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Doe v. Sobeck

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 18, 2013

JANE DOE, by her parents and guardian SABRA SMITH and MARK SMITH, Plaintiffs,

For Jane Doe, by her parents and guardian Sabra Smith and Mark Smith, Plaintiff: Thomas E. Kennedy, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Roshni C Shikari, Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy, III, L.C., St. Louis, MO.

For John Sobeck, Cynthia Broskie, H Group BBT, Inc, an Illinois not for profit corporation, Defendants: Richard M. Waris, LEAD ATTORNEY, Donald Patrick Eckler, Pretzel & Stouffer, Chicago, IL.


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This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by defendants John Sobeck, Cynthia Broskie and the H Group BBT, Inc. (" the H Group" ) (Doc. 15). Jane Doe, by her mother and guardian Sabra Smith (" Sabra" ) and by her father Mark Smith, has responded to the motion (Doc. 19), and the defendants have replied to that response (Doc. 23).

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I. Standard for Dismissal

When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 167 L.Ed.2d 1081 (2007) (citing Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a 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). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556).

In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court rejected the more expansive interpretation of Rule 8(a)(2) that " a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief," Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 561-63; Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777. Now " it is not enough for a complaint to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . . . by providing allegations that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777 (quoting Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555).

Nevertheless, Bell Atlantic did not do away with the liberal federal notice pleading standard. Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT& T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint still need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555, and it remains true that " [a]ny district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write 'this complaint is deficient because it does not contain . . .' should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation?" Doe v. Smith, 429 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless, a complaint must contain " more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555. If the factual detail of a complaint is " so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8," it is subject to dismissal. Airborne Beepers, 499 F.3d at 667.

II. Alleged Facts

The allegations in the complaint establish the following relevant facts.

Doe was a 24-year-old [1] developmentally disabled and mentally incompetent adult. Because of her disability, she was of small stature, had diminished strength and endurance, possessed the functional capacity of an 8-year-old, and lacked the

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capacity for complex decision-making or risk-recognition.

Doe participated in a developmental training program operated by the H Group. The H Group received federal funds to support its developmental training efforts. Sobeck worked for the H Group as a vocational evaluator, served as Doe's case manager, and was responsible for supervising and educating Doe and others regarding job and independent living skills. Broskie, also an H Group employee, was responsible for supervising and educating Doe and others regarding vocational skills.

In March 2010, Sabra, Doe's mother but not yet her legal guardian, became concerned that L.T., a developmentally disabled male H Group program participant, was giving Doe inappropriate attention by giving her gifts. L.T. was larger and older than Doe. Sabra told Sobeck she was concerned about L.T.'s attention to Doe and was concerned that, because of her disability, Doe was unable to appreciate risks from others and was therefore vulnerable to men with bad intentions. Sabra asked Sobeck to place Doe and L.T. in different work areas or give them staggered lunch breaks to keep them apart. Sobeck did not separate Doe and L.T.

Later that same month, Sabra informed Sobeck that L.T. had made sexual advances and sexual remarks to another girl on Doe's bus and asked Sobeck to protect Doe from L.T. Sobeck did nothing in response to Sabra's information.

Sabra continued to contact Sobeck every few days throughout March and early April 2010 about L.T.'s contacts with Doe, including giving her gifts, discussing sexually explicit things, and trying to convince her that her parents were her enemies. Sobeck told Sabra the interactions were innocent and assured Sabra that nothing would happen to Doe because she and L.T. were supervised.

During that same time period, Sabra complained to Broskie multiple times about L.T.'s interactions with Doe. Broskie told Sabra the H Group was doing everything it could to keep Doe safe.

Despite Sobeck's and Broskie's assurances, on April 7, 2013, the Smiths removed Doe from the H Group's program because they thought the defendants were not doing enough to protect Doe from L.T., who they believed posed a danger to Doe. After Sobeck assured Sabra that he had talked to L.T. about appropriate personal boundaries and had told L.T. not to have any relationship or interaction with Doe other than working together, the Smiths decided to send Doe back to the program.

After Doe returned on May 3, 2010, the Smiths became concerned again because L.T.'s behavior had not changed. Sabra spoke with both Sobeck and Broskie about these concerns. Specifically, on May 13, 2010, Sobeck assured her L.T. was being a gentlemen and that nothing would happen because Doe was being watched closely.

In reality, on May 13, 2010, L.T. took Doe to the bathroom with him, kissed her, and asked her to touch his genitals. Doe refused. The incident was not reported to the Smiths.

The following day, L.T. again took Doe into the bathroom and, this time, raped her. The Smiths again withdrew Doe from the H Group's program.

On November 30, 2012, after Sabra was appointed Doe's legal guardian, the Smiths filed this lawsuit alleging four causes of action: a claim against the H Group under § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a), for discrimination on the basis of disability (Count I); a claim against the H Group under Title IX of the federal ...

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