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Hammond v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 29, 2014

ANDREA HAMMOND, Plaintiff,
v.
CATHY DOE, Nurse, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

MICHAEL E. HEGARTY, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint filed by Defendant Kathy Maestas ("believed to be the individual identified in the caption as Nurse Cathy Doe'") [filed October 8, 2014; docket #32]. The matter is fully briefed and the Court concludes oral argument would not materially assist the Court in its adjudication of the motion. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the Defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this action on July 18, 2014 against the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, its sheriff and deputies, Nurse Cathy Doe, Sgt. Miller and "any deputies working in G pod the night of Ms. Hammond's asthma attack." Docket #3. Pursuant to a court order during initial review, Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Prisoner Complaint on August 12, 2014. Docket #11. Defendants responded by filing a motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on August 26, 2014 (docket #12) and August 27, 2014 (docket #13). On September 17, 2014, the reviewing court dismissed the sheriff's office and the unnamed deputies from the case, as well as a portion of Claim Three. Docket #17. Thereafter, on October 6, 2014, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the sheriff and the deputies and the sergeant from the case; thus, the only remaining Defendant was Nurse Cathy Doe. See dockets ##25, 37.

Plaintiff's operative claim against Defendant Nurse Cathy Doe (whom Plaintiff identifies in the pleading as "Nurse Kathy Maestas") is set forth in Claim One for a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the form of denial of medical treatment. Amended Prisoner Complaint, docket #11 at 4. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges:

Kathy Maestas and Deputy Bunch denied me medical treatment in August 2012 when I was having an asthma attack. Jim Beiker was responsible for writing and enforcing the policies that Maestas and Bunch denied me medical treatment under-and those employees cited Jim Beiker's policies as reasons for denying me treatment. Deputy Bunch refused to call the on-call nurse or provide me with my prescribed rescue inhaler for my asthma attack that evening. I eventually passed out and regained consciousness hours later, but I was still having trouble breathing. I approached Nurse Kathy Maestas and she took my oxygen saturation level which was only at 83%. She said I "was fine" I asked what 17 % of her body she would want going without oxygen and told her I needed to go to a hospital. Nurse Maestas said the only way I'd get to the hospital "was in a body bag." This raised my anxiety level causing me to have a panic attack and made my already constrained breathing worse.

Id. For this claim, Plaintiff seeks "$75, 000 in damages." Id. at 8.

Defendant Kathy Maestas filed the present motion to dismiss on October 8, 2014. Defendant Maestas asserts she was working as a nurse at the Fremont County detention center during the period relevant to the claims made in the Amended Complaint. Nurse Maestas argues that the only claim raised against her in the operative pleading is a violation of the Eighth Amendment set forth in Claim One, and that Plaintiff either fails to state the nurse's personal involvement or fails to state a constitutional claim as a matter of law. Docket #32. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 6 and D.C. Colo. LCivR 7.1, Plaintiff's response to the motion was due to be filed on or before November 1, 2014; however, without objection by the Defendant, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion on November 12, 2014 (docket #38). Defendant then filed a timely reply in support of her motion on November 25, 2014 (docket #39). The Court is now fully advised.

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Dismissal Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

"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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Plausibility, in the context of a motion to dismiss, means that the plaintiff pled facts which allow "the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Twombly requires a two-prong analysis. First, a court must identify "the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth, " that is, those allegations which are legal conclusions, bare assertions, or merely conclusory. Id. at 678-80. Second, the Court must consider the factual allegations "to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief." Id. at 681. If the allegations state a plausible claim for relief, such claim survives the motion to dismiss. Id. at 680.

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, 671 F.3d at 1191 (quoting Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008)). "The nature and specificity of the allegations required to state a plausible claim will vary based on context." Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2011). Thus, while the Rule 12(b)(6) standard does not require that a plaintiff establish a prima facie case in a complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action may help to determine whether the plaintiff has set forth a plausible claim. Khalik, 671 F.3d at 1191.

However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The complaint must provide "more than labels and conclusions" or merely "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, " so that "courts are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer ...


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