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Magistrate advises denial of sheriff's motions

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A magistrate judge has recommended that the Marion County Sheriff's motions to dismiss a complaint against him be denied. A suit was filed following the death of an inmate who didn't receive his needed medicine.

Magistrate Judge Tim Baker in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, made the recommendations Tuesday in a suit filed by the family of inmate Brian Keith Allen in The Estate of Brian Keith Allen, et al. v. CCA of Tennessee, LLC, et al., No. 1:08-CV-0774. Allen, who was held in Marion County Jail II, collapsed Nov. 25, 2006, and died several days later. His family claimed his death was directly because of the failure of the Corrections Corporation of America, which operated the jail, to provide Allen with his blood pressure medication.

The suit, filed against CCA, Anderson, and two jail employees, alleges Anderson is legally responsible for the death because he had a duty to supervise the contact the Sheriff's Office had with CCA, which includes providing inmates with proper medical care. It was originally filed in Marion Superior court in May 2008 but was moved in June 2008 to the federal court.

Magistrate Judge Baker issued his report and recommendation that Anderson's motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) and motion to dismiss federal claims under Rule 12(b)(6), be denied. The magistrate judge used Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009), and Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which provide a two-prong analysis for courts deciding a motion to dismiss, to come to his conclusion. The suit alleges Allen's death was a direct result of the CCA medical staff's failure to give him his medication or to monitor his hypertension, and that Anderson had knowledge of the substandard medical care provided to inmates but remained indifferent.

The family also doesn't rely solely on a theory of supervisory liability in their claims against Anderson because by alleging the sheriff did nothing despite knowing Allen and others weren't receiving necessary medical attention, the family tries to hold him liable for his own conduct, not the misconduct of his subordinates. It's also too early to rule whether Anderson is protected by qualified immunity.

Magistrate Judge Baker denied Anderson's motion to dismiss the state tort claims against him as moot because in their amended complaint, the family made no mention of the sheriff regarding their tort claims. He also denied the family's request for sanctions because Anderson's motions weren't without merit. In a separate order, the magistrate judge denied Anderson's motion for a more definite statement as to whether he is being sued individually or in his official capacity. At a pretrial conference in May, the family clarified they are suing him both individually and in his official capacity, so the motion is moot.

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