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Jordan v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District Circuit

June 7, 2013

LAKEISHA JORDAN, individually and on behalf of Y.F., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al., Defendants. Re Documents No. 2, 5, 15

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge

Granting in Part and Denying in Part the District of Columbia’s Motion to Dismiss; Granting in Part and Denying in Part the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C.’s Motion to Dismiss

I. INTRODUCTION

When she was seven years old, Y.F. was taken into the custody of the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency and admitted as an inpatient on the child psychiatric ward operated by the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C., where, the plaintiffs allege, she was repeatedly restrained and erratically medicated with psychotropic drugs. Y.F. and her mother now bring common-law, statutory, and constitutional claims arising from her treatment. For the reasons discussed below, the court will grant in part and deny in part the defendants’ respective motions to dismiss.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In September 2006, Y.F. was taken from her home after the District of Columbia filed a petition for abuse and neglect of a minor child. Am. Compl. ¶ 13. She was taken into the physical custody of the District through its Child and Family Services Agency (“CFSA”), which is headed by Dr. Roque R. Gerald, and subsequently admitted as an inpatient on the child psychiatric ward operated by the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C. (“PIW”). Id. ¶¶ 8, 13–15. The District of Columbia, Dr. Gerald, and the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C. have all been named as defendants by Y.F. and her mother, Lakeisha Jordan. Id. ¶¶ 7–8, 10.

The plaintiffs allege that Y.F. was repeatedly and improperly restrained and isolated by PIW when she became angry or aggressive. Id. ¶¶ 16–17. Most instances of this treatment were allegedly undocumented, in violation of D.C. law. Id. ¶ 17. In some cases, PIW personnel consulted the CFSA regarding the appropriateness of Y.F.’s treatment. Id. ¶ 18. On other occasions, however, PIW did not consult the CFSA at all. Id. PIW personnel never solicited the consent of Ms. Jordan. Id.

Y.F. was also medicated with a number of mood-altering drugs. Id. ¶ 19. The plaintiffs allege that her course of treatment was highly erratic: her “medications and doses were constantly changed, ” id., “often fail[ing] to remain consistent for even five days at a time, ” id. ¶ 23. Y.F. was often over-medicated, id. ¶¶ 19, 23, and was not appropriately monitored for side effects from the many drugs she was given, id. ¶¶ 23, 27. Again, PIW personnel never consulted Y.F.’s mother, and, on a number of occasions, PIW never obtained approval from the CFSA. Id. ¶¶ 19, 20, 24. Over the course of seven months, Y.F. gained over fifty pounds and developed serious health risks. Id. ¶ 27. Y.F. continues to suffer psychological and physical harms resulting from her treatment. Id. ¶ 28.

The plaintiffs now bring suit. As the next friend of Y.F., Lakeisha Jordan alleges negligence under several theories, violations of Y.F.’s constitutional rights, and violations of the D.C. Mental Health Consumers’ Rights Protection Act. On her own behalf, Ms. Jordan alleges that the defendants failed to obtain her informed consent for her daughter’s psychiatric treatment. The defendants have filed motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)

All that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require of a complaint is that it contain a “short and plain statement of the claim” in order to give the defendant fair notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), see Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) does not test a plaintiff’s ultimate likelihood of success on the merits; rather, it tests whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A court considering such a motion presumes the factual allegations of the complaint to be true and construes them liberally in the plaintiff’s favor. See, e.g., United States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F.Supp.2d 131, 135 (D.D.C. 2000). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead all elements of her prima facie case in the complaint. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 511–14 (2002); Bryant v. Pepco, 730 F.Supp.2d 25, 28–29 (D.D.C. 2010).

Nevertheless, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” are therefore insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Id. A court need not accept a plaintiff’s legal conclusions as true, id., nor must the ...


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