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Marsh v. Huntington County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

August 17, 2016

JULIE MARSH, Plaintiff,
v.
HUNTINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RUDY LOZANO, Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the “Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint, In Part, by Defendant Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, ” filed by Defendant, the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, on April 14, 2016 (DE #68). For the reasons set forth below, the motion (DE #68) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case stems from the incarceration and ultimate suicide of Joshua Eckert, an inmate at the Huntington County Jail. Plaintiff, Julie Marsh, brings this action individually and as the special administrator for the Estate of Joshua Eckert against a number of Defendants, including the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department (hereinafter the “Department”).

         In her second amended complaint, Plaintiff includes claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that the Department failed to adequately train its correctional officers and other staff. (DE #63 ¶ 42.) The Department argues that Marsh’s factual allegations are insufficient (specifically, it argues she fails to set forth any facts to demonstrate that deficient training programs actually exist, how they amount to deliberate indifference, or how the Department’s alleged practice or policy could have caused the constitutional violation). As such, the Department requests dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims for failure to train.

         DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a complaint to be dismissed if it fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Allegations other than fraud and mistake are governed by the pleading standard outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement” that the pleader is entitled to relief. Maddox v. Love, 655 F.3d 709, 718 (7th Cir. 2011).

         In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face’.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)(quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). All well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences from those facts must be resolved in the plaintiff’s favor. Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 692 (7th Cir. 2008). However, pleadings consisting of no more than mere conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. This includes legal conclusions couched as factual allegations, as well as “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Facts

         Plaintiff points to the following allegations in the second amended complaint in support of her claim that she sufficiently alleged proper failure to train claims:

A. The Huntington County Jail had a policy that required the Defendant confinement officers to provide “continuous uninterrupted observation” of suicidal inmates. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 30.)
B. Eckert hung himself from the surveillance camera in his cell while on suicide watch, while he was the only inmate on observation status, while he was “acting strange all day, ” and while he was clearly observable via the surveillance camera, which showed him pulling on, stripping and tearing the threads of a suicide blanket, throwing blanket threads into the toilet, and tying some of the blanket fabric together. (Id. ¶¶ 20-26.)
C. The Huntington County Jail had policies and procedures that restricted Eckert’s ability to obtain his needed mental health medications because those medications could not be filled until a “Non-Preferred Medication Request Form” was completed by an off-site corporate ...

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