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Reed v. Louisville Metro Government

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

September 27, 2019

MARIAH REED and HOMER PARRENT, as Administratrix of the Estate of King Messiah Chavez Walker, deceased child, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiff Mariah Reed and the administratrix of her deceased child’s estate (“the Baby”) sued Louisville Metro Government (“Louisville Metro”), Director Mark Bolton, and various medical personnel because of Ms. Reed’s medical treatment while she was incarcerated at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (“LMDC”). This matter is now before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss by Defendants Louisville Metro and Mark Bolton [R. 8]. Plaintiffs filed a response [R. 9], and Defendants filed their reply [R. 10]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant in part and deny in part the Defendants’ Motion.

         I. Background

         For the purposes of considering Defendants’ Motion, the following facts are taken as true. Ms. Reed was both incarcerated at LMDC and pregnant with her third child. [R. 1 at p. 9] In early 2017, Defendants took Ms. Reed to the hospital numerous times for treatment of lower abdominal cramping, pain, and vaginal bleeding. Id. When Ms. Reed was more than four months pregnant, in July 2017, Defendants again transported Ms. Reed to the hospital due to vaginal bleeding and complaints of menstrual-like cramping. Id. The hospital discharged Ms. Reed back to LMDC’s custody five days later. Id.

         At 1:13 a.m. the next day, Ms. Reed complained of contractions and severe pain “all over.” Id. Ms. Reed had a pulse rate of 104 beats per minute, and the fetus had a heartbeat of 152 beats per minute. Id. at p. 10. Four hours later, the nurse noted in Ms. Reed’s chart that an advanced registered nurse practitioner had ordered that Ms. Reed be monitored. Id. At 10:30 a.m., another registered nurse prepared an emergency room referral form because Ms. Reed had passed a large blood clot, and her heart rate had risen to 145 beats per minute. Id. However, no ambulance was called until after noon, nearly two hours after the nurse completed the referral form. Id. In the ambulance ride to the hospital, Ms. Reed gave birth to her twenty-one-week-old baby. Id. Ms. Reed’s baby died at the hospital hours later. Id.

         Plaintiffs have asserted federal and state law claims against Louisville Metro and Mark Bolton, Director of LMDC, in his individual capacity. [R. 1] Both Defendants have moved to dismiss all claims against them pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). [R. 8]

         II. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         Dismissal is proper pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) where the plaintiff “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ’ but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint that only “offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action’” is insufficient. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 662 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In order to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must “contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all material elements necessary for recovery under a viable legal theory.” D’Ambrosio v. Marino, 747 F.3d 378, 383 (6th Cir. 2014). The “complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff]; the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all reasonable inferences are drawn in [the plaintiff’s] favor.” Gavitt v. Born, 835 F.3d 623, 640 (6th Cir. 2016).

         III. Discussion

         A. Louisville Metro

         As an initial matter, in their Response to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs agree that “Louisville Metro enjoys sovereign immunity from Plaintiffs’ state claims.” [R. 9 at p. 1] Accordingly, the Court will grant Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss as to any state law claims asserted against Louisville Metro.

         Plaintiffs also seek to hold Louisville Metro liable for the deprivation of Ms. Reed’s and the Baby’s constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 1 at p. 12] Louisville Metro argues that the claim should be dismissed, as the complaint fails to state a claim for municipal liability under § 1983. [R. 8-1 at pp. 7–9]

         To state a claim against a municipal entity such as Louisville Metro, Plaintiffs must show that Louisville Metro committed some wrong. See Doe v. Clairborne Cnty., Tenn., 103 F.3d 495, 507 (6th Cir. 1996) (“[R]espondeat superior is not available as a theory of recovery under section 1983.”). In order to establish municipal liability, the entity must perform the unconstitutional act pursuant to a governmental policy or custom. Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690– 91 (1978). The Sixth Circuit requires the plaintiff to “identify the policy, connect the policy to the city itself and show that the particular injury was incurred because of the execution of that policy.” Garner v. Memphis Police Dep’t, 8 F.3d 358, 364 (6th Cir. 1993) (internal citations omitted).

         Count I does seek to hold Louisville Metro liable for the “customs and practices of Defendants” that resulted in violations of Reed’s constitutional rights [R. 1 at pp. 11–12] Plaintiffs vaguely suggest that these customs and practices were related to the training and supervision of staff. Id. at p. 9–10. However, the complaint is otherwise silent as to what those customs and practices are, why they ...

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