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July 31, 2014
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Text of lawsuit against Carbondale nursing home

This is the complaint filed on behalf of Michelle Meeker against her former employer, Heritage Park Care Center of Carbondale, alleging that she was terrorized during an “active shooter drill” at the center in October.

These are her allegations. The attorney for the city has said it was the care center’s obligation to inform its employees about the drill and the city isn’t liable. The center administrator said in a statement that the home conducts a range of drills to ensure safety.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO

MICHELLE MEEKER, Plaintiff,

v.

LIFE CARE CENTERS OF AMERICA, INC., d/b/a HERITAGE PARK CARE CENTER; COLORADO MEDICAL INVESTORS, LLC, d/b/a HERITAGE PARK CARE CENTER; TOWN OF CARBONDALE, COLORADO;

EUGENE SCHILLING, Chief of the Carbondale Police Department, in his official and individual capacities;

MICHAEL ZIMMERMAN, Police Officer in the Carbondale Police Department, in his official and individual capacities;

ROBERT BAKER, Executive Director of LCCAs Heritage Park Care Center;

JESSICA VARLEY, Human Resources Director of LCCAs Heritage Park Care Center; and MELANIE HOLMES, Director of Nursing of LCCAs Heritage Park Care Center.

Defendants.

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff Michelle Meeker, through her attorneys, Paula Greisen and Kimberly J. Jones, of the law firm of KING & GREISEN, LLP, and Christina Habas and Deirdre E. Ostrowski, of KEATING WAGNER POLIDORI & FREE, P.C. submits her Complaint and Jury Demand against Defendants, as follows:

I. INTRODUCTION

1. On October 16, 2013, Registered Nurse Michelle Meeker was taken hostage by a man with a gun while at work at Defendant Life Care Centers of America, Inc.’s Heritage Park Care Center nursing facility in Carbondale, Colorado. The gunman held Ms. Meeker against her will at gunpoint, terrorizing her while she begged for her life. Although Ms. Meeker did not know it at the time, the gunman was Carbondale Police Officer Michael Zimmerman. The hostage situation was part of an “active shooter drill” that Defendants had collectively coordinated and carried out. Defendants intentionally failed to disclose to LCCA employees, including Ms. Meeker, that the gunman in the facility on October 16, 2013 was actually a police officer and that the hostage situation was merely a drill. Ms. Meeker has suffered and continues to suffer significant damages, including severe mental and emotional distress, as a result of Defendants’ actions, which constitute intentional, willful and wanton violations of her rights under the United States Constitution and the laws of the United States and the State of Colorado.

II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This action arises under the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the State of Colorado, and is authorized and instituted pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the common law of the State of Colorado.

3. Jurisdiction of this Court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367. This court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). Jurisdiction supporting Plaintiff’s claim for attorney fees and costs is conferred by 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

4. Venue is proper in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. All of the events alleged herein occurred within the State of Colorado, and all of the parties were residents of the State at the time of the events giving rise to this litigation.

5. All procedural prerequisites for the filing of this suit have been met. Plaintiff timely filed a Notice of Claim with the proper parties pursuant to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act, C.R.S. §§ 24-10-109, et seq.

III. PARTIES

Plaintiff

6. Plaintiff Meeker is and was a Colorado resident and domiciled in the State of Colorado at all relevant times, including during the time of the events described in this Complaint.

“LCCA Defendants”

7. Defendant Life Care Centers of America, Inc. (“LCCA”), d/b/a Heritage Park Care Center (“HPCC”) is and has been a Tennessee corporation licensed to and doing business in the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. Heritage Park Care Center is a skilled nursing facility located at 1200 Village Road, Carbondale, Colorado. Heritage Park Care Center is managed by LCCA, and LCCA holds itself out as the owner and operator of HPCC.

8. Defendant Colorado Medical Investors, LLC (“CMI”), d/b/a Heritage Park Care Center (“HPCC”) is and has been a Tennessee limited liability company licensed to and doing business in the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. CMI also owns the Heritage Park property.

9. Defendant Robert Baker is and has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. Defendant Baker is and was the Executive Director of HPCC during all relevant time periods.

10. Defendant Jessica Varley is and has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. Defendant Varley is and was the Human Resources Director at HPCC during all relevant time periods.

11. Defendant Melanie Holmes is and has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. Defendant Holmes is and was the Director of Nursing at HPCC during all relevant time periods.

“Police Defendants”

12. Defendant Town of Carbondale is and has been a Colorado home rule municipality responsible for the supervision, training, official policies, customs, and actual practices of its agents, the Carbondale Police Department (“CPD”) and the Chief of Police of the CPD, during all relevant time periods.

13. Defendant Eugene Schilling is and has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of and domiciled in the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. During all relevant time periods, Defendant Schilling was acting under color of state law as the Chief of Police of the CPD. As Chief, Defendant Schilling is and has been responsible for the training and supervision of CPD personnel, the provision of overall management and accountability for the CPD, and is and has been the final policy maker for the CPD and an agent of the Town of Carbondale during all relevant time periods. Defendant Schilling is sued in his official and individual capacities.

14. Defendant Michael Zimmerman is and has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of and domiciled in the State of Colorado during all relevant time periods. At all times relevant to the claims against him, Defendant Zimmerman was acting under color of state law as a CPD Officer. Defendant Zimmerman was the CPD Officer who unlawfully conspired with the Employer Defendants to, and who did unlawfully seize Plaintiff Meeker, hold her hostage at gunpoint at her workplace, and terrorize her as she begged for her life on October 16, 2013. Defendant Zimmerman is sued in his official and individual capacities.

IV. GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

15. Plaintiff Michelle Meeker was hired by LCCA Defendants as a Registered Nurse (“RN”) at its HPCC location on September 10, 2013.

16. As a RN for LCCA Defendants, Ms. Meeker was responsible for providing nursing care to approximately thirty (30) long-term care residents at HPCC.

17. HPCCs long-term care residents are housed in what is referred to as the facility’s “300 hall.”

18. HPCCs short-term care residents are housed in what is referred to as the facility’s “200 hall.” The short-term care residents receive skilled nursing care from LCCA Defendants’ skilled nursing staff.

19. Because Ms. Meeker worked with only HPCCs long-term residents, she worked exclusively in the 300 hall and was unfamiliar with the 200 hall.

20. Neither the conditions, obligations, nor the nature of Ms. Meeker’s employment required her to be in the 200 hall.

21. On October 16, 2013, Ms. Meeker arrived at HPCC at 6:00 a.m. for her twelve- hour shift.

22. She was very busy throughout the morning and into the afternoon responding to urgent medical issues of a number of the residents under her care. Ms. Meeker had not yet had an opportunity to take her lunch break and was already feeling overwhelmed and stressed when, around approximately 1:00 p.m., one of the residents under her care began experiencing respiratory distress.

23. When Ms. Meeker could not find the suction equipment she needed to assist the resident, she sought help locating it from her direct supervisor, Defendant Director of Nursing Melanie Holmes.

24. Defendant Holmes helped Ms. Meeker locate the suction equipment.

25. After locating the equipment, Defendant Holmes told Ms. Meeker that she did not

want her to return to the 300 hall to attend to the resident that was experiencing respiratory distress.

26. Instead, Defendant Holmes told Ms. Meeker to find out what the gentleman who was sitting in the day room wanted, because he looked “suspicious.”

27. Defendant Holmes told Ms. Meeker that she would attend to Ms. Meeker’s patient while Ms. Meeker went to investigate the suspicious man.

28. Although it was not part of her job duties, Ms. Meeker did as she had been instructed by Defendant Holmes.

29. Had Defendant Holmes not ordered Ms. Meeker to do so, Ms. Meeker’s job duties would not have required her to be anywhere near the day room.

30. As she approached the man sitting in the day room, she observed that he had his elbows on his knees and his head was resting in his hands.

31. As she approached the man, Ms. Meeker asked him if he was there to see someone at the facility or if he needed help.

32. The man did not respond. Ms. Meeker got closer and asked him again if he needed help. The man gruffly responded with words to the effect of, “follow me, I’ll show you.” The man then gestured for Ms. Meeker to follow him.

33. The man led Ms. Meeker down the 200 hall. When he got to the end of the 200 hall, he stopped at the last doorway on the right.

34. When Ms. Meeker noticed there was not a resident’s nametag on the door, she grew alarmed because she knew that meant that no one was in the room. She began to back away from the man.

35. At that moment, the man turned toward Ms. Meeker and pulled his jacket back, revealing a gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans.

36. The man sternly ordered Ms. Meeker to get inside the room.

37. Terrified, Ms. Meeker shook her head and said “No,” afraid that if she went

through that doorway she would not make it out alive.

38. When she refused, the man began to walk toward her, ordering her to get in the room as he got closer.

39. Again, Ms. Meeker said “No,” but the man kept coming.

40. The man ordered Ms. Meeker to get into the room a third time as he continued

moving toward her.

41. Ms. Meeker said no again, but the man continued to move toward her.

42. When the man was approximately four (4) inches away from her, he put one hand

on the gun and placed his other hand on her back, and told her again to get in the room.

43. Ms. Meeker began to cry.

44. Her heart began to race and her breathing became shallow and constricted. Ms. Meeker began to shake with terror, fearing that she would never see her daughter again.

45. In a desperate plea for her life, she begged the man not to hurt her, telling him she had a young child.

46. As Ms. Meeker cried and begged for her life, the man said in a hushed tone that this was a “drill.”

47. Confused and unable to process what he had said, Ms. Meeker responded, “What?”

48. The man again repeated “This is a drill.” Again, Ms. Meeker asked, “What?”

49. The man then said in a hushed tone that he was a Carbondale Police Officer and

that this was a drill, and that he needed Ms. Meeker to get into the room so that he could continue the “drill.”

50. In a state of total shock, confusion, and fear, Ms. Meeker complied with his order and went into the room, still not knowing if the man was truly a police officer and still scared that she would not leave there alive.

51. The man followed Ms. Meeker into the room. He still had the gun.

52. Once inside, the man told Ms. Meeker that he wanted to see how long it would

take for other employees to find her and how they would respond to the hostage situation.

53. The man then instructed Ms. Meeker to remain in the room and said that she had to help him “capture” one of her co-workers.

54. The man directed Ms. Meeker to try to alert the next employee who came by that she was being held hostage by a gunman. In shock, and with her heart still racing, Ms. Meeker remained quiet, not knowing what to believe.

55. Several minutes later, one of the facility’s CNAs, Zach, walked by the room and noticed Ms. Meeker with the man.

56. The man showed Zach his gun in a threatening manner and told him to get inside the room. Zach complied.

57. Once Zach was inside the room, the man told him that this was a drill and that Zach and Ms. Meeker had to remain in the room with him until another employee came by, at which time they were to use the “code” word to signal that there was a gunman in the facility. The man told them the “code” word was “Dr. Grey.”

58. Soon, another RN, Erika, walked by and noticed Ms. Meeker and Zach in the room.

59. Ms. Meeker did as the man with the gun told her to do, and asked Erika to call Dr. Grey.

60. Erika appeared confused and questioned Ms. Meeker. Ms. Meeker repeated that Erika should call Dr. Grey.

61. Erika appeared frightened, said okay, and quickly walked away.

62. When Erika walked away, the man told Ms. Meeker that he had already contacted

911 dispatchers and advised them to expect a call from Heritage Park Care Center. The man reported that the Carbondale Police Department had agreed not to respond to any 911 calls from the facility.

63. The man then told Ms. Meeker and Zach they were to wait with him in the room until they heard the “code” announced over the intercom system, and then they had to walk down the 200 hall in front of him as though they were hostages while saying the code word to other employees they saw along the way.

64. When the “code” was announced over the intercom, Ms. Meeker and Zach did as the man with the gun told them to. As they were walked down the hall with the gunman behind them, Ms. Meeker asked several employees to call Dr. Grey.

65. When they neared the dayroom, the man directed Ms. Meeker and Zach to go into the Executive Director’s office. They did so. The man with the gun followed them into the room and shut the door behind them.

66. There waiting for them were LCCAs Executive Director of the HPCC facility, Defendant Robert Baker; Director of Nursing, Defendant Holmes; Maintenance Director Neil Jenson; and Human Resources Coordinator, Defendant Jessica Varley.

67. Ms. Meeker looked at the clock on the wall. It read 1:40 p.m.

68. Ms. Meeker was told to sit down at a table to be de-briefed.

69. Defendant Baker spoke first, telling Ms. Meeker that they were “sorry” to have

done this to her, but that they needed to get the point across that this threat exists in the real world. Defendant Baker then said that he came from Denver where they have had problems with men with guns coming into nursing homes.

70. For approximately the next twenty (20) minutes, the gunman -- who Ms. Meeker later learned was Defendant Zimmerman -- and LCCA Defendants’ management criticized Ms. Meeker for the things that they felt she had done wrong during the “active shooter drill.”

71. For example, Ms. Meeker was advised that she could have done better by yelling out, knocking over a nursing cart, making more noise, and bringing more attention to the situation.

72. Before this “active shooter drill,” LCCA Defendants did not provide any training to Ms. Meeker regarding what she ought to do in the event of an “active shooter” situation, nor did they advise Ms. Meeker at any time that she may be required to participate in an “active shooter” drill as part of her job duties or in the course of her employment.

73. At the conclusion of the de-briefing, Ms. Meeker was directed to return to work and finish out her shift.

74. Ms. Meeker did as she was instructed and finished out the next five (5) hours of her shift still in complete shock over the experience. Throughout that time, she continued to feel panicky and had extreme difficulty concentrating on her required tasks, which included administering medication to HPCCs long-term residents.

75. Later that day, Erika, the RN who had agreed to call Dr. Grey during the “active shooter drill,” approached Ms. Meeker and said that she could only imagine what Ms. Meeker was feeling because she felt like she had been terrorized by the incident.

76. Erika also told Ms. Meeker that she had called 911, but that the police had not responded to her 911 call.

77. Ms. Meeker left work that day extremely shaken and still in shock. When she arrived home, she was mentally, physically, and emotionally ill.

78. Although Ms. Meeker rarely cries, she was unable to stop sobbing that evening and throughout the next four (4) days.

79. Ms. Meeker had difficulty sleeping for the next several days, and continued to replay the events of that day over and over again in her mind.

80. Each time Ms. Meeker thought about returning to work for her next shift, which was scheduled for Monday October 21, 2013, she became extremely emotional and physically ill.

81. By Sunday evening, October 20, 2013, Ms. Meeker realized she was too distraught to return to work on Monday. She called the on-call nurse to notify LCCA Defendants that she would not be at work for her shift on Monday. When she did, the on-call nurse responded that she couldn’t believe what LCCA Defendants had done to Ms. Meeker, and said that she understood.

82. When Ms. Meeker explained to the on-call nurse that she had decided she had no choice but to resign because of the terror and trauma she had experienced on October 16, 2013, the on-call nurse explained that Ms. Meeker needed to come in to the facility on Monday to notify LCCA management in person that she was resigning.

83. The next day, Ms. Meeker summoned all of her courage and drove to HPCC. When she arrived, she felt physically ill and began having flashbacks of the “active shooter drill.”

84. She forced herself to walk into the facility and to locate Defendant Holmes.

When she did, she explained to Defendant Holmes that what happened to her during her last shift was not acceptable.

85. Defendant Holmes responded that the facility has to run those kinds of drills.

86. Ms. Meeker explained that she was resigning because of what had been done to her during the “active shooter” drill, to which Defendant Holmes replied that Ms. Meeker would not be able to work for LCCA Defendants again because she was resigning without notice.

87. At all relevant time periods all Defendants were acting under color of state law, including LCCA Defendants, who conspired with Police Defendants for the purpose of depriving Ms. Meeker of her constitutional rights.

88. All Defendants acted with one another by agreement and concerted action.

89. All Defendants willfully participated in joint actions in order to deprive Ms.

Meeker of her constitutional rights.

90. Prior to the “active shooter drill,” members of LCCA Defendants’ so-called Safety Committee planned to execute this drill without the knowledge of their employees and notified the LCCA corporate office of their intent to do so.

91. The “active shooter drill” was a pre-approved scenario that Defendant LCCA had a pattern and practice of instructing its facilities, on a national basis, to conduct, and Defendant LCCA approved and condoned the intent to execute this drill at HPCC and to intentionally withhold information relating to the “active shooter drill” from its employees, including Ms. Meeker.

92. Prior to the execution of the “active shooter drill,” members of the HPCC Safety Committee contacted Defendant Schilling, told him of their plans to carry out a surreptitious “active shooter drill” at HPCC, and sought the aid of Defendant Town of Carbondale’s Police Department in the execution of the drill.

93. Defendant Schilling, as the policy maker and agent for the Town of Carbondale’s Police Department, agreed that this was the type of drill that the CPD would participate in as part of its custom, policy, and/or practice. Defendant Schilling agreed that the CPD would participate in the drill and told the Safety Committee that he would assign a member of the CPD to assist in the planning and execution of the drill.

94. Defendant Schilling, either directly or through subordinates, then instructed Defendant Zimmerman to participate in the planning and execution of this “active shooter drill.”

95. Upon information and belief, the Town of Carbondale, by and through its agents CPD and Defendant Schilling, either directly or through subordinates, regularly engage in these types of drills as a part of the custom, policy and/or practice of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

96. Thereafter, Defendant Zimmerman met with members of the HPCC Safety Committee and planned the execution of the “active shooter drill.” Defendant Zimmerman also confirmed to the Safety Committee that the CPD and the Carbondale Fire Department would be alerted that any 911 call they received during the “active shooter drill” would be pursuant to a drill coordinated by the Town of Carbondale and/or its agents, and directed them not to respond to any such calls.

97. LCCA Defendants’ management, including but not limited to Defendant Holmes, decided ahead of time that Michelle Meeker would be the victim of the “active shooter drill” and that she would be taken hostage by Defendant Zimmerman during the drill. Defendant Zimmerman agreed to the advance designation of Ms. Meeker as the targeted hostage and carried out the drill as agreed to with LCCA Defendants.

98. Upon information and belief, a 911 call was placed by one of the LCCA Defendants’ employees during the drill, and neither the CPD nor the Carbondale Fire Department responded to the emergency call.

99. All Defendants conspired with each other to violate the constitutional rights of Ms. Meeker and accordingly, all are liable for those constitutional deprivations.

100. Ms. Meeker has and continues to experience economic damages, humiliation, severe emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other significant and severe injuries, damages and losses as a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ actions.

101. LCCA Defendants deliberately intended to cause Ms. Meeker’s injuries, and acted directly to bring about her injuries.

102. There is nothing about the nature of Ms. Meeker’s employment with LCCA that either allows or requires LCCA Defendants to intentionally terrorize and place LCCA employees such as Ms. Meeker in fear for their lives under the threat of deadly force.

103. Ms. Meeker’s job duties as a RN at HPCC did not place her at any greater risk of injury from a hostage scenario than the risk of injury from a hostage scenario to which the general public is exposed.

104. Had Defendants not conspired to execute and actually executed the “active shooter drill” at HPCC on October 16, 2013, Ms. Meeker would not have suffered the injuries and damages complained of herein.

105. Defendants’ conduct in arranging for Ms. Meeker to be taken hostage and terrorized by a man armed with a gun lies well outside the scope of employment with LCCA.

106. Upon information and belief, LCCA Defendants engaged in a pattern and practice to act jointly and in concert with local law enforcement at the HPCC facility and at other LCCA facilities throughout the United States to conduct these so-called “active shooter drills.”

107. Upon information and belief, LCCA Defendants trained and expected their employees at the HPCC facility and at other LCCA facilities throughout the United States to act jointly and in concert with local law enforcement to conduct these “active shooter drills.”

V. CLAIMS FOR RELIEF

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. § 1983 -- FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION -- UNREASONABLE SEIZURE

(Against All Defendants)

108. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

109. At all relevant times, Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

110. Ms. Meeker had a legitimate and reasonable expectation of privacy in her person for which the Fourth Amendment protects her from unreasonable governmental seizures of her person.

111. Police and LCCA Defendants, acting jointly and in concert with one another, forcibly seized Ms. Meeker while she was at work at HPCC on October 16, 2013 when they restrained Ms. Meeker’s person by arranging for her to be taken hostage by Defendant Zimmerman, who was armed with a gun and who commanded her into the room at the end of hallway 200 by his show of authority and under his continued threat of force. In doing all Defendants shared the common objective of depriving Ms. Meeker of her Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.

112. No Defendant had probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to believe that Ms. Meeker had committed or was committing any violation of the law at any time prior to seizing and continuing to restrain her person.

113. Defendants had no warrant authorizing any such seizure of Ms. Meeker’s person.

114. No legally recognizable exigent circumstances existed which would have justified

or permitted Defendants’ conduct.

115. Defendants’ actions were objectively unreasonable in light of the circumstances confronting them.

116. Defendants’ conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or was engaged in with reckless or callous indifference to Ms. Meeker’s federally protected rights.

117. Defendants’ unreasonable seizure of Ms. Meeker implemented the official policy, practice, and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale, and was the moving force behind the constitutional violation.

118. Defendant Schilling, by and through his official duties as the final policy maker for the CPD and agent of the Town of Carbondale, delegated authority to his subordinate employees to conduct these “active shooter” drills and knew or should have known that those subordinate employees were regularly conducting these drills throughout the community, acting jointly with private actors.

Case 1:14-cv-02101-WYD-BNB Document 1 Filed 07/29/14 USDC Colorado Page 18 of 36

119. Defendant Zimmerman’s conduct was engaged in at either the personal direction of Defendant Schilling or with Defendant Schilling’s actual or constructive knowledge and tacit authorization.

120. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the legal and proximate cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages. Defendants were aware of and acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional violations, had actual and/or constructive knowledge that their actions were substantially certain to result in the constitutional violations, and consciously and deliberately chose to disregard the risk of harm to Ms. Meeker.

121. Defendants’ conduct violated Ms. Meeker’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and law enforcement officer knew or should have known.

122. Each Defendant knowingly, intentionally, willfully and wantonly engaged in overt acts in furtherance of a conspiracy to violate Ms. Meeker’s Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. as described above.

123. As a result of Defendants’ common objective to violate Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights, Ms. Meeker suffered actual deprivations of her Fourth Amendment rights, as more fully described herein.

124. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ unreasonable seizure of her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. § 1983 -- FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION -- EXCESSIVE FORCE

(Against All Defendants)

125. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

Case 1:14-cv-02101-WYD-BNB Document 1 Filed 07/29/14 USDC Colorado Page 19 of 36

126. At all relevant times, all Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

127. Ms. Meeker had a legitimate and reasonable expectation of privacy in her person for which the Fourth Amendment protects her from unreasonable governmental seizures of her person by means of excessive force.

128. Police and LCCA Defendants, acting jointly and in concert with one another, willfully participated in the seizure of Ms. Meeker by means of excessive force by taking Ms. Meeker hostage under the threat of deadly force, and holding her against her will at gunpoint without any legitimate law enforcement or safety need to do so. In doing so, all Defendants shared the common objective of depriving Ms. Meeker of her Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.

129. Defendants’ plan to use force, and the actual use of force, as described herein, was excessive and objectively unreasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them.

130. Defendants’ conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or was engaged in with reckless or callous indifference to Ms. Meeker’s federally protected rights.

131. Defendants’ acts in planning and participating in the unreasonable seizure by means of excessive force of Ms. Meeker implemented the official custom, policy and/or practice of Defendant Town of Carbondale to engage in such conduct, and was the moving force behind the constitutional violation.

132. Defendant Schilling, by and through his official duties, delegated authority to his subordinate employees to conduct these “active shooter” drills and knew or should have known that those subordinate employees were regularly conducting these drills throughout the community, acting jointly with private actors.

133. Police and LCCA Defendants instructed and authorized Defendant Zimmerman to participate in the planning and execution of the hostage drill, as part of the policy, practice and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

134. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the legal and proximate cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages. Defendants were aware of and acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional violations, had actual and/or constructive knowledge that their actions were substantially certain to result in the constitutional violations, and consciously and deliberately chose to disregard the risk of harm to Ms. Meeker.

135. Defendants’ conduct violated Ms. Meeker’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and reasonable law enforcement officer knew or should have known.

136. Each Defendant knowingly, intentionally, willfully and wantonly engaged in overt acts in furtherance of their conspiracy to violate Ms. Meeker’s Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described above.

137. As a result of Defendants’ common objective to violate Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights, Ms. Meeker suffered actual deprivations of her Fourth Amendment right as more fully described herein.

138. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ use of excessive force against her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. § 1983 -- FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION -- FALSE IMPRISONMENT

(Against All Defendants)

139. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

140. At all relevant times, all Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

141. Ms. Meeker had a legitimate and reasonable expectation of privacy in her person for which the Fourth Amendment protects her from unreasonable governmental seizures of her person.

142. Police and LCCA Defendants, acting jointly and in concert with one another, restricted Ms. Meeker’s freedom of movement by engaging in the following acts: (1) seizing Ms. Meeker in the 200 hallway under the threat of deadly force such that she reasonably believed she was not free to leave; (2) forcing Ms. Meeker into the room at the end of hallway 200 at gunpoint; (3) forcing Ms. Meeker to remain inside the room at the end of hallway 200 under the continued threat of force; (3) refusing to allow Ms. Meeker to leave the room at the end of hallway 200 or to otherwise leave Defendants’ custody; (4) forcing Ms. Meeker to walk down hallway 200 toward the dayroom at gunpoint; and (5) forcing Ms. Meeker to enter the Executive Director’s office for a “de-briefing.” In doing so, all Defendants shared the common objective of depriving Ms. Meeker of her Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described herein.

143. Due to such actions, Ms. Meeker’s freedom of movement was severely restricted and a reasonable person under the circumstances would have understood that she was not free to leave.

144. Defendants’ actions, as described above, were objectively unreasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them.

145. No Defendant had probable cause to believe that Ms. Meeker had committed or was committing a crime.

146. No legally recognizable exigent circumstances existed which would have justified or permitted Defendants’ conduct.

147. Defendants’ false imprisonment of Ms. Meeker implemented the official policy, practice and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

148. Defendant Schilling, by and through his official duties, delegated authority to his subordinate employees to conduct these “active shooter” drills and knew or should have known that his subordinate employees were regularly conducting these drills throughout the community, acting jointly with private actors.

149. Police and LCCA Defendants instructed and authorized Defendant Zimmerman to participate in the planning and execution of the “active shooter drill,” as a part of the policy, practice and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

150. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the moving force behind Defendants’ false imprisonment of Ms. Meeker.

151. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the legal and proximate cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages. Defendants were aware of and acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional violations, had actual and/or constructive knowledge that their actions were substantially certain to result in the constitutional violations, and consciously and deliberately chose to disregard the risk of harm.

152. Defendants’ conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or was engaged in with reckless or callous indifference to Ms. Meeker’s federally protected rights.

153. Defendants’ conduct violated Ms. Meeker’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and a reasonable law enforcement officer knew or should have known.

154. Each Defendant knowingly, intentionally, willfully and wantonly engaged in over acts in furtherance of the conspiracy to violate Ms. Meeker’s Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described herein.

155. As a result of Defendants’ common objective to violate Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights, Ms. Meeker suffered actual deprivations of her Fourth Amendment rights, as more fully described herein.

156. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ false imprisonment of her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 -- FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION -- PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS VIOLATION -- DEPRIVATION OF A LIBERTY INTEREST WITHOUT DUE PROCESS

(Against All Defendants)

157. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

158. At all relevant times, Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

159. Ms. Meeker has a protected liberty interest in freedom from the unreasonable and forcible seizure of her person, including but not limited to such seizure by means of excessive force, the restriction of her freedom of movement without her consent, and from the violation of her individual dignity and her sense of security.

160. Police and LCCA Defendants, acting jointly and in concert with one another, forcibly seized Ms. Meeker’s person, including by way of excessive force, and restricted her freedom of movement when they held her against her will at gunpoint and terrorized her as she begged for her life without any legitimate law enforcement or safety need to do so. In doing so, all Defendants shared the common objective of depriving Ms. Meeker of her Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described herein.

161. Defendants’ actions were taken without sufficient or any procedural safeguards.

162. Defendants’ actions were sanctioned and authorized by the custom, policy and/or

practice of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

163. Ms. Meeker was afforded no due process prior to, during, or after her forcible detention on October 16, 2013.

164. Providing due process to Ms. Meeker in advance of the deprivation of her constitutionally protected rights was possible, practicable, and constitutionally required.

165. Under the circumstances described herein, the deprivation of Ms. Meeker’s procedural due process rights was foreseeable.

166. Defendants’ actions deprived her of her protected liberty interests, including but not limited to her sense of security and her individual dignity.

167. No exigent circumstances existed that would have justified Defendants’ denial of all due process to Ms. Meeker.

168. Defendants’ denial of all due process to Ms. Meeker in advance of the “active shooter” drill implemented the official policy, practice and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

169. Defendant Schilling, by and through his official duties, delegated authority to his subordinate employees to conduct these “active shooter” drills and knew or should have known that his subordinate employees were regularly conducting these drills throughout the community, acting jointly with private actors.

170. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the moving force behind Defendants’ denial of all due process to Ms. Meeker in violation of her Fourteenth Amendment rights.

171. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the legal and proximate cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages. Defendants were aware of and acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional violations, had actual and/or constructive knowledge that their actions were substantially certain to result in the constitutional violations, and consciously and deliberately chose to disregard the risk of harm.

172. Defendants’ conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or was engaged in with reckless or callous indifference to Ms. Meeker’s federally protected rights.

173. Defendants’ conduct violated Ms. Meeker’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and reasonable law enforcement knew or should have known.

174. Each Defendant knowingly, intentionally, willfully and wantonly engaged in overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy to deprive Ms. Meeker of her constitutionally protected rights, as more fully described herein.

175. As a result of Defendants’ common objective to violate Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights, Ms. Meeker suffered actual deprivations of her Fourteenth Amendment rights, as more fully described herein.

176. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ denial of procedural due process to her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

FIFTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 -- FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION --

SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS VIOLATION -- FAILURE TO PROTECT/STATE CREATED DANGER (Against All Defendants)

177. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

178. At all relevant times, Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

179. Ms. Meeker has a protected liberty interest in freedom from the unreasonable and forcible seizure of her person, including but not limited to such seizure by means of excessive force, the restriction of her freedom of movement without her consent, and from the violation of her individual dignity and her sense of security.

180. Police and LCCA Defendants, acting jointly and in concert with one another, created the danger confronting Ms. Meeker when they conspired to and did coordinate an “active shooter drill” inside HPCC and when they conspired to and did take Ms. Meeker hostage at gunpoint, terrorizing her as she begged for her life as part of that “active shooter drill.” In doing so, all Defendants shared the common objective to deprive Ms. Meeker of her Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described herein.

181. Because Defendants created this danger, they had a corresponding duty to protect Ms. Meeker from harm, including from the deprivations of her protected liberty interests in freedom from unreasonable and forcible seizure of her person, the restriction of her freedom of movement without her consent, and the violation of her individual dignity and sense of security.

182. Defendants failed to protect Ms. Meeker from the deprivations of her constitutionally protected rights during the “active shooter” drill at HPCC.

183. Defendants’ actions were arbitrary and so outrageous as to shock the conscience, offend traditional notions of fairness, and were offensive to human dignity in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

184. Defendants’ failure to protect Ms. Meeker during the “active shooter” drill, as described more fully herein, implemented the official policy, practice and/or custom of Defendant Town of Carbondale.

185. Defendant Schilling, by and through his official duties, delegated authority to his subordinate employees to conduct these “active shooter” drills and knew or should have known that his subordinate employees were regularly conducting these drills throughout the community, acting jointly with private actors.

186. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the moving force behind Defendants’ failure to protect Ms. Meeker in violation of her Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights.

187. The acts or omissions of Defendants were the legal and proximate cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages. Defendants were aware of and acquiesced in a pattern of constitutional violations, had actual and/or constructive knowledge that their actions were substantially certain to result in the constitutional violations, and consciously and deliberately chose to disregard the risk of harm.

188. Defendants’ conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or was engaged in with reckless or callous indifference to Ms. Meeker’s federally protected rights.

189. Defendants’ conduct violated Ms. Meeker’s clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person and a reasonable law enforcement officer knew or should have known.

190. Each Defendant knowingly, intentionally, willfully and wantonly engaged in overt acts in furtherance of their conspiracy to deprive Ms. Meeker of her Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, as more fully described herein.

191. As a result of Defendants’ common objective to violate Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights, Ms. Meeker suffered actual deprivations of her Fourteenth Amendment rights, as more fully described herein.

192. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ failure to protect her in violation of her Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

Case 1:14-cv-02101-WYD-BNB Document 1 Filed 07/29/14 USDC Colorado Page 29 of 36

SIXTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

42 U.S.C. § 1983 -- FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION -- FAILURE TO TRAIN AND/OR SUPERVISE

(Against Defendant Town of Carbondale and Defendant Schilling in his Official and Individual Capacities)

193. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

194. At all relevant times, Defendants were acting under color of state law in their actions and inactions.

195. Defendant Schilling, as Chief of the CPD, acting on behalf of the Town of Carbondale, is the final policymaker for the CPD.

196. In that capacity, Defendant Schilling establishes policies, procedures, customs and/or practices for its officers regarding the conduct of police officers. He is responsible for the training and supervision of officers of the CPD.

197. The policies, procedures, customs and/or practices established by Defendant Town of Carbondale, by and through Defendant Schilling, are implemented by officers in the CPD.

198. Defendant Town of Carbondale, by and through Defendant Schilling and his subordinates, developed and maintained policies, procedures, customs and/or practices regarding “active shooter drills” which exhibit a reckless, deliberate, or calculated indifference to the constitutional rights of persons with whom its officers are likely to come into contact during such drills.

199. Defendant Town of Carbondale and Defendant Schilling knew or should have known that such policies, procedures, customs, and/or practices were motivated by recklessness or deliberate or calculated indifference such that they were likely to cause harm to such persons, which violated Ms. Meeker’s constitutional rights, including her right to due process pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

200. Defendant Town of Carbondale and Defendant Schilling knew or should have known that the lack of adequate training and supervision provided to officers of the CPD concerning the proper methods of conducting “active shooter” drills was reckless, unnecessarily dangerous, and/or done with calculated and deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with whom its officers would inevitably come into conduct with during the course of these drills.

201. Defendant Town of Carbondale and Defendant Schilling had a duty to protect the constitutional rights of the persons with whom its officers would inevitably come into contact with during the course of these “active shooter drills,” including Ms. Meeker, from violations of those rights by officers of the CPD, including Defendant Zimmerman.

202. By failing to properly train and/or supervise such officers, Defendant Town of Carbondale and Defendant Schilling violated Ms. Meeker’s constitutional rights.

203. The direct result of Defendant Town of Carbondale’s and Defendant Schilling’s failure to properly train and/or supervise its officers was the violation of Ms. Meeker’s constitutionally protected rights as described herein.

204. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendant Town of Carbondale’s and Defendant Schilling’s failure to train and/or supervise, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

SEVENTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

STATE LAW CLAIM FOR CIVIL ASSAULT

(Against LCCA Defendants and Defendants Schilling and Zimmerman in their Individual

Capacities)

205. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set

forth herein.

206. Defendants above intended to cause Ms. Meeker offensive or harmful contact

with her person and/or to put her in apprehension of such offensive or harmful contact with her person when they held her against her will at gunpoint while terrorizing her as she begged for her life, and otherwise intruded upon her person, all as detailed herein.

207. By these actions, above Defendants placed Ms. Meeker in apprehension of immediate physical contact that appeared to be and that was harmful and/or offensive.

208. Above Defendants engaged in these actions intentionally, willfully, and wantonly, or with reckless disregard for Ms. Meeker’s rights.

209. LCCA Defendants are vicariously liable for these actions of their agents.

210. The acts or omissions of each above Defendant were the legal and proximate

cause of Ms. Meeker’s damages.

211. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ assault of her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

EIGHTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

STATE LAW CLAIM FOR CIVIL BATTERY

(Against LCCA Defendants and Defendants Schilling and Zimmerman in their Individual

Capacities)

212. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set

forth herein.

213. Above Defendants acted intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with Ms. Meeker’s person and/or to put her in apprehension of such offensive or harmful contact with her person when they held her against her will at gunpoint and when Defendant Zimmerman placed his hand on Ms. Meeker’s back as he forced her into a room at the end of hallway 200, and as further detailed herein.

214. By these actions, Defendants did cause an offensive and/or harmful contact with her person.

215. Defendants engaged in these actions intentionally, willfully, and wantonly, or with reckless disregard for Ms. Meeker’s rights.

216. LCCA Defendants are vicariously liable for these actions of their agents.

217. The acts or omissions of each Defendant were the legal and proximate cause of

Ms. Meeker’s damages.

218. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ battery of her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

NINTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

STATE LAW CLAIM FOR CIVIL FALSE ARREST/IMPRISONMENT

(Against LCCA Defendants and Defendants Schilling and Zimmerman in their Individual

Capacities)

219. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set

forth herein.

220. Above Defendants intended to restrict Ms. Meeker’s freedom of movement and/or

to confine her to a limited area without her consent when they held her against her will at gunpoint while terrorizing her as she begged for her life, and as further detailed herein.

221. By these actions, Defendants did restrict Ms. Meeker’s freedom of movement and/or confined her to a limited area without her consent.

222. Ms. Meeker was aware that her freedom of movement was severely restricted and that she was confined to a limited area all against her will.

223. Defendants engaged in these actions intentionally, willfully, and wantonly, or with reckless disregard for Ms. Meeker’s rights.

224. Defendants’ actions, as described above, were objectively unreasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them.

225. No Defendant had probable cause to believe that Ms. Meeker had committed or was committing a crime.

226. No legally recognizable exigent circumstances or lawful privilege existed which would have justified or permitted Defendants’ conduct.

227. LCCA Defendants are vicariously liable for these actions of their agents.

228. The acts or omissions of each Defendant were the legal and proximate cause of

Ms. Meeker’s damages.

229. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ false arrest/imprisonment of her, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

TENTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

STATE LAW CLAIM FOR OUTRAGEOUS CONDUCT

(Against LCCA Defendants and Defendants Schilling and Zimmerman in their Individual Capacities)

230. Plaintiff incorporates by reference all paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

231. By secretly staging an “active shooter” drill in the workplace and arranging to have Ms. Meeker taken hostage and held against her will at gunpoint and terrorized as she begged for her life, Defendants engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct.

232. Defendants did so with reckless disregard for Ms. Meeker’s rights or with the intent of causing Ms. Meeker severe emotional distress.

233. Defendants’ conduct foreseeably caused Ms. Meeker severe emotional distress.

234. Defendants’ conduct was extreme and outrageous because it was so outrageous in

character and so extreme in degree that a reasonable member of the community would regard the conduct as atrocious, going beyond all possible bounds of decency and as utterly intolerable in a civilized community.

235. LCCA Defendants are vicariously liable for these actions of their agents.

236. The acts or omissions of each Defendant were the legal and proximate cause of

Ms. Meeker’s damages.

237. Ms. Meeker has been and continues to be damaged by Defendants’ outrageous conduct, including but not limited to severe mental and emotional distress.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court enter judgment in her favor and against all Defendants, and award the following relief, to the fullest extent allowed by law:

a. Declaratory relief and injunctive relief, as appropriate;

b. Actual economic damages as established at trial;

c. Compensatory damages, including but not limited to those for future pecuniary

and non-pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, medical bills, and other non-pecuniary losses;

d. Punitive damages for all claims as allowed by law;

e. An order mandating appropriate equitable relief;

g. Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest at the highest lawful rate;

h. Attorneys’ fees and costs; and

i. Any such further relief as justice allows.

PLAINTIFF DEMANDS A JURY TRIAL ON ALL ISSUES SO TRIABLE.

DATED this 29th day of July, 2014.


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The Post Independent Updated Jul 31, 2014 09:43AM Published Aug 4, 2014 12:00PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.