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Johnson v. Layton

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 18, 2014



WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Defendants Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County d/b/a Wishard Memorial Hospital ("Wishard"), William Snyder, and Travis Steele's motion to dismiss (dkt. no. 43). This motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the following reasons.


The Defendants move to dismiss Johnson's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court "must accept all well pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Agnew v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 683 F.3d 328, 334 (7th Cir. 2012). For a claim to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, it must provide the defendant with "fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)) (omission in original). A complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Agnew, 683 F.3d at 334 (citations omitted). A complaint's factual allegations are plausible if they "raise the right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007).


On or about April 24, 2011, Plaintiff Mary Angela Johnson was on a first date with Scott Newton. At some point during the evening, Johnson and Newton separated so Johnson could make a phone call to check on her young daughter. While making that phone call in or near a downtown Indianapolis, Indiana parking garage, Johnson was attacked and raped, suffering a concussion and other injuries.

At some point after she was attacked, someone found her lying on the ground and called 911. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers responded to the call, and when they arrived they found her conscious and responsive. Unfortunately, at this time, Johnson did not recall being raped. The officers indicated that she had slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet, and suspected she was intoxicated. An ambulance was subsequently called, and Johnson was transported to Wishard for an examination.

Johnson was treated in the emergency room at Wishard for her injuries; her system was also tested for the presence of seven different drugs, but all results came back negative. During her examination, Johnson kicked a paramedic and yelled obscenities at Wishard staff. She was thus placed in a holding area of the hospital by Special Deputies Snyder and Steele, then law enforcement officers with the Marion County Sheriff's Office ("MCSO").[1] Snyder reported that Johnson had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, and smelled of alcohol.[2] Because of her behavior, Snyder and Steele arrested Johnson for battery, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication and transported her to the Marion County Jail.

Once there, Johnson asked to be taken back to Wishard because she remembered that she had been raped. She was subsequently transported back to the hospital, where she was examined by a forensic nurse and prescribed anti-HIV medication. After this examination was concluded, she was taken back to the Marion County Jail; however, the nurse failed to send the anti-HIV medication with her. Johnson told the staff at the jail that she did not have this medication, but nothing was ever done about it.

Johnson was held at the Marion County Jail for a period of time and then released. All charges against her were dismissed in September 2011. In August 2011, Johnson timely filed her notice of tort claims, and she filed suit in Marion County Superior Court on April 23, 2013. The case was removed to this Court on May 16, 2013.


Johnson brings eight claims against the Defendants: (1) a Monell claim against the Sheriff of Marion County; (2) a Monell claim against Wishard; (3) equal protection claims against Deputies Snyder and Steele; (4) negligence claims against all Defendants; (5) a negligent retention and training claim against Wishard; (6) invasion of privacy by false light claims against all Defendants; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") claims against all Defendants; and (8) negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") claims against all Defendants. Defendants Wishard, Snyder, and Steele move to dismiss the claims against them. Their arguments will be addressed, in turn, below.

A. Monell Claim Against Defendant Wishard

In Count II of her Amended Complaint, Johnson brings a Monell claim against Defendant Wishard claiming that it violated her equal protection rights by failing to have adequate policies in place for the protection of female victims of sexual assault. "To state a Monell claim against [Wishard] for violation of [Johnson's] right to equal protection, [Johnson is] required to plead[ ] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that [Wishard] maintained a policy, custom, or practice of intentional discrimination against a class of persons to which [Johnson] belonged." McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). The specific policy Johnson refers to in her Amended Complaint is the cooperative agreement between Wishard and the MCSO.

The pertinent portions of the policy included in Johnson's Amended Complaint are as follow:

• Every Special Deputy shall refrain from using unnecessary force at any time;
• Every special deputy shall avoid using uncomplimentary terms of speech to any inmate, detainee, or citizen, and shall not intentionally antagonize any person with whom he comes into contact;
• No special deputy shall at any time, or for any reason, willfully subject any person to cruel treatment or willfully neglect any necessary humane action which circumstances may require; and
• Alleged victims of sexual assault shall be referred under appropriate security provisions to the emergency room at Wishard or another qualified community facility for treatment and gathering of evidence.

Amended Complaint ¶¶ 81-84. As Wishard notes, this "is exactly the sort of policy one would hope to see from a hospital with regard to its security personnel." Defs.' Brief at 5. Johnson, however, argues that "[t]he manner in which Wishard participated in the MCSO's program failed to protect female victims of sexual assault." Response at 4. Specifically, she argues that Wishard had a custom or practice of failing to comply with MCSO policies, and describes three separate instances where Deputies Snyder and Steele violated the MCSO policy.

First, in September 2003, Deputy Steele was issued a "final warning" and received a five-day suspension for providing false information to Wishard regarding a fight he assisted in. Second, in December 2007, a Wishard employee noted that Snyder had a "seriously sarcastic and almost negative attitude towards staff, patients, and visitors." Finally, in June 2008, the mother of a patient ...

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