United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
CALVIN DONALD OSTLER, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Lisa Marie Ostler, KIM OSTLER, and the minor children of Lisa Marie Ostler, C.K., E.L.K., and L.M.O., through their adoptive parents and next friends, CALVIN DONALD OSTLER and KIM OSTLER, Plaintiffs,
HOLLY PATRICE HARRIS, ZACHARY PAUL FREDERICKSON, TODD ALLAN BOOTH, TODD RANDALL WILCOX, M.D., RONALD PAUL SEEWER, JR., BRENT LEE TUCKER, JAMES M. WINDER, PAM LOFGREEN, RICHARD BELL, JOHN DOE, whose true name is unknown, and SALT LAKE COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Utah, Defendants.
AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART
AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO
HONORABLE BRUCE S. JENKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Ostler died in the Salt Lake County Metro Jail in early 2016
while awaiting pretrial. On March 22, 2018, her estate,
parents, and minor children (Plaintiffs) sued guards, nurses,
supervisory officials, and Salt Lake County (Defendants) for
allegedly causing her death. Plaintiffs filed an Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 59) on January 31, 2019, asserting three
causes of action, each with several sub-claims:
1. For survival and wrongful death based on constitutional
deprivations, pursuant to 42U.S.C. §1983
2. For violations of due process and unnecessary rigor under
the Utah Constitution
3. For declaratory judgment that certain Utah bond and
undertaking statutes are unconstitutional
response, Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 74), seeking to pare the parties and claims to simply
Lisa's estate v. the guards, nurses, and County for a
§ 1983 survival action. Defendants' Motion came
before the court for oral argument on April 12, 2019. Ross
Anderson appeared for Plaintiffs; Jacque Ramos and Tajha
Ferrara appeared for Defendants. After hearing arguments from
counsel, the court reserved ruling on the Motion.
considered the briefs, oral arguments, and relevant law, the
court now determines that Defendants' Motion is GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part. The court hereby dismisses the
following parties and claims.
Motion, Defendants seek to dismiss Supervisor Defendants
Winder, Lofgreen, Bell, and Wilcox. Plaintiffs concede they
are not suing these Defendants in their official capacities.
They are being sued only in their personal capacities for
their alleged personal involvement in Lisa's death.
assert a personal capacity claim against a government
official, a plaintiff must show an "affirmative
link" between the official and the constitutional
violation. Schneider v. City of Grand Junction Police
Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir. 2013). An
affirmative link arises if there is, inter alia,
"personal involvement" by the official, either
through direct participation or promulgation of a policy.
Id.; Pahls v. Thomas, 718 F.3d 1210, 1228 (10th Cir.
2013). To show "personal involvement," a plaintiff
must (1) identify specific actions or policies and (2) tie
those to specific defendants. Pahls, 718 F.3d at
1228. Referring to '"defendants' as a collective
and undifferentiated whole" is inadequate, id.,
and tying specifics to each defendant is particularly
important where the officials have "different powers and
duties." Id. at 1226.
Plaintiffs identified specific actions and specific
policies or customs,  but they do not tie those to specific
defendants, instead referring repeatedly to "Defendants
Winder, Lofgreen, Bell, and Wilcox" or
"Defendants" as a collective, undifferentiated
whole. Pis.' Am. Compl. ¶ 55-60, ECF No. 59. Yet
Defendants Winder, Lofgreen, Bell, and Wilcox have different
duties and powers over policies and personnel. For example,
Dr. Wilcox, as Medical Director, does not have the same power
over personnel as does Sheriff Winder; conversely, Sheriff
Winder does not have the same duty to manage medical care as
intimately as does Dr. Wilcox. Grouping these Supervisor
Defendants imputes one Defendant's actions to another,
which fails to show that each Defendant's "own
individual actions" were unconstitutional. Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Grouping also does
not give each Supervisor Defendant "fair notice as to
the basis of the claims against him or her." Brown
v. Montoya, 662 F.3d 1152, 1163 (10th Cir. 2011)
("In a § 1983 action it is particularly important
that a complaint make clear exactly who is alleged to have
done what to whom . ...") (internal marks omitted).
Because the Amended Complaint does not tie the alleged
actions or policies to each discrete Supervisor Defendant,
Plaintiffs fail to show an affirmative link between the
officials and a constitutional violation. Accordingly, the
claims against the Supervisor Defendants are dismissed
without prejudice. See Brown, 662 F.3d at 1165-66
(10th Cir. 2011) (disposing of an individual capacity claim
where "[t]he Complaint refers to actions of
'Defendants,' but that is not sufficient to show how
Secretary Williams might be individually liable for
deprivations of Mr. Brown's constitutional rights")
(internal marks omitted).
seek to dismiss Lisa's parents and children as improper
plaintiffs, to the extent they are suing for their own
injuries. Plaintiffs counter that Lisa's parents and
children have indeed been injured by Lisa's death, and
§ 1983 should provide them a remedy.
express language, § 1983 provides remedies "to the
party injured" for violations of that party's
constitutional rights. 42 U.S.C. §1983. In the Tenth
Circuit, when the injured party is deceased, "[t]he
estate of a deceased victim must be the one to bring
suit." Harold v. Univ. of Colorado Hosp., 680
Fed.Appx. 666, 673 (10th Cir. 2017) (relying on Berry v.
City of Muskogee,900 F.2d 1489, 1506-07 (10th Cir.
1990)). This is because the decedent's estate "is
the only real party in interest in a § 1983