Roxanne Adams, Administrator of the Estate of Jamycheal M. Mitchell v. Naphcare, Inc. et al

Filing 173

MEMORANDUM ORDER entered and filed 3/24/17: This matter comes before the court on the Motion to Dismiss {"Motion") and Memorandum in Support filed by Defendant Natalya Thomas ("Thomas") on August 15, 2016. ECF Nos. 109 , 110 . The Plaintiff filed a Response on September 12, 2016, ECF No. 129 , and on September 30, 2016, Thomas filed a Reply. ECF No. 135 . On October 3, 2016, this court referred the Motion to United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard, as outlined. Having conducted a hearing regarding the Motion on October 19, 2016, ECF No. 139 , the Magistrate Judge filed the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on February 22, 2017. ECF No. 164 . The Ma gistrate Judge recommended denying the Motion. On March 8, 2017, Thomas filed Objections to the R&R. ECF No. 168 . On March 20, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a Response to the Objections. ECF No. 170 . The matter has been fully brief ed and is ripe for review. In conclusion, Defendant Thomas's Objections are OVERRULED, the Magistrate Judge's R&R is ADOPTED AND APPROVED IN FULL, and Defendant Thomas's 109 Motion to Dismiss is DENIED, as outlined. (See Memorandum Order and Foot Notes for Specifics) (Signed by Chief District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith on 3/24/17). Copies provided as directed 3/24/17. (ecav, )

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Norfolk Division ROXANNE ADAMS, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JAMYCHEAL M. MITCHELL, Plaintiff, V. CIVIL ACTION NO. NAPHCARE, INC., 2:16cv229 et a l . . Defendants. MEMORANDUM ORDER This matter comes before the court on the Motion to Dismiss {"Motion") Thomas and Memorandum in Support filed by Defendant Natalya ("Thomas") Plaintiff filed a on August 15, 2016. ECF Nos. Response on September 12, 109, 2016, 110. ECF No. The 129, and on September 30, 2016, Thomas filed a Reply. ECF No. 135. On October 3, 2016, this court referred United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Civil Procedure 72(b), evidentiary hearings, undersigned District applicable, and Motion. ECF No. Having October 19, § 636(b)(1)(B) if to conduct necessary, Judge proposed recommendations for the Leonard, Motion pursuant to and Federal Rule of hearings, and to findings the to including submit of to the fact, if disposition of the 137. conducted 2016, ECF a hearing No. 139, the regarding the Magistrate Judge Motion on filed the Report and No. 164. Recommendation ("R&R") on February 22, 2017. ECF The Magistrate Judge recommended denying the Motion. R&R at 1. By copy of the R&R, the parties were advised of their right to file written objections to the findings and recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. See id. at 17-18. On March No. 168. 8, 2017, On March the Objections. Thomas 20, filed 2017, ECF No. the Objections Plaintiff to the filed a R&R. Response ECF to 170. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review. I. This action was brought by the Plaintiff in her capacity as the administrator ("Mitchell"), who of died the as a estate pretrial Roads Regional Jail ("HRRJ"). Compl. period of pretrial detention. of Jamycheal detainee in Mitchell the Hampton 1, 20. During Mitchell's Defendant Thomas was "a licensed registered nurse and the Health Services Administrator at HRRJ," employed by Defendant NaphCare, Under a contract services to supervised, with HRRJ, the HRRJ directed, the jail. Id. and other Defendants referred to H 21. as Complaint alleges the the and Inc. NaphCare inmates, controlled {"NaphCare"). worked "NaphCare for H 27. provided on-site medical including health NaphCare Defendants." Mitchell, care Throughout the Complaint, who Id. personnel and at Defendant Thomas are Id. collectively 32. The following claims against Defendant Thomas in particular: wanton negligence, negligence 202-211; delay, gross under deprivation negligence, Virginia of civil law willful and One), id. {Count rights and withholding of medical care, and through the denial, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Two), id. HH 212-223; deprivation of civil rights due to conditions of detention, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Three), id. IIH 224-238; and a general deprivation of civil rights, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 In Civil the (Coiint Five), instant Motion, Procedure aforementioned claim upon Magistrate Plaintiff's Judge, filed pursuant 12(b)(6), claims which HH 252-258. due relief to Thomas the can Complaint as seeks granted. the true, facts found Federal Rule of dismissal of failure Plaintiff's be accepting to state See as that Mot. to at 1. alleged a The in the Plaintiff the sufficiently stated these claims against Thomas, the has and recommended denying the Motion. See R&R at 13-17. II. Pursuant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), the having reviewed the record in its entirety, shall make a ^ court, novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which a party has specifically objected. accept, reject, recommendation of or Fed. modify, R. Civ. in 72(b). whole the Magistrate Judge, to him with instructions. 28 U.S.C, P. or The in court may part, the or recommit the matter § 636(b)(1)(C). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when a plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. P. 12(b)(6). sufficiency contests "A motion to dismiss under Rule of a complaint; surrounding the importantly, facts, Fed. R. 12(b)(6) it does the merits of a tests not F.2d dismiss, 943, a 952 complaint accepted as true, on its face.'" that the that for a defendant Id. or contain "To survive sufficient v. Iqbal, means the is that court liable a 556 v. Martin, a motion factual U.S. 550 U.S. to "mere[] allege 662, 544, "plaintiff to draw for the the to matter, facts 678 (2007)). pleads factual reasonable inference alleged." therefore, with Id. not enough demonstrating consist[ency]" (2009) 570 misconduct 550 U.S. at 556) . It is, plaintiff possibility" 1992). Corp. v. Twombly, allows (citing Twombly, must Ashcroft plausibility content Cir. or the to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible (quoting Bell Atl. Facial (4th the resolve claim, applicability of defenses." Repxiblican Party of N.C. 980 Civ. a unlawful "sheer conduct. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). The Supreme Court has offered the following guidance courts evaluating a motion to dismiss: [A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, assumption of truth. provide the framework are not entitled to the While legal conclusions can of a complaint, they must be to supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. complaint That as is, true the and court views favorable to the plaintiff. Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 accepts those See, (4th facts e.g. , Cir. facts in alleged the Venkatraman v. 2005) . After in light the most REI Sys., doing so, the court should not grant the defendant's motion if the plaintiff "demonstrate[s] defendant has more than violated his 'a sheer rights, possibility'" by that "articulat[ing] the facts, when accepted as true, that 'show' that the plaintiff has stated a claim entitling him to relief . . 588 P.3d at 678) 186, 193 {4th Cir. 2009) . Francis v. Giacomelli, (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. (as only quoting "a sheer possibility"). III. Thomas has submitted four No. 168. (4) Objections to the R&R.^ ECF Having reviewed the record in its entirety, herein makes a ^ the court novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which a party has specifically objected. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). The court will address each of the Objections in turn. ^ Although Thomas objected to the R&R for "three reasons," Thomas divided the third reason, regarding the various degrees of negligence claims against her, into two parts, and the court addresses them separately. See Objs. at 4-5; infra Parts III.C, D. A. First Objection In the First Objection, Thomas argues that Counts Three and Five are duplicative of Count Two, constituting "the same cause of action arising out of the same set of facts labelled by three different the names," same cause duplicative Love-Lane that "claims action should Martin, Specifically, alleging of and v. and Thomas against be 355 F.3d asserts same" are the 766, that the the claim . claim of in F.2d standard medical 987, to 991 show a care law, (4th that Cir. amounts (Count failure to provide {Count [Two])," restatement Count 5 (citing Cir. 2004)). Count Three, confinement, in Count [Three] ) medical the [Two]," Count of particular 1992), to court "duplicative" of Count Two. because in violation under confinement that are Two, is alleging serious medical Id. at 6. Thomas further asserts that the Magistrate Judge misconstrued applicable 979 essentially at {4th unconstitutionally deliberate indifference to a need. . defendant Objs. 783 conditions as . same dismissed." unconstitutional "substantively the that Five an is the that, v. Nicodemus, because "the Fourteenth Amendment unconstitutional for condition of the same as the standard for the care under should Id. be the Eight[h] dismiss at 7-8. "cannot Plaintiff's and Hill Moreover, construed deliberate Count as Amendment Three as Thomas argues more indifference than claim i t should also be dismissed. See id. at 8-9. a in In response, support Resp. for the to Objs. the Plaintiff argues proposition at 2, that duplicative lacks legal counts, see Pl.'s and that the Magistrate Judge was correct in obsei-ving that Thomas proposition of that Thomas a "failed to cite any authority for the claim dismissed solely on th[is] which overlaps ground, another should be or for the proposition that counts which seek duplicative relief are appropriately dismissed at the Rule (alteration 12(b)(6) to stage." at language match Id. 8 in R&R). (quoting The R&R Plaintiff at 17) further argues that the cases cited by Thomas are "inapposite," because they "concern the implication of suing a public official his/her official capacity," not the instant matter, and that failure the to medical care claim is id. at 13, "concedes language of Thomas's objection provide in that a different from a conditions-of-confinement/detention claim." Id. at 14. The court agrees with the Plaintiff, and the Magistrate Judge was correct in recommending not to dismiss claims based on Thomas's argument that the claims are "duplicative." Coiints Two, Three, proof and for themselves Five present each claim, the same. different shared or not, that Love-Lane, the the does and the not make standard of the claims Thomas does not provide any legal support for her argument to the contrary, Plaintiff claims, cases Fourth Thomas Circuit and the court agrees with the provided recognized are that inapposite. a § 1983 In claim brought against essentially itself. a the public same Love-Lane, 473 U.S. 159, Thomas's 165-66 a against as claim (1985)). here the demonstrated that in an official 355 F.3d at 783 argument substantively official public (citing Kentucky v. entity Graham, This principle has no bearing on that same, the capacity is Counts and Two, Three, Thomas has and not they are substantively the same. Five are otherwise Accordingly, the First Objection is OVERRULED. B. Second Objection In the Second Objection, Thomas argues has not plausibly alleged in Count Two knowledge serious at 9-10. of Mitchell's Specifically, that the Plaintiff that Thomas medical had actual needs. Thomas argues that "[t]he See Objs. [c]ourt cannot infer from a job title and description of responsibilities" that she had such knowledge. 3:13cv572, response, 2014 WL 1493569, Magistrate Judge from Reid. See id. condition. at *6 by Thomas go responsibilities," Complaint at 10 (citing Re id v. (E.D. Va. Apr. Newton, 14, No. 2014). In the Plaintiff argues that the "specific allegations of actual behavior" The Id. Pl.'s was "well beyond a Resp. correct to to Objs. at distinguish job title or job 17, the and that instant the case a t 14-19. Magistrate plausibly Judge was alleges In the R&R, correct Thomas's to find knowledge that of that Mitchell's the Magistrate Judge noted that 8 the "Thomas served on a committee tasked with monitoring and evaluating the care provided to inmates," and that "[t]he Complaint is replete with allegations manifested Reid, the alone Mitchell's themselves is court in held above the superintendent, allege that jail more had ways." R&R needs at which 14-15. In "job the allegation of actual Reid, WL 1493569 level." Thomas's medical superintendent's raise speculative but, Thomas a to (emphasis added). serious noticeable that insufficient knowledge at *6 of 2014 job is different importantly, knowledge by the from a Plaintiff virtue of title her jail does job not title alone. As the Magistrate Judge explained: Thomas' knowledge is alleged to have come from more than just her job title. Her role on the quality assurance committee charged her with actually knowing the care the inmate population, including Mitchell, received . . . . Moreover, Plaintiff alleged eight examples of information she would have known given her role as Health Services Administrator. R&R at 15 n.l (citing Compl. H 128). Given the Plaintiff's specific allegations that Thomas knew of Mitchell's condition through her conduct, her job title alone, the instant rather than through Complaint differs allegations in Reid. At this stage of the proceeding, from accepting the Plaintiff's facts as alleged in the Complaint as true, Plaintiff Mitchell's has raised serious a reasonable medical Objection is OVERRULED. inference needs. that Thomas Accordingly, the the the knew of Second C. Third Objection In the Third Objection, Thomas argues that the Plaintiff's claim of simple negligence in Count One is based on an alleged breach of Thomas's duty to supervise, duty under Virginia law, be dismissed. See Objs. which is not a and that the claim, at 12-14 Although Thomas notes that she to all people, including therefore, (citing Keck v. No. 3;10cv555, 2011 WL 4589997, at *21 recognized should Commonwealth, (E.D. Va. Sep. 9, 2011)). "owes a Mitchell," reasonable duty of care Thomas asserts that the Magistrate Judge characterized her duty as seeing that someone else, but not Thomas herself, at 13-14. provided Mitchell with care. Id. Because this "defines the duty at issue in this claim as a duty to supervise," Thomas argues, the Plaintiff's claim of simple negligence should be dismissed. Id. at 14. In response, the Plaintiff states that "[t]he Magistrate Judge properly rejected Defendant Thomas's assertion that Count [One] asserts a negligent supervision claim," because Complaint "makes allegations regarding Thomas's own, duties and actions." Pl.'s Resp. to Objs. at 19. the independent For support, the Plaintiff notes the Magistrate Judge's reliance on Thomas's service on a special included monitoring, id. at 19-20 through this (citing HRRJ committee, evaluating, R&R committee, at 10 which her tasks and improving inmate care. 13) . Thomas for had The an Plaintiff argues independent See that, "duty and opportunity" to affect supervising others, administrator," Id. the jail's "but at 20. by medical care, independently Overall, the not acting Plaintiff through as asserts an that because the claim of negligence addresses Thomas's own failures, the claim of negligence should not be dismissed. The Magistrate dismiss the claim Judge of was correct negligence argument that it constitutes a At a threshold level, in against recommending Thomas, not to on an based claim of negligent supervision. Thomas is mistaken to assert that "Virginia forbids the cause of action for negligent supervision of sxibordinate employees." Objs. at 13. In a case relied upon by Thomas, see id. at 13, the Virginia Supreme Court held that "there is no duty of reasonable care imposed upon an employer in the supervision of we will Va. V. not create one here." Dowdy, holding, the possibility of foreclosed its employees under these circumstances and 235 Va. Virginia a such 55, Chesapeake & Potomac Tel. 61 (1988) Supreme Court claim for negligent a claim ruling was thereby limited, under (emphasis did added) not supervision, those Co. of In so foreclose but, circumstances. the rather, Dowdy's and while the Virginia Supreme Court ^ In the Memorandum in Support, Thomas recited this language from Dowdy in full. See Mem. Supp. at 8. In the Reply, Thomas also recited this language, but omitted the language "under these circumstances and we will not create one here." See Reply at 8-9. In the Objections, Thomas did not recite any of this language from Dowdy when relying upon it for the present argument. 11 "has not yet recognized a cause of action for negligent supervision," it has also not "completely ruled out such a cause of action under Virginia law." Va. Cir. 210, 2011 Hernandez v. WL 8964944, Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc., 83 at *5 (Va. 2011) (allowing a claim for negligent supervision to survive a demurrer based on facts distinguishable from Dowdy); V. Wendy's Intern., Inc., 41 F. Supp. 2014). Accordingly, Thomas's claims of supervision does negligent 3d 487, statement that not Cir. see Parker 492 (E.D. Virginia reflect Ct. Va. forbids the present state of Virginia law. Regardless, rely on a Judge the theory of explained, the Plaintiff's claim of negligence does negligent supervision. Plaintiff "plausibly asserts As not the Magistrate that Thomas owed a duty to Mitchell to see that he was provided quality and appropriate plausible medical inference care," that and the Complaint Thomas was familiar "permits with the the care provided to each inmate at HRRJ, since it was part of her job to evaluate that very thing." R&R at 13. The court agrees with the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly, the Third Objection is OVERRULED. D. Fourth Objection In the Fourth Objection, Thomas argues that Magistrate Judge erred in finding that the Plaintiff has plausibly alleged claims of gross negligence, and willful and wanton negligence, against Thomas under Virginia law. See Objs. at 15. Thomas bases 12 her argument Objections, knowledge on the of "two first reasons being Mitchell's already the serious discussed" plausibility medical needs, of and in the Thomas's the second being the Plaintiff's supposed reliance on a theory of negligent supervision. arguments See id. in favor of The the court has Plaintiff. already resolved these See supra Parts III.B, C. Thomas does not provide other reasons to object the Magistrate Judge's recommendation on reviewed the matter ^ recommendation that these novo, the claims, finds court and the court, having no reason to question his should not dismiss them. Accordingly, the Fourth Objection is OVERRULED. IV. In conclusion. Defendant Thomas's Objections are OVERRULED, the Magistrate Judge's R&R is ADOPTED AND APPROVED IN FULL, and Defendant Thomas's Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 109, is DENIED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to send a copy of this Order to counsel for all parties. IT IS SO ORDERED. /s/ Rebecca Beach Smith -m Chief Judge REBECCA BEACH SMITH CHIEF JUDGE March 2017 13 Memorandum

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