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Watts v. Reynolds

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

October 18, 2019

ANTHONY WAYNE WATTS, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID M. REYNOLDS, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Porter County, TROY WILLIAMS, in his official capacity as Portage Chief of Police, MIKE HECKMAN, in his official capacity as Burns Harbor Police Chief, and WELLPATH, LLC, d/b/a Correct Care Solutions, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motions to Dismiss [ECF Nos. 19, 20, 22] filed by Porter County Sheriff David M. Reynolds, Portage Police Chief Troy Williams, and Burns Harbor Police Chief Mike Heckman, and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 34] filed by Wellpath, LLC. The Court GRANTS the Motions to Dismiss [ECF Nos. 19, 22] filed by Chief Williams and Chief Heckman. The Motions [ECF Nos. 20, 34] filed by Sheriff Reynolds and Wellpath are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 17, 2019, the Plaintiff filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against (1) Sheriff David M. Reynolds, (2) Chief Troy Williams, (3) Chief Mike Heckman, and (4) Wellpath. The Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint [ECF No. 8] on February 8, 2019, against the same defendants. Count I alleges unlawful policy, custom, or habit; Count II alleges inadequate training, supervision, and discipline; Count III alleges cruel and unusual punishment; Count IV alleges denial of medical care; Count V alleges a violation of the United States Constitution; and Count VI alleges a violation of the Indiana Constitution. See Pl.'s Am. Compl., ¶¶ 37-74 .

         The Plaintiff alleges that, during a traffic stop on October 23, 2016, he was “assaulted and abused” by police officers from the Burns Harbor Police Department and the Portage Police Department while being detained and handcuffed. Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15, 19-25. The Plaintiff was then transported to the Porter County Jail and was detained. See Id. ¶ 23. The Plaintiff alleges that he was arrested, released on bond, and “immediately returned to West Virginia . . . until January 11, 2017.” Id. ¶¶ 25, 27.

         After January 11, 2017, the Plaintiff “returned to Indiana and was arrested for failing to appear at a hearing . . . .” Id. ¶¶ 27-28. The Plaintiff alleges that, while in custody, “[Wellpath] personnel and the jail personnel employed by the Porter County jail, under the Porter County Sheriff's authority, knowingly and recklessly failed to provide Plaintiff with much needed medical care.” Id. ¶ 29. In pertinent part, the Plaintiff alleges that he was not allowed to take his medication and that “[n]othing was done” regarding “his injuries which occurred as a result of the police officers beating him at the scene of his [October 2016] arrest.” Id. ¶¶ 31, 32. He also alleges that he “continued to complain to jail personnel and to [Wellpath] personnel that he needed medical assistance because of severe pain, and that he was dizzy and nauseous. Defendants, knowing of the complaints, continuously ignored Plaintiff.” Id. ¶ 35. The Plaintiff also alleges that “[o]n or about October 27, 2016, and at a different time on or about January 17, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by a [Wellpath] and jail medical personnel who acknowledged his need for medical relief but advised the Plaintiff that there was nothing [Wellpath] personnel, jail personnel, or the other Defendants' personnel will do.” Id. ¶ 34. The Plaintiff also alleges that Wellpath denied him medical care related to his preexisting conditions. Id. ¶ 31. The Plaintiff alleges that he filed a grievance regarding the denial of his medical care. Id. ¶ 33. The Plaintiff further alleges that Wellpath and Sheriff Reynolds had “a policy, custom, or habit of providing woefully inadequate medical care to the inmates of that facility, ignoring requests for medical attention, and acting with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of its inmates.” Id. ¶ 41. In his response brief, the Plaintiff indicates he was released from custody on February 22, 2017. Pl.'s Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss 2, ECF No. 28.

         On March 6, 2019, Chief Troy Williams filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [ECF No. 19]. On March 11, 2019, Sherriff Reynolds and Chief Heckman each filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [ECF Nos. 20, 22]. On April 24, 2019, Wellpath filed an Answer [ECF No. 33], and on April 25, 2019, Wellpath filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF No. 34]. The motions are fully briefed and ripe for ruling. [ECF Nos. 27-32, 39, 40].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint itself.” Bonnstetter v. City of Chicago, 811 F.3d 969, 973 (7th Cir. 2016). A motion for judgment on the pleadings is governed by “the same standard that applies when reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6).” Buchannan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). “To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must provide enough factual information to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Camasta, 761 F.3d at 736 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court presumes that all well-pleaded allegations are true, views these well-pleaded allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accepts as true all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the allegations. Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 623 F.3d 1143, 1146 (7th Cir. 2010). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bonnstetter, 811 F.3d at 973 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         ANALYSIS

         The Defendants, in pertinent part, argue that (1) the Plaintiff's claims arising from his October 2016 arrest and first period of custody are barred by the statute of limitations, (2) the Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to support a claim upon which relief can be granted, and (3) the Plaintiff has no right to monetary damages pursuant to the Indiana Constitution. The Court addresses these issues in turn.

         A. The Statute of Limitations

         The Court first concludes that the Plaintiff's claims arising from his October 2016 arrest and first period of custody are barred by the statute of limitations.

         A motion to dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil procedure 12(b)(6) “challenges the viability of a complaint by arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). Courts may grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion based on the statute of limitations. See Ray v. Maher, 662 F.3d 770, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2011). “A statute of limitations provides an affirmative defense, and a plaintiff is not required to plead facts in the complaint to anticipate and defeat affirmative defenses. But when a plaintiff's complaint nonetheless sets out all of the elements of an affirmative defense, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate.” Indep. Tr. Corp. v. Stewart Info. Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935 (7th Cir. 2012). “Suits under § 1983 use the statute of limitations and tolling rules that states employ for ...


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