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Sparks v. Singh

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 8, 2014

STEPHEN THENE SPARKS, Plaintiff,
v.
TEJINDER SINGH, Physician Assistant, LISA HANKS, Nurse, TED LAWRENCE, Physician Assistant/Acting Health Service Administrator, MICHAEL AASEN, M.D., TOM CLEMENTS, C.D.O.C. Director, STEVE HARTLEY, Warden, and COLORADO HEALTH PARNTERS, C.H.P., Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE'S RECOMMENDATIONS AND OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS

RAYMOND P. MOORE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on United States Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe's Recommendations ("Recommendations") (ECF Nos. 54, 55) that this Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Michael Aasen (ECF No. 54), dismiss certain claims against Defendants Tejinder Singh, Lisa Hanks, Ted Lawrence, Tom Clements, and Steve Hartley (collectively, "Individual Defendants") (ECF No. 55) and dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Correctional Health Partners[1] ("CHP") (ECF No. 55). Plaintiff Stephen Thene Sparks filed timely Objections to parts of the Recommendations (the "Objections"). (ECF No. 57.) On August 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a "Motion to Forwith [sic] District Court Ruling to Magistartes [sic] Recommendation." (ECF No. 77.)

For the reasons stated below, the Objections to the Recommendations are OVERRULED, the Magistrate Judge's Recommendations are ADOPTED, and Plaintiff's motion for a ruling on the Recommendations is DENIED as moot.

I. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

When a magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3) requires that the district court judge "determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommendation] that has been properly objected to." In conducting its review, "[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). An objection is proper if it is filed timely in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and specific enough to enable the "district judge to focus attention on those issues - factual and legal - that are at the heart of the parties' dispute." United States v. 2121 E. 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996) (quoting Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985)). In the absence of a timely and specific objection, "the district court may review a magistrate's report under any standard it deems appropriate." Summers v. Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 Advisory Committee's Note ("When no timely objection is filed, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.").

B. Standards for Dismissal

Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do...." Id. at 555 (citations omitted). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. "[A] plaintiff must nudge [] [his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible' in order to survive a motion to dismiss.... Thus, the mere metaphysical possibility that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims." Ridge at Red Hawk, L.L.C. v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and quotation omitted).

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has held "that plausibility refers to the scope of the allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, then the plaintiffs have not nudged their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation and citation omitted). The Tenth Circuit has further noted "that the nature and specificity of the allegations required to state a plausible claim will vary based on context." Id. (Internal quotation and citation omitted.) Thus, the Tenth Circuit "concluded the Twombly/Iqbal standard is a middle ground between heightened fact pleading, which is expressly rejected, and allowing complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, which the [Supreme C]ourt stated will not do.'" Id. (Internal citation omitted.)

For purposes of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint as true and resolve all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Morse v. Regents of the Univ. of Colo., 154 F.3d 1124, 1126-27 (10th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted); Seamons v. Snow, 84 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). However, "when legal conclusions are involved in the complaint the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to [those] conclusions'...." Khalik, 671 F.3d at 1190 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "Accordingly, in examining a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), [the court] will disregard conclusory statements and look only to whether the remaining, factual allegations plausibly suggest the defendant is liable." Id.

C. Pro Se Status

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The court, therefore, reviews his pleadings and other papers liberally and holds them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972) (holding a pro se complainant's allegations to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers); Trackwell v. United States Gov't, 472 F.3d 1242, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). A pro se litigant's conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based. Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A court may not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts that have not been alleged or that a defendant has violated laws in ways that a plaintiff has not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983); see Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (stating a court may not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on plaintiff's behalf) (citation omitted); Drake v. City of Fort Collins, 927 F.2d 1156, 1159 (10th Cir. 1991) (stating a court may not construct arguments or theories for the plaintiff in the absence of any discussion of those issues) (citations omitted). The plaintiff's pro se status does not entitle him to application of different rules of civil procedure. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110; Wells v. Krebs, Case No. 10-CV-00023, 2010 WL 3521777, at *2 (D. Colo. Sept. 1, 2010) (citation omitted).

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff does not object to the Magistrate Judge's recitation of his allegations against the Defendants. The Court adopts and incorporates the factual and procedural history included within the Recommendations as if set forth herein. Briefly, Plaintiff is a pro se prisoner at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility ("AVCF"). (ECF No. 1 at 2, Compl.) Individual Defendants are current employees of the Colorado Department of Corrections ("CDOC") at the AVCF. (ECF No. 1 at 2-3.) Defendant CHP is the "insurance and bond holder for medical ...


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