al." in a notice of appeal fails to provide the required notice under Rule 3(c).
The Court concluded that the failure to include the name of a petitioner in the notice constituted a jurisdictional bar to the appeal on behalf of the unidentified party.
The NA, however, was adequate with respect to Ruby Colle and Ricky Samuel Colle, a minor, on whose behalf Ruby Colle jointly sued. After Torres, the Fifth Circuit has recognized four situations in which failure to name a party in a notice of appeal is not fatal to gaining jurisdiction.
Other Circuits recognize additional exceptions to Torres.
The Fifth Circuit, however, has not reached the same conclusion as the Ninth Circuit on the use of generic terms. In Resolution Trust v. Sonny's Old Land Corp., we held that our jurisdiction was limited to the only named defendant since "defendants" did not indicate with any degree of certainty which of the other defendants below joined in the appeal.
The Unnamed Defendants
In addition to the other defendants, Plaintiffs brought suit against "unnamed employees of the Brazos County Sheriff's Department." Because Plaintiffs failed to further identify who these employees were, the district court's dismissed the "unnamed employees" for want of prosecution. We conclude that the dismissal was proper.
A dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute operates as an adjudication on the merits
Plaintiffs' failure to further identify or serve the "unnamed employees" after three years,
12(b)(6): Failure to State a Claim
We now consider whether the district judge properly dismissed claims against Brazos County and Ronnie Miller, in his official capacity as Sheriff, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under 12(b)(6), a defendant may move for dismissal for the failure of the plaintiff's complaint to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When reviewing a 12(b)(6) dismissal,
A plaintiff's complaint ordinarily need only be a short and plain statement that gives the defendant notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.
(i) County Liability under § 1983
Plaintiffs bring suit against Brazos County and Sheriff Miller in his official capacity for the injuries incurred by Colle. Section 1983 imposes civil liabilities for depriving a person of constitutionally protected rights. First, we address whether Plaintiffs' claim is sufficient to allege a constitutional deprivation under § 1983.
Plaintiffs charge that Colle's death was the direct result of Brazos County's deliberate indifference toward his medical needs. The right of convicted prisoners not to have serious medical needs treated with deliberate indifference was established in Estelle v. Gamble.
To establish county/municipality
Plaintiffs' detailed complaint identifies several policies which they allege caused the denial of reasonable medical care to Colle.
In this case, we need not decide whether all of the stated policies were sufficient to allege a cause of action under § 1983 since we find that at least two of the alleged policies were sufficiently pleaded. Specifically, Plaintiffs complain that Brazos County, through its delegated policy-maker, Sheriff Miller, had a policy of maintaining an on-duty jail supervisory staff that did not include anyone with authority to transfer an inmate to a medical facility. Plaintiffs also allege a policy of inadequate monitoring of pretrial detainees which amounted to a denial of medical care.
That Colle has pleaded the existence of policies that might fasten liability on Brazos County does not, however, suffice to create a jury question. Although plaintiffs have cited with excruciating detail the events leading up to Colle's death, as well as the alleged policies responsible for the inattention to Colle's steadily declining physical state, more facts will be needed ultimately to establish liability. As we recently stated in Rhyne v. Henderson County;
As Rhyne holds, the ultimate jury question in this case is whether Brazos County adopted policies creating an obvious risk that pretrial detainees' constitutional rights would be violated. While the facts pleaded by Colle could support an inference that unconstitutional county policies were the "moving force" behind the carelessness that led to Colle's death, the facts as presently pleaded only set the stage for further discovery. Monell v. Dept. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2036, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978).
(ii) Sheriff Miller Stands Alone
Ruby Colle's complaint also states a claim against Sheriff Miller in his individual capacity. We reiterate that § 1983 claims require allegations of specific facts, not mere conclusions. Further, when government officials are likely to invoke qualified immunity, we demand that a complaint state factual detail and particularity including why the defendant-official cannot maintain the immunity defense.
Government officials are shielded by qualified immunity from liability for damages under § 1983 so long, but only so long, as their conduct has not violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known."
A constitutional right to minimally adequate care and treatment is not a novel proposition. We are persuaded that Sheriff Miller knew of or should have known that if he staffed the jail with persons having no authority to transfer a seriously ill detainee to a hospital, and if he pursued a policy of failing to monitor the critical medical condition of a detainee, these actions would be constitutionally impermissible. If the allegations in Plaintiffs' complaint are true, and they must be accepted as true, Miller should have known that such a policy would result in the deprivation of a detainee's right to reasonable medical care. At this stage of the proceeding, Miller is not entitled to a 12(b)(6) dismissal.
Accordingly, we hold that Plaintiffs have adequately stated a claim against Brazos County, and Sheriff Miller in both his official and individual capacity under § 1983. We dismiss for lack of jurisdiction claims brought by Plaintiffs Edna Colle, Judy Davidson, and Tara Rose Colle; affirm the district court's dismissal of the unnamed defendants; and reverse the court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims against Brazos County and Sheriff Miller.
AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART.
The evolving interpretations of adequate notice after Torres generate extensive research responsibilities for practitioners and the judiciary. A search of Shepard's citation service yields at least twenty opinions that address situations distinguishable from Torres. We join the Sixth and the Seventh Circuits in endorsing a revision of Rule 3(c) to identify all valid exceptions after Torres. See Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. Borg-Warner Corp., 913 F.2d 419, 424 n. 3 (7th Cir.1990); Minority Employees of Tenn. Dep't of Employment Sec. v. Tennessee, 901 F.2d 1327, 1335 n. 4 (6th Cir.1990).
Id. at 84.
Since there is nothing pled to support the existence of policy number two, we dismiss it. In addition, policies one, five, and six are facts of the case, not official policy.