Dreyer v. Idaho Dep't of Health & Welfare

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Idaho
Citation558 F.Supp.3d 917
Docket NumberCase No. 1:19-cv-00211-DCN
Parties Erika DREYER, as parent and natural guardian of B.B., et al., Plaintiffs, v. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, an agency of the State of Idaho, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date02 September 2021

Charlene K. Quade, Sean R. Beck, C.K. Quade Law, PLLC, Boise, ID, Mark R. Azman, Pro Hac Vice, Shamus P. O'Meara, Pro Hac Vice, O'Meara, Leer, Wagner & Kohl, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, for Plaintiffs.

Cynthia Lin Yee-Wallace, Emma C. Nowacki, Megan Ann Larrondo, Office of the Attorney General of Idaho, Trudy Hanson Fouser, Gjording Fouser PLLC, Boise, ID, for Defendants Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Southwest Idaho Treatment Center Director, Jamie Newton, State of Idaho, Corbin Burkett, Billy King, Luke Brisbane, Debra Luper, Deborah Combs.

Cynthia Lin Yee-Wallace, Office of Attorney General, Civil Litigation Division, Boise, ID, for Defendant John and Jane Does 1-100.

Cynthia Lin Yee-Wallace, Emma C. Nowacki, Megan Ann Larrondo, Office of the Attorney General of Idaho, Shannon Marie Graham, Kelly Law, PLLC, Trudy Hanson Fouser, Gjording Fouser PLLC, Boise, ID, Michael Edward Kelly, Kelly Law, PLLC, Garden City, ID, for Defendants Jason Miller, Leondre Edwards.

Shannon Marie Graham, Kelly Law, PLLC, Boise, ID, for Defendants Paul Tompkins, Jolene Berg, Roger Arment.

Michael Edward Kelly, Kelly Law, PLLC, Garden City, ID, for Defendant Roger Ardmont.

John and Jane Does 1-100, Pro Se.


David C. Nye, Chief United States District Court Judge


Pending before the Court is Defendants State of Idaho, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, Jamie Newton, Billy King, Debra Luper, and Debra Combs(collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 58), as well as Defendants Jason Miller, Leondre Edwards, Paul Tompkins, and Jolene Bergs(collectively "Joining Defendants") Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 59). These Defendants’ Motions are based upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and assert the factual allegations in Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 50) are insufficient to support their claims. Additionally, one of the newly-named DefendantsRoger Arment—has filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process. Dkt. 64.

Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B). Upon review, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS in PART and DENIES in PART Defendants and Joining Defendants Motions to Dismiss,1 and DENIES Arment's Motion to Dismiss for insufficient service.


On June 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Class Action Complaint and Request for Injunctive Relief. Dkt. 1. On July 8, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Class Action Complaint and Request for Injunctive Relief. Dkt. 7. In their First Amended Complaint, seven named Plaintiffs asserted twenty causes of action against eleven named Defendants and 100 "John and Jane Does." Dkt. 7, at 1–2. Defendants State of Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, Jamie Newton, Billy King, Debra Luper, and Debra Combs, subsequently moved to dismiss various claims in the First Amended Complaint. Dkt. 37. Soon after, Defendants Jason Miller and Leondre Edwards joined in the request. Dkt. 38. The Court held a hearing on the motions on February 20, 2020, and took the matters under advisement. Dkt. 48.

On April 20, 2020, the Court issued an Order dismissing Counts II, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII in their entirety, Counts III and IV as to the individual capacity defendants, and all claims by Plaintiff B.B. Dkt. 49. The Court granted Plaintiffs an opportunity to cure the deficiencies in the First Amended Complaint by filing a Second Amended Complaint. Id. Additionally, after informal communication with the Court, Defendants agreed to provide Plaintiffs with limited and informal discovery. Although Defendants provided over 10,000 documents, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants refused to produce the personnel files of the individual capacity Defendants and other potentially crucial information. Dkt. 61, at 9. Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint on August 13, 2020. Dkt. 50.

The Second Amended Complaint bears many similarities in form and substance to the First Amended Complaint, but there are significant differences as well. In the Second Amended Complaint, seven named Plaintiffs assert fifteen causes of action against fifteen named Defendants and 100 "John and Jane Does." Dkt. 50, at 1–2. Plaintiffs again explain that the purpose of this case is to address "widespread abuse, neglect and mistreatment inflicted on current and former residents, including Plaintiffs and others similarly situated, of the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center ("SWITC"), a program operated by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare ("DHW"), by known and unknown SWITC staff and condoned by SWITC administrators and DHW." Dkt. 50, at 3.

SWITC is a state-run institution known as an "intermediate care facility"2 that offers short-term crisis care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities ("I/DD") who also have some combination of medical, behavioral, and/or mental health needs. SWITC has been in existence since the early 1900s. SWITC's campus was originally a 600-acre long-term placement facility that could house 1,000 residents. In 2009, however, Idaho developed and implemented an Olmstead plan3 aimed at transitioning SWITC's residents, some of whom had lived at SWITC for years, into the community.

All of the individuals at SWITC have an I/DD, which is a cognitive impairment. Some residents have been committed to the care of DHW due to criminal activity or because they have been found to be a threat to themselves or others. Other individuals are at SWITC because there is no other available community-based support that can successfully provide them care. Some residents have unusually high medical needs, and/or significant mental health diagnoses.

In 2017, SWITC resident Drew Rinehart died. That same year, SWITC failed two surveys performed by DHW, and six staff members left or were fired following substantiated abuse allegations by SWITC residents. When SWITC became aware of the abuse allegations in 2017, it alerted DisAbility Rights Idaho ("DRI"), an advocacy and protection group with federal authority to monitor and investigate conditions in facilities that serve individuals with I/DD. SWITC shared thousands of pages of documents with DRI. DRI reviewed those documents and drafted a report on its "findings." The Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations ("OPE") also completed a report on SWITC's operations, which was conducted in response to a legislative inquiry in March of 2018. Relying on these reports, Plaintiffs’ family members and guardians filed this lawsuit, asserting a variety of federal and state law claims against Defendants. Defendants and Joining Defendants assert that various claims in Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint lack factual and legal plausibility and must be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a claim if the plaintiff has "fail[ed] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." "A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal may be based on either a ‘lack of a cognizable legal theory’ or ‘the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.’ " Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys. , LP, 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 554, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). "This is not an onerous burden." Johnson , 534 F.3d at 1121.

A complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations," but it must set forth "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955. If the facts pleaded are "merely consistent with a defendant's liability," or if there is an "obvious alternative explanation" that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662 678, 682, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).

In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations made in the pleading under attack. Id. at 663, 129 S.Ct. 1937. A court is not, however, "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

In cases decided after Iqbal and Twombly , the Ninth Circuit has continued to adhere to the rule that a dismissal of a complaint without leave to amend is inappropriate unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint could not be saved by an amendment. See Harris v. Amgen, Inc. , 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009).

A. Counts IV-VII - § 1983 Claims
1. Federal Rights Issue

Defendants argue that Counts IV through VII of the Second Amended Complaint should be dismissed without leave to amend because 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(31) (" § 1396a(a)(31)") does not confer any federal rights upon the Plaintiffs, making redress under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" § 1983") una...

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