United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Seal Record and
Proceed Anonymously [DE 4], filed by Plaintiff AGM on March
2, 2016; a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6)
[DE 28], filed by Mental Health Center A and Doctor A on May
10, 2016; a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [DE
32], filed by Medical Group B and Doctor B on May 23, 2016; a
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) [DE 34],
filed by Hospital C on May 23, 2016; and a Motion for Summary
Ruling [DE 42], filed by Hospital C on June 17, 2016. For the
reasons set forth in this Opinion and Order, the motions are
granted and all claims are dismissed without prejudice.
January 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint with this
Court, with her full name in the caption. In the Motion to
Seal Record and Proceed Anonymously, filed on March 2, 2016,
Plaintiff asks the Court to “seal her identity”
and to allow her to proceed anonymously by her initials.
District of Indiana Local Rule 5-3 provides: “No
document will be maintained under seal in the absence of an
authorizing statute, Court rule, or Court order.” N.D.
Ind. L.R. 5-3(a). In the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals,
the general presumption is that judicial records are public,
but this can be overridden when “the property and
privacy interests of the litigants . . . predominate in the
particular case” such that “there is good cause
for sealing a part or the whole of the record.”
Citizens First Nat'l Bank v. Cincinnati Ins.
Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999); see also
Forst v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 602 F.Supp.2d 960,
974 (E.D. Wis. 2009). The bar is quite high: “[a]ny
step that withdraws an element of the judicial process from
public view makes the ensuing decision look more like fiat
and requires rigorous justification” by the Court.
Hicklin Eng'g, L.C. v. Bartell, 439 F.3d 346,
348 (7th Cir. 2006).
Rule of Civil Procedure 10 requires that a complaint name all
of the parties. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has
“repeatedly voiced [its] disfavor of parties proceeding
anonymously, as anonymous litigation runs contrary to the
rights of the public to have open judicial proceedings and to
know who is using court facilities and procedures funded by
public taxes.” Doe v. Village of Deerfield,
819 F.3d 372, 376-77 (7th Cir. 2016). Thus, in order to
“proceed anonymously, a party must demonstrate
‘exceptional circumstances' that outweigh both the
public policy in favor of identified parties and the
prejudice to the opposing party that would result from
anonymity.” Id. at 377 (citing Doe v. Blue
Cross & Blue Shield United of Wis., 112 F.3d 869,
872 (7th Cir. 1997); Doe v. City of Chicago, 360
F.3d 667, 669-70 (7th Cir. 2004)).
to allow a party to proceed anonymously is left to the
district court's discretion. Village of
Deerfield, 819 F.3d at 376. The Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals recognizes that, in some situations, a litigant's
use of a fictitious name is warranted, such as protecting the
identities of “‘children, rape victims, and other
particularly vulnerable parties.'” Id. at
377 (quoting Blue Cross, 112 F.3d at 872). Fear of a
retaliation is also often a compelling ground in favor of
anonymity. Id. (citing City of Chicago, 360
F.3d at 669); see also Doe ex rel. Doe v. Elmbrook Sch.
Dist., 658 F.3d 710, 721 (7th Cir. 2011) (affirming the
use of fictitious names when plaintiffs, who were minor
children and their parents, had legitimate fears of future
retribution in a case involving religious freedom). In
contrast, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has found that
a plaintiff's “fear of disclosure of his medical
and psychiatric information through litigation was
insufficient to warrant the plaintiff's anonymity.”
Blue Cross, 112 F.3d at 872.
whose Complaint is based on an involuntarily confinement for
suicide risk, argues that Defendants' actions related to
her involuntary confinement violated her rights, and, thus,
she is required to pursue the action to clear her name and
her credit. She reasons that any search of her name for a
background and security clearance check will identify this
cause of action. Thus, she asks the Court to seal her
identity because the relevant information is medical in
nature and highly sensitive.
Court finds that the request to seal the entire docket is not
justified but that, under all the circumstances, maintaining
Plaintiff and Defendants' anonymity on the public docket
is justified. As set forth below, all of Plaintiff's
claims are being dismissed. Although Plaintiff, pro se,
initially filed her complaint with her full name, placing her
identity in this lawsuit in the public realm, the fact that
none of her claims will survive weighs in favor of anonymity
given the sensitive nature of the mental health aspects of
the factual allegations. The public's interest in
understanding the resolution of this dispute will not be
hindered, and the legal conclusions of this Opinion and Order
will remain a part of the body of law issued from this Court.
Also, it appears that Plaintiff should have brought her
claims against Defendants as anonymous entities under the
Indiana Medical Malpractice Act as all of the state law
claims against Defendants fall within the scope of the Act.
the Court denies the motion as to the request to seal the
record and grants the motion as to the request to proceed
anonymously, finding that the case should proceed anonymously
on the face of the docket as to all parties.
January 21, 2016, Plaintiff AGM filed a pro se Complaint,
bringing claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and
1986 and under Indiana state law and making the following
allegations. Doctor B worked for Medical Group B and
contracted with or was employed by Hospital C as an emergency
room doctor. Doctor A was employed by Mental Health Center A.
Plaintiff alleges that Hospital C, Medical Group B, and
Doctor B formulated a plan to illegally involuntarily commit
Plaintiff by detaining her and transferring her to Mental
Health Center A in violation of her federal statutory and
constitutional rights. She alleges that Mental Health Center
A and Doctor A willfully participated in the plan. She
alleges that all defendants were acting under color of state
alleges that, at the time of the incident, she was an
18-year-old sophomore at Valparaiso University. At
approximately 11:30 p.m. on January 22, 2014, emergency
personnel were contacted by Plaintiff's college dormitory
resident assistant. Paramedics then transferred Plaintiff to
Hospital C. The attending emergency room physician at
Hospital C was Doctor B, who listed Plaintiff's chief
complaint as a psychiatric evaluation, despite statements
from Plaintiff that she was just sad. Doctor B decided to
transfer Plaintiff, without her consent, to a psychiatric
facility-Mental Health Center A. Plaintiff alleges the
absence of any evidence indicating the required elements to
involuntarily hold someone. The Physicians' Emergency
Statement, signed by Doctor B, indicated that Plaintiff may
harm herself; Plaintiff alleges that there was no direct
evidence substantiating that finding.
Mental Health Center A, Plaintiff maintained repeatedly that
she was not suicidal or a harm to herself. Plaintiff alleges
that Doctor A coerced Plaintiff, stating that Plaintiff would
not be released until she admitted some nefarious intent and
agreed to take medication and receive future treatment. Other
employees of Mental Health Center A advised Plaintiff that
the three-day involuntary confinement would run over the
weekend and that she would be detained for five days.
Plaintiff alleges that, fearing for her safety, academic
performance, and employment, Plaintiff was forced to make
untrue statements about her condition to satisfy the
physicians at Mental Health Center A to secure her release.
Plaintiff was discharged from Mental Health Center A on
January 24, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., after approximately 40 hours
of involuntary confinement. Plaintiff subsequently lost her
only source of income (her employment). Plaintiff alleges
that, having graduated with a degree, she is unable to
utilize her degree and find a job due to the illegal,
unwarranted, and false imprisonment in the mental health
facility. She alleges that she has incurred substantial
medical fees, costs, and damages.
on these facts, Plaintiff brings claims of false
imprisonment, negligence, negligent supervision, assault, and
medical malpractice under Indiana law, a violation of the
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and a
violation of procedural due process under the United States
March 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Seal Record and
Proceed Anonymously. On May 10, 2016, Mental Health Center A,
Doctor A, Medical Group B, and Doctor B filed a joint
response and Hospital C filed a response separately.
Plaintiff did not file a reply.
10, 2016, Mental Health Center A and Doctor A filed a Motion
to Dismiss, seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff's
claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff filed a response on May 27, 2016. Mental Health
Center A and Doctor A filed a reply on June 2, 2016.
23, 2016, Medical Group B and Doctor B filed a Motion to
Dismiss, seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff filed a response on June 16, ...