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Stewart v. Warren County Board of Commissioners

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

September 4, 2019



          Susan J. Dlott United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Centers, Inc. (“Solutions”), Jon Randol, and Jenny Epling (Doc. 83). Plaintiff Bonita Stewart opposes Defendants' Motion (Doc. 86). For the reasons that follow, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 83) will be GRANTED as to Plaintiff's federal claim. The Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiff's state law claims, and those claims will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         The undisputed facts in this case are tragic. Sometime in March 2013, Justin Stewart[1]moved home to southern Ohio to join his father's insurance business and work alongside his brother. (Jos. Stewart Dep., Doc. 80 at PageID 1290-91.) Although Justin had been academically successful (earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree) and socially involved throughout high school and college, he began to withdraw from others and seemed to obsess over perceived irregularities in the family business. (Id. at PageID 1291.) He argued with his co-workers, and his disruptive behavior at work escalated to the point that his father had to ask him to leave the agency “until he could get his act together.” (Id. at PageID 1291.) His father urged him to seek mental health treatment “to control the arguing.” (Id. at PageID 1292.) Justin was hired by two other insurance agencies but fired from both because he continued to engage in similar behavior. (Doc. 81 at PageID 1338-39.)

         In November 2014, Justin broke into his parents' house while they were out of town and severely vandalized his father's car with a hammer. (B. Stewart Dep., Doc. 79 at PageID 1202- 03.) He called his mother to tell her what he had done. (Id. at PageID 1203.) His parents returned home shortly thereafter, and-after seeing the extent of the damage to the car- contacted police. (Id. at PageID 1204.) Justin's parents were increasingly worried about his mental health and “were just concerned that this might lead to something else.” (Id.)

         Knowing the police were at his parents' home, Justin returned to the property. He willingly acknowledged that he had a gun in his car, and he was charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle. (Doc. 73-1 at PageID 787, 803.) Justin was arrested, but his parents posted his bail. (Doc. 79 at PageID 1206-07.) Ultimately, Justin pled guilty to the charge, and the Court sentenced him to probation with required anger management counseling. (Id. at PageID 1209.) Justin attended some of the counseling sessions and had previously been prescribed Adderall to help him focus, but he did not really engage with the counselors. (Id. at PageID 1209-11; Doc. 73-1 at PageID 806-07.) Justin told his father he did not need mental health treatment, and he was not receptive to his father's efforts encouraging him to get help. (Doc. 80 at PageID 1295.)

         In May 2015, Justin came to his parents' home yelling and swearing, and he threw furniture off a balcony. (Id.) Again, Justin's parents called police because they “believed the system could help him.” (Id.) Justin was arrested again, incarcerated for approximately three months, and then placed on probation. (Doc. 79 at PageID 1225-26.) Justin continued to be hyper focused on what he perceived to be irregularities in the family business, and he continued to deny the need for mental health treatment. (Id. at PageID 1227; Doc. 73-1 at PageID 787-90.)

         In April 2016, after Justin refused to meet with his probation officer, Amy Hogg, [2] Hogg filed a probation violation, and a warrant was issued for Justin's arrest. (Hogg Dep., Doc. 70 at PageID 429.) Justin was arrested and incarcerated at the Warren County Jail. (Doc. 79 at PageID 1228.) Hogg met Justin at the jail, but he was angry and paranoid. He would ask her a question and then say her name repeatedly while she tried to answer. (Doc. 70 at PageID 430- 31.) However, he was not labeled “mentally ill” at the jail. (Id. at PageID 433.)

         Warren County Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler, who presided over Justin's probation violation and related charges, ordered that Justin undergo a competency assessment, but Justin refused to cooperate with the evaluation. (Doc. 70-1 at PageID 490.) Judge Peeler ordered another evaluation, and Justin was sent to Summit Behavioral Health (“Summit”) for a 20-day competency evaluation in June 2016. (Id. at PageID 445, 448.) According to his discharge summary, Justin denied any history of suicide attempts or self-harm, and he was not diagnosed with a psychiatric illness or started on psychotropic medication. (Doc. 70-1 at PageID 492.) Summit documents described Justin as “antagonizing, ” “condescending, ” “unpleasant, ” “very narcissistic” and stated he “agitated many of the patients” to the point that “other patients on the unit actually wrote a petition to get him taken off the unit because he was causing so many problems.” (Doc. 70-1 at PageID 493.) Summit ultimately diagnosed Justin with narcissistic personality disorder as of June 23, 2016. (Doc. 70 at PageID 449; Doc. 70-1 at PageID 492-93.)

         On July 5, 2019, Judge Peeler ordered that Dr. Kara Marciani do a psychological evaluation of Justin at the Warren County Jail. (Doc. 70-1 at PageID 495.) Dr. Marciani interviewed Justin for approximately two and one-half hours, administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 and the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide-Revised (“VRAG-R"), interviewed others who knew Justin, reviewed prior psychiatric evaluations and correspondence, reviewed the incident report from the Maineville Police Department, and submitted her report on July 26, 2016. (Doc. 73-1 at PageID 795-808.) Dr. Marciani concluded:

[Justin's] symptom picture belies the presence of serious and chronic illness for which a diagnosis of a Delusional Disorder, specifically Delusional Disorder, Persecutory Type is appropriate. The aforementioned diagnosis is assigned to individuals who exhibit delusional thought content for one month or longer. The central theme of the delusion involves the individual's belief that he/she is being conspired against, spied on, maliciously maligned, harassed, or obstructed in the pursuit of long-term goals. The individual's functioning nevertheless is not obviously impaired, apart from the direct impact of the delusion(s) or its ramifications, and their behavior is not obviously bizarre or odd.
The persecutory nature of [Justin's] delusions is of marked concern, particularly given that it has spawned a persistent pattern of erratic, threatening, and intimidating behavior. It further is of concern given the result of the VRAG-R, which suggested that he falls within the low end of the medium risk category for violent recidivism. [Justin] is without any prior history of violent or aggressive behavior toward others prior to the development of his psychiatric symptoms. It subsequently is imperative that he engage in treatment to address his symptoms as a means of reducing his future risk for engaging in behavior that is harmful to others. In light of the present findings, it is the undersigned's opinion with reasonable psychological certainty that [Justin] suffers from a serious and chronic mental illness for which treatment is warranted.
He in fact would meet the criteria to be deemed a mental ill person subject to Court order. The nature and the severity of [Justin's] symptoms, and the potential threat of harm he poses to others, necessitates treatment in a controlled environment. The least restrictive treatment environment for his individual treatment needs, and public safety, subsequently is hospital-based treatment. It therefore respectfully is recommended that he undergo a period of inpatient treatment at a Regional Psychiatric Hospital, such as Summit Behavioral Healthcare.

(Doc. 73-1 at PageID 808-09.) Dr. Marciani further noted that Justin “is expected to continue to be a reluctant, if not unwilling, participant in treatment; particularly any treatment that contains a pharmacological component.” (Id. at PageID 809.)

         Judge Peeler, based on Dr. Marciani's report, told Justin on August 8, 2016 that he was suffering from paranoia, recommended inpatient hospitalization and ordered Justin to be screened for possible placement at Summit. (Doc. 79 at PageID 1242-43; Doc. 70-1 at PageID 497.) Justin was remanded to the custody of the Warren County Sheriff until he could be transported to the appropriate placement. (Doc. 70-1 at PageID 497.)

         The Warren County Jail contracts with Defendant Solutions, a non-profit corporation, for inmate mental health assessments and screening. (Randol Dep., Doc. 73 at PageID 709-10, 715-16.) As part of that contract, Defendant Jon Randol provided inmate assessments at the Warren County Jail. (Id. at PageID 709-10.) In that role, Randol met Justin twice. Once, after Justin refused a 12-day screening with Defendant Jenny Epling, Randol asked Justin if he would let Randol do a 12-day screening, but Justin declined. (Doc. 73 at PageID 739.) According to Randol, “Justin was adamant about not needing mental health treatment or wanting to be screened.” (Id.) Randol met with Justin a second time because Judge Peeler had asked that Justin be assessed to see if he met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. (Id. at PageID 742.) Prior to the second meeting, Randol reviewed Justin's prior psychological assessment for diagnosis and recommendation, but he did not review the entire document. (Id. at PageID 743.) Randol was aware that other inmates had threatened Justin because he was “kind of condescending and perhaps irritating to them” so Justin was moved to administrative segregation to protect him from others. (Id. at PageID 744.) Justin appeared physically healthy, and he denied having any thoughts of harming himself or others. (Id. at PageID 746, 749.) He repeatedly stated that he did not need mental health care and he just wanted to be released from jail so he could apply for certain jobs. (Id. at PageID 746-47.)

         On August 12, 2016, Colleen Chamberlain from Defendant Solutions emailed Judge Peeler. She informed him that Defendant Jon Randol, Solutions' crisis team supervisor, met with Justin at the Warren County Jail earlier that day for approximately 45 minutes and had reviewed Dr. Marciani's report. (Doc. 73-1 at PageID 815.) Chamberlain stated that Randol had evaluated Justin for “pink slip” criteria[3] and concluded that Justin “did not meet criteria for suicidality, homicidality, or decompensation to the point of requiring hospitalization.” (Id.) Chamberlain further noted that “non-emergent forensic cases have a lengthy wait time as the bed space at Summit is at a premium.” (Id.) Thus, Solutions recommended outpatient therapy services and possible placement in the SPMI (severely and persistently mentally ill) program so that he could receive case management services, if the provider agency so recommended. (Id.) Judge Peeler responded immediately that:

If, after observing [Justin] and conferring with his Probation Officer, I did not think hospitalization was necessary, I would not have pursued that route. However[, ] there isn't much I can do under the circumstances. ...

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