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Hill-Spotswood v. Mayhew

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 29, 2015

JAMIE HILL-SPOTSWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
MARY MAYHEW, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

GEORGE Z. SINGAL, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint with Incorporated Memorandum of Law (ECF No. 7) ("Motion to Dismiss"). For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction... a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and a demand for the relief sought[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)-(3). The Court assumes the truth of the complaint's well-pleaded facts and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court "may consider only facts and documents that are part of or incorporated into the complaint." United Auto., Aero., Agric. Impl. Workers of Am. Int'l Union v. Fortuno, 633 F.3d 37, 39 (1st Cir. 2011) (internal citations omitted).

A viable complaint need not proffer "heightened fact pleading of specifics, " but in order to survive a motion to dismiss it must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering a motion to dismiss, the Court should "begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). A Plaintiff must include enough facts supporting a claim for relief that "nudge[s] [her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "If the factual allegations in the complaint are too meager, vague, or conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from the realm of mere conjecture, the complaint is open to dismissal." Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (quoting SEC v. Tambone, 597 F.3d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 2010)); see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (stating that the Court need not accept "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements"). At this point in the litigation, "the determination of whether an issue is trialworthy simply is not the same as the determination of whether a plaintiff states a claim upon which relief can be granted." Bodman v. Maine, Dept. of Health & Human Servs., 720 F.Supp.2d 115, 121 (D. Me. 2010) (denying motion to dismiss a hostile work environment claim).

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jamie Hill-Spotswood is a resident of Augusta, Maine. (First Am. Compl. & Demand for Jury Trial (ECF No. 5) ("Am. Compl.") ¶ 1.) On March 16, 2013, Hill-Spotswood was employed as a Mental Health Worker at Riverview Psychiatric Center ("Riverview), which is operated by Defendant the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS").[1] (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 10, 11, 13.) Defendant Mary Mayhew is the acting Commissioner of DHHS. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Roland Pushard is the Assistant Director of Nursing at Riverview, and Defendant Mary Louise McEwen is the Superintendent of Riverview. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.)

As of March 16, 2013, Riverview was the medical center in the State of Maine that accepted individuals who had been declared not guilty by reason of insanity, including Mark Murphy. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 15.) In 2006, Murphy was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was placed at Riverview. (Id. ¶ 16.) Murphy had threatened and engaged in violence many times before entering Riverview. (Id. ¶ 17.) Riverview was aware of Murphy's history of violence. (Id. ¶ 18.) From 2006 to March 16, 2013, Murphy attacked and threatened several other patients and employees at Riverview. (Id. ¶ 19.)

As of March 16, 2013, Riverview had not disclosed to Hill-Spotswood, or any other employee of Riverview, Murphy's history of violence. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) The Amended Complaint alleges that Riverview did not take reasonable security measures to protect Hill-Spotswood and other employees from Murphy. (Id. ¶ 24.) There was no security on the floor where Hill-Spotswood worked with Murphy. (Id. ¶ 25.) The Amended Complaint also alleges that the Defendants did not provide Hill-Spotswood with adequate training in how to defend herself from violent patients or with weapons or tools with which to fend off attacks from patients. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27.)

On March 16, 2013, Hill-Spotswood was approximately 18 weeks pregnant. (Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) Less than a week prior to March 16, 2013, Hill-Spotswood approached the Assistant Director of Nursing at Riverview, Defendant Pushard, told him that she was pregnant, and that she felt unsafe in that particular environment of patients. (Id. ¶ 29.) During the conversation, Hill-Spotswood specifically mentioned Murphy and indicated that she believed Murphy was becoming dangerous. (Id. ¶ 30.) The Complaint alleges that as of March 16, 2013, Pushard knew of the propensity for violence of many of the patients where Hill-Spotswood worked and that Murphy was exhibiting behaviors that led other employees to conclude that Murphy posed a danger to the other patients and to staff. (Id. ¶¶ 31, 32.) In addition, at a team meeting on March 12, 2013, Riverview staff expressed to Riverview administration a concern that Murphy was cycling into a dangerous condition and should be relocated to the Special Care Unit. (Id. ¶ 33.)

After Hill-Spotswood expressed her concerns to Pushard, he assured her that he would "take care of it. No big deal." (Am. Compl. ¶ 35.) Neither Pushard nor any other Defendant or employee took any action or provided additional security measures in response to Hill-Spotswood's request to be reassigned or moved from the floor with Murphy. (Id. ¶¶ 36-41.) Hill-Spotswood remained assigned to the floor with Murphy. (Id. ¶ 40.)

On March 16, 2013, Murphy used a pen that he had secured as contraband and stabbed Hill-Spotswood repeatedly, which left her disfigured and emotionally damaged. (Am. Compl. ¶ 42.) The Amended Complaint alleges that as of March 16, 2013, Riverview was not meeting federal standards, including, but not limited, to staffing and security. (Id. ¶ 45.) The Amended Complaint alleges that had Riverview met those standards, the assault by Murphy on Hill-Spotswood would not have occurred. (Id. ¶ 46.) The Complaint also alleges that the attack on Hill-Spotswood could have been prevented had Riverview and DHHS taken security measures. (Id. ¶ 47.) The Complaint alleges that DHHS "in creating a dangerous situation, placing [] Hill-Spotswood directly into that dangerous situation, and failing to protect her from the grave danger it created[, ] violate[d] her civil rights and shock[ed] the conscience." (Id. ¶ 48.)

On May 19, 2014, Plaintiff Hill-Spotswood filed her Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial, naming Mary Mayhew and DHHS as Defendants. (Compl. (ECF No. 1).) On July 16, 2014, Mayhew and DHHS moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss Compl. with Incorporated Mem. of Law (ECF No. 4).) In response, on August 4, 2014, Plaintiff Hill-Spotswood filed her Amended Complaint (ECF No. 5) and asserted that the Motion to Dismiss filed on July 16, 2014 was thereby rendered moot. (Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot to Dismiss (ECF No. 6) at 1.) The Amended Complaint named Roland Pushard and Mary Louise McEwen as additional Defendants. On September 4, 2014, Defendants filed their Motion to ...


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