Wilson v. Grimes et al
RULING granting 104 Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder or, in the Alternative, to Sever and Transfer Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division, 111 Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder, or, in the Alternative, to Sever and Transfe r Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division. Plaintiff's claims against Defendants, Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, LaSalle Corrections, LLC, Timothy Ducote, and The GEO Group, Inc. are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge James J. Brady on 5/31/2017. (LLH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CORNELIUS LORENZO WILSON
DENNIS GRIMES, ET AL.
Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder or, in the Alternative, to
Sever and Transfer Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division filed on
behalf of Defendants, Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, LaSalle Corrections, LLC, and
Timothy Ducote (“Jackson Parish Defendants”).1 Plaintiff, Cornelius Wilson, has filed an
Opposition2 to which the Jackson Parish Defendants have filed a Reply.3 Also before the
Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder, or, in the Alternative, to Sever and Transfer
Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division filed by Defendant, The
GEO Group, Inc.4 Plaintiff opposes the Motion.5 The Court’s jurisdiction exists pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Oral argument is not necessary. For the following reasons, the
Defendants’ Motions shall be granted.
Brief Factual and Procedural History
During his incarceration as both a pretrial detainee within the custody of East Baton
Rouge Parish Prison (EBRPP) and as a convicted inmate with the Louisiana Department
of Corrections (DOC) at numerous public and private facilities, Wilson claims that he
received inadequate medical care for untreated and undiagnosed throat cancer that has
resulted in the loss of his vocal chords and ongoing pain and suffering. In his original Pro
Se Complaint6 and First Amended Complaint,7 filed by counsel, Wilson asserted various
federal and state law claims against fourteen defendants, including individuals and
entities associated with Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro, Louisiana, and
Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, Louisiana, arising out his medical treatment.
From February of 2015 until October of 2015, Plaintiff claims that he made
repeated complaints to various individuals at EBRPP about his sore throat, but he was
only treated by the medical staff with antibiotics, expectorants, and steroids.8 Plaintiff
claims that his condition did not improve, and EBRPP’s medical staff and personnel
should have referred to him to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist or to a facility
that could examine his vocal chords with a scope.9 On or about October 9, 2015, Wilson
claims that an employee of EBRPP and/or Prison Medical Services scheduled a TeleMed
appointment for him with an ENT physician at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on October
28, 2015.10 Although the TeleMed appointment proceeded as planned, the video did not
work for the examination.11 At that time it was determined that another appointment
needed to be scheduled where Plaintiff’s vocal chords could be examined in person using
Immediately following his October 28, 2015 appointment, the Louisiana
Doc. 36, pp. 14-21.
Doc. 36, pp. 14-21.
Doc. 36, p. 21, ¶ 84.
Doc. 36, p. 21, ¶85.
Doc. 36, p. 21, ¶85.
Department of Corrections (“DOC”) transferred Plaintiff from EBRPP to Jackson Parish
Correctional Center (“JPCC”).13
During the month Plaintiff was incarcerated at JPCC, Plaintiff claims to have
“complained through appropriate avenues at JPCC about the ongoing and worsening
condition of his throat and voice.”14 Plaintiff also claims that his medical file should have
contained information about his need to have his vocal chords examined by a scope. And
yet, despite their knowledge of Wilson’s ongoing discomfort, the medical staff and
personnel of LaSalle Corrections, LLC (LaSalle) and Jackson Correctional Center, LLC
(JCC)--two private companies allegedly contracted by the DOC to manage and operate
the JPCC--never evaluated Wilson’s vocal chords or scheduled an appointment for
Wilson to have his vocal chords evaluated by “an appropriate physician with access to a
scope.”15 On or about November 23, 2015, the DOC transferred Plaintiff from JPCC to
Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (“Elayn Hunt”).16
While at Elayn Hunt, Plaintiff claims that he complained about the worsening
condition of his throat and voice through appropriate avenues, and on one occasion, he
showed Elayn Hunt personnel blood that he had coughed up on a tissue.17 Although
Plaintiff’s medical condition was known and in his medical files, and his discomfort was
apparent, Elayn Hunt medical staff never evaluated Wilson’s vocal chords and never
arranged for him to be taken to a facility where his vocal chords could have been
Doc. 36, p. 21, ¶86.
Doc. 36, p. 22, ¶88.
Doc. 36, p. 22, ¶89.
Doc. 36, p. 22, ¶90.
Doc. 36, p. 22, ¶92.
examined by scope.18 On or about December 28, 2015, the DOC transferred Wilson from
Elayn Hunt to Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, Louisiana.19
While at Allen Correctional Center, Plaintiff alleges that he complained through the
appropriate channels about the worsening condition of his throat and voice.20 Although
the medical staff had Plaintiff’s medical file and knew of his discomfort, Allen Correctional
Center medical staff never evaluated Wilson’s vocal chords.21 The medical staff of Allen
Correctional Center did arrange for Plaintiff to see a physician at University Hospital. On
February 29, 2016, Dr. Rachel Barry, an otolaryngologist, conducted a laryngoscopic
examination of Wilson’s vocal chords and discovered a large tumor on his left false vocal
cord.22 After additional testing, including a biopsy, it was determined that Wilson had
squamacell carcinoma cancer.23
On March 31, 2016, doctors performed a total
laryngectomy with bilateral neck dissections.24
Wilson returned to Allen Correctional Center on April 11, 2016.25 He claims that
despite repeated requests, medical staff did not supply Wilson with necessary medical
equipment to remove the excess mucus and liquid from the stoma on his throat.26
Subsequently, the DOC transferred Wilson to Elayn Hunt so he could undergo six
weeks of radiation treatment in Baton Rouge.27 While at Elayn Hunt, Plaintiff claims that
he requested a smaller laryngectomy tube but medical staff refused to provide one.28
Doc. 36, p. 22, ¶¶91 and 93.
Doc. 36, p. 23, ¶94.
Doc. 36, p. 23, ¶95.
Doc. 36, p. 23, ¶97
Doc. 36, p. 23, ¶¶98-99.
Doc. 36, p. 23, ¶¶100-102.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶103.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶104.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶104.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶105.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶106.
Wilson also claims that, in spite of his complaints, Elayn Hunt’s staff continued to use a
van without air conditioning to transport him to his radiation treatments, which exposed
him to vehicular exhaust and extreme summer heat causing him significant and
unnecessary pain and discomfort.29 On July 19, 2016, Wilson concluded his radiation
As a result of the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, Wilson was transferred to
Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) in September of 2016.31 He claims that LSP does not
have the required equipment to drain and suction his stoma, and that he has not received
any physical or speech therapy as prescribed by his treating physicians.32
On October 14, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Pro Se Complaint against the EBRPP
Defendants33 asserting Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims to his medical
needs, and state law claims of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.34
Almost one year later, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed a First Amended Complaint
adding several new Defendants, including the Warden of JPCC, Timothy Ducote
(Ducote), and the management entities contracted by the DOC to operate the JPCC—
LaSalle Corrections, LLC, and Jackson Correctional Center, LLC.
Wilson also added
The Geo Group, Inc. (Geo) as a Defendant because it is a private company contracted
by the DOC to manage the operations of the Allen Correctional Center.35
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶107.
Doc. 36, p. 24, ¶109.
Doc. 36, pp. 24-25, ¶110.
Doc. 36, p. 25, ¶¶112 and 113.
The original Complaint asserted Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference and for pain and
suffering against Sheriff Sid. Gautreaux, III, Warden Dennis Grimes, “Linda Ottesen, Dr. Bridges, Dr.
Whitfield, The Company Contract to Provide Medical Care at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.” Doc.
1-1, Relief, p. 1.
Doc. 1 and Doc. 1-1.
Plaintiff claims that “Geo was responsible for the provision of all staffing, training, policies and procedures
for all medical personnel at Allen Correctional Center. Geo is vicariously liable for the constitutional and
reasserted his original Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims, but also
asserted failure to supervise/train36 claims against certain Defendants, including Ducote,
and Monell37 claims based on the Eighth Amendment against certain Defendants,
including JCC, LaSalle, and Geo.38
The Jackson Parish Defendants and Geo move for the dismissal of Plaintiff’s
claims on the grounds of misjoinder. In the alternative, the Defendants request that the
Court sever and transfer the claims against them to the appropriate Federal District Court
in the Western District of Louisiana.39
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Under Rule 20(a)(2), permissive joinder of defendants is proper if:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the
alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction,
occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the
In other words, “Rule 20 requires that all of the [plaintiff’s] claims arise out of the same
transaction or occurrence and there is a common issue of fact or law.”40 However, “[i]n
statutory violations experienced by Mr. Wilson while in the custody of Allen Correctional Center.” Doc. 36,
p. 12, ¶37.
Wilson asserted an Eighth Amendment failure to supervise claim against Defendants Sheriff Sid J.
Gautreaux, III, Grimes, Linda Ottensen, James M. LeBlanc, Timothy Ducote, LaSalle Corrections, LLC,
Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, Robert Tanner, Darrel Vannoy, Timothy Hooper, and The Geo Group,
Inc. Doc. 36, Count 2, pp. 33-35.
Wilson asserted an Eighth Amendment Monell claims based on the establishment of policies, patterns,
or practices pursuant to which inmates with serious medical conditions are denied access to appropriate
medical care against Defendants Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux, III, City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton
Rouge Consolidated Government, James M. LeBlanc, LaSalle Corrections, LLC, Jackson Correctional
Center, LLC, and The Geo Group. Doc. 36, Count 4, pp. 36-38.
As for the state law claims, Wilson asserts that Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux, III, the City of Baton
Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge Consolidated Government, James M. LeBlanc, LaSalle Corrections,
LLC, Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, and The Geo Group are liable for their employees under the
doctrine of respondeat superior. Doc. 36, Count 8, p. 40.
The Jackson Parish Defendants seek transfer to the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe Division. The
Geo Groups seeks transfer of Plaintiff’s claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division.
Applewhite v. Reichhold Chemicals, Inc., 67 F.3d 571, 574 n.11 (5th Cir. 1995).
the absence of a connection between Defendants’ alleged misconduct, the mere
allegation that plaintiff was injured by all defendants is not sufficient [by itself] to join
unrelated parties as defendants in the same lawsuit pursuant to Rule 20(a).”41
In the event of misjoinder, the court may sever the claims against the misjoined
party pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 21.
Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the following:
Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action. On motion or
on its own, the court may at any time, or just terms, add or drop a party.
The court may also sever any claim against any party.
As set forth in Rule 21, to remedy improperly joined parties, the court should not dismiss
the action outright. However, the Court “may, at any time, on just terms, add or drop a
Additionally, in the context of prisoner-litigation, “[r]equiring parties to assert
unrelated claims against different defendants in separate complaints avoids unduly
cumbersome litigation, and … ensures that prisoners pay the fees required under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. §1915(g) for each suit.”43
In this case, Plaintiff argues that joinder is proper because each of his claims
against each of the Defendants arise “out of the same occurrence” and “arise from the
same set of operative facts.”44
Specifically, that Wilson complained of the exact same
symptoms and asked for the same remedy at each facility and was met with the same
response—inaction or denial of his request. Therefore, each of the Defendant’s acts or
Peterson v. Regina, 935 F.Supp.2d 628, 638 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 28, 2013)(quoting Deskovic v. City of
Peekskill, 673 F.Supp.2d 157, 167 (S.D.N.Y 2009)).
West Coast Productions, Inc. v. Swarm Sharing Hash Files, No. 6:12-cv-1713, 2012 WL 3560809, *2
(W.D.La. Aug. 17, 2012).
Spurlock v. Jones, Docket No. 16-cv-1031, 2016 WL 7436478, *3 (W.D.La. Oct. 19, 2016). In this case,
the Plaintiff was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis.
Doc. 112, p. 1 and 3; Doc. 116, p. 1 and 3.
omissions exhibit deliberate indifference to his constitutional right to adequate medical
The Court finds that Plaintiff’s joinder argument fails. After reviewing the Plaintiff’s
Complaints, it is evident that the alleged acts of deliberate indifference occurred on
different dates, at five (5) different correctional facilities, by different actors, and in
In other words, and contrary to the Plaintiff’s argument otherwise, his
claims against each of the Defendants does not arise out of the same occurrence or
involve the same set of operative facts. Rather, the only common factor among Plaintiff’s
claims is the Plaintiff himself. Therefore, the factual basis for Plaintiff’s claims of alleged
deliberate indifference varies from one institution to the next.
For example, unlike the other prison/correctional facility entities that allegedly
failed to refer Plaintiff to a physician with appropriate medical devices to examine his
throat, Plaintiff claims that the Allen Correctional medical staff did refer and bring him to
an outside physician for an examination.
Plaintiff’s additional contention that Allen
Correctional medical staff acted with deliberate indifference by failing to provide him with
the equipment necessary to drain his stoma post-surgery, is factually unique to Allen
Correctional and the policies and practices of Geo. As for Plaintiff’s claims against the
Jackson Parish Defendants, they involve separate actions or inactions taken by medical
staff pursuant to the policies and practices of LaSalle and JCC, while the Plaintiff was
incarcerated at the JPCC in November of 2015. Wilson’s claims against Warden Ducote
are likewise factually unique to the JPCC. As construed by the Court, Plaintiff’s claims of
deliberate indifference arising out of his medical treatment at the JPCC and Allen
Correctional have no factual relationship to each other, or any other Defendant facilities
in this case.
Additionally, the fact that Plaintiff has asserted that all of the individual facilities
acted with deliberate indifference to his requests for the same medical treatment does not
make joinder proper. As one district court recently explained: “It is settled that joinder is
improper where ‘the plaintiff does no more than assert that the defendants merely
committed the same type of violation in the same way.’”45
Accordingly, the Court finds that joinder of the Jackson Parish Defendants and
Geo was improper. Plaintiff’s claims against these Defendants shall be dismissed without
prejudice so that he may refile his claims in the Western District of Louisiana (if he so
For the foregoing reasons, the Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder or, in the
Alternative, to Sever and Transfer Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Monroe
Division46 filed on behalf of Defendants, Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, LaSalle
Corrections, LLC, and Timothy Ducote, and the Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder, or, in
the Alternative, to Sever and Transfer Claims to the Western District of Louisiana, Lake
Charles Division filed by Defendant, The GEO Group, Inc, are hereby GRANTED.47
Peterson, 935 F.Supp.2d at 638.
Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants, Jackson Correctional Center, LLC, LaSalle
Corrections, LLC, Timothy Ducote, and The GEO Group, Inc. are hereby DISMISSED
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on May 31, 2017.
JUDGE JAMES J. BRADY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
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