United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
JENNIFER BOGGS, for next friend and husband LARRY LEALLEN BOGGS, SR., Plaintiff,
WILLIAM REDMAN, JULIE LAWSON, GEORGE HOLVOET, KEVIN BROTHERS, and HANNAH SMITH, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. LEICHTY JUDGE.
Larry Boggs was brutally attacked by another inmate while
incarcerated in the St. Joseph County Jail. Because he is now
incapacitated and permanently disabled, Ms. Jennifer Boggs
has sued various officers for her husband alleging violations
of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
a state law claim of negligence. St. Joseph County Sheriff
William Redman, St. Joseph County Jail Warden Julie Lawson,
Lieutenant George Holvoet, Deputy Kevin Brothers, and Deputy
Hannah Smith have moved to dismiss the complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
complaint paints the following picture accepting its
well-pleaded allegations as true for this motion and drawing
inferences in the light most favorable to Ms. Boggs. Mr.
Boggs, a 135-pound white male and roofer by trade, was
arrested on July 24, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana for one
misdemeanor offense. ECF 4 ¶ 7, 10, 31. Officers
transported him to the St. Joseph County Jail where Deputy
Smith then booked, searched, screened, and interviewed him.
Id. ¶ 8-9.
booking, Deputy Smith (and other unnamed officers) saw that
Mr. Boggs had a white supremacist prison gang symbol tattooed
on his chest with the words “Aryan Brotherhood”
along with other tattoos and an iron cross. Id.
¶ 11. Despite these markings, Deputy Brothers, a jail
classification officer, placed Mr. Boggs in a cellblock where
the deputy knew his safety would be imminently threatened by
“non-white gang members and others violently opposed to
white supremacist prison gangs” who could overwhelm his
modest size and ability to defend against a physical attack.
Id. ¶ 13-14. Although the complaint is less
than clear on this point, it alleges that Deputy Brothers
twice claimed that Mr. Boggs had no gang affiliation or
conflict issue. Id. ¶ 15, 17.
days passed without incident. The morning of July 28, 2017,
another inmate, alleged to be “non-white, ”
attacked and attempted to murder Mr. Boggs, leaving him
unconscious and severely bleeding. Id. ¶ 20-21.
The complaint alleges that none of the defendants intervened
to protect Mr. Boggs, though it offers little as to where the
various officers were stationed that morning other than
generally that Warden Lawson was supervising the jail and
Lieutenant Holvoet was supervising the cellblock.
Id. ¶ 19, 22. Officers responded to Mr. Boggs
after another inmate discovered him unconscious. Id.
altercation required five months of hospital care for severe
brain trauma and numerous skull fractures. Id.
¶ 24-25. Even today, Mr. Boggs remains paralyzed and
confined to a wheelchair, without the ability to speak.
Id. ¶ 28. Ms. Boggs cares for Mr. Boggs
fulltime as well as three minor children. Id. ¶
29-30. The other inmate was convicted for his role in the
attack. Id. ¶ 27.
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded
factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Reynolds v. CB
Sports Bar, Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). A
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The statement must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim for relief that is plausible and establishes a right
to relief above the speculative level. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A plaintiff's
claim need only be plausible, not probable. Indep. Trust
Corp. v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935
(7th Cir. 2012). Evaluating whether a plaintiff's claim
is sufficiently plausible to survive a motion to dismiss is
“a context-specific task that requires the reviewing
court to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d
611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
addition to a state law negligence claim, Ms. Boggs filed
several federal constitutional claims under the Fourth
Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause
and Equal Protection Clause. In large measure, she claims
that the various officers named as defendants failed to
protect Mr. Boggs from his assailant while in custody. 42
U.S.C. § 1983 provides a right of action to any person
who is deprived “of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.”
Sheriff William Redman
Boggs has sued Sheriff Redman in his official representative
capacity. “A suit against a governmental officer in his
official capacity is really a suit against the entity of
which the officer is an agent.” Franklin v.
Zaruba, 150 F.3d 682, 684 n.2 (7th Cir. 1998).
“There is no respondeat superior liability
under section 1983, ” so “the violation of the
plaintiff's rights must result from a municipal custom or
policy [for] the municipality to be held liable.”
Ball v. City of Indianapolis, 760 F.3d 636, 643 (7th
Cir. 2014) (citing Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs.,
436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)); accord Grieveson v.
Anderson, 538 F.3d 763, 771 (7th Cir. 2008). At this
stage, mere “[b]oilerplate allegations of a municipal
policy, entirely lacking in any factual support that a city
policy does exist, are insufficient.” Rodgers v.
Lincoln Towing Serv., Inc., 771 F.2d 194, 202 (7th Cir.
1985). There must be an “affirmative link”
between the policy and the alleged constitutional violation;
the policy must be the moving force behind the violation.
Sivard v. Pulaski Cty., 17 F.3d 185, 188 (7th Cir.
1994); see also Grieveson, 538 F.3d at 771.
Boggs has adumbrated no facts that would support an inference
of a policy-whether an official policy, unwritten custom, or
“series of violations to lay the premise of deliberate
indifference” or to sustain an official capacity §
1983 claim. Thomas v. Cook Cty. Sheriff's Dept.,
604 F.3d 293, 303 (7th Cir. 2010); Rodgers, 771 F.2d
at 201-02. She occasionally alleges that certain acts
occurred “by policy” (ECF 4 ¶ 5, 33, 35),
but that boilerplate language offers no definition to the
alleged policy and provides no context for finding such a
policy to have motivated the constitutional deprivation.
Granted, this case remains at the pleading stage as Ms. Boggs
points out, but she cannot proceed without some facts that
would make her ...