Wednesday, March 05, 2008

When York County Jail inmate Holmstedt sued the county and various officers for civil rights violations under 42 USC Section 1983 he did not identify whether he was suing them as individuals or as officials of the County. Nebraska Supreme Court follows rule of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999))that the plaintiff must clearly identify that civil rights defendants are individuals or the court will assume they were acting in their official capacities. Since the plaintiff did not properly serve the defendants as county officials under § 25-510.02(2). Holmstedt v. York Cty. Jail Supervisor, S-05-906, 275 Neb. 161 "the The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has held that in order to sue a public official in his or her individual capacity, “a plaintiff must expressly and unambiguously state so in the pleadings, otherwise, it will be assumed that the defendant is sued only in his or her official capacity.” Johnson v. Outboard Marine Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999). See, also, Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920 (8th Cir. 2007) (stating that requiring express statement that defendant is sued in individual capacity is consistent with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). in order to meet the pleading requirement in § 1983 actions, “litigants wishing to sue government agents in both capacities should simply use the following language: ‘Plaintiff sues each and all defendants in both their individual and official capacities.’” Nix v. Norman, 879 F.2d 429, 431 (8th Cir. 1989) the rule followed by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is reasonable and addresses a valid concern regarding providing sufficient notice to individual defendants, especially where a legal action could result in personal liability. The Eighth Circuit rule is simple for a court to apply, and it is not difficult for a plaintiff to comply with the rule. Having concluded that Holmstedt sued the individual defendants solely in their official capacities, we consider the defendants’ motions to dismiss pursuant to rule 12(b)(2), (4), and (5). We conclude that Holmstedt failed to properly serve the defendants in their official capacities and that therefore, the district court did not err in granting the motions to dismiss pursuant to rule 12(b)(2), (4), and when a motion to dismiss raises rule 12(b)(6) grounds and any combination of rule 12(b)(2), (4), and (5) grounds, the court should consider the rule 12(b)(2), (4), and (5) grounds first and should then consider the rule 12(b)(6) grounds only if it determines that it has personal jurisdiction and that process and service of process were sufficient. See Sinochem Intern. v. Malaysia Intern. Shipping, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S. Ct. 1184, 167 L. Ed. 2d 15 (2007)

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