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First Choice Bank v. Health Professionals

March 3, 2009

FIRST CHOICE BANK, AS GUARDIAN AD LITEM OF THE ESTATE OF HANNIEH JOHNSON, A DISABLED MINOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, LTD., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant Jeffrey Bargar's ("Bargar"), Defendant Deborah Goss-Johnson's ("Goss-Johnson"), Defendant Margarita Mendoza's ("Mendoza"), Defendant Ariel Irban-Alacalay's ("Alacalay"), Defendant Ron McLin's ("McLin"), and Defendant John Redwinski's ("Redwinski") partial motion to dismiss Count I. For the reasons stated below, we grant in part and deny in part the partial motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff First Choice Bank ("FCB"), acting as Guardian ad Litem of the Estate of Hannieh Johnson ("Johnson"), a disabled minor, alleges that Johnson was an inmate at the Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville ("IYCW"). FCB contends that between February 9, 2007, and March 11, 2007, Johnson displayed an increasing tendency towards self-harm and mental instability. Johnson was allegedly prescribed psychotropic medication and was placed on a ten-minute close supervision watch. On March 13, 2007, Goss-Johnson and other employees at IYCW allegedly determined that Johnson was no longer a threat to herself and removed her from the ten-minute watch. On March 14, 2007, Johnson allegedly got in an argument with another inmate and Defendant Sharon A. Parker ("Parker"), a substance abuse counselor, allegedly sent Johnson to her cell as punishment. Johnson then allegedly attempted suicide by hanging herself with a bed sheet in her cell. FCB alleges that when Johnson was discovered hanging in her room, Alacalay and McLin began CPR and then stopped in order to try and locate an automatic external defibrillator ("AED"). The AED allegedly never arrived because it either could not be located or because no one had access to the part of the facility where it was stored. FCB also claims that for some time prior to March 2007, there was at least one nurse on duty at IYCW during the nighttime hours, whose duties included monitoring the health and welfare of the inmates of IYCW. However, there was allegedly no medical professional present at IYCW during the nighttime hours of March 14, 2007. As a result of the alleged attempted suicide, Johnson allegedly suffered a hypoxic insult which led to severe and irreversible brain damage.

FCB brought the instant action and includes in its amended complaint an inadequate medical care claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") brought against Bargar, Goss-Johnson, Mendoza, Alacalay, McLin, Redwinski, Parker, Defendant Willie Bailey ("Bailey"), Defendant L. Pepper ("Pepper"), and Defendant Tina Mattera, M.D. ("Mattera") (Count I), a negligence claim brought against Mattera (Count II), and a negligence claim brought against Defendant Health Professionals, LTD. (Count III). Bargar, Goss-Johnson, Mendoza, Alacalay, McLin, and Redwinski (collectively referred to as "Defendants") now move to dismiss the claims brought against them in Count I of the first amended complaint.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002); Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 466 (7th Cir. 1991). In order to withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege the "operative facts" upon which each claim is based. Kyle v. Morton High Sch., 144 F.3d 448, 454-55 (7th Cir. 1998); Lucien v. Preiner, 967 F.2d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 1992). A plaintiff is required to include allegations in the complaint that "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level'" and "if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court."

E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting in part Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)).

Under the current notice pleading standard in federal courts, a plaintiff need not "plead facts that, if true, establish each element of a 'cause of action....'" See Sanjuan v. Amer. Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (7th Cir. 1994)(stating that "[a]t this stage the plaintiff receives the benefit of imagination, so long as the hypotheses are consistent with the complaint" and that "[m]atching facts against legal elements comes later"). The plaintiff need not allege all of the facts involved in the claim and can plead conclusions. Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002); Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455. However, any conclusions pled must "'provide the defendant with at least minimal notice of the claim,'" Kyle, 144 F.3d at 455(quoting Jackson v. Marion County, 66 F.3d 151, 153-54 (7th Cir. 1995)), and the plaintiff cannot satisfy federal pleading requirements merely "by attaching bare legal conclusions to narrated facts which fail to outline the bases of [his] claims." Perkins, 939 F.2d at 466-67. The Seventh Circuit has explained that "[o]ne pleads a 'claim for relief' by briefly describing the events." Sanjuan, 40 F.3d at 251; Nance v. Vieregge, 147 F.3d 589, 590 (7th Cir. 1998)(stating that "[p]laintiffs need not plead facts or legal theories; it is enough to set out a claim for relief").

DISCUSSION

I. Official Capacity Claim Brought Against Bargar

Defendants argue that Bargar cannot be sued in his official capacity due to the Eleventh Amendment protections. FCB alleges in the amended complaint that it is suing Bargar in his official and individual capacities. (A Compl. Par. 5). FCB contends that at the time in question, Bargar was the Superintendent of IYCW. (A. Compl. Par. 5). Thus, the official capacity claim brought against Bargar is essentially a claim brought against IYCW. See Sanders v. Sheahan, 198 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 1999)(stating that "[a] claim against a government employee acting in his official capacity is the same as a suit directed against the entity the official represents"). Under the Eleventh Amendment, "states, as sovereigns in our federal system, will not be held amenable to suit in federal court without their consent." Protestant Memorial Medical Center, Inc. v. Maram, 471 F.3d 724, 728 n.3 (7th Cir. 2006). FCB in fact concedes that the official capacity claim brought against Bargar is barred under the Eleventh Amendment. (Ans. 12). Therefore, we grant Defendants' motion to dismiss the official capacity claim brought against Bargar in Count I.

II. Personal Involvement

Defendants argue that the individual Defendants cannot be held liable under Section 1983 since they were not personally involved in the alleged misconduct. A defendant can only be found liable under Section 1983 if the "'defendant was personally responsible for the deprivation of a constitutional right.'" Johnson v. Snyder, 444 F.3d 579, 583-84 (7th Cir. 2006)(quoting Gentry v. Duckworth, 65 F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995)). In order for a public official to be deemed personally responsible for the deprivation of a constitutional right by his subordinates the ...


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