Quigley v. McCabe et al
OPINION & ORDER granting in part and denying in part 4 Motion to Dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 15 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. The Court GRANTS Defendant McCabe's Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 5, as to Counts I and II; GRANTS said Motion WITH LEAVE TO AMEND as to Counts III and IV; and DENIES said Motion as to Count V. The Court GRANTS Defendant Carter's Partial Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 15, as to Count II; and DENIES said Motion as to Count V. Signed by District Judge Henry C. Morgan, Jr and filed on 8/30/17. (tbro)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
Civil Action No. 2:17cv70
ROBERT MCCABE, IMHOTEP
CARTER, AND JOHN DOE,
OPINION & ORDER
This matter is before the Court pursuant to two (2) Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff David
Quigley's ("Plaintiffs" or "Quigley's") Complaint: Defendant Robert McCabe's ("Defendant
McCabe's" or "McCabe's") Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 4, and Defendant Imhotep Carter's
("Defendant Carter's" or "Carter's") Motion to Dismiss Counts II and V of Plaintiffs Complaint
("Partial Motion to Dismiss"), Doc. 15. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS the
Motion to Dismiss as to Counts I through IV, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND as to Counts III and
The Court GRANTS the Partial Motion to Dismiss as to Count II. The Court DENIES
both Motions as to Count V.
This action arises in response to the alleged negligent medical treatment of Plaintiff
' "In considering a motion to dismiss, [the Court] accept[s] as true all well-pleaded allegations and view[s] the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Venkatraman v. REI Svs.. Inc.. 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir.
2005) (citing Mvlan Labs.. Inc. v. Matkari. 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir.1993)). The Court cautions, however, that
the facts alleged by Plaintiff are recited here for the limited purpose of deciding the instant Motion to Dismiss. The
recited facts are not factual findings upon which the parties may rely for any other issue in this proceeding.
during incarceration. Doc. 1, Ex. A ("Compl.") UK 6-9. In early August 2013, Quigley was
incarcerated at the Norfolk City Jail. Id H5. On or about August 7, 2013, he fell from a bunk
bed and landed on his head and other parts of his body, falling unconscious and suffering severe
injuries that included multiple broken bones. li H6. He was taken to the medical ward of the
jail, where Defendant Carter and another doctor were responsible for his medical treatment. Id
17. He "begged to be taken to the hospital," but they refused that request as well as any other
"reasonable medical care." Id Defendant Carter once dangled two aspirins in front of Quigley
and then pulled them away without providing them to him. Id Defendants provided "little to
nothing in the way of medical services," resulting in "great pain of body and mind," later
medical expenses to treat those injuries, and permanent bodily injury. Id H8. Upon his release
on August 21, 2013, Quigley walked to Sentara Norfolk Hospital to receive care. Id 19.
Plaintiff filed his complaint in the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk on December 22,
2016. Compl. The Complaint names three Defendants: then Sheriff Robert McCabe, and
facility doctors Imhotep Carter and John Doe. Id at 1-2. The Complaint asserts three claims
against all Defendants:
Count I for "Breaches of Virginia's Common Law and Statutory
Duties," Count II for "Violations of the Virginia Constitution," and Count V for "Breaches of the
8th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
1988." S^ id at 1-4, 6-7. It asserts two additional claims against Defendant McCabe alone:
Count III for "Failure to Train" and Count IV for "Defacto [sic] Policy of Denying Inmates
Health Care." See id. at 5.
Defendant McCabe removed the case to this Court on January 31, 2017. Doc. 1, On
February 1, 2017, he filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 4, and an Answer, Doc. 6.
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand, Doc. 7, which he later withdrew after serving Defendant
Carter and receiving notice that Defendant Carter would remove without the defects in
Defendant McCabe's removal, S|^ Doc. 19. On February 13, 2013, Plaintiff responded in
opposition to Defendant McCabe's Motion to Dismiss.
On February 16, 2017,
Defendant McCabe replied in further support of the Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 12.
On March 1, 2017, Defendant Carter filed the instant Partial Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 15,
and an Answer, Doc. 17. On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff responded in opposition of the Partial
Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 20. On March 20, 2017, Defendant Carter replied in further support of
the Partial Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 21.
A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a complaint; it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses. Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin. 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992).
"To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twomblv. 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); ^
417 F.3d at 420 ("In considering a motion to dismiss, we accept as true all well-pleaded
allegations and view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.") (citing Mvlan
Labs.. 7 F.3d at 1134). A complaint establishes facial plausibility "once the factual content of a
complaint allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Nemet Chevrolet. Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com. Inc.. 591 F.3d 250, 256
(4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, the complaint need not include
"detailed factual allegations" as long as it pleads "sufficient facts to allow a court, drawing on
judicial experience and common sense, to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct."
Id Although a court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, the same is not true
for legal conclusions. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." labal. 556 U.S. at 678.
In deciding the motion, a court may consider the facts alleged on the face of the
complaint as well as "'matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case,
and exhibits attached to the complaint.'" Moore v. Flaestar Bank. 6 F. Supp. 2d 496, 500 (E.D.
Va. 1997) (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 1357 (1990)).
The court may look to documents attached to the complaint and those
incorporated by reference without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for
summary judgment. S^ Pueschel v. United States. 369 F.3d 345, 353 n.3 (4th Cir. 2004)
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
The Fourth Circuit has yet to decide whether courts should address Eleventh Amendment
immunity under Rule 12(b)(1) or 12(b)(6). See Andrews v. Daw. 201 F.3d 521, 525 n.2 (4th Cir.
2000) (declining to decide). The trend in this District and other districts within this Circuit is
toward considering Eleventh Amendment immunity under Rule 12(b)(1).
S^ Parks v.
Commonwealth of Virginia Dep't of Soc. Servs. Child Support Enft Servs.. No. 116cv568,2016
WL 4384343, at *2 (E.D. Va. Aug. 17, 2016) (citations omitted). Nevertheless, the distinction
makes little practical difference when a defendant challenges the abrogation of Eleventh
Amendment immunity grounds due to insufficiency of the pled facts rather than inaccuracy. See
Zemedagesehu v. Arthur. No. I:15cv57, 2015 WL 1930539, at *3 (E.D. Va. Apr. 28, 2015). In
that situation, the analysis is the same under either rule: the Court accepts the pled allegations as
true and construes them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Section 1983 holds liable for damages any "person" who deprives someone of
Constitutional rights while acting under color of state law. States and state officials who are
sued in their official capacity are not "persons" subject to liability under § 1983.
Michigan Dep't of State Police. 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). However, state officials sued in their
personal capacity are "persons" subject to liability, even if sued for actions of an official nature.
Hafer v. Melo. 502 U.S. 21, 31 (1991). In some circumstances, supervisors may be held liable
for constitutional injuries inflicted by their subordinates. Shaw v. Stroud. 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th
Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). Supervisory liability is intended to "pinpoint^ the persons in the
decisionmaking chain whose deliberate indifference permitted the constitutional abuses to
continue unchecked." Id (quoting Slakan v. Porter. 737 F.2d 368, 376 (4th Cir. 1984)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The Fourth Circuit requires three elements to establish supervisory
(1) that the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge that his subordinate
was engaged in conduct that posed "a pervasive and unreasonable risk" of
constitutional injury to citizens like the plaintiff;
(2) that the supervisor's response to that knowledge was so inadequate as to show
"deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of the alleged offensive
(3) that there was an "affirmative causal link" between the supervisor's inaction
and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.
Id. at 799 (citations omitted).
Demonstrating "a pervasive and unreasonable risk" requires
evidence that the conduct is widespread or at least occurred on several occasions. Id
To prevail on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff "must show that (1) [he was] deprived of a
federal statutory or constitutional right; and (2) the deprivation was committed under color of
state law." Lvtle v. Dovle. 326 F.3d 463, 471 (4th Cir. 2003). Additionally, a plaintiff may
allege a "policy or custom" violation in four ways:
(1) through an express policy, such as a written ordinance or regulation;
(2) through the decisions of a person with final policymaking authority;
(3) through an omission, such as a failure to properly train officers, that
"manifest[s] deliberate indifference to the rights of citizens;" or
(4) through a practice that is so "persistent and widespread" as to constitute a
"custom or usage with the force of law."
Id. (quoting Carter v. Morris. 164 F.3d 215,217 (4th Cir. 1999)).
Defendant McCabe's Motion to Dismiss
Count I: Medical Negligence
The dispute in Count I is whether Defendant McCabe is vicariously liable for the acts of a
third party health care contractor that he hires to offer health care at the jail. McCabe offers
three arguments that he is not liable.
Doc. 5. First, the Virginia Medical Malpractice Act,
Va. Code. Ann §§ 8.01-581.1 ^ seq.. defines the health care providers subject to duty under that
act, and McCabe contends that he does not fit those definitions. Doc. 5 at 3. Second, McCabe
only has the duty to ensure the provision of medical care, not the duty to render care and
treatment. Id at 3-4 (citing Va. Code Ann. § 53.1-126). Third, Virginia law does not have any
provision for vicarious liability for the negligence of a health care provider by any supervisor.
Id at 4 (citing Peck v. Tegtmever. 834 F. Supp. 903 (W.D. Va. 1992) and Jenkins v. Woodv. No.
3:15cv355,2015 WL 8665457 (E.D. Va. Dec. 11, 2015)).
Plaintiff contends that Count I states a proper cause of action. Doc. 10 at 3-11. Plaintiff
claims that "Virginia Courts have long recognized that a sheriff owes a common law duty to
prisoners under his care." Doc. 10 at 3 (citing Dabnev v. Taliaferro. 25 Va. 256 (1826)).
Plaintiff cites Virginia Code § 53.1-126, which states, in pertinent part, that "medical treatment
shall not be withheld for any communicable diseases, serious medical needs, or life threatening
conditions." Additionally, Plaintiff takes issue with McCabe's reliance on Peck. Id. at 8. While
the Peck court states, in reference to the Virginia Medical Malpractice Act, that "[t]he act
contains no provision for vicarious liability and the breadth of the statutory scheme suggest that
none is intended," 834 F. Supp. at 907, Plaintiff argues that this quote "needs to be viewed
within the context of the Peck case which deah with the 'captain of the ship doctrine.'" Doc, 10
Plaintiff contends that McCabe cannot contract out of his liability. Id at 8-10 (citing
Love V. Schmidt. 329 Va. 357 (1990) and Covington v. Westchester County Jail. No. 96 Civ.
7551, 1998 WL 26190 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 26, 1998)). In Love, the defendant contracted with an
individual to manage defendant's office building. 329 Va. at 358. The individual failed to
maintain a toilet seat which caused injury to the plaintiff. Id at 359. The Supreme Court held
this case involves an attempt to delegate the landlord's common-law duty to
maintain his premises in a reasonably safe condition. Because such duty cannot
be delegated, we are of the opinion that notice to Slater of the unsafe condition of
the toilet seat was notice to [defendant], based on agency principles and the
doctrine of respondeat superior.
329 Va. at 361. In Covington. the court held that a "municipality's duty to provide medical care
to inmates is non-delegable and is not absolved by contracting with a third-party to provide
care." 1998 WL 26190, at *4. Finally, in West v. Atkins. 487 U.S. 42, 56 (1988), the Supreme
Court held that "Contracting out prison medical care does not relieve the State of its
constitutional duty to provide adequate medical treatment to those in its custody, and it does not
deprive the State's prisoners of the means to vindicate their Eighth Amendment rights." As
such, Plaintiff argues that McCabe's "duties to provide health care to inmates with serious
medical conditions are based on common law and statutory duties and those duties cannot be
delegated." Doc. 10 at 11.
Plaintiff fails to state a proper cause of action in Count I. Count I alleges a medical
negligence claim under Virginia law. McCabe, however, is not a healthcare provider under the
Virginia Medical Malpractice Act, Va. Code. Ann § 8.01-581.1, and the Act does not contain a
provision for vicarious liability.
Peck. 834 F. Supp. at 907. Additionally, while a sheriff has
a duty to make medical care available, he does not have the duty to render it.
Va. Code. Ann
§ 53.1-126; Ouiglev v. McCabe. 91 Va. Cir. 397, at *2 (Norfolk 2015) ("The sheriff and the
jailor cannot diagnose, treat, and attempt to cure broken bones and a brain injury; the physician
Further, Plaintiffs reliance on West and Jenkins is misplaced. West and Jenkins were
brought under § 1983 and concern a sheriffs constitutional duty to ensure adequate medical
care. As McCabe notes, "Sheriff McCabe does not assert that his right under Virginia law to hire
an independent contractor to provide medical care obviates either his statutory duty under
Virginia law or his constitutional duty under the Eighth Amendment to make medical care
available." Doc. 12 at 1-2. Instead, "in moving to dismiss Count I, Sheriff McCabe asserts that
a medical negligence action against him directly or vicariously, is not a cognizable claim." Id at
Finally, Plaintiffs interpretation of Dabnev is incorrect. Prior to Defendants' removal of
this action, the Norfolk Circuit Court analyzed Plaintiffs medical negligence claim upon
McCabe's demurrer, prior to a voluntary non-suit. Ouiglev. 91 Va. Cir. 397, at *2. In reviewing
Dabnev. the Norfolk Circuit Court noted that the "sheriff and the jailor have a duty to make
medical care available to the prisoner; the physician has the duty to render it." Id Additionally,
a "physician has a duty to use the degree of skill and diligence in the care and treatment of his
patient that a reasonably prudent physician in his field of practice would have used in the
circumstances.... A sheriff can have no such duty." Id (citing Va. Code § 8.01-581.20; Reed v.
Church. 175 Va. 284 (1940)).
Count I states a claim for medical negligence, yet McCabe is not a healthcare provider
under the Virginia Medical Malpractice Act, the Act does not contain a provision for vicarious
liability, and Plaintiff has failed to allege that McCabe breached his duty to make medical care
available. Thus, Count I fails to state a proper cause of action, and the Court GRANTS
Defendant McCabe's Motion to Dismiss as to Count I of the Complaint.
Count II: Virginia Constitution
In Count II, Plaintiff pleads violations of Article I, §§9 and 11 of the Virginia
Constitution. Compl. H20. McCabe argues that neither provision includes a private right of
action because they are not self-executing. Doc. 5 at 5-7. In Robb v. Shockoe Slip Foundation.
228 Va. 678 (1985), the Virginia Supreme Court stated:
A constitutional provision is self-executing when it expressly so declares ....
Even without the benefit of such a declaration, constitutional provisions in bills of
rights and those merely declaratory of common law are usually considered selfexecuting. The same is true of provisions, which specifically prohibit particular
conduct. Provisions of a Constitution of a negative character are generally, if not
universally, construed to be self-executing.
Id. at 681-82. Additionally, a "constitutional provision may be said to be self-executing if it
supplies a sufficient rule by means of which the right given may be employed and protected, or
the duty imposed may be enforced." Id at 682. In contrast, a constitutional provision "is not
self-executing when it merely indicates principles, without laying down rules by means of which
those principles may be given the force of law." Id.
McCabe argues that Plaintiff "cannot rely on Art. I, §§9 or 11 of the Virginia
Constitution to establish a private cause of action, as neither provision is self-executing." Doc. 5
at 6. McCabe asserts that "[a]lthough § 9 is part of Virginia's Bill of Rights, it states only the
principle that cruel and unusual punishment ought not to be inflicted, without any attendant
rules." Id. at 7. As such, McCabe contends that § 9 is not self-executing. Id Additionally,
McCabe claims that "Virginia courts have consistently held that only the provisions of § 11 that
govern 'the taking or damaging of private property for public use have been held to be 'self-
executing.'" Id at 6 (quoting Young v. Citv of Norfolk. 62 Va. Cir. 307 (Norfolk 2003) and
citing Chandler v. Routin. 63 Va. Cir. 139, (Norfolk 2003); Gray v. Rhodes, 55 Va. Cir. 362
(Charlottesville 2001)). Moreover, in Doe v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason University.
this Court noted that § 11 is self-executing, but "this has only been held to be true with regard to
property deprivation." 132F. Supp. 3d 712, 728 (E.D, Va. 2015) (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff argues that Count II states a proper cause of action based on the Virginia
Constitution. Doc. 10 at 11. Plaintiff notes that constitutional provisions "in bills of rights and
those merely declaratory of the common law are usually considered self-executing." Id (citing
Gray v. State Sec'v of Transp.. 276 Va. 93 (2008)). Plaintiff cites Qgunde v. Prison Health
Services. Inc.. et al.. 274 Va. 55 (2007) in support of his claim under § 9. Doc. 10 at 12.
Plaintiff states that in Qgunde "an inmate sued for, among other things, a denial of medical
treatment. The Supreme Court in that case upheld Ogunde's right to pursue a claim under
Article 1, § 9 of the Virginia State Constitution." Id Plaintiff argues that the Virginia Circuit
Court cases cited by McCabe are unpersuasive as they "all were decided prior to Qgunde" and
the cases McCabe cites from this District are not applicable to the case at bar as neither involved
§ 9 of the Virginia Constitution. Id. at 13-14.
Plaintiffs reliance on Qgunde is misplaced. The court in Qgunde "only held that it was
error if the circuit court dismissed a claim under § 9 of the Declaration of Rights sua sponte
because of the plaintiffs failure to comply with the Virginia Prisoner Litigation Reform Act,
[Va.] Code § 8.01-689 et sea." by not attaching supporting documentation to his pleading.
Ouiglev. 91 Va. Cir. 397, at *2 (citing 274 Va. at 65). The court did not address whether § 9 was
self-executing. Because § 9 states only the principle that cruel and unusual punishment ought
not to be inflicted, without any attendant rules, § 9 is not self-executing, and Plaintiffs § 9 claim
Additionally, Plaintiff argues Count II states a proper claim based on § 11 of the Virginia
Constitution. Id at 11-12. Plaintiff cites Bums v. Board of Supervisors. 218 Va. 625 (1977)
and Gray. 276 Va. at 93, for support of this proposition. Id. Both Burns and Gray involved
plaintiffs asserting a private right of action for claims of damage to or taking of property. As this
Court noted in Doe. 132 F. Supp. 3d at 728, § 11 of the Virginia Constitution has been found to
be self-executing only in the context of claims of damages to or takings of property. As
Plaintiffs claim does not fall into one of those categories, it is improper.
For the reasons listed above. Count II fails to state a proper cause of action under Article
I, §§ 9 and 11 of the Virginia Constitution. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Defendant McCabe's
Motion to Dismiss as to Count II of the Complaint.
Count III: Failure to Train and Count IV: De Facto Policy ofDenying Inmates Health
McCabe argues that there is no common law duty in Virginia or provision in the Virginia
Constitution that supports either Count III or IV. Doc. 5 at 7-8. Plaintiff responds by citing
multiple federal cases concerning actions pursuant to § 1983 that recognize such duties. Doc. 10
at 15-17. It appears that Plaintiff merely improperly alleged these as Virginia law claims rather
than Federal claims.
Thus, the Court DISMISSES Counts III and IV WITH LEAVE TO
AMEND because of the apparent pleading error.
Count V: § 1983 Claimfor Deliberate Indifference in violation ofthe Eighth and
In Count V, Plaintiff asserts a § 1983 claim alleging that Defendants' actions and
inactions show "deliberate indifference to [P]laintiffs serious medical needs." Compl. H 29.
McCabe moves to dismiss Count V on the basis that it is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and
that Count V fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Doc. 5 at 8-12.
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
"The Eleventh Amendment limits the Article III jurisdiction of the federal courts to hear
cases against States and state officers acting in their official capacities." Kitchen v. Upshaw, 286
F.3d 179, 183-84 (4th Cir. 2002). Additionally, "federal district courts applying Virginia law
have repeatedly held that Virginia Sheriffs, and their deputies, are 'state officers' for the purpose
of the Eleventh Amendment." Vollette v. Watson. 937 F. Supp. 2d 706, 714-15 (E.D. Va.
2013); s^ Bland v. Roberts. 857 F. Supp. 2d 599, 610 (E.D. Va. 2012).
The Fourth Circuit instructs that "when a plaintiff does not allege capacity specifically,
the court must examine the nature of the plaintiffs claims, the relief sought, and the course of
proceedings to determine whether a state official is being sued in a personal capacity." Biggs v.
Meadows. 66 F.3d 56, 61 (4th Cir. 1995). In determining whether a complaint is brought in the
defendant's individual capacity, a court should consider the following factors: (1) "the plaintiffs
failure to allege that the defendant acted in accordance with a governmental policy or custom, or
the lack of indicia of such a policy or custom on the face of the complaint;" (2) "a plaintiffs
request for compensatory or punitive damages, since such relief is unavailable in official
capacity suits;" and (3) "[t]he nature of any defense raised in response to the complaint," for
example, a qualified immunity defense available only in a personal capacity suit. Id (citations
omitted). During this determination, "the underlying inquiry remains whether the plaintiffs
intention to hold a defendant personally liable can be ascertained fairly." Id
McCabe argues that Plaintiff "intended to sue Sheriff McCabe in his official capacity."
Doc. 5 at 10.
McCabe notes that Plaintiff "clearly alleges that Sheriff McCabe acted in
accordance with a policy and the face of the [C]omplaint contains the relevant indicia." Id at 9.
Counts III and IV of the Complaint contain allegations of McCabe's "failure to train and a de
facto policy, both pertaining to a custom of discouraging staff from sending inmates to the
McCabe argues that Count V, too, "appears directed at Sheriff McCabe's
purported policy," by alleging Defendants' failure "to provide [Plaintiff] with proper medical
attention or refer him to a facility where he could receive proper medical attention." Id (quoting
Compl. ^27). McCabe acknowledges that Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages,
which are available only in individual capacity suits. Id at 10. Finally, McCabe admits that he
asserts a qualified immunity defense, but only in the event Plaintiffs § 1983 claim is determined
to be an individual capacity claim. Id Based on these factors, McCabe argues that Plaintiff
intended to sue Sheriff McCabe in his official capacity, and thus that the Eleventh Amendment
bars Plaintiffs federal claim for money damages. Id
In his opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff fails to address in what capacity the
Complaint seeks to hold McCabe liable. Despite this failure on Plaintiffs part. Plaintiffs intent
to hold Defendant McCabe personally liable "can be ascertained fairly" once the Biggs factors
are applied to the Complaint. Biggs, 66 F.3d at 61. McCabe correctly notes that the Complaint
alleges a "de facto policy [and] custom of discouraging staff from sending inmates to the
hospital." Doc. 5, at 9. However, the Biggs court singled out "governmental" or "official"
policies and customs, of a type "that would shield [a defendant] from individual culpability."
Biggs. 66 F.3d at 61. In the present case. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant McCabe himself is the
source of the challenged policy and custom.
Compl. H22 ("Sheriff McCabe took measures
to drastically cut costs and discouraged the taking of inmates to the hospital."); id. 1|24 ("Sheriff
McCabe had a de facto policy which discouraged his staff to take inmates who were in the
plaintiffs condition to the hospital.").
Indeed, McCabe himself characterizes Plaintiffs
allegations as "directed at Sheriff McCabe's purported policy." Doc. 5 at 9 (emphasis added).
Thus, on its face, the Complaint does not challenge a governmental or official policy that
Defendant McCabe was obliged to follow by virtue of his office, but rather a policy allegedly
established by McCabe himself The second Biggs factor weighs in favor of Plaintiff, as the
Complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Finally, as in Biggs, the third factor is
largely a wash, given that Defendant McCabe asserted both a qualified immunity defense
(suggesting he perceived the suit to be in his individual capacity) and an Eleventh Amendment
immunity defense (suggesting he perceived the suit to be in his official capacity).
Thus, upon review of the allegations in the Complaint and application of the Biggs
factors to those allegations, the Court FINDS that Plaintiff intended to sue McCabe in his
individual capacity. Accordingly, the Court DENIES the Motion to Dismiss as to Count V.
Adequacy of Claim
McCabe argues that Count V "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted."
Doc. 5 at 11. McCabe claims that "[if] for argument's sake the Court determines that [PJlaintiff
has alleged an individual capacity claim under § 1983 against Sheriff McCabe, the absence of
factual allegations regarding the Sheriffs personal involvement in the provision of medical care
is fatal to such a claim." Id (citing Vinnedge v. Gibbs. 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977)).
"[A] plaintiffs § 1983 action against a particular defendant must be dismissed if the
plaintiffs reason for naming the defendant is based solely upon the theory of respondeat
superior." Id (quoting Harris v. Citv of Virginia Beach. 11 Fed.Appx. 212, 215 (4th Cir. 2001)
(citing Vinnedge. 550 F.2d at 928)). As such, McCabe argues that Plaintiff "must affirmatively
demonstrate that the Sheriff 'acted personally in the deprivation of the [PJlaintiffs rights'" to
establish an individual capacity claim against McCabe. Id (quoting Vinnedge. 550 F.2d at 928).
McCabe argues that Plaintiff "fails to allege Sheriff McCabe's direct involvement with his
medical care." Id Instead, Plaintiff "alleges that the defendant doctors saw him several times,
knew he sustained injuries from the fall, and refused to provide medical care or to send him to
His allegations are limited to the medical defendants' conduct; nowhere does
[PJlaintiff allege that Sheriff McCabe personally denied him medical care." Id Additionally,
McCabe claims that Count V is "silent with regard to any [unconstitutional policy or customj
Moreover, [PJlaintiffs Complaint lacks any factual allegations regarding Sheriff
McCabe's deputies or with regard to a practice that was 'so persistent and widespread' and 'so
permanent and well settled to constitute a 'custom or usage' with the force of law." Doc. 12 at 5
(quoting Carter. 164 F.3d at 218). As such, McCabe argues. Count V should be dismissed.
Plaintiff claims that Count V asserts a valid cause of action.
Doc. 10 at 14. Plaintiff
notes that "[i]t has long been held that a sheriff may be liable for violations of an inmate's
constitutional rights where he has failed to train his staff and for having a policy or custom where
inmates are denied medical care." Id at 15. Plaintiff cites a number of cases bringing § 1983
claims on the basis of alleged municipal policies or supervisory liability claims. Id at 15-17.
Plaintiff notes that a sheriff can be held liable for a violation of an inmate's constitutional rights
if there is a deprivation of those rights through an official policy or custom, id at 16 (citing
Francis v. Woodv. No. 3:09cv235, 2009 WL 1442015 (E.D. Va. May 22, 2009)), and that
"supervisory liability exists if the official implementsa policy so deficient that the policy itself is
a repudiation of constitutional rights and is the moving force behind the constitutional violation."
Doc. 10 at 16 (quoting Marcotte v. Monroe Corrections Complex. 394 F. Supp. 2d 1289, 1297
(W.D. Washington 2005)). Further, Plaintiff asserts that "a sheriff may be held liable for a
violation of an inmate's constitutional rights where he has actual or constructive knowledge that
his subordinates are engaged in unreasonable conduct." Id (citing Bell v. Citv of Roanoke
Sheriffs Office. No. 7:09cv214, 2009 WL 5083459 (W.D. Va. Dec. 23, 2009)).
Count V states a proper cause of action as the Complaint contains sufficient allegations
that McCabe "had some policy to deny medical care." Martin v. Chesapeake Circuit Court. No.
2:96cv48, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12274, at *7 (E.D. Va. June 19, 1997). In Martin, the plaintiff
alleged that a sheriff was deliberately indifferent to the plaintiffs medical needs and was denied
certain medical care. Id at *6. The Court dismissed the plaintiffs supervisory liability claim
against the sheriff, noting that the plaintiff "must allege either that [the sheriff] was personally
involved in a wrongful act or that an alleged wrongful act occurred pursuant to some official
policy or custom for which [the sheriff] was responsible." Id at *7. Plaintiff does not allege that
McCabe personally denied him access to medical care.
However, Plaintiff states in his
Complaint that the alleged wrongful acts of Defendants Carter and Doe occurred pursuant to
Sheriff McCabe's "de facto policy" discouraging staff from taking inmates to the hospital in
order to cut costs.
22-25. Plaintiff alleges that he "was seen several times" by
Defendants Carter and Doe, and that "[o]n these occasions it was apparent to Dr. Carter and Dr.
Doe that the plaintiff had serious medical needs and suffered from life threatening conditions."
Id H7. Plaintiff alleges that although he "was rendered unconscious, suffered a brain injury, had
blurred vision, suffered a broken collar bone, a broken wrist, and weakness in his legs," and had
"begged to be taken to the hospital," Defendants Carter and Doe "refused to provide the plaintiff
with any reasonable medical care." Id
6-7. These alleged facts are sufficient to establish "an
'official policy or custom' of deliberate indifference toward the medical needs of inmates and
detainees." Newbrough v. Piedmont Regional Jail Authoritv. 822 F. Supp. 2d 558, 582 (E.D.
Va. 2011); cf id at 582-84 (holding that plaintiff sufficiently stated policy-or-custom claim by
alleging multiple incidents involving multiple medical personnel refusing to provide reasonable
care). As such, the Court DENIES Defendant McCabe's Motion to Dismiss as to Count V.
Defendant Carter's Partial Motion to Dismiss
Count II: Virginia Constitution
Carter raises the same arguments under Count II that McCabe raises: that Art. I, §§ 9 and
11 of the Virginia Constitution are not self-executing. Doc. 16 at 3-5. The same analysis
applies to the same argument under both Motions. Thus, the Court GRANTS the Partial Motion
to Dismiss as to Count II because those constitutional provisions are not self-executing.
Count V: § 1983 Claim for Deliberate Indifference in violation ofthe Eighth and
Carter's sole argument on this Count is that the statute of limitations has expired. Doc.
16 at 5-7. Because § 1983 does not contain its own statute of limitations, the state statute of
limitations applies. Wilkins v. Montgomery. 751 F.3d 214, 223 (4th Cir. 2014) (citations
omitted). In Virginia, the applicable limit is two (2) years.
There is no dispute that Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint more than two (2) years after
his claim accrued, and this argument entirely concerns tolling. Specifically, the issue here is
whether his prior state complaint that he nonsuited tolls the statute of limitations for his § 1983
claim that was not included in that nonsuited complaint. S^ Doc. 16 at 5-7; Doc. 20 at 12-13.
The tolling provision for nonsuited complaints provides:
If a plaintiff suffers a voluntary nonsuit as prescribed in § 8.01-380, the statute of
limitations with respect to such action shall be tolled by the commencement of the
nonsuited action, regardless of whether the statute of limitations is statutory or
contractual, and the plaintiff may recommence his action within six months from
the date of the order entered by the court, or within the original period of
limitation, or within the limitation period as provided by subdivision B 1,
whichever period is longer. This tolling provision shall apply irrespective of
whether the action is originally filed in a federal or a state court and recommenced
in any other court, and shall apply to all actions irrespective of whether they arise
under common law or statute.
Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-229 (2017). The Virginia Supreme Court has not defined the term
"action" in this statute, and authority is mixed on whether courts should apply the "same
transaction or occurrence" test or the "same evidence" test to determine if a claim is tolled by
this provision. S^ Schur v. Zackrison. No. I:15cvl013, 2015 WL 8484441, at *6 (E.D. Va.
Dec. 8, 2015) (same transaction or occurrence); Dunston v. Huang. 709 F. Supp. 2d 414, 420
(E.D. Va. 2010) (same transaction or occurrence); Law v. PHC-Martinsville. Inc.. 89 Va. Cir.
231 (2014) (same transaction or occurrence); Lawton-Gunter v. Mever. 88 Va. Cir. 327 (2014)
(same evidence); Allen v. Loudoun Ctv. Sanitation Auth.. 81 Va. Cir. 496 (2009) (same
evidence). Carter argues for the same evidence test. Doc. 16 at 6-7, while Plaintiff argues for
the same transaction test, Doc. 20 at 12—13. Neither Party admits that this is a disputed question
in the case law.
This Court finds Dunston persuasive. In Dunston. the Court found that a cause of action
in Virginia law refers to a set of operative facts. 709 F. Supp. 2d at 418 (citing Roller v. Basic
Constr. Co.. 238 Va. 321, 384 S.E.2d 323, 326 (1989)). It also found that "such action" in Va.
Code Ann. § 8.01-229 refers to a "cause of action" because the Virginia "nonsuit statute refers to
the nonsuited matter as a 'cause of actionor claim.'" Id (quoting Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-380). It
further noted that Va. Sup. Ct. R. 1:6 and Va. Code. Ann. § 8.01-6.1 support its interpretation.
Id. at 419-20. The passage of § 8.01-6.1 in 1999 changed the test for relating back pleading
amendments to a transaction or occurrence test. Id Similarly, the adoption of Rule 1:6 in 2006
overturned past authority that followed a same evidence test for claim preclusion. Id On the
basis of those provisions, the court in Dunston found that both the Virginia General Assembly
and the Virginia Supreme Court would apply a transaction or occurrence test to the term "action"
in the nonsuit tolling statute as well. Id Thus, the Court in Dunston found that new claims that
arose from the same transaction or occurrence as the nonsuited complaint were tolled by the
nonsuit tolling provision. Id. at 421.
Carter offers no argument that this claim is untimely under the transaction or occurrence
test. See Doc. 16 at 5-7; Doc. 21 at 3-4. Because the Court adopts the transaction or occurrence
test, the Court DENIES the Partial Motion to Dismiss as to Count V.
For the reasons set forth herein, the Court GRANTS Defendant McCabe's Motion to
Dismiss, Doc. 5, as to Counts I and II; GRANTS said Motion WITH LEAVE TO AMEND as
to Counts III and IV; and DENIES said Motion as to Count V. The Court GRANTS Defendant
Carter's Partial Motion to Dismiss, Doc. 15, as to Count II; and DENIES said Motion as to
The Clerk is REQUESTED to deliver a copy of this Order to all counsel of record.
It is so ORDERED.
Henry Coke Morgan, Jr.
Senior United Slates District Judge
HENRY COKE MORGAN, JR.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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