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L.J. v. Parker Personal Care Homes, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Colorado

November 10, 2014

L.J., a minor, through his parents and next friends, Bruce and Annetta Johnson, Plaintiff,
v.
PARKER PERSONAL CARE HOMES, INC., a Colorado corporation, ESSENE HOME, a Colorado limited liability company, BRIAN MOATS, individually and as Manager of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services, AMY ANDREWS, individually and as Manager of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services, and LEDALE D. BROWN, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS ANDREWS AND MOATS’S MOTION TO DISMISS

William J. Martínez United States District Judge

Plaintiff L.J. (“Plaintiff”), through his parents and next friends Bruce and Annette Johnson, brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against Parker Personal Care Homes, Inc., Essene Home, Brian Moats, Amy Andrews, and Ledale D. Brown. Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (the “Motion”), filed by Defendants Moats and Andrews[1] (together, the “County Defendants”). (ECF No. 45.) For the foregoing reasons, the Motion is granted without prejudice to the refiling of a further amended complaint by Plaintiff.

I. BACKGROUND

The following allegations, contained in Plaintiff’s Complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion.

Plaintiff was 15 years old in February 2013. (ECF No. 40 ¶ 10.) He has been diagnosed with multiple disabilities, including high-functioning autism, bipolar disorder, and reactive attachment disorder. (Id.) Plaintiff also has a history of being a sexual abuse victim, having been sexually victimized by a classmate prior to June 2011. (Id. ¶ 31.)

The County Defendants are both case workers at the Jefferson County Department of Human Services (“JCDHS”). (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.)

On or about February 13, 2013, JCDHS took temporary legal custody of Plaintiff after he was declared incompetent at a hearing for criminal charges involving actions related to his parents. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.) Moats placed Plaintiff at Essene Home, a specialized group home in Colorado, immediately following the hearing. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 33.) Andrews assumed supervision of Plaintiff while Plaintiff lived at Essene Home and she visited Plaintiff multiple times. (Id. ¶¶ 48, 49.)

Plaintiff lived in the basement for the first 13 days he resided at Essene Home. (Id. ¶ 34.) On February 26, 2013, a staff meeting was held at Essene Home to discuss Plaintiff (the “Staff Meeting”). (Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff’s guardian ad litem, Plaintiff’s mother, Moats, Defendant Brown, and a representative of Parker Personal Care Homes, Inc. attended the Staff Meeting. (Id. ¶ 36.) During the Staff Meeting, Plaintiff’s mother expressed concern that Plaintiff did not feel safe living in the basement. (Id. ¶ 37.) Brown explained that moving Plaintiff upstairs was not advisable, because a resident who lived upstairs had a history of sexual misconduct. (Id. ¶ 38.) It was also discussed that, if Plaintiff were to be moved upstairs, Brown would place an alarm on Plaintiff’s bedroom door to alert him to anyone entering the room. (Id. ¶ 40.)

Plaintiff was moved upstairs, but an alarm was never placed on his door. (Id. ¶¶ 39, 41.) Plaintiff was subsequently sexually assaulted multiple times by the resident who had been mentioned at the Staff Meeting. (Id. ¶¶ 43, 44.) That resident had at least two prior sex offenses, one of which was the reason he was living at Essene Home. (Id. ¶ 45.)

On these facts, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendants on December 10, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) On March 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (the “Amended Complaint”), asserting four claims under 42 U.S.C § 1983: (1) violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process; (2) violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process; (3) violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection; and (4) supervisory liability. (ECF No. 40 ¶¶ 60-109.) The Amended Complaint also included tort claims for: (1) negligence and negligence per se; and (2) extreme and outrageous conduct. (Id. ¶¶ 110-121.)

On March 19, 2014, the County Defendants filed the instant Motion. (ECF No. 45.) Plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion on April 8, 2014 (ECF No. 47), and the County Defendants filed their Reply on April 22, 2014 (ECF No. 57).

On August 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed an Unopposed Motion to Dismiss All Claims Against Barbara Weinstein and Plaintiff’s Supervisory Liability and Equal Protection Claims Against Defendants Moats and Andrews (ECF No. 84), which the Court granted on August 27, 2014. (ECF No. 85.) Accordingly, Ms. Weinstein is no longer a party to the action, and the sections of the Motion pertaining to Plaintiff’s supervisory liability and equal protection claims are moot.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss a claim in a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” In evaluating such a motion, a court must “assume the truth of the plaintiff’s well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). In ruling on such a motion, the dispositive inquiry is “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Granting a motion to dismiss “is a harsh remedy which must be cautiously studied, not only to effectuate the spirit of the liberal rules of pleading but also to protect the interests of justice.” Dias v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1178 (10th Cir. 2009) (quotation marks ...


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