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Doe v. Vigo County

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 18, 2017

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
VIGO COUNTY, INDIANA, and DAVID GRAY in his individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          ORDER ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          LARRY J. MCKINNEY, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Vigo County, Indiana's (“Vigo County's”) Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 53. Vigo County moves for summary judgment as to all claims alleged against it by Jane Doe in her Amended Complaint. Dkt. 35. Doe alleges that Vigo County is vicariously liable for the torts of its employee, David Gray, after he assaulted and raped her while she was performing community service under Gray's supervision at a park in Vigo County. Vigo County claims that it cannot be held liable because Gray's tortious behavior falls outside the scope of his employment as a maintenance specialist with Vigo County. For the reasons set forth below, Vigo County's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. VIGO COUNTY PARKS DEPARTMENT

         The facts in this matter are not in dispute. Prior to 2009, maintenance specialists with the Vigo County Parks Department (“Parks Department”) were supervised by a foreman who directly reported to the Assistant Superintendent. Dkt. 57-1 at 7. Beginning in 2010, the foremen position as a level of management was eliminated due to budgetary concerns. Dkt. 57-1 at 8. Following the cuts, the Parks Department was reorganized to provide a team of two maintenance specialists at each of the primary locations in Vigo County. Dkt. 57-1 at 8.

         In 2009, Kara Kish was hired as the Assistant Superintendent of the Parks Department. Dkt. 57-1 at 6. Kish was promoted to Superintendent in 2013. Dkt. 57-2 at 5. The Parks Department hired Adam Grossman as Assistant Superintendent to oversee maintenance specialists and report to Kish. Dkt. 57-3 at 10. Grossman stated that maintenance specialists are “given a lot of autonomy.” Dkt. 57-3 at 9.

         David Gray began working for the Parks Department on July 1, 2001. Dkt. 57-5 at 12. He was hired as a temporary employee and subsequently received a full-time maintenance specialist position. Dkt. 57-5 at 13; Dkt. 57-1 at 9.

         In the fall of 2014, Gray worked with Mark Wiggins at Prairie Creek Park. Dkt. 57-6 at 8, 11. When someone would come in to do community service with the Parks Department, Wiggins was told that Gray would supervise them. Dkt. 57-6 at 13. Wiggins let Gray handle all community service workers. Dkt. 57-6 at 14. Gray and Wiggins worked by themselves at the park a fair amount of time and were provided a lot of autonomy. Dkt. 57-6 at 20; Dkt. 57-3 at 9.

         B. INCIDENT

         In 2014, Doe was convicted of public intoxication in Vigo County. Dkt. 57-7 at 17. The conviction resulted in probation and the requirement that she perform thirty or forty hours of community service. Dkt. 57-7 at 17. Doe chose to perform her community service at the Parks Department. Dkt. 57-7 at 18-19.

         On November 3, 2014, Doe, who brought her daughter with her, went to perform community service for the Parks Department at Prairie Creek Park. Dkt. 57-7 at 25, 29-30. Fearing that she would fail to get her community service hours performed by the date ordered by the court, Doe asked Gray if she could give him fifty dollars to sign off on the rest of her hours. Dkt. 57-7 at 30. Gray told her, “Keep your money. Why don't you go get some tequila and we'll figure something out.” Dkt. 57-7 at 31. Gray then gave her money and told her to go to the liquor store. Dkt. 57-7 at 31. Doe purchased the tequila and returned to the park. Dkt. 57-7 at 37. Doe gave the tequila to Gray who procured two glasses with ice and made a drink for himself; Doe also made a drink. Dkt. 57-7 at 39-40.

         After making the drinks, Gray told Doe that they were going to clear off some trails. Dkt. 57-7 at 42. Gray, Doe, and Doe's daughter then rode on an ATV vehicle to take Doe's daughter to a playground. Dkt. 57-5 at 42. Doe's daughter was dropped off at a playground and given a walkie-talkie so that she could communicate with Doe if necessary. Dkt. 57-7 at 43-45.

         Gray and Doe got back on the ATV and rode to the restrooms, which were approximately four or five minutes away from the playground. Dkt. 57-7 at 45-46. Gray told Doe that they needed to first clean the restrooms before getting to the trails. Dkt. 57- 7 at 46. Bedding and a blanket were on the floor of the bathroom. Dkt. 57-7 at 47. After Doe entered the restrooms, Gray locked the door behind them and began to kiss and place his hands on Doe, who told him that she was not comfortable with the fondling. Dkt. 57-7 at 47-48. Gray then raped Doe in the bathroom. Dkt. 57-7 at 49-51. At one point during the rape, Gray stated, “This is how we get your community service taken care of.” Dkt. 57-7 at 50.

         Shortly thereafter, Doe's daughter used the walkie-talkie to reach Doe. Dkt. 57-7 at 52. Gray, Doe, and Doe's daughter then cleaned trails for approximately thirty minutes before Gray took Doe and her daughter back to Doe's car. Dkt. 57-7 at 53-54. Doe then took her daughter to her boyfriend's house so that she could go to the hospital. Dkt. 57-7 at 57. Doe spoke with law enforcement officers about the rape at the hospital. Dkt. 57-7 at 57-58.

         On November 6, 2014, the State of Indiana charged Gray with: (1) Rape; (2) Criminal Confinement; and (3) Official Misconduct. Dkt. 57-10. Gray pleaded guilty to Criminal Confinement and Official Misconduct. Dkt. 57-11.

         C. OTHER GRAY INCIDENTS

         As part of their investigation into the rape, law enforcement spoke with Grossman about Gray's employment. Dkt. 57-3 at 31; Dkt. 57-5, Ex. 6. Grossman informed the officers that Gray had been written up for sexual harassment involving another county employee and was also involved in an undocumented ...


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