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Vale-Gugliuzzi v. Layton

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

July 13, 2018

KELLEY VALE-GUGLIUZZI as personal representative of the ESTATE OF JOSHUA BELLAMY, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN LAYTON in his official capacity as Sheriff of Marion County, JEJUAN WESTMORELAND in his individual and official capacities, CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS LLC, JENNIFER DEESE in her individual and Official capacities, WILBERT GORDY in his individual and official capacities, FELICIA CLARK in her individual and official capacities, MCDANIELS Deputy, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         This case arises following the suicide of Joshua Bellamy while he was an inmate in the Marion County Jail. Plaintiff Kelley Vale-Gugliuzzi, as representative of Mr. Bellamy's estate, raises multiple claims against a variety of defendants, including Correct Care Solutions LLC (“CCS”). Presently pending before the Court is CCS's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. For the reasons described below, the Court denies CCS's Motion.

         I.

         Legal Standard

         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 for judgment on the pleadings brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is governed by the same standard that applies to a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). United States v. Wood, 925 F.2d 1580, 1581 (7th Cir. 1991). A “court may consider only matters presented in the pleadings and must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Nat'l Fid. Life Ins. Co. v. Karaganis, 811 F.2d 357, 358 (7th Cir. 1987) (citing Republic Steel Corp. v. Pennsylvania Eng'g Corp., 785 F.2d 174, 177 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1986)). The Court should “take all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiffs' pleadings to be true, and [should] view the facts and inferences to be drawn from those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs.” Republic Steel Corp., 785 F.2d at 177 n. 2. However, “a court is ‘not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). “The documents a court may consider under Rule 12(c) include the complaint, the answer, and any written exhibits attached as exhibits [to either].” N. Indiana Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. 163 F.3d at 452, 452 (7th Cir. 1998) (citing Fed R. Civ. P. 10(c)). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings may be granted only if the moving party clearly establishes that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that [the moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Karaganis, 811 F.2d at 358 (citing Flora v. Home Fed. Savings & Loan Ass'n, 685 F.2d 209, 211 (7th Cir. 1982)).

         II.

         Background

         The following are the factual allegations in the First Amended Complaint, which, pursuant to the standard described above, the Court must accept as true at this time. In 2015, at least four inmates under the care and control of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, including Mark Snyder, Dejuan Shepard, Walter Gamble, and Thomas Miles, committed suicide. [Filing No. 36 at 3; Filing No. 36 at 8.] After those suicides, Marion County Sheriff John Layton created a suicide prevention task force, which in 2016 issued recommendations for several procedural changes to reduce the risk of jail suicides. [Filing No. 36 at 3.]

         On or about September 24, 2016, Mr. Bellamy was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail. [Filing No. 36 at 4.] At the time of his arrest, Mr. Bellamy's wife informed the arresting officers that Mr. Bellamy was suffering from the mental and/or physical symptoms of detoxification and withdrawal. Mr. Bellamy exhibited those symptoms while in jail, and another inmate in the Arrestee Processing Center indicated to jail staff that Mr. Bellamy was suffering from them. [Filing No. 36 at 4.]

         Defendant CCS is a for-profit company that contracts with the Marion County Sheriff's Office to provide medical care and treatment to inmates in the Marion County Jail. [Filing No. 36 at 3.] During Mr. Bellamy's initial intake to the jail, LPN Jennifer Deese, a nurse with CCS, completed a “Receiving Screening Form” regarding Mr. Bellamy. [Filing No. 36 at 4.] Ms. Deese recorded that Mr. Bellamy used heroin and Xanax on the day of his arrest and that he had a history of withdrawal after stopping usage of those drugs. [Filing No. 36 at 4.] On the portion of the form entitled “Suicide Potential Screening, ” Ms. Deese answered “no” as to whether Mr. Bellamy was under the influence of drugs and “no” as to whether he was showing signs of withdrawal or mental illness. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] On that same day, Ms. Deese completed a “Withdrawal Score Sheet” as to Mr. Bellamy, on which she indicated that Mr. Bellamy was experiencing nausea/vomiting, tremors, anxiety, and headaches. [Filing No. 36 at 5.]

         On or about September 26, 2016, Mr. Bellamy was recorded as having withdrawal symptoms more severe than those on September 24. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] At approximately 3:18 p.m., a blanket was placed over the window of Mr. Bellamy's cell, which was obvious to any individual who walked near his cell. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] Deputy Westmoreland, who was responsible for checking on inmates in Mr. Bellamy's unit that evening, conducted at least two checks of Mr. Bellamy's unit after the blanket had been affixed. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] Deputy Westmoreland did not remove the blanket or check on Mr. Bellamy. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] Later that evening, other inmates opened the door to Mr. Bellamy's cell. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] They found Mr. Bellamy with one end of a bed sheet tied around his neck, and the other end tied around a bunk bed. [Filing No. 36 at 5.] The inmates called for emergency assistance. [Filing No. 36 at 5.]

         Over the span of the next five minutes, four deputies looked inside or entered Mr. Bellamy's cell but did not attempt to render any aid. [Filing No. 36 at 5-7.] At approximately 4:07 p.m., Deputies Klakamp, Mottram, and Buchanan entered the cell and began to remove the sheet from Mr. Bellamy's neck. [Filing No. 36 at 7.] One officer told Deputy Klakamp not to remove the sheet from Mr. Bellamy's neck, because it “was a crime scene.” [Filing No. 36 at 7.] Deputy Klakamp nonetheless removed the sheet from Mr. Bellamy's neck and maintained Mr. Bellamy's airway while Deputy Mottram performed CPR. [Filing No. 36 at 7.] At approximately 4:09 p.m., medical staff arrived, and a nurse began to perform CPR. [Filing No. 36 at 7.] According to Deputy Klakamp, the nurse's performance of CPR was “very poor.” [Filing No. 36 at 7.] Mr. Bellamy was pronounced dead at 4:44 p.m.

         An internal affairs investigation was conducted following Mr. Bellamy's death. [Filing No. 36 at 8.] During that investigation, Deputy Westmoreland indicated that the situation had been overwhelming. [Filing No. 36 at 8.] The investigation determined that Deputy Westmoreland violated Marion County ...


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