United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
VERONICA STEWART, Administrator of the Estate of Lily Jeanette Francis, deceased, et al ., Plaintiffs,
JIM NEIL, In his official capacity as Hamilton County Sheriff, et al ., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE COUNTY
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 5)
TIMOTHY S. BLACK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil action is before the Court on the motion to dismiss
(Doc. 5) filed by Hamilton County, Ohio (“Hamilton
County”), Jim Neil, in his official capacity as the
Hamilton County Sheriff (the “Sheriff”), the
Board of Commissioners for Hamilton County (the
“BOCC”), and the Sheriff's Department of
Hamilton County (the “Sheriff's Department”)
(collectively, the “County Defendants”),
the parties' responsive memoranda (Docs. 7, 10).
FACTS AS ALLEGED BY THE PLAINTIFFS
purposes of this motion to dismiss, the Court must: (1) view
the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs; and
(2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.
Tackett v. M&G Polymers, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th
December 31, 2015, Plaintiff Veronica Stewart (“Ms.
Stewart”) was appointed administrator of the Estate
(“Estate”) of Lily Jeannette Francis, deceased,
by the Hamilton County, Ohio, Probate Court, case number
2015005452. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4). Plaintiff Kelli Moll
(“Ms. Moll”) is the surviving parent of Lily
Jeanette Francis. (Id. at ¶ 5).
about January 21, 2014, Ms. Moll surrendered herself to the
Sheriff's Department at the Hamilton County Justice
Center (“HCJC”) pursuant to a pending
community-control sanction violation. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 13).
At the time, Ms. Moll was a recovering drug addict.
(Id.). Ms. Moll was also pregnant with Lily
Jeannette Francis and due to give birth on or about February
12, 2014. (Id.).
about January 22, 2014, while in a medical facility at HCJC,
Ms. Moll complained that she was in pain with the onset of
contractions; however, those complaints were not heeded.
(Doc. 1 at ¶ 14). Defendants decided Ms. Moll was
dehydrated and gave her some water. (Id.).
about January 23, 2014, Ms. Moll was monitored at HCJC. (Doc.
1 at ¶ 15). No fetal movement or heartbeat was detected.
(Id.). Ms. Moll was told the absence of a heartbeat
was probably due to the antiquated nature of Defendants'
equipment and received no further examination or treatment.
January 24, 2014, Defendants decided to transport Ms. Moll to
the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. (Doc. 1 at
¶ 16). Defendants did not transport Ms. Moll
immediately; instead, they waited until a shift change.
(Id. at ¶ 17). On the way to the hospital, the
transporting deputies made two stops: the first to get a soda
at a CVS; the second to get sandwiches. (Id. at
eventually delivered Ms. Moll to the University of Cincinnati
Medical Center. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 19). On January 25, 2014,
Ms. Moll was induced for a vaginal delivery due to
intrauterine fetal demise. (Id.).
The First Lawsuit.
January 19, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in this court,
case number 1:16-cv-248 (the “First Lawsuit”).
First Lawsuit named the Sheriff, the Sheriff's
Department, and “Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputies
and/or Employees, John/Jane Does 1-4” as Defendants
(First Lawsuit, Doc. 1 at 1). The first lawsuit did not name
Hamilton County or the BOCC. On August 8, 2016, Plaintiffs
filed a stipulation which dismissed the First Lawsuit without
prejudice. (First Lawsuit, Doc. 27).
November 7, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in this
action. The Complaint again names the Sheriff in his official
capacity, the Sheriff's Department, and John/Jane Does,
agents of Hamilton County and/or the Sheriff's
Department. The Complaint also names Hamilton County and the
Complaint alleges that Defendants failed to adequately hire,
train and/or supervise officers, agents, deputies, servants,
employees, staff or representatives. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 22).
The Complaint alleges that Defendants maintain policies,
practices and/or customs of: (1) permitting agents to wait
until a shift change to transport inmates to outside medical
facilities, regardless of the inmate's condition; (2)
permitting agents to take stops and/or personal breaks while
transporting inmates to outside medical facilities,
regardless of the severity of the inmate's medical
condition; (3) utilizing nurses, rather than doctors, for
medical appointments regardless of the inmate's medical
condition; and (4) using antiquated medical equipment.
(Id. at ¶¶ 33-37).
Complaint alleges that Defendants demonstrated deliberate
indifference to the serious medical needs of Plaintiffs by,
among other things, failing to appropriately monitor Ms.
Moll's pregnancy, failing to consult an appropriate
specialist, failing to treat Ms. Moll and her unborn child in
a timely manner, and failing to timely transport Ms. Moll and
her unborn child to the hospital. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 40). The
Complaint further alleges Plaintiffs' damages were
“proximately caused” by Defendants' policies
and customs as well as Defendants' failure to adequately
hire, train and/or supervise. (Id. at ¶ 39).
Plaintiffs assert a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of their Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-44).
Moll asserts an additional claim for violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) premised
on her allegations that Defendants discriminated against her
because of her drug addiction. (Id. at ¶¶
January 12, 2016, County Defendants filed the instant motion
to dismiss. The motion argues: (1) Plaintiffs' claims
against Hamilton County and the BOCC are barred by the
statute of limitations because neither entity was named in
the First Lawsuit (Doc. 5 at 7-8); (2) Hamilton County and
the Sheriff's Department are not sui juris
(id. at 8-9); (3) Hamilton County and the BOCC do
not have authority to control the Sheriff or the HCJC
(id. at 9-11); (4) the Complaint does not adequately
plead a § 1983 claim against the County Defendants
because it does not sufficiently allege that Plaintiffs'
injuries were caused by a custom, practice or policy of
Hamilton County (id. at 11-13); (5) the Complaint
does not adequately plead a claim for violation of the ADA
because it does not sufficiently allege that Ms. Moll was
treated differently because of her disability (id.
at 13-14); and (6) the Sheriff was not personally involved in
any of the incidents alleged in the Complaint, and in any
event, is entitled to qualified immunity (id. at
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) operates
to test the sufficiency of the complaint and permits
dismissal of a complaint for “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” To show grounds for
relief, Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) requires that the complaint contain
a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 “does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations, ' . . . it demands more than an
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Pleadings offering mere
“‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.'” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In fact, in determining a
motion to dismiss, “courts ‘are not bound to
accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation[.]'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265 (1986)).
Further, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level[.]”
“[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, 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. A claim is
plausible where “plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. Plausibility “is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief, '” and the case
shall be dismissed. Id. (citing Fed. Rule
Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
Plaintiffs' claims against Hamilton County and the BOCC