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Hoskins v. Hamilton County Juvenile Court

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio

August 12, 2019

AZURIAH HOSKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
HAMILTON COUNTY JUVENILE COURT, et al., Defendants.

          Barrett, J.

          ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Karen L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Azuriah Hoskins brings this action against Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune, Denise Driehaus, and Chris Monzel (the Commissioners) in their official capacity; Hamilton County Juvenile Court Administrator John M. Williams in his official and individual capacities; and correctional officers Benjamin Peterson and Coley Turner and supervisors Dave Luensman[1] and Allen (Detention Center employees), each of whom he has named in their official and individual capacities. Plaintiff filed the original complaint on May 4, 2018. (Doc. 2). The allegations of the original complaint are set forth in the Report and Recommendation issued on October 25, 2018. (Doc. 18). Plaintiff s claims arise out of an incident that occurred on March 3, 2018 at the Hamilton County, Ohio Juvenile Court Detention Center (Detention Center), where plaintiff was housed. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Peterson and Turner, employees of the Detention Center, used excessive force against him and that he suffered a broken arm as a result. He brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his Eighth Amendment rights against defendant Peterson (First Cause of Action) and against defendants Peterson and Turner (Second and Third Causes of Action); a claim for violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights against "defendants" for breach of a duty to train, instruct, and supervise (Fourth Cause of Action); and a claim for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights based on excessive use of force against defendant Peterson (Fifth Cause of Action). Plaintiff also brings claims against "defendants" for assault and battery (Sixth Cause of Action) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Seventh Cause of Action) under the Ohio Constitution and Ohio law.

         This matter is before the Court on the following motions:

• Defendant Williams' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 21), plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc. 37), and defendant's reply in support of his motion (Doc. 45).
• Plaintiffs motion to amend/correct his response in opposition to the motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 39)
• Plaintiffs first motion to amend/correct the complaint (Doc. 22), and defendants' opposing memoranda (Docs. 23, 31)
• Plaintiffs second motion to amend/correct the complaint (Doc. 33), and defendant Williams' opposing memorandum (Doc. 41)
• The Commissioners' motion to dismiss the amended complaint (Doc. 30), plaintiffs opposing memorandum (Doc. 32), and the Commissioners' reply (Doc. 34)
• Plaintiffs first motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 38), and defendants' opposing memoranda (Docs. 40, 42)
• Plaintiffs motion to attach exhibits to his motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. 50), the County defendants' opposing memorandum (Doc. 51), and plaintiffs reply (Doc. 52).

         II. Plaintiffs motions for leave to amend the complaint (Docs. 22, 33)

         Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint on November 23, 2018, to purportedly specify the Ohio Constitutional provision he brings his state law claims under and to add a negligence claim. (Doc. 22). On November 29, 2018, plaintiff submitted a proposed amended complaint that actually amends the complaint by: (1) adding a factual allegation that plaintiff is permanently disfigured and disabled; and (2) adding a cause of action for negligence (Eighth Cause of Action) under Ohio Rev. Code Ch. 2307 and Ohio Rev. Code § 2307.50. (Doc. 24). Defendants Allen, Lonzman, Peterson, and Turner filed an answer to the proposed amended complaint. (Doc. 29). The Commissioners filed a motion to dismiss the proposed amended complaint on grounds they had previously raised in their first motion to dismiss.[2] (Doc. 30). Defendant Williams filed a response in opposition to the motion to amend the complaint on the ground the amendment would be futile because the proposed amended complaint includes no factual allegations against him. (Doc. 31).

         Plaintiff moved for leave to file a second amended complaint on January 11, 2019 to add Dwayne R. Bowman, superintendent of the Detention Center, as a party. (Doc. 33). Plaintiff also sought to add the following language to the beginning of ¶ 3, which identifies parties to the lawsuit: "Juvenile Court Administrative Judge John Williams appoints the superintendent of the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Detention Center, Dwayne R. Bowman.. .." (Doc. 33 at 2). Plaintiff also proposes to add a Ninth Cause of Action for violation of his equal protection rights alleging that "Defendants' conduct as described in [sic] above, constitute [sic] a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and [sic] enforced through 42 U.S.C. Section 1983." (Id. at 9).

         Defendant Williams opposes plaintiffs motion for leave to amend the complaint a second time on the ground the proposed amendment would be futile. (Doc. 41). Williams argues that addition of the proposed language would not change the defects in the amended complaint, which fails to assert any specific allegations of wrongdoing by him. (Id. at 2). He alleges the proposed amendment does not indicate why his appointment of the superintendent of the Detention Center harmed plaintiff and why Williams should be held liable simply for appointing the superintendent. The Commissioners and Detention Center employees also oppose the motion for leave to file a second amended complaint on the grounds of futility. (Doc. 43). They contend that plaintiff has not pled any facts to show that Bowman took an action that allegedly violated plaintiffs rights, and Bowman has not been the superintendent of the Detention Center since September 2016, well before the March 3, 2018 incident giving rise to plaintiffs complaint. (Id. at 2). Defendants further assert that plaintiff has not pled facts to show he was treated differently than a similarly-situated individual so as to support a claim for violation of his equal protection rights. (Id., citing Richland Bookman, Inc., v. Nichols, 278 F.3d 570, 574 (6th Cir. 2002) ("The Equal Protection Clause protects against arbitrary classifications, and requires that similarly situated persons be treated equally.")).

         The granting or denial of a motion to amend pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) is within the discretion of the trial court. Leave to amend a complaint should be liberally granted. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962). "In deciding whether to grant a motion to amend, courts should consider undue delay in filing, lack of notice to the opposing party, bad faith by the moving party, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by previous amendments, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility of amendment." Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Ctrs., Inc., 427 F.3d 996, 1001 (6th Cir. 2005). The test for futility is whether the amended complaint could survive a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 421 (6th Cir. 2000).

         Plaintiff should be granted leave to file the proposed first amended complaint to add a factual allegation that his injury is permanent and to add a negligence claim. (Doc. 24). Plaintiff should be denied leave to amend the complaint a second time. First, it would be futile for plaintiff to add Bowman as a party. The proposed second amended complaint states that Bowman was appointed as the superintendent of the Detention Center, but it includes no factual allegations against him. The complaint as amended does not give Bowman fair notice of any claims against him and the grounds upon which those claims rest. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). Thus, the proposed second amended complaint does not state a claim for relief against Bowman.

         Second, it would be futile to allow plaintiff to amend the complaint to add information about Williams in the description of the parties. As explained infra, plaintiff has not made any specific allegations in the amended complaint which, if accepted as true, show that Williams can be held liable for plaintiffs alleged injury. The proposed second amendment does not cure this defect.

         Third, it would be futile for plaintiff to bring an equal protection claim. Plaintiff has not alleged facts to show that defendants' conduct burdens a fundamental right, that he is a member of a suspect class, or that defendants have treated him differently without any rational basis, so as to state a claim for violation of his equal protection rights. See Short v. Mary, 617 Fed.Appx. 410, 413 (6th Cir. 2015). Thus, plaintiffs motion for leave to file a second amended complaint (Doc. 33) should be denied.

         II. Plaintiffs motions for leave to amend/correct filings (Docs. 39, 50)

         Plaintiff seeks leave to file a corrected memorandum in response to defendant Williams' motion for judgment on the pleadings to include pages 2-14 of the memorandum. (Doc. 39). Defendant Williams does not oppose the motion. Plaintiffs motion for leave to file (Doc. 39) is therefore granted and the corrected memorandum (Doc. 39-1) is accepted for filing.

         On April 2, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to add two exhibits to his motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 50). Defendants oppose the motion on the ground plaintiff filed the motion in contravention of the Court's Order issued on February 2, 2019, which prohibits the parties from filing "any additional motions until the pending dispositive motions have been ruled on by the district judge and the scheduling conference has been held." (Doc. 51 at 2, citing Doc. 47). The dispositive motions remain pending and no scheduling conference has been held to date. Counsel for plaintiff does not deny in the reply in support of the motion (Doc. 52) that motion was filed in contravention of the Court's February 2, 2019 Order. Further, as discussed infra, matters outside the pleadings are not properly considered in connection with plaintiffs motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs motion to file the exhibits (Doc. 50) is therefore denied.

         III. Defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings and to dismiss plaintiffs claims A. Standard of review

         In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept all factual allegations as true and make reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Keys v. Humana, Inc., 684 F.3d 605, 608 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Harbin-Bey v. Butter, 420 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2005)). Only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief is required. Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "[T]he statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Id. (quoting Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Although the plaintiff need not plead specific facts, the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570). A claim is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "[A] plaintiffs obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court need not accept as true the plaintiffs legal conclusions. See Gean v. Hattaway, 330 F.3d 758, 765 (6th Cir. 2003).

         Courts apply the same analysis to motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) as they apply to motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports,Inc. v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n,623 F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). "For purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget,510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted)). ...


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