United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
REBECCA R. PALLMEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
different periods between 2011 and 2017, Plaintiffs Benahdam
Hurt (17-cv-7909) and Mark Owens (18-cv-334) were patients at
the Elgin Mental Health Center ("EMHC") under the
care of social worker Defendant Christy Lenhardt. Hurt and
Owens allege that Lenhardt sexually abused them during their
time there, and a separate criminal case against Lenhardt is
pending in Kane County. See People of Illinois v.
Lenhardt, 18-CF-667 (Kane Co. 2018). In the present
civil case, Hurt and Owens allege that Lenhardt's sexual
abuse violated their constitutional rights. They also bring a
host of claims against the Illinois Department of Human
Services ("DHS") and various doctors and staff at
EMHC. All Defendants except for Lenhardt move to dismiss both
Plaintiffs' claims for failure to state a claim.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The case is effectively stayed as to
Lenhardt, pending any guilty plea in her criminal case.
(See, e.g., Minute Entry [Hurt 85].) For the
following reasons, Defendants' motions [Hurt 48, Hurt 60,
Owens 58, Owens 70] are granted in part and denied in part.
considering a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court assumes
the truth of the plaintiff's allegations. Simpson v.
Brown Cty., 860 F.3d 1001, 1009 (7th Cir. 2017). The
court need "need not, however, 'accept as true any
legal assertions or recital of the elements of a cause of
action supported by mere conclusory statements.'"
Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082,
1087 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Vesely v. Armslist
LLC, 762 F.3d 661, 664-65 (7th Cir. 2014)).
August 14, 2014, Benahdam Hurt was interned at EMHC after he
was "found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity [ ] on a
charge of Aggravated Battery on a Police
Officer." (Third Amended Complaint ("Hurt
TAC") [Hurt 56] ¶ 1.) EMHC is "a hospital
operated by" Defendant DHS. (Id. at ¶ 44.)
Hurt spent nearly three years at EMHC before being released
on July 22, 2017, evidently his "mandatory release
date." (Id. at ¶¶ 34, 44.) The
Complaint provides no further explanation regarding that date
or the conditions of Hurt's confinement.
at EMHC, Hurt was served by a clinical treatment team. That
team included at least a licensed social worker and a
psychiatrist, and "was assigned the task of formulating
and periodically reviewing a treatment plan to improve
[Hurt's] mental condition sufficiently that he could be
released back into the community." (Id. at
¶ 2.) Hurt's Complaint largely lacks chronological
information, but it appears he was first housed in the
"L unit," where his licensed social worker was
Defendant Lenhardt. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Hurt
describes a licensed social worker as someone who
"administer[s] the business of [a patient's]
treatment plan, and who essentially guide[s], record[s],
over[sees], and document[s] the work of the treatment
team" within the patient's Unit. (Id.) He
asserts that Lenhardt "was fully in charge of the
evaluation and documentation of [his] progress and the
administration of his court-ordered mental health care, as
well as the evaluation of [his] eligibility for
release." (Id. at ¶ 13.)
Hurt's Complaint focuses on Defendant Lenhardt, who has
not moved for dismissal. Hurt alleges that Lenhardt
"commenced her scheme to sexually seduce, assault,
manipulate and rape" him on the day he arrived at EMHC.
(Id. at ¶ 6.) By Thanksgiving of that year,
Lenhardt had initiated sexual contact with him. (Id.
at ¶ 11.) Their "relationship" quickly
escalated to the point of Hurt and Lenhardt "frequently
engaging in sexual activities in her office during
'counseling' sessions." (Id. at
¶¶ 12, 13.) She also "demand[ed] sexual favors
in her office" and sent Hurt e-mail messages and nude
pictures of herself. (Id. at ¶¶ 13, 31.)
Complaint asserts that "Lenhardt and [Hurt] were
'caught' during sexual activities numerous times by
other Facility staff." (Id. at ¶ 22.) It
recounts, however, only one incident involving any staff
other than Lenhardt. Specifically, in the "spring of
2017," Hurt and Lenhardt "became accidentally
locked" in another staff member's office on K Unit,
where Lenhardt had no patients, after entering the empty
office to have sex. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Lenhardt and
Hurt "had to get the attention of" two EMHC
employees, neither of whom are alleged to be Defendants here.
(Id.) "Those staff opened the door, and then
asked multiple questions about why Lenhardt and Plaintiff had
been inside [the] empty office alone." (Id.)
"Other staff also asked questions . . . but the
Facility, its staff and administrators never conducted a
follow-on investigation, nor was there any other consequence,
regardless of the apparent widespread suspicion."
(Id.) The Complaint contains no allegation that this
incident was ever reported to EMHC administrators, the State,
nor to any of the Defendants here.
asserts that "other such 'close call' incidents
were ignored, covered up or swept under the rug by suspicious
staff of the Facility," but he does not specify which
staff were suspicious, and the only other "close
call" incident Hurt describes involved no staff at all.
(Id. at ¶ 24.) He explains that "[o]ne
patient on K or L Unit often made a point of waiting outside
whatever office Plaintiff and Lenhardt were sexually engaged
in, and on one occasion he called out loudly as they came out
after a sexual encounter, 'Hey! I want to get my dick
sucked, too.'" (Id.) Hurt does not allege
that any of the Defendants here heard this
early 2017, Hurt had been moved from L Unit to K Unit; Hurt
does not explain the reason for this move, nor does he state
when the move occurred. (Id. at ¶ 5.) In K
Unit, Defendant Drew Beck became Hurt's licensed social
worker. (Id.) The Complaint refers to Beck as
"Plaintiff's nominal social worker," but does
not explain why Beck was only "nominal."
(Id. at ¶ 25.) Beck's supervisor was
Defendant Colleen Delaney, who reported to administrative
supervisor Defendant Diana Hogan. (Id. at
¶¶ 28, 48, 49.) Defendant psychiatrists Hasina
Javed and Faisa Kareemi also served as the "clinical
leaders of [Hurt's] treatment plan" at unspecified
times. (Id. at ¶ 27.) Hurt alleges that
psychiatrist James Corcoran "trained and supervised
Defendants Javed, Kareemi, Delaney, and Hogan," who,
"in turn, . . . trained and supervised Defendants
Lenhardt and Beck." (Id. at ¶¶ 43,
assertions with respect to Defendants Corcoran, Javed,
Kareemi, Beck, Delaney, and Hogan are limited. He often
refers generically to "the administration" or the
"staff" at EMHC instead of to particular named
Defendants. Hurt broadly alleges, for example, that Lenhardt
told him in late 2016 that "the administration"
"suspect[ed]" their relationship and was
"investigating." (Id. at ¶ 26.) Hurt
also notes the "frequently expressed suspicions of many
staff at the Facility," without explaining how he knows
about those suspicions, and he claims there were
"numerous incidents of obvious sightings of Plaintiff
and Lenhardt in compromising situations," without
describing any incidents beyond those discussed above.
(Id. at ¶ 32.) He has not alleged that any
incidents were reported to Defendants; he only broadly
alleges that "Defendants Corcoran, Javed, Kareemi,
Delaney, Hogan and Beck . . . deliberately ignor[ed] or
refus[ed] to investigate reports from other staff about
Lenhardt's observed suspicious conduct."
(Id. at ¶ 62.)
complaint does contain some allegations specific to some
Defendants, however. He asserts that Beck "asked
Plaintiff several times why he and Lenhardt were 'so
close, '" and alleges that "Plaintiff was very
certain . . . that Beck must have been fully aware that
something sexual was going on with Lenhardt."
(Id. at ¶ 25.) By early 2017, Hurt asserts that
Beck "became quite certain that Defendant Lenhardt and
the Plaintiff were sexually involved" and that Beck
"took his concerns" to Defendant Delaney.
(Id. at ¶ 28.) Beck, Delaney, and Defendant
Hogan then met, "discussed Beck's suspicions, and
collaborated to avoid any report to [the Office of the
Inspector General]" and to "cover up the ongoing
sexual abuse of the Plaintiff." (Id. at ¶
asserts that Javed and Kareemi, "during the time they
treated Plaintiff," also "pointedly voiced telltale
observations and asked questions of the Plaintiff, which
indicated that they must have suspected him and Lenhardt of
sexual activity" (id. at ¶ 27); he does
not describe what those comments were, nor why they led him
to believe as much. Hurt further alleges that Javed, Kareemi,
and Corcoran all "ignored, covered up, never reported,
never stopped or even discouraged" Lenhardt's sexual
activity with him, making them "complicit in the sexual
abuse." (Id. at ¶¶ 32, 33.) And he
claims that Javed, Kareemi, and Corcoran "falsified
evidence in court reports and in Plaintiff's psychiatric
and medical records, to falsely implicate Plaintiff as
dangerously mentally ill and in continuing need of secure
confinement in the Facility." (Id. at ¶
62.) The court presumes, though Hurt does not so explicitly
state, that he was potentially eligible for some type of
earlier release than he ultimately received.
Spring 2017, Hurt had "surreptitiously recorded several
conversations with Lenhardt, and saved that evidence as audio
files on electronic devices he owned." (Id. at
¶ 34.) He does not explain why he made those recordings.
In July 2017, before Hurt's "mandatory release
date," "security personnel conducted an exhaustive
search of Plaintiff's room." (Id. at
¶¶ 34, 35.) They "confiscated" Hurt's
electronics, "which [Hurt] believes included at least
four or five flash drives and two iPods," and appear to
have contained the recordings. (Id. at ¶¶
35, 36.) Hurt claims he was never given any explanation for
the search and confiscation, was never provided with an
inventory of the seized items, and that no "formal
restriction of rights was ever documented."
(Id. at ¶ 35.) Hurt now believes that his
"digital files became evidence against Lenhardt,
resulting in her being fired from the Facility, and causing
the advent of an active investigation by the Illinois State
Police." (Id. at ¶ 38.) Following the
confiscation of his property, Hurt was "restricted to
his room on K Unit, [and] denied all phone use and all
communication with others . . . until his release on July 22,
2017." (Id. at ¶ 37.)
filed his original complaint, through counsel, on November 2,
2017. He then filed several amended complaints [Hurt 23, 39,
56]. He raises a host of constitutional claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, making all claims under the umbrella of
the "Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments." (Hurt TAC
¶ 17.) Notably, Hurt does not specify which legal claims
he raises against each particular Defendant; instead, he
broadly refers to the "Defendants," or the
"Defendants, and each of them." (See,
e.g., id. at ¶¶ 77, 79.) His
"first claim for relief" is for "42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 - Excessive Force, Battery and Unlawful Search
and Seizure, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments." (Id. at 17.) Within this claim,
Hurt notes his "constitutional right[s] . . . to bodily
integrity and freedom from unlawful searches and seizures of
his property and person, and from sexual abuse and
psychological manipulation." (Id. at ¶
72.) He also asserts that Defendants failed to take
"reasonable steps to protect" him from Lenhardt,
and that they all "acted in concert." (Id.
at ¶¶ 76, 82.)
"second claim for relief" asserts violations
"of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Unlawful Search and Seizure,
False Imprisonment in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments." (Id. at 20.) He claims that
"[t]he Defendants, and each of them, conducted malicious
and sadistic violations to harm the Plaintiff, making him
submit to enslavement as well as unlawful searches and
seizures of his property and person, false imprisonment and
violations of privacy." (Id. at ¶ 101.) He
again asserts that "Defendants acted in concert,"
(id. at ¶ 103), and he claims that the
Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the violation of
his "fundamental human and constitutional rights"
when they "refus[ed] to investigate or adequately handle
violations" of his rights. (Id. at ¶ 110.)
the allegations levied in Hurt's Complaint are difficult
to parse, the court understands Hurt to bring due process,
Fourth Amendment, and tort claims (including false
imprisonment and battery) against each and every Defendant.
Mark Owens entered DHS' care in August 2011 after being
"adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity [ ] in the
Circuit Court of Will County, for a criminal charge of
disarming a police officer." (Owens' Fourth Amended
Complaint ("Owens FAC") [Owens 65] ¶ 1.) Owens
was initially placed at Chester Mental Health Center, but he
was later moved to EMHC, where he spent "years"
(id. at ¶¶ 2, 11); he is currently
interned at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center. (Id.
at 2.) His Complaint does not specify when or why he moved
from Chester to EMHC, nor from EMHC to Chicago-Read.
Hurt, Owens was placed under Lenhardt's care on L Unit at
EMHC. (Id. at ¶ 2.) He was also under the care
of Defendant Javed on L Unit. (Id. at ¶ 6.)
Owens spent at least some time on K Unit and N Unit, in
addition to L Unit. Owens asserts that "the clinical
staff on K and L Units worked together and were familiar with
each other's patients." (Id. at ¶ 2.)
a few months" of Owens' arrival at EMHC, Lenhardt
made advances on him during a private counseling session.
(Id. at ¶ 3.) Owens became uncomfortable and
left the session; he then requested that his sessions be held
"somewhere other than in [Lenhardt's] private
office."(Id. at ¶¶ 4, 5.) Owens
asserts that this "irritated" Lenhardt, who
"react[ed] to [Owens'] earlier rejection of her
sexual advance by implying that [he] was
'paranoid.'" (Id. at ¶ 6.)
Lenhardt then suggested that Defendant psychiatrist Javed
change Owens' "diagnosis . . . to bipolar
disorder." (Id. at ¶¶ 6, 22.)
"Fortunately, Plaintiff [Owens] was able to prevail upon
Dr. Javed" in 2012 "not to follow Lenhardt's
suggestion." (Id. at ¶¶ 7, 12.) In
the same session, Owens described to Javed "the general
details and clear impropriety of Lenhardt's earlier
sexual advance." (Id. At ¶ 7.) Still,
"Javed never reported the alleged incident to the Office
of the Inspector General." (Id. at ¶ 8.)
additionally asserts that his psychiatrist on K
Unit-Defendant Kareemi- "repeatedly recommended a
diagnosis of lifelong major mental illness for him:
schizoaffective disorder . . . [which] would have
conveniently implied a prescription for stronger,
debilitating anti-psychotic drugs which would likely have
impaired Plaintiff's thinking and credibility."
(Id. at ¶ 9.) Owens does not allege that his
diagnosis was, in fact, ever changed, however, nor does he
assert that Lenhardt had any communication or contact with
Kareemi regarding Owens' diagnosis.Instead, Owens
makes only a general allegation of "collu[sion]"
among all individual Defendants to "make [Owens]
available at Defendant Lenhardt's disposal for her own
personal, perverted purpose of sexual abuse."
(Id. at ¶ 10.)
"repeatedly sexually abused" Owens "on at
least three more occasions." (Id. At ¶
11.) Owens alleges that:
Defendant Lenhardt strongly "came on" to the
Plaintiff so as to make her willful and wanton sexual assault
into sexual battery, unlawfully touching and engaging in sex
acts with the Plaintiff while he was confined, imprisoned,
under her complete control, and under the control of her
fellow staff on K and L Units who could change his diagnosis
and drug him at their whim.
(Id. at ¶ 14.) He offers no more specific
information about the repeated abuse.
makes some allegations that do not clearly pertain to his own
treatment at EMHC. He alleges, for example, that Defendants
Beck, Delaney, and Hogan "met together and explicitly
agreed to conceal and not report sexual abuse of a disabled
person." (Id. at ¶ 15.) This roughly
matches Hurt's allegation about Beck, Delaney, and
Hogan's meeting in 2017, but Owens does not explicitly
state as much-this is puzzling, given that both Plaintiffs
are represented by the same counsel and have filed a single
response brief to all Defendants' motions to dismiss.
(See Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to
Defendants' 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss [Hurt 66];
Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendants'
12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss [Owens 73] (hereinafter,
collectively referred to as "Pls.' Resp.").)
Even if Owens is referring to Beck, Delaney, and Hogan's
alleged meeting about Hurt, Owens has not alleged that Beck,
Delaney, or Hogan- Hurt's treatment team-knew anything
about Lenhardt's advances on Owens, nor that they had any
involvement with Owens.
fact, Owens' Complaint contains no other allegations
specific to Beck, Delaney, or Hogan. Owens only alleges that
Beck was "a social worker on K Unit"; he does not
say that Beck was ever his assigned social worker.
(Id. at ¶ 24.) He identifies Delaney as "a
unit supervisor and officer employed by" DHS at EMHC
(id. at 25), and Hogan "as an administrative
supervisor and officer employed by" DHS and EMHC.
(Id. at ¶ 26.) The Complaint contains no
information about Beck, Delaney, or Hogan's individual
actions with respect to Owens. Owens also mirrors Hurt's
assertion that Corcoran "trained and supervised
Defendants Javed, Kareemi, Delaney, and Hogan; in turn,
Defendants Javed, Kareemi, Delaney, and Hogan ...