Attorney General requests judge dismiss state defendants from Carl DeBrodie lawsuit
JEFFERSON CITY —
The state attorney general's office has asked a judge to dismiss claims against the Missouri Department of Mental Health and its employees named in Carl DeBrodie's wrongful death lawsuit.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Pritchett said the defendants are not liable because the developmentally disabled man was not in state custody.
Investigators found DeBrodie's dead body encased in concrete inside of a storage unit last spring. Prior to the discovery of his body, DeBrodie resided at Second Chance Homes of Fulton, an independent living facility.
In his motion to dismiss filed in federal court, Prtichett noted DeBrodie lived in a private facility, with the Callaway County Public Administrator appointed as his guardian and conservator.
"No affirmative conduct of the state created a danger to Mr. DeBrodie," Pritchett wrote. "The state is allegedly simply to have licensed and certified Second Chance Homes as a residential care facility and to have contracted with [the home] and other entities to provide services for Mr. DeBrodie."
Pritchett said there aren't any allegations claiming the state defendants had information that DeBrodie was in any danger.
State defendants also denied the allegation that the state failed to train, enforce or have adequate policies is insufficient. "No pattern of subordinate misconduct is alleged from which the individual state defendants could have had notice that either DeBrodie or any other similarly situated person was at risk of injury or death."
"In this case, the State Defendants violated no law, clearly established or otherwise. As discussed above, even if true, Plaintiffs’ allegations are not adequate to establish that the State Defendants have violated Mr. DeBrodie’s constitutional rights because they do not show a causal connection between their alleged conduct and Mr. DeBrodie’s death and, even if such a connection were shown, the alleged conduct is not egregious, outrageous, or shocking to the conscience," Pritchett wrote.
The assistant attorney general filed the request for defendants Wendy Davis, Valerie Huhn, Mark Stringer, Marcy Volner and Wendy Witcig along with the Department of Mental Health and its Division of Disabilities.
Attorneys on behalf of the Callaway County Public Administrator's Office and Karen Allen also requested the judge dismiss their party from the case. Lawyer Ross Bridges said Allen had no way to know that DeBrodie's right to life or liberty was going to be violated. He wrote the lawsuit failed to allege Allen took individual actions that were deliberately indifferent to DeBrodie's rights.
Bridges also rejected claims that the majority of the defendants implicitly or expressly agreed to enter into a conspiracy, because the plaintiffs failed to show a meeting between the minds occurred.
"Mr. DeBrodie’s death was not a natural and probable consequence of Defendant Allen’s alleged failure to create policies. As previously indicated, in her role as Mr. DeBrodie’s guardian, she chose to place Mr. DeBrodie in a state accredited home. Her alleged failure to ensure that Mr. DeBrodie was receiving the care that was already mandated by state and federal law cannot possibly be the cause of Mr. DeBrodie’s death. Finding otherwise would be based on pure speculation and conjecture," Bridges wrote.