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Bacewic v. Hassel

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

July 24, 2018

AMY BACEWIC, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF MATTHEW HASSEL, CAPTAIN DANIEL BUTT, and QUALITY CORRECTIONAL CARE, LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Andrew P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the court on the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claims for Relief Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, §504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Claims Under Indiana State Law for False Imprisonment and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress [DE 17] filed by the defendants, Sheriff Matthew Hassel and Captain Daniel Butt, on February 26, 2018. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         Background

         The plaintiff, Amy Bacewic, initiated this matter on January 11, 2018, in the Marshall Superior Court alleging claims under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; §504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §794(a); Title II of the American with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12132 (ADA); and under Indiana state law for false imprisonment, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. This matter was removed to this court by the defendants, Sheriff Matthew Hassel and Captain Daniel Butt (defendants), on January 19, 2018. At the time of this incident, Sheriff Hassel was the sheriff of Marshall County, and Captain Daniel Butt was a deputy who served as a supervisor for the correctional staff at the Marshall County Jail.

         The complaint has alleged that on November 16, 2016, Bacewic was taken into custody by the Marshall County Jail as a pretrial detainee. Upon arrival at the jail, she notified the defendants of her medical conditions and disabilities, including her advanced stage-chronic kidney disease. Bacewic received dialysis while detained at the jail, which subsequently led to an infection. She notified the defendants of the infection and requested immediate care and emergency assistance. However, she has alleged that the defendants, in response to her continuous requests for assistance, retaliated against her by locking her in solitary confinement for approximately 28 days. After her release from solitary confinement, she was rushed to the hospital because of the severity of her illness.

         The defendants now move to dismiss Bacewic's claims under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title II of the ADA, §504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Indiana state law claims for false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The defendants are not challenging Bacewic's claim under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, the defendants have not presented arguments challenging the negligence claim. Bacewic filed a response in opposition on March 1, 2018, and the defendants filed a reply on March 6, 2018.

         Discussion

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows for a complaint to be dismissed if it fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Allegations other than those of fraud and mistake are governed by the pleading standard outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), which requires a “short and plain statement” to show that a pleader is entitled to relief. See Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 946 (7th Cir. 2013). The Supreme Court clarified its interpretation of the Rule 8(a)(2) pleading standard in a decision issued in May 2009. While Rule 8(a)(2) does not require the pleading of detailed allegations, it nevertheless demands something more “than an un-adorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)); Cincinnati Life Ins., 722 F.3d at 946 (“The primary purpose of [Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 and 10(b)] is to give defendants fair notice of the claims against them and the grounds supporting the claims.”) (quoting Stanard v. Nygren, 658 F.3d 792, 797 (7th Cir. 2011)); Peele v. Clifford Burch, 722 F.3d 956, 959 (7th Cir. 2013) (explaining that one sentence of facts combined with boilerplate language did not satisfy the requirements of Rule 8); Joren v. Napolitano, 633 F.3d. 1144, 1146 (7th Cir. 2011). This pleading standard applies to all civil matters. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 684.

         The decision in Iqbal discussed two principles that underscored the Rule 8(a)(2) pleading standard announced by Twombly. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (discussing Rule 8(a)(2)'s requirement that factual allegations in a complaint must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level”). First, a court must accept as true only factual allegations pled in a complaint-“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action” that amount to “legal conclusions” are insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Next, only complaints that state “plausible” claims for relief will survive a motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. If the pleaded facts do not permit the inference of more than a “mere possibility of misconduct, ” then the complaint has not met the pleading standard outlined in Rule 8(a)(2). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; see Brown v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 2009 WL 1761101, at *1 (7th Cir. June 23, 2009) (defining “facially plausible” claim as a set of facts that allows for a reasonable inference of liability). The Supreme Court has suggested a two-step process for a court to follow when considering a motion to dismiss. First, any “well-pleaded factual allegations” should be assumed to be true by the court. Next, these allegations can be reviewed to determine if they “plausibly” give rise to a claim that would entitle the complainant to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 465 (7th Cir. 2010). Reasonable inferences from well-pled facts must be construed in favor of the plaintiff. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995); Maxie v. Wal-Mart Store, 2009 WL 1766686, at *2 (N.D. Ind. June 19, 2009) (same); Banks v. Montgomery, 2009 WL 1657465, at *1 (N.D. Ind. June 11, 2009) (same).

         A complaint that lacks organization and coherence so that it is too confusing to understand the factual basis of the wrongful conduct also is subject to dismissal. Cincinnati Life Ins., 722 F.3d at 946. The court assesses this by considering whether it can make out the essence of the claims. Cincinnati Life Ins., 722 F.3d at 946. A complaint is not unintelligible simply because it contains repetitive and irrelevant matter. Cincinnati Life Ins., 722 F.3d at 946. “Rather, we have found complaints wanting when they present a ‘vague, confusing, and conclusory articulation of the factual and legal basis for the claim and [take] a general “kitchen sink” approach to pleading the case.' . . . [D]ismissal is the appropriate remedy for district courts presented with ‘a bucket of mud.'” Cincinnati Life Ins., 722 F.3d at 946-47 (quoting Stanard, 658 F.3d at 798).

         The defendants have argued that Bacewic has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish a claim under the Equal Protection clause. Specifically, the defendants have argued that the complaint does not present any factual allegations that Bacewic was treated differently than other similarly situated pretrial detainees. Bacewic has indicated that the defendants' argument has no basis. However, she has not presented an argument to the contrary.

         The Equal Protection clause forbids a state to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1. An equal-protection claim brought by a “class of one” can succeed only if the plaintiff proves that she has been intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for the different treatment. Engquist v. Or. Dep't of Agric., 553 U.S. 591, 601, 128 S.Ct. 2146, 170 L.Ed.2d 975 (2008); Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564, 120 S.Ct. 1073, 145 L.Ed.2d 1060 (2000). A similarly situated individual is one who is "prima facie identical in all relevant respects." Racine Charter One, Inc. V. Racine Unified School District, 424 F.3d 677, 680 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Purze v. Village of Winthrop Harbor, 286 F.3d 452, 455-56 (7th Cir. 2004)).

         Bacewic's Equal Protection claim fails because the complaint does not allege that Bacewic's treatment as a pretrial detainee was different than other pretrial detainees who were similarly situated. See Tasby v. Heimlick, 2011 WL 663080, at *2 (N.D. Ind. 2011) (The court dismissed the plaintiff's Equal Protection claim because he did not allege that he was being treated worse than similarly situated inmates.) The complaint alleges that, “Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Defendants may not discriminate against disabled detainees without a reason rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest.” The plaintiff must plead factual content that allows the court to draw reasonable inferences that ...


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