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Pratt v. Marion County Sheriff

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

March 14, 2018

LEE PRATT, Plaintiff,
v.
MARION COUNTY SHERIFF, JANE DOE Marion County Sheriff Deputys in her official and individual capacities, JOHN DOE Marion County Sheriff Deputys in his official and individual capacities, CORECIVIC, INC. d/b/a CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, JANE SMITH CoreCivic, Inc. employees, and JOHN SMITH CoreCivic, Inc. employees, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Marion County Sheriff's Office's (the “Sheriff's Office”) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. [Filing No. 16.] The Sheriff's Office seeks dismissal of the claims brought against it by Plaintiff Lee Pratt pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the state law doctrine of respondeat superior. [Filing No. 1.] For the reasons detailed herein, the Court is GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Sheriff's Office's Motion to Dismiss and dismisses Mr. Pratt's § 1983 and respondeat superior claims against the Sheriff's Office.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II. Background

         The factual allegations in Mr. Pratt's Complaint, which the Court must accept as true, are as follows:

         Mr. Pratt initiated this action in July 2017 against various defendants, including the Sheriff's Office. [Filing No. 1.] Mr. Pratt's claims arose when he received injuries to his face, mouth, teeth, and jaw in a physical altercation with two inmates during his incarceration in Marion County Jail II (the “Jail”). [Filing No. 1 at 4.] John and Jane Joe, Marion County Sheriff Deputies assigned to the Jail, were aware of the incident. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] Shortly after the incident, an employee of the jail identified only as Ms. Shaw met Mr. Pratt. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] Mr. Pratt notified Ms. Shaw that he required medical attention for his injuries. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] Mr. Pratt was visibly bleeding from his mouth, and notified Ms. Shaw that he had suffered the loss of a tooth, had three loose teeth in his lower jaw, was experiencing severe pain, and believed that his jaw was broken. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] However, Ms. Shaw denied Mr. Pratt's request for medical attention and denied four subsequent requests for the same. [Filing No. 1 at 5.] Throughout this time, the condition of Mr. Pratt's mouth and jaw continued to deteriorate to the point where Mr. Pratt could not eat. [Filing No. 1 at 6.] Mr. Pratt's complaints and requests were ignored by Jail Personnel for the next six to seven days. [Filing No. 1 at 6-7.]

         Sometime thereafter, Mr. Pratt complained to a Jail employee identified only as Wilson about his need for immediate medical care and treatment. [Filing No. 1 at 7.] The next day, Mr. Pratt was transferred to the Emergency Department at Eskenazi Health, where he was diagnosed with three left mandible fractures and a severe infection of his lower teeth that would require removal. [Filing No. 1 at 7.] Mr. Pratt underwent left mandible surgery at Eskenazi Health and was proscribed a “regimen of medication, non-solid food, and periodic follow-up medical care.” [Filing No. 1 at 7.] Since Mr. Pratt's surgery, Jail personnel have prevented him from obtaining his prescribed medications and attending his follow-up medical appointments, and have prevented him from eating by replacing Mr. Pratt's liquid diet with solid food. [Filing No. 1 at 7.]

         On August 25, 2017, Mr. Pratt filed suit for compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and Ind. Code § 34-24-3-1. [Filing No. 1 at 11.] Furthermore, Mr. Pratt requests a permanent injunction requiring the Sheriff's Office to adopt appropriate policies for hiring and supervising its law enforcement officers and agents, and for the care and treatment of the Jail inmates. [Filing No 1 at 11-12.] On November 9, 2017, the Sheriff's Office filed a Motion to Dismiss. [Filing No. 16.] Mr. Pratt did not respond to the Sheriff's Office's Motion, and it is now ripe for the Court's review.

         III. Discussion

         The Sheriff's Office asserts two arguments in support of its Motion to Dismiss: (1) that Mr. Pratt failed to plead sufficient factual content to support a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim under the Monell standard; and (2) that Mr. Pratt's respondeat superior claims against the Sheriff's Office are invalid since his allegations are against unnamed employees. [Filing No. 17.] The Court will address each argument in turn.

         A. Mr. Pratt's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim Against the Sheriff's Office

         In support of its argument that Mr. Pratt failed to plead sufficient factual content to support a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim under the Monell standard, the Sheriff's Office argues that the language used in the Complaint is boilerplate Monell language that is nonactionable. [Filing No. 26 at 3-4.] Mr. Pratt's Complaint alleges that the Sheriff's Office violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when “the Sheriff implemented and executed official government policy” that caused injury to Mr. Pratt, and that the Sheriff's “acts and/or edicts may fairly be said to represent the official policies of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.” [Filing No. 1 at 3.] Mr. Pratt's Complaint further states that the Sheriff ‚Äúdeveloped and maintained policies and customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to the ...


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