United States District Court, D. New Mexico
KELLY COOK, as Mother and Next Friend of CHRISTIAN COOK, Plaintiff
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FOR THE COUNTY OF CURRY, TORI SANDOVAL, JOAN MARTIN, SUE MARTIN, CORRECTIONAL HEALTHCARE COMPAINES, INC., and CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court on the following motions: (i)
Plaintiff Kelly Cook's Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF
No. 25); and (ii) the Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss and for
Qualified Immunity (ECF No. 15), filed by Defendants Board of
County Commissioners for the County of Curry (the
“Board”), Tori Sandoval, and Sandra Martin
(collectively, hereinafter the “County
Defendants”). The Court, having considered the motions,
briefs, pleadings, and relevant law, concludes that
Plaintiff's motion to amend will be granted, and the
County Defendants' motion to dismiss and for qualified
immunity will be denied.
Cook had a history of mental illness, developmental
disorders, and behavioral issues, including known diagnoses
for ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, borderline
intellectual functioning, schizoid features, nocturnal
enuresis, OCD features, and febrile seizures. Proposed Second
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 17, ECF No. 25-1. On June 21,
2013, when he was 15 years old, he was arrested and booked
into the Curry County Juvenile Detention Center
(“CCJDC”). Id. ¶¶ 5, 15-16. At
the time, Defendant Tori Sandoval was the CCJDC
administrator; Defendant Sandra Martin was a high-ranking
guard with supervisory authority at CCJDC; and Defendant
Board employed the individual defendants. Id.
¶¶ 4-7. Defendants Sandoval and Sandra Martin had
day-to-day contact with Christian and were fully aware of the
conditions in which he was housed. Id. ¶ 200.
The CCJDC facility has a design capacity of 16 juveniles and
the average population during Christian's detention was
only 11 juveniles. Id. ¶¶ 201-02.
time of his booking, a nurse conducted a medical screening of
Christian and noted his diagnosis of ADHD, he appeared
anxious, and had a rash, yet he was not treated for either
condition. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. The nurse
recommended Christian be housed in general population;
instead, he was housed in solitary confinement, where he
remained for the duration of his 11-month detention at CCJDC.
See Id. ¶¶ 15, 20-22, 186. Despite
staffing levels of 16 juvenile detention officers at CCJDC
and times when staff often outnumbered juveniles 2:1,
Christian was housed in solitary confinement and rarely
allowed out of his cell. Id. ¶¶ 203-06.
week after Christian arrived, Sheila Stevenson, a licensed
independent social worker (“LISW”) with
TeamBuilders Counseling Services, assessed Christian and
noted he had problems with anxiety and enuresis and had a
diagnosis of borderline intellectual functioning. See
Id. ¶¶ 23-24. She also noted that he exhibited
symptoms of anxiety and depression, and learned from his
mother that Christian had difficulty performing activities of
daily living, such as maintaining hygiene without help.
See Id. ¶¶ 23-26.
his stay in solitary confinement, Christian's mental
health deteriorated quickly. Id. ¶ 28. Guards
frequently noticed Christian was visibly upset, crying,
afraid in his cell, and depressed, yet records indicate he
received no mental health care in response to these
observations. See Id. ¶¶ 29-32, 35-40, 46,
59-61, 82-90, 107-08, 138-42, 160. On August 7, 2013,
Christian was visibly upset and told staff he felt like he
was passing out and afraid to fall asleep. Id.
¶ 35. Although they moved him to a holding cell, he was
not provided medical treatment. Id. ¶ 36. The
following morning Christian began experiencing severe anxiety
with hyperventilation, began crying, and said he needed to go
to the hospital, but the jail provided no medical treatment
beyond instructing him to relax and slow his breathing.
Id. ¶¶ 37-39. Following the incident,
Christian was placed on “Health and Wellness”
Watch, at 30-minute increments, on which he remained for the
rest of his approximately nine and a half month stay.
Id. ¶¶ 41-42. During the first seven days
on “Health and Wellness” Watch, records show he
remained in his cell for at least 20 hours per day, received
only two short showers, and was let out for recreation only
twice. Id. ¶ 57. Christian began talking to
himself underneath his bed, banging on the door and walls of
his cell, and yelling. Id. ¶¶ 58, 110,
another occasion, a jail officer reported that he saw a
journal entry Christian wrote saying he was tired of being
abused and neglected and was tired of living. Id.
¶ 48. The next day a nurse who examined Christian noted
he was anxious, uncooperative, and angry and again
recommended he be housed in general population, yet jail
staff continued to house him in a solitary cell. Id.
¶¶ 52-55. When Christian received counseling, his
counselor noticed how emotionally distressed he was.
Id. ¶ 75-76, 127-29, 136. He experienced
frequent anxiety attacks throughout his detention and began
exhibiting odd behavior, such as flushing food down his
toilet, frequently being seen standing on his sink, and
picking at his skin, leading to infections. See Id.
¶¶ 77, 92-97, 106, 109, 176. Although Christian was
offered his medications, he intermittently refused to take
them, so guards discontinued his prescriptions without the
consent or advice of his mother or physician. Id.
¶¶ 100-01. In response to his bizarre behavior,
guards often punished him with loss of privileges, including
not being let out of his cell. Id. ¶¶
did not receive schooling until nine days after classes began
for other children. Id. ¶ 66. Despite having an
updated Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”)
setting forth his needs for special education, occupational
therapy, and counseling, Christian consistently received far
fewer minutes of education than the 235 minutes of math and
235 of English each week set forth in his IEP. See
Id. ¶¶ 63-72, 124-25, 172-74. For example,
during the entire month of September, Christian received only
36 minutes of education. Id. ¶ 68. Records show
that there was not a single month during his detention when
Christian received occupational therapy or mental health
counseling each week as his IEP required. Id. ¶
condition deteriorated to the point that a forensic
evaluation was ordered to determine his competency, yet he
remained isolated without mental healthcare. Id.
¶¶ 117-18. Christian continued to be isolated in
his cell for extraordinary lengths of time. Id.
¶ 126. Records indicate that between December 20, 2013
and January 5, 2014, Christian was not allowed out for
recreation. See Id. ¶¶ 138-140. On January
23, 2014, Christian made comments to Melodye Thomas that he
felt like hurting himself, which she reported to Defendant
Sandra Martin. Id. ¶¶ 142-44. They placed
him on 15-minute suicide watch for 24 hours that day.
Id. ¶ 144. Over the next several weeks, he
continued to be housed in isolation, and if he was moved from
his cell, it was to the multi-purpose room in isolation,
devoid of social interaction. Id. ¶¶
146-47. He went days, sometimes weeks without any recreation.
See Id. ¶¶ 148-168. From September 3 and
14, 2013, Christian was allowed out once for 58 minutes of
recreation; from November 22 through 29, 2013, and again from
December 2 through 11, 2013, he was not allowed out for
recreation; from April 14 through 21, 2014, he received only
14 minutes of recreation outside his cell; and during the
week of May 4, 2014, he was allowed out to recreation once
for 18 minutes. Id. ¶¶ 150-154. During the
last two months of detention, Christian often went days
isolated to his cell for over 20 hours per day. Id.
¶ 171. The lack of recreation and prolonged isolation
caused his mental health to decline very quickly.
Id. ¶ 155.
February 28, 2014, guards noted Christian was crying in his
cell, lying underneath the bunk, asking for his mom, and
later in the day he flooded his cell and was rubbing the
window with a wet blanket. Id. ¶¶ 160-62.
He began yelling that he was going to kill himself and they
placed him on suicide watch, yet he was not provided any
mental health intervention following his suicide threats.
Id. ¶¶ 163-65. Records indicate Christian
was not allowed out for recreation from February 23, 2014
until March 11, 2014. See Id. ¶¶ 167-68.
7, 2014, Christian urinated on himself and refused to shower.
Id. ¶ 178. Although he eventually agreed to
shower when threatened that he must shower or not be let out
of his cell, he was only let out for an additional two
minutes for the entire day following his shower. Id.
¶ 180. On May 12, 2014, guards found Christian hiding
under his blanket with blood everywhere. Id. ¶
181. Christian told them he bites his lip when he becomes
anxious. Id. ¶ 182. The next day,
Christian's mother expressed concern that he had plans to
kill himself, so they moved him to a holding cell for
observation without providing mental health counseling or
giving him access to a doctor. Id. ¶¶
183-84. Following this incident, he was not allowed out for
recreation for the remainder of his detention until May 27,
2014, when he was released to Copper Hill in Utah for
treatment to attain competency. Id. ¶¶
185-86. From June 21, 2013 through May 27, 2014, Christian
spent eleven months in solitary confinement without a hearing
or periodic classification review. Id. ¶¶
at Copper Hills, Christian made many statements of his desire
to commit suicide. Id. ¶ 188. The Copper Hills
treatment providers determined he would not be able to attain
competency to stand trial within a year, if ever, so his
criminal charges were dropped. Id. ¶¶
192-93. Because of the severity of Christian's condition,
he remained at Copper Hills for treatment of his mental
illnesses until his discharge on October 19, 2014, and he now
suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Id.
Sandoval and Sandra Martin knew how badly Christian's
mental health deteriorated during his time at CCJDC.
Id. ¶ 207. They also knew CCJDC was not
equipped to house and treat inmates in need of expert mental
healthcare like Christian, yet they accepted Christian as an
inmate and placed him in solitary confinement where they
allowed him to remain, untreated, for eleven months.
Id. ¶¶ 208-12. Defendant Sandra Martin was
aware of Christian's need for medical attention, was
directly informed that he was expressing suicidal concerns
that were new symptoms, yet she continued to allow him to be
housed in isolation without adequate mental healthcare.
Id. ¶¶ 217-20. Defendants failed to
provide Christian with constitutionally mandated recreation
time each day, resulting in him not leaving his cell or going
outside for long periods of time, and they were aware that
subjecting a child to these conditions was inhumane.
Id. ¶¶ 222-23. Defendant Sandoval was made
aware in October 2013 that the New Mexico Association of
Counties was advising jails not to house the mentally ill in
segregation, but to give them access to recreation and social
interaction with other inmates, and to evaluate them every
other day by mental health. See Id. ¶¶
subsequently filed a complaint on behalf of her son Christian
asserting claims for (i) violation of substantive due process
based on inhumane conditions of confinement and inadequate
medical care against Defendants Sandoval, Sandra Martin, and
Joan Martin; (ii) violation of procedural due process against
the Board, Tori Sandoval in her official capacity, and Sandra
Martin in her official capacity (“Official Capacity
Defendants”) for arbitrarily placing Christian in
solitary confinement without a classification hearing or
periodic classification review; (iii) violation of the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, against the
Official Capacity Defendants for denying Christian access to
a free appropriate education as required by the Individuals
with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”); (iv) violation of
the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§
12131 et seq. (“ADA”), against the
Official Capacity Defendants for failing to accommodate
Christian's mental disability and denying him the
benefits and services of the jail by reason of his mental
disability; (v) a claim against the Official Capacity
Defendants for a custom and policy of violating
constitutional rights by housing seriously mentally ill
juveniles in isolation without providing them needed mental
healthcare; and (vi) state law negligence claims.
See Am. Compl., ECF No. 3. The County Defendants
filed a Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss and for Qualified
Immunity seeking dismissal of all the federal claims against
them (ECF No. 15). Plaintiff then moved to amend the
complaint, which the County Defendants oppose.
MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT
should freely give leave to amend a complaint when justice so
requires. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Whether to allow amendment
of the pleadings is within the discretion of the trial court.
Minter v. Prime Equipment Co., 451 F.3d 1196, 1204
(10th Cir. 2006). Leave sought must be freely given in the
absence of any justifiable reason for the denial of the
motion, such as undue delay, bad faith, repeated failure to
cure deficiencies by amendments, undue prejudice, or futility
of amendment. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962). “A proposed amendment is futile if the
complaint, as amended, would be subject to dismissal.”
Bradley v. Val-Mejias, 379 F.3d 892, 901 (10th Cir.
2004) (quoting Jefferson County Sch. Dist. v. Moody's
Investor's Services, 175 F.3d 848, 859 (10th Cir.
1999)). To survive dismissal, a complaint must set forth
factual allegations that “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). When reviewing a
plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must
accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and construe them
in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Smith v.
United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009).
moves to amend the complaint to correct the name of Defendant
Sue Martin to Sandra Martin, remove the Rehabilitation Act
claim, and make minor corrections to two other counts.
Pl.'s Mot. to Am. 1, ECF No. 25. The County Defendants
oppose the motion based on futility, arguing that Plaintiff
cannot cure the failure to exhaust administrative remedies by
dropping the claim seeking educational remedies or removing
certain factual assertions from the complaint. The Court will
consider the futility arguments when analyzing
Defendant's motion to dismiss, using the facts as ...