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Lee v. Borders

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 25, 2014

Angela Marie Lee, By next friend Renee B. Lee, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Albert Lee Borders, Individually and in his official capacity, Defendant - Appellant, St. Charles Habilitation Center; Missouri Department of Mental Health, Defendants

Submitted April 14, 2014.

Page 967

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 968

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Angela Marie Lee, By next friend Renee B. Lee, Plaintiff - Appellee: Derek M. Rudman, Douglas Barrett Rudman, Timothy J. Smith, RUDMAN & SMITH, Saint Louis, MO.

For Albert Lee Borders, Individually and in his official capacity, Defendant - Appellant: Robert J. Isaacson, Assistant Attorney General, Dana Walker Tucker, Assistant Attorney General, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Saint Louis, MO.

Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 969

KELLY, Circuit Judge.

Angela Marie Lee sued Albert Lee Borders in state court for battery and, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for deprivation of her substantive due process right to bodily integrity; she also brought suit against the St. Charles Habilitation Center and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, who removed the case to federal court and were subsequently dismissed from the case. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict against Borders on both counts and awarded Lee $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. Borders then moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, a new trial. The district court[1] denied his motion, and he appeals. We affirm.[2]

I. Background

In November 2007, Lee was a resident of the St. Charles Habilitation Center (St. Charles or Habilitation Center), a facility run by the Missouri Department of Mental Health for developmentally disabled individuals. At age twenty-two, Lee had lived in an institutional setting for several years due to mental illness, and she had a legal guardian to make decisions for her. Nonetheless, she was doing well at St. Charles in 2007, and her family was working with St. Charles staff to prepare her to move into an independent living facility. Borders,

Page 970

who began working in the St. Charles kitchen in March 2006, testified that Lee seemed to function well in that environment and was friendly when she saw him on the Habilitation Center grounds.

On November 20, 2007, Lee went to the St. Charles kitchen and asked Borders if her friend Sheila Rice, another St. Charles employee, was available. Borders, the only kitchen employee on duty at the time, answered that Sheila was not present. The parties' accounts of what followed differ sharply. Borders said Lee followed him to the storage area of the kitchen, where they had consensual anal intercourse. According to Borders, " [S]he didn't yell rape or none of the other things as we were having sex."

Lee's claims against Borders for battery and for the deprivation of her right to substantive due process were tried before a jury on April 9-11, 2012. Lee did not testify at the trial. However, the nurse who saw Lee at the hospital and took a sexual assault report immediately following the incident testified from her notes:

[Lee] stated that [Borders] would not let her out of the dietary kitchen door. . . . She tried to struggle with him. . . . He dragged her by her hand to the back where the canned food is kept. He asked [Lee] if [she] wanted to do it, and she stated to me, " I said no." She said--this is her words--" pushed me to the canned food and turned me around, and I got scared."

In addition, Lee's counselor at St. Charles indicated he would describe her as " vulnerable to someone taking advantage of her for things including sexual contact," and " she would not really be able to appreciate or understand what it ...


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