United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division
OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
one of two recent cases involving pre-trial detention at the
Franklin County Regional Jail. The Plaintiff in this matter,
Kelsey Love, gave birth alone and unassisted while in custody
at the jail. The Defendants seek to resolve this case by way
of a Motion to Dismiss. [R. 10.] This requires the Court to
consider, for a first time, the teachings of the Supreme
Court in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, a Fourth Amendment
case, in the context of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
135 S.Ct. 2466 (2015). Ultimately, for the reasons set out
below, the motion will be DENIED.
15, 2017, Plaintiff Kelsey Love was incarcerated in Franklin
County Regional Jail (FCRJ). [R. 9 at 5.] Love, a pretrial
detainee, was eight months pregnant at the time. Id.
Because of her pregnancy, Defendants were under orders to
observe Love every ten minutes. The Inmate Observation Record
Love filed with Love's complaint, if believed, indicates
the Defendants checked on her semi-regularly throughout May
15, 2017 and into the morning of May 16, 2017, though not
every ten minutes, as instructed. [R. 1-1.] Love went into
labor sometime during May 15, 2017. Somehow, despite frequent
looking-ins, Love was allowed to give birth, unassisted and
without medical care, in her jail cell. [R. 9 at 6.] When
Defendant Phillips entered Love's cell at approximately
8:04 a.m. on May 16, 2017, Love's blood covered the
floor. Love had completed labor and delivered a child. Only
then was Love transported to Franklin Regional Medical
Center. [R. 1-1.]
filed this action on May 7, 2018 and amended her complaint on
June 9, 2018. Love named Franklin County, Rick Rogers,
Michael Phillips, Anthony Pullen, Sergeant Harrod and four
John Doe deputy jailers (collectively “individual
Defendants”) [R. 1; R. 9.] As amended, Love's
complaint alleges various causes of action under both 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and Kentucky common law. [R. 9.] Namely,
deliberate indifference, supervisory liability,
Monell liability, and common law negligence. In
addition, Love puts forth a new theory of liability under the
Fourteenth Amendment, which she calls “intentional
decision.” [R. 9 at 8.] With this Count, she urges this
Court to adopt a new standard for pretrial detainee medical
care claims based on Kingsley. The Defendants have
moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). [R. 10.] Defendants
argue that Love has not pleaded the elements of her claims
specifically enough to survive dismissal, and that even if
she had, they are protected by qualified immunity.
Id. For the following reasons, Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of a plaintiff's complaint. In reviewing a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “construe[s] the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
accept[s] its allegations as true, and draw[s] all inferences
in favor of the plaintiff.” DirecTV, Inc. v.
Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted). The Court, however, “need not accept as true
legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.”
Id. (quoting Gregory v. Shelby County, 220
F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000)). The Supreme Court explained
that in order “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, 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, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). See also Courier
v. Alcoa Wheel & Forged Products, 577 F.3d 625, 629
(6th Cir. 2009).
the facts that are pled must rise to the level of
plausibility, not just possibility; “facts that are
merely consistent with a defendant's liability . . .
stop[ ] short of the line between possibility and
plausibility.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)). According to the
Sixth Circuit, “[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.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
alleges that the individual Defendants at FCRJ violated her
constitutional rights by denying her medical care when she
was in labor. [R. 1.] Such allegations are properly brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 does not create
substantive rights but, rather, “provides a remedy for
deprivations of rights secured by the Constitution and laws
of the United States....” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil
Co., 457 U.S. 922, 924 (1982); Mertik v.
Blalock, 983 F.2d 1353, 1359 (6th Cir.1993). “To
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of
the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation
was committed by a person acting under color of state
law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
“The first step in any such claim is to identify the
specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (citing
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989)
(additional citations omitted)).
Constitution guarantees “a right to adequate medical
treatment” for both convicted prisoners and pretrial
detainees. Estelle v. Gamble, 424 U.S. 97 (1976).
Until recently, the extent of this right has been the same
for pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. To succeed on
an action for deliberate indifference to medical needs,
plaintiffs have been required to show: (i) an objectively
substantial risk of serious harm, and (ii) that the jail or
county officials were “subjectively aware of the
risk.” Harbin v. City of Detroit, 147
Fed.Appx. 566, 570 (6th Cir.2005). The Supreme Court,
however, signaled in Kingsley that this universal
test for both pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners'
claims was misguided. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135
S.Ct. 2466 (2015). The Court's holding suggests that
pretrial detainees no longer need to prove that the defendant
had actual knowledge to succeed on the second prong of the
deliberate indifference test. Instead, a pretrial detainee
need only show that the defendants “recklessly failed
to act with reasonable care to mitigate the risk that the
condition posed to the pretrial detainee even though the
defendant-official knew, or should have known, that the
condition posed an excessive risk to health or safety.”
Bruno v. City of Schenectady, 727 Fed.Appx. 717, 720
(2018). That is, a pretrial detainee-plaintiff can succeed by
pointing only to objective facts and without proving the
Kingsley concerned only a pretrial detainee's
Fourth Amendment excessive force claim, its holding has
implications on all pretrial detainee's claims. In
Kingsley, the Court only required the pretrial
detainee show that “the force purposely or knowingly
used against him was objectively unreasonable.”
Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at 2473. To support a less
stringent test, the Court cited: (i) precedent; (ii)
workability; and (iii) the greater protections afforded by
the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. These rationales
extend to pretrial detainee claims for deliberate
indifference. The court explains each in turn.
precedent supports using an objective test for pretrial
detainee's claim of deliberate indifference.
Kingsley itself was not focused exclusively to
excessive force precedent. Id. To the contrary, the
Court looked at challenges by pretrial detainees
generally-identifying a challenge to double-bunking.
Id. Only one conclusion can be drawn from the
wide-net cast by the Court: its reasoning was not meant to be
constrained to excessive force claims. Indeed, a challenge to
double-bunking provides a closer analogue to a deliberate
indifference claim than it does to an excessive force claim.
Id. Unlike an excessive force claim, which focuses
on the direct infliction of punishment, a conditions of
confinement claim highlights the failure to provide a
necessity. Id. Likewise, deliberate indifference
claims seek damages for a failure to provide something
necessary: health care. Richmond v. Huq, 885 F.3d
929 (6th Cir. 2018). Therefore, the Court's use of a
pretrial double-bunking case supports an objective test for
deliberate indifference to medical need claims.
this Court need not rely on simply reading the tea leaves of
precedent. The Court in Kingsley used broad language
to convey its holding. Focusing on pretrial detainees
generally, the Court reported that, to succeed, a pretrial
detainee only needs to show that the government's actions
were not “rationally related to a legitimate
nonpunitive government purpose” or that the actions
“appear excessive in relation to that purpose.”
Such language cannot be mistaken; Kingsley is meant
to apply to all pretrial ...