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Baldwin v. Harris County Sheriff Department

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

January 19, 2018




         Pending before the Court is Defendant Latoisha Dorsey's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 35). After considering the Motion, the responses thereto, and all applicable law, the Court determines that the Motion should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Eboni Nicole Baldwin alleges the following facts.[1] Plaintiff, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, took medication prescribed to her to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). (Doc. No. 16 at ¶ 6.) After one particular instance of taking the medication, she began to feel severely depressed. Id. Unable to find her cell phone to call for help, Plaintiff got in her car to drive to the hospital, bringing along her prescription medication. Id. at ¶¶ 6-8. Plaintiff felt alert when she got into the car. Id. While driving, Plaintiff felt like she was dying, and she attempted to turn into a Walgreens parking lot. Id. at ¶ 9. Before entering the parking lot, she became unconscious. Id. at ¶ 10. A bystander called an ambulance, and Plaintiff regained consciousness only after an emergency medical technician (“EMT”) shook her awake. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Plaintiff explained to the EMT that she was a veteran with PTSD on her way to the hospital after having a reaction from what she believed was Ambien. Id. at ¶ 12.

         When Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Latoisha Dorsey (“Defendant”) arrived, Plaintiff was still unconscious and unresponsive. Id. at ¶ 16. Defendant “forcibly grabbed” Plaintiff from her car, handcuffed her, and pushed her into the back of a patrol car. Id. at ¶ 19. Defendant searched Plaintiff's vehicle. Id. Defendant asked Plaintiff if she wanted to go to the hospital. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. Plaintiff, who was “groggy, ” responded, “huh?” Id. Defendant then told the EMT that Plaintiff did not want to go to the hospital, and the EMT left. Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.

         Defendant drove Plaintiff to Houston Police Central Intox.[2] Id. at ¶ 26. On the way there, Plaintiff asked where she was being taken. Id. at ¶ 23. Defendant said that because Plaintiff refused to give a field sobriety test, there was a warrant for a blood sample. Id. at ¶ 24. Plaintiff said she was willing to take a field sobriety test and that she was on her way to the hospital for PTSD complications. Id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiff explained that she felt like she was dying and asked to be taken to the hospital. Id. at ¶ 27.

         When a nurse came to take Plaintiff's blood sample at Houston Police Central Intox, Plaintiff stated that she needed to go to the hospital because she was having a bad reaction to medicine prescribed to treat her PTSD. Id. at ¶ 28. The nurse asked Defendant why she had not taken Plaintiff to the hospital before bringing her to jail, to which Defendant replied that her son had a sports game the next day and Defendant did not want to miss it. Id. at ¶ 29.

         Defendant agreed to take Plaintiff to the hospital at the nurse's urging, but stated that if she had to wait more than an hour, she would issue a warrant for Plaintiff at the hospital. Id. at ¶ 30. After screening and treatment, Defendant took Plaintiff directly from the hospital to be booked into the Harris County Jail. Id. at ¶ 33.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant was aware of the prescription bottles and Plaintiff's PTSD, and that she failed to contact the Harris County Mental Crisis Unit or allow Plaintiff to be fully evaluated at the hospital. Id. at ¶¶ 37-38. Plaintiff alleges the anxiety she experienced during her “prolonged imprisonment in the back of [Defendant's] patrol car” caused her PTSD symptoms to worsen, ultimately leading to a 19-day hospitalization in the Veteran Affairs Hospital. Id. at ¶ 51; see also id. at 54-55. Plaintiff alleges she suffered economic damage, including loss of gainful employment because of the arrest. Id. at ¶ 53.

         Plaintiff's present complaint alleges three § 1983 claims: one based on unreasonable seizure, false arrest, and false imprisonment; a second based on malicious prosecution; and a third based on deliberate indifference. Id. ¶¶ 44-51. Following this Court's order on an earlier motion to dismiss, only the third claim remains. (See ECF Minute Entry dated 6/16/2017.) Deputy Dorsey is the only remaining defendant.


         Defendant styled her motion as a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). However, the parties presented materials outside the pleadings. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(d) provides for such a situation:

If, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c), matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12. This Court treats the motion as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, and not as one for summary judgment.[3] At this time, the Court has ...

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