United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court is the Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure
to state a claim filed by defendants Cuyahoga County, Armond
Budish (“Budish”), Clifford Pinkney
(“Pinkney”), Eric J. Ivey (“Ivey”),
and Kenneth Mills (“Mills”) (in his official
capacity only) (collectively, “the County”).
(Doc. No. 9 [“Mot.”].) Plaintiff Cecil Fluker
(“Fluker”) filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc.
No. 16 [“Opp'n”]) and the County filed its
reply (Doc. No. 20 [“Reply”]). For the reasons
set forth herein, the motion is granted in part and denied in
February 11, 2019, Fluker filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. He alleges that, on or about August 30, 2017, he
was arrested for allegedly violating a protective order.
(Doc. No. 1, Complaint [“Compl.”] ¶ 13.) He
was detained in the Cuyahoga County Correctional Center
(“CCCC”) as a pretrial detainee, but the charges
against him were dismissed and he was ultimately released.
(Id. ¶ 14.)
alleges that, while he was detained in CCCC, he complained to
a corrections officer that “he felt sick from drinking
water provided in the jail to inmates and/or from black mold
growing on the food trays, which he inadvertently
ingested.” (Id. ¶ 15.) “The water
was determined by on site jail staff and others to be
discolored.” (Id. ¶ 16.) According to
Fluker, “[d]efendants knew at all times pertinent
herein that discolored county water would be consumed . . .
by detainees and other inmates including [plaintiff].”
(Id. ¶ 18.)
claims that “he developed a rash on his body, severe
nausea, and anxiety as a result of drinking the jail water[,
]” which he needed to do “to stay
hydrated.” (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) The
County “did not, as a matter of policy, practice,
custom or habit provide alternative forms of water to
pre-trial detainees, such as bottled water[, ]” even
though county employees “knew to bring their own
bottled water as an alternative to drinking the jails [sic]
water[.]” (Id. ¶ 21.)
Fluker's request, he was “sent to the jail
infirmary for vomiting and diarrhea after drinking the water
and being exposed to black mold on food trays.”
(Id. ¶ 22.) “He was appropriately
examined by a nurse and treated with medication.”
(Id.) Even so, “he felt as if he was going to
claims he complained to corrections officers about the water,
but that, “[b]y not offering adequate substitute
hydration . . . [d]efendant's [sic] demonstrated their
deliberate indifference, wantonness and recklessness to
[plaintiff's] safety and health.” (Id.
addition, Fluker claims that, despite their knowledge of the
black mold on the food trays, defendants kept the trays in
service, and did not discard them until a year later.
(Id. ¶¶ 31-32.)
alleges that each of the individual defendants were given
“direct written notice . . . about these trays and the
black mold” through written reports by staff members
known as “CS 35s.” (Id. ¶ 33.)
Fluker claims that defendants possess these reports but will
not release them to the public. (Id. ¶¶
Fluker alleges that the County was also placed on notice of
these jail conditions by way of “[p]rior pro
se lawsuits of inmates . . . contain[ing] allegations of
black mold growing in the jail, ” as well as by the
fact findings in a Quality Assurance Review contracted by the
United States Marshal. (Id. ¶ 39.) Fluker has
attached that report to his complaint (Doc. No. 1-2
(“QAR”)), and “[t]he facts and findings in
the [QAR] . . . are also adopted as if fully rewritten [in
his complaint].” (Compl. ¶ 41.) The QAR assigned
the facility an overall rating of
“Unsatisfactory/At-Risk.” (Doc. No. 1-2
[“QAR”] at 21.) Notably, the functional area of
“Administration and Management” was given that
same rating. (Id. at 44.)
Standard on a Motion to Dismiss
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). Although this pleading
standard does not require great detail, the factual
allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct.
1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citing authorities). In other
words, “Rule 8(a)(2) still requires a
‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of
entitlement to relief.” Id. at 555, n.3
(criticizing the Twombly dissent's assertion
that the pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not require,
or even invite, the pleading of facts”) (internal
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.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570). Rule 8 does not “unlock the doors of
discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than
conclusions.” Id. at 678-79. “While
legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint,
they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement to relief.” Id. at 679.
“The court need not, however, accept unwarranted
factual inferences.” Total Benefits Planning
Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552
F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Morgan v.
Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir.
Analysis of Federal Claims
sets forth two federal claims for relief: (1) a Section 1983
claim against all defendants alleging a deprivation of rights
secured by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, including
his rights to due process, to be free from cruel and unusual
conduct, and to be free from deliberate indifference to his
safety and health (Compl. ¶ 43); and (2) a
Monell claim against the County and Budish alleging
that the County's policies, practices, customs and habits
(or lack thereof) relating to conditions of confinement, as
well as its failure to train, supervise, investigate and
discipline, were a moving force behind the constitutional
violations (id. ¶¶ 45-49).
Claims Against the County
extent these two claims are pleaded against the County, as
well as Budish, Pinkney, Ivey, and Mills in their official
capacities, they are both Monell
claims. Leach v. Shelby Cty. Sheriff, 891
F.2d 1241, 1245 (6th Cir. 1989) (“[A]n official
capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be
treated as a suit against the entity.” (quoting
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 105 S.Ct.
3099, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985))).
governmental entity is liable under § 1983 only when the
entity itself is a moving force behind the deprivation; thus,
in an official-capacity suit the entity's policy or
custom must have played a part in the violation of federal
law.” Graham, 473 U.S. at 166 (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted); Monell, 436 U.S.
at 691 (“[The County can be sued under § 1983
where] the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional
implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance,
regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by
that body's officers.”). The County “cannot
be held liable under § 1983 on a respondeat
superior theory.” Monell, 436 U.S. at
691. “Official [County] policy includes the decisions
of a government's ...