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Bruce v. Guernsey

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 2, 2014

FALYN BRUCE, Plaintiff,
v.
DEREK L. GUERNSEY, TROY M. SWEENEY, JUSTIN HARRIS, SANGAMON COUNTY, ILLINOIS, and ROCHESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

OPINION

SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Deputy Derek L. Guernsey's, Deputy Troy M. Sweeney's, Officer Justin Harris's, Sangamon County's, and the Rochester Police Department's Motions to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (d/e 21, 24). Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED and Counts I through V of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint are DISMISSED without prejudice and with leave to replead. Plaintiff Falyn Bruce has pleaded facts that demonstrate Defendant Sweeney did not personally violate Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment Rights. Plaintiff has also pleaded facts that demonstrate Defendants Harris and Guernsey seized Plaintiff under the reasonable belief that she presented a threat of harm to herself or others. Moreover, Defendant Guernsey is entitled to qualified immunity even if he seized Plaintiff without probable cause to do so. Because Plaintiff has alleged facts that demonstrate she cannot state plausible claims for relief against Defendant's Harris, Guernsey, and Sweeney, her claims that Defendants Sangamon County and the Rochester Police Department failed to properly train their officers must also be dismissed.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On Monday, September 5, 2011, Plaintiff Falyn Bruce, then age 17, was with her former boyfriend, B.S., a minor, at B.S.'s home in Riverton, Illinois. The two began arguing, and Plaintiff tried to leave. At first, B.S. physically prevented Plaintiff from leaving. However, Plaintiff was eventually able to leave B.S.'s home. Plaintiff alleges that she remained calm during this encounter with B.S. and that she made no threats to harm herself or others while in B.S.'s presence.

After leaving B.S.'s home, Plaintiff contacted a friend, D.F., a minor, who picked Plaintiff up and took Plaintiff to D.F.'s home at 4430 Passfield, Rochester, Illinois, which is 14.5 miles from Riverton, Illinois.[1] The two arrived at D.F.'s home at approximately 11:50 p.m. on Monday, September 5, 2011, and Plaintiff spent the night at D.F.'s home.

At about 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2011, Plaintiff called her father James Bruce and told him that she was with D.F. Plaintiff also told her father that she was fine but did not feel like going to school. Plaintiff's father said he understood and that he would contact the school to let them know.

Later that morning, B.S. allegedly told Plaintiff's friends at Riverton High School that Plaintiff had attempted to kill herself the night before by placing a belt around her neck and tightening the belt. Plaintiff asserts that she did nothing of the sort. None of Plaintiff's friends were at B.S.'s the previous evening when Plaintiff allegedly tried to commit suicide. However, her friends were concerned and voiced that concern to the Riverton High School Guidance Counselor. At approximately 8:45 a.m., the guidance counselor contacted the Riverton Police Department about the reports that Plaintiff had tried to commit suicide.

Riverton Police Officer Andrew Landgrebe responded to the reports and arrived at Riverton High School that morning. He was advised that other students had said that Plaintiff had tried to commit suicide the previous evening. Meanwhile, Plaintiff's father, Mr. Bruce, went to the school. When Mr. Bruce arrived, Mr. Bruce told Officer Landgrebe that Mr. Bruce knew where Plaintiff was, that Plaintiff was fine, and that there was no need for concern. Despite Mr. Bruce's assurances, Officer Landgrebe contacted Sangamon County Dispatch at 8:59 a.m. and told the dispatcher that Plaintiff was "possibly" suicidal and suggested she should be checked.

At 10:17 a.m., Sangamon County Dispatch contacted Defendant Harris of the Rochester Police Department and told Defendant Harris Plaintiff's location and that Plaintiff was possibly suicidal. In response to this call, Defendant Harris proceeded to D.F.'s home at 4430 Passfield, Rochester, Illinois. When Defendant Harris arrived, he knocked on the door and eventually spoke with Plaintiff. At this point, Defendant Harris radioed Sangamon County to advise that no emergency medical services were required.

Afterward, Defendant Harris entered D.F.'s home and instructed Plaintiff to wait outside for a Sangamon County official. Plaintiff asserts that she asked Defendant Harris why she needed to go outside. Defendant Harris allegedly told Plaintiff that if she wanted to ask questions he could just handcuff Plaintiff and take her outside himself.

Plaintiff asserts that she felt she had no choice but to go outside with Defendant Harris where he made Plaintiff wait in the driveway of D.F.'s home. While in the driveway, Plaintiff alleges that she and her friends repeatedly questioned Defendant Harris's reasons for making Plaintiff wait outside. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts that during the exchange between Defendant Harris and Plaintiff, Defendant Harris neither witnessed behavior nor obtained any information that indicated Plaintiff was a threat to herself or others.

Plaintiff alleges that at 10:26 a.m., a Sangamon County dispatcher contacted Plaintiff's father, Mr. Bruce, and told him that his daughter was fine. The dispatcher also told Mr. Bruce that he could pick Plaintiff up at 4430 Passfield, Rochester, Illinois. Plaintiff's father proceeded to the address and arrived at 10:54 a.m. Defendant Guernsey of the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department also arrived at D.F.'s home at about this time. Defendant Harris left D.F.'s home at 10:56 a.m. after having been there for approximately thirty-nine minutes.

Upon arriving, Defendant Guernsey told Plaintiff that she needed to get into his police car. Plaintiff asserts that both she and her father told Defendant Guernsey that Plaintiff was fine and that she would leave with her father. However, according to Plaintiff, Defendant Guernsey told Plaintiff and her father that Plaintiff had to go with him and that Defendant Guernsey intended to take Plaintiff to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois.

When Defendant Guernsey took Plaintiff to the hospital, Defendant Guernsey had information that Plaintiff might need medical attention and that Plaintiff was possibly suicidal. However, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Guernsey had already received information from Sangamon County Dispatch that Plaintiff was okay. Furthermore, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Guernsey did not personally observe any action or behavior by Plaintiff indicating she presented a danger to herself or others and that Defendant Guernsey did not ask Plaintiff whether she needed medical attention. At 11:05 a.m., Defendant Guernsey left Rochester, Illinois with Plaintiff in the police car and drove to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois.

Plaintiff and Defendant Guernsey arrived at St. John's Hospital at 11:22 a.m. Only one minute earlier, Defendant Troy Sweeney of the Sangamon County's Sheriff's Department had also arrived at the Hospital. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Sweeney and Guernsey maintained custody of Plaintiff until 11:58 a.m. when hospital staff admitted Plaintiff to the hospital. Plaintiff further alleges that between 11:21 a.m. and 11:58 a.m., Defendant Sweeney observed no action or behavior by Plaintiff indicating Plaintiff was a threat to herself or others.

While at the Hospital, Defendant Guernsey signed a document for an emergency inpatient admission pursuant to 405 ILCS 5/3-600. This provision of the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code applies to the emergency admission of individuals eighteen years and older. In the petition, Defendant Guernsey checked boxes regarding his knowledge of and the purported basis for Plaintiff's need for medical care and that he had attached a certificate of examination by a physician:

Falyn W. Bruce is: a person with mental illness who because of his or her illness is reasonably expected, unless treated on an inpatient basis, to engage in conduct placing such person or another in physical harm or in reasonable expectation of being physically harmed;
* * * *
[Falyn W. Bruce is] in need of immediate ...

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