United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HOWARD T. LINDEN, as personal representative of the estate of Omarion Humphrey, Plaintiff,
BRADLEY DIXON, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
December 26, 2017, Plaintiff Howard T. Linden filed his
complaint alleging that one set of defendants demonstrated
unconstitutional deliberate indifference towards Omarion
Humphry-the decedent whose estate Plaintiff represents. ECF
1. On July 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit against the
"State Defendants." ECF 22. On July 10, 2018, the
undersigned accepted reassignment of the later-filed case.
ECF 24. On August 7, 2018, the Court consolidated the cases.
November 16, 2018, State Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss. ECF 36. The Court has reviewed the briefs and finds
that a hearing is unnecessary. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f). For the
reasons below, the Court will deny the motion.
Omarion Humphrey was a nine-year old boy suffering from
nonverbal autism requiring special services and supervision.
ECF 22, PgID 291. State Defendants worked in various
capacities for the Michigan Department of Health and Human
Services. Id. at 289-91. State Defendants worked to
have Humphrey removed from his home and coordinated with
Alternatives for Children and Families to place Humphrey with
a foster parent, Lasenette "Lulu" Richardson.
Id. at 291-93. Richardson struggled to care for
Humphrey, lacked the appropriate license to care for
Humphrey's autism needs, and wished to surrender her
license. Id. at 293-95.
4, 2015, while attending a Fourth of July Party with
Richardson and others at Lake Callis Recreation Complex in
Davison, Michigan, Humphrey wandered away from the group.
Id. at 295. About one hour later, park staff found
Humphrey and returned him to Richardson. Id.
Humphrey, again, wandered off. Id. This time, he was
not found until six days later-he had drowned in Lake Callis.
analyzing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
views the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, presumes the truth of all well-pleaded factual
allegations, and draws every reasonable inference in favor of
the non-moving party. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate
Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). To
survive a motion to dismiss, "the complaint must contain
either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the
material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable
legal theory." Nat'l Hockey League Players Ass'n
v. Plymouth Whalers Hockey Club, 419 F.3d 462, 468 (6th Cir.
2005) (citation omitted). Plaintiff must allege facts
"sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level,' and to 'state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'" Hensley Mfg. v.
ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)).
If "a cause of action fails as a matter of law,
regardless of whether the plaintiff's factual allegations
are true," then the Court must dismiss it. Winnett v.
Caterpillar, Inc., 553 F.3d 1000, 1005 (6th Cir. 2009).
Defendants contend that Plaintiff's causation theory has
an "evidentiary gap between [the] asserted cause and the
injury" that renders the cause conjectural and bars
recovery. ECF 36, PgID 362. Particularly, State Defendants
argue that "the intractable problem with Plaintiff's
theory is his affirmative acknowledgment of a six-day
evidentiary gap between Richardson's failure to provide
appropriate care and supervision and the discovery of
Humphrey's body." Id. at 379-80.
points to the following paragraphs from Plaintiff's
complaint to show the evidentiary gap:
48. An hour or so later [on July 4, 2015], while Richardson
was enjoying her family Fourth of July party at the park,
[Humphrey] again wandered off and went missing.
49. [Humphrey] was not found until six days later, when his
lifeless body was retrieved from the bottom of Lake Callis.
[Humphrey's] cause of death was drowning.
PgID 295; see also ECF 36, PgID 372 (citing the complaint).
Defendants conclude that Plaintiff therefore "plead[ed]
that there was a six-day evidentiary gap between
Richardson's failure to provide care and supervision and