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Dean v. Bearden

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

September 17, 2019

TERI L. DEAN, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD BEARDEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          STEPHEN R. BOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Precythe's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. #27). The motion is granted in part and denied in part. The motion is granted with respect to Counts VI, XXIII, XXIV, and XXV. The motion is also granted with respect to Plaintiff Teri L. Dean's official capacity claim in Count V and the corresponding request for injunctive relief. The motion is denied with respect to Plaintiff's individual capacity claim in Count V.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Center between June 2012 and October 2018. Plaintiff alleges she was harassed, abused, and sexually assaulted by Defendant Corrections Officers Edward Bearden, Elijah L. Mosier, Todd E. Mustain, and Kevin L. Reed (collectively “Corrections Officer Defendants”) repeatedly and throughout her incarceration. Plaintiff alleges she experienced retaliation after reporting the abuse. Plaintiff alleges widespread sexual abuse occurred at the prison during the time she was incarcerated and after she was moved to a different facility. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Precythe, the Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections since February 9, 2017, “knew or should have known that the Defendant Corrections Officers were sexually assaulting Plaintiff and did nothing to prevent or stop the attacks.” (Doc. #5, p. 1).

         Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint includes five claims against Defendant Precythe: 1) Count V - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for facilitation of Corrections Officer Defendants' misconduct in violation of the Eighth Amendment stated against Defendant Precythe in her official and individual capacities; 2) Count VI - common law negligence against all Defendants; 3) Count XXIII - negligence against Defendant Precythe in her individual capacity; 4) Count XXIV - vicarious liability/respondeat superior against Defendant Precythe in her individual capacity; and 5) Count XXV - premises liability against Defendant Precythe in her individual capacity. In the prayer for relief, Plaintiff seeks damages as well as prospective injunctive relief. Defendant Precythe moves to dismiss all claims against her for failure to state a claim.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss a claim for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” “To survive a motion to dismiss [for failure to state a claim], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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.” Ash v. Anderson Merchs., LLC, 799 F.3d 957, 960 (8th Cir. 2015) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         The Court must accept all facts alleged in the complaint as true when deciding a motion to dismiss. See Data Mfg., Inc. v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 557 F.3d 849, 851 (8th Cir. 2009) (noting “[t]he factual allegations of a complaint are assumed true and construed in favor of the plaintiff, even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable”). However, allegations that are “legal conclusions or formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action . . . may properly be set aside.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677).

         III. Discussion

         Defendant Precythe argues the claims against her should be dismissed because: 1) Defendant Precythe is protected by official immunity and the public duty doctrine as to the state-law claims (Counts VI, XXIII, and XXV); 2) Defendant Precythe cannot be found vicariously liable based on respondeat superior (Count XXIV); 3) Defendant Precythe is not subject to suit in her official capacity based on § 1983, and her claims for injunctive relief fail (Count V); 4) Plaintiff's § 1983 claim fails because Plaintiff does not allege Defendant Precythe actually knew of a substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff (Count V); and 5) Defendant Precythe is protected by qualified immunity as to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim (Count V).

         a. State-Law Claims

         i. Count XXIV

         In responding to Defendant Precythe's motion, Plaintiff concedes “she cannot rely solely on a theory of respondeat superior and voluntarily dismisses that part of her claim.” (Doc. #33, p. 3). Accordingly, Count XXIV is dismissed.

         ii. Counts ...


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