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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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