Poteet v. Arkansas Methodist Hospital Corporation et al
ORDER granting 15 John Wilson's Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff's EMTALA claim is dismissed with prejudice by agreement. His ACRA & Section 1983 claims are dismissed without prejudice with leave to amend & clarify. By 6/8/2012, Poteet must file an amended complaint pursuant to this Order. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 5/17/2012. (jct)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MARION JOE POTEET
ARKANSAS METHODIST HOSPITAL CORP.,
d/b/a ARKANSAS METHODIST HOSPITAL;
JOHN WILSON, M.D., individually and in his
official capacity; DAN LANGSTON, individually
and in his official capacity; JOHN DOES 1-10,
individually and in their official capacities; and
Poteet has sued various persons and entities he alleges are responsible
for harm he suffered after a jailhouse fight. Dr. John Wilson evaluated Poteet
in the emergency room; he moves to dismiss some of Poteet's claims. Dr.
Wilson says that EMTALA does not create a private cause of action against
a physician. Further, Dr. Wilson argues that Poteet's complaint does not
plausibly suggest that Wilson was a
state actor" for purposes of the
Arkansas Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Poteet concedes he has no
EMTALA claim against Wilson. Document No. 18. What about the other
Poteet's complaint is this: Wilson determined that Poteet needed to be
med-flighted to Memphis. A Greene County deputy heard this. Then
Poteet's bond was reduced to recognizance so the County could avoid paying
the transport costs. Finally, [u]pon hearing that [Poteet] had been released
from the Sheriff's custody, [Dr. Wilson], acting under the policy and practice
of Arkansas Methodist Hospital, refused to med-flight [Poteet] to Memphis,
since [Poteet] could not pay." Document No.1, at 2. Dr. Wilson contends this
does not plausibly suggest he was a state actor. Poteet disagrees. In the
alternative, Poteet argues in the briefing that Dr. Wilson aided and abetted a
constitutional violation. Document No. 18.
A complaint must state more than facts that are merely consistent with
a defendant's liability[.]" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,678 (2009) (quotation
omitted). Poteet's § 1983 and ACRA claims fail under this standard. "[T]o
survive a motion to dismiss, ... a plaintiff seeking to hold a private party
liable under § 1983 must allege, at the very least, that there was a mutual
understanding, or a meeting of the minds, between the private party and the
state actor." Mershon v. Beasley, 994 F.2d 449, 451 (8th Cir. 1993). Dr. Wilson's
actions may be consistent with an intentional deprivation of Poteet's
constitutional rights. But more needs to be pleaded to move the claim from
the possible to the plausible.
Moreover, the Court agrees that the complaint cannot fairly be read to
contain any civil rights allegations against Dr. Wilson. The closest Poteet
comes is his allegation-in the EMTALA count-that "[E]ach doctor
discharged Plaintiff not because of his medical judgment but because the
hospital has a policy of discharging indigent prisoners brought to them under
the circumstances presented to them here." Document No.1, at 1f21. Nor does
Poteet's complaint allege that Wilson had the intent necessary to make him
a state actor.
Poteet's arguments in resisting dismissal move well beyond the
complaint. They look like good arguments. But he needs to amend his
pleading to give Dr. Wilson fair notice of the material factual allegations and
specify the legal claims. The Court understands that all good lawyers are
busy. But this complaint needs fleshing out.
Motion to dismiss, Document No. 15, granted. Poteet's EMTALA claim
is dismissed with prejudice by agreement. His ACRA and § 1983 claims are
dismissed without prejudice with leave to amend and clarify. The case would
benefit from more particularity. By 8 June 2012, Poteet must file an amended
complaint. For each group of facts Poteet believes to be actionable, he should
plead (1) which named defendants harmed him; (2) which common-law or
statutory cause of action makes those defendants liable; (3) how those facts fit
the elements of the cause of action; and (4) how Poteet was damaged by the
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
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