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Case Name S.R. v. Kenton County ED-KY-0002
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00143-WOB-JGW ( E.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On August 3, 2015, two minor children with disabilities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The plaintiffs sued the Kenton County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff for Kenton County (in only his official capacity), and the Sheriff's Office's School ... read more >
On August 3, 2015, two minor children with disabilities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The plaintiffs sued the Kenton County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff for Kenton County (in only his official capacity), and the Sheriff's Office's School Resource Officer (in his official and individual capacities) under 42 U.S.C § 1983 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, sought injunctive relief, declaratory relief and damages, claiming the defendant used unnecessary and excessive physical restraint and handcuffs on schoolchildren with disabilities. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' actions constituted unreasonable seizure and excessive force in violation of plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also claimed that the defendants discriminated against the plaintiffs based on their disabilities and failed to accommodate their disabilities.

On September 9, 2015, the defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. On September 30, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a cross motion for judgment on the pleadings.

On December 28, 2015, Judge William O. Bertelsman denied the defendants' motion to dismiss without prejudice. The Court found that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded a constitutional violation in order to make out a § 1983 claim. The plaintiffs also adequately pleaded plausible claims for discrimination under Title II.

In October 2016, both parties filed cross motions for partial summary judgment. Additionally, the defendants filed a motion to sever the claims of the two students on September 14, 2017. Judge Bertelsman denied the defendants' motion to sever because of the substantial factual similarities between the two handcuffing situations and the existence of a common question of law: whether the elbow-cuffing of these children was unconstitutional.

On October 11, 2017, Judge Bertelsman ruled on the parties' cross motions for partial summary judgment. Judge Bertelsman held for the plaintiffs on their claims of unlawful seizure and excessive use of force and municipal liability against Kenton County for those violations. The Court applied the Graham factors and found that although the severity of the crime weighed in favor of the defendants, the other factors -- whether the children posed an immediate threat to themselves or others; the age and stature of the children; and the method of handcuffing -- weighed in favor of the plaintiffs.

However, Judge Bertelsman ruled against the plaintiffs on their ADA discrimination and reasonable accommodation claims. The Court found that no reasonable jury could find that the defendants' handcuffing of the plaintiffs would not have occurred "but
for" their alleged disabilities, as opposed to their behavior on the days in question.

Additionally, Judge Bertelsman held for the defendants on the issue of qualified immunity. Although the Court said it was a close call, it found that the plaintiffs failed to show that it was clearly established that the handcuffing was unconstitutional. The Court found that the Supreme Court precedent that the plaintiffs relied on was too generalized and that the plaintiffs failed to cite to any Sixth Circuit precedent.

On February 7, 2018, the defendants (in their official capacities) filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' constitutional claims under § 1983 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, claiming state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. Before hearing oral argument on the issue of damages, the Court noted that it would take the defendants' motion to dismiss under advisement.

However, following a settlement conference on April 13, 2018, the parties privately reached an agreement whereby the defendants agreed to pay more than $337,000 in damages. The Court dismissed the action with prejudice on November 1, 2018, ordering that each party must pay their own costs.

Maria Ricaurte - 10/18/2015
Eva Richardson - 12/28/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Excessive force
Failure to train
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Kenton County Sheriff's Office
Plaintiff Description Two minors with disabilities enrolled within elementary schools within the Covington Independent Public Schools District.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:15-cv-00143-WOB-JGW (E.D. Ky.)
ED-KY-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
ED-KY-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States [ECF# 32]
ED-KY-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 92]
ED-KY-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 187] (302 F.Supp.3d 821) (E.D. Ky.)
ED-KY-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bertelsman, William Odis (E.D. Ky.)
ED-KY-0002-0004 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Center, Claudia B. (California)
ED-KY-0002-0001 | ED-KY-0002-0003 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Cubbage, Amy D. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Gatnarek, Heather L. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Howard, Rickell L. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-0001 | ED-KY-0002-0003 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Meyer, Robert Kenyon (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-0001 | ED-KY-0002-0003 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Mizner, Susan (California)
ED-KY-0002-0003 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Sharp, William E. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-0001 | ED-KY-0002-0003 | ED-KY-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Harris, Drew Cameron (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Nordloh, Christopher Scott (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Reed, Jason Vincent (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Sanders, Justin A. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Sanders, Delana S. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Sanders, Robert E. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Smith, Matthew C. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Smith, Thomas C. (Kentucky)
ED-KY-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Bond, Rebecca B. (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Jackson, Shelley (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Mazor, Marina (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Preston, Judy C. (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Wilson, Ryan C (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002
Wolfe, Kathleen P. (District of Columbia)
ED-KY-0002-0002

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