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Henriquez v. City of Lawrence

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 25, 2015

YANIL HENRIQUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF LAWRENCE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

INDIRA TALWANI, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Yanil Henriquez ("Henriquez") brings this suit against Police Officer Claudio Camacho ("Officer Camacho"), the City of Lawrence (the "City"), and Police Chief John Romero ("Police Chief Romero") arising out of Officer Camacho's arrest of Henriquez on March 3, 2013. Presently before this court are the City's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) [#22] and Police Chief Romero's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint [#24]. For the reasons described herein, both motions are allowed in part and denied in part.

II. Factual Allegations[1]

Henriquez alleges the following facts in her Amended Complaint [#14]:

On the evening of March 2, 2013, through the early morning of March 3, 2013, Henriquez attended a concert in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Am. Compl. ¶ 7. At 1:15 a.m. on March 3, Henriquez exited the concert venue in order to wait to be picked up by her ride. Am. Compl. ¶ 8. Without provocation, Officer Camacho approached Henriquez and told Henriquez that if she did not move off of the steps by the count of three, he would pepper spray her. Am. Compl. ¶ 11. Officer Camacho quickly counted to three and, without providing Henriquez an opportunity to move or respond, pepper sprayed Henriquez in her face and eyes. Am. Compl. ¶ 12. Upon being pepper sprayed, Henriquez instinctively brought her arms and hands to her face and began trying to clear the spray from her eyes. Am. Compl. ¶ 13. Suddenly, without warning or provocation, Office Camacho punched Henriquez on the left side of her face. Am. Compl. ¶ 14. Officer Camacho then grabbed Henriquez by her neck, threw her to the ground, and banged her head against the ground. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-18. Henriquez screamed for help. Am. Compl. ¶ 17.

Henriquez then felt herself being picked up off the ground. Am. Compl. ¶ 19. Detective Mejia and Sheriff Sergeant Derrick Beasley handcuffed Henriquez and placed her under arrest. Am. Compl. ¶ 19. As the officers led her to the police cruiser, Henriquez was bleeding profusely from her nose and unable to walk without assistance. Am. Compl. ¶ 22. Henriquez cried out that she was hurt and needed help. Am. Compl. ¶ 24. Despite her cries, the officers did not bring her to a medical facility or offer medical assistance. Am. Compl. ¶ 25. Instead, the officers transported Henriquez to the Police Station, where she was placed in a holding cell for ninety minutes. Am. Compl. ¶ 23. Sergeant Guerrero heard Henriquez's pleas for medical assistance but did not respond. Am. Compl. ¶ 27.

The Lawrence Police Department charged Henriquez with assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and interference with a police officer. Am. Compl. ¶ 28. A year and a half later, in September 2014, the Essex County District Attorney's Office dismissed all charges against Henriquez. Am. Compl. ¶ 28.

Prior to March 3, 2013, officers in the Lawrence Police Department, including Officer Camacho, had engaged in prior incidents of excessive force and improper denial of medical care, constituting a "history or pattern" of excessive force and denial of medical care. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30-35, 44-49. Also prior to March 3, 2013, the City and Police Chief Romero had information and/or were aware of prior complaints against Department officers for excessive force and denial of medical care. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30, 31, 48. Despite this awareness, the City and Police Chief Romero failed to take steps to investigate, train, discipline, or supervise Department officers regarding the use of force and provision of medical care. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 30-35, 44-50.

III. Discussion

In her Amended Complaint, Henriquez brings claims against the City and Police Chief Romero pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Henriquez alleges that the City maintained an unconstitutional policy or custom of failing to train and supervise officers as to the use of force and provision of medical care despite widespread abuses and citizen complaints. Henriquez alleges that Police Chief Romero was deliberately indifferent in failing to train and supervise officers despite his awareness of a history of abuses and citizen complaints. Henriquez also brings state-law claims against the defendants, including claims for violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act ("MCRA") and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Police Chief Romero, as well as claims for false imprisonment and negligent/intentional failure to prove medical care against both Police Chief Romero and the City.[2]

The City and Police Chief Romero have moved to dismiss certain counts against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In resolving such a motion, the court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). The court, however, need not accept the plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id.

A. The City's Motion to Dismiss


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