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Brill v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 2, 2018

DR. JAMES BRILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, CORRECTIONAL HEALTHCARE COMPANIES, INC., CORRECTIONAL HEALTHCARE PHYSICIANS, P.C., CARL ANDERSON, individually, and C. GREGORY TIEMEIR, individually, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING CCS DEFENDANTS' AND CARL ANDERSON'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

          William J. Martínez United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Dr. James Brill (“Brill”) brings this civil rights action against Correct Care Solutions, LLC, Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc., Correctional Healthcare Physicians, P.C. (together, “CCS Defendants”), and Carl Anderson and C. Gregory Tiemeier in their individual capacities (“Anderson” and “Tiemeier”), alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by terminating his employment contract with Jefferson County Detention Facility in Golden, Colorado. (ECF No. 23 (“Complaint”).) Before the Court is the CCS Defendants' and Anderson's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (“FAC”). (ECF No. 32 (“Motion to Dismiss” OR the “Motion”).) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a claim in a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The 12(b)(6) standard requires the Court to “assume the truth of the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ridge at Red Hawk, LLC v. Schneider, 493 F.3d 1174, 1177 (10th Cir. 2007). In ruling on such a motion, the dispositive inquiry is “whether the complaint contains ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Granting a motion to dismiss “is a harsh remedy which must be cautiously studied, not only to effectuate the spirit of the liberal rules of pleading but also to protect the interests of justice.” Dias v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1178 (10th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Thus, ‘a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         The Court assumes the following facts taken from Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 23) to be true for present purposes.

         Brill is a physician with over forty years of medical experience. Most recently he was employed by the Jefferson County Detention facility in Golden, Colorado, where he served as the Medical Director pursuant to a contract with the CCS Defendants beginning on September 29, 2011. (Id. at 1-2.) In that capacity, he supervised a medical practice that included a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse practitioner, and a physician's assistant who were collectively responsible for the provision of medical care to approximately 1, 500 resident inmates. (Id. at 8.)

         In a lawsuit filed in this District Court styled as McGill v. Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc., et al. in 2003, the plaintiff in that case, Kenneth McGill (“McGill”), an inmate at Jefferson County Detention Facility, brought a constitutional claim against the CCS Defendants, nurse Gina Battenhouse, and Brill, for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Id. at 9.) McGill alleged that he sustained major permanent disabilities as a result of the “defendants' intentional and deliberate delay in providing him with critical medical treatment.” (Id.) Brill was initially included in the lawsuit as a defendant because he was the Medical Director of the Jefferson County Detention Facility and had treated McGill on occasion. (Id.) The CCS Defendants retained co-defendant and attorney Tiemeier as legal counsel to represent them, nurse Battenhouse, and Brill as co-defendants in the McGill case.

         As the case proceeded, after Brill's deposition, McGill decided to voluntarily dismiss all his legal claims against Brill and instead only pursue claims against the CCS Defendants, nurse Battenhouse, and certain governmental defendants, including Jefferson County. (Id. at 10.) Tiemeier initially refused to allow McGill to voluntarily dismiss Dr. Brill as a defendant from that case, despite being Brill's attorney. (Id.) This prompted the independent mediator, retired federal district judge William Downes, to caution Brill to retain his own counsel. (Id.) At this point, Brill retained his own counsel to ensure that his interests were adequately represented. (Id.) McGill eventually dismissed Brill as a defendant, over the objections of the CCS Defendants, represented by Tiemeier. (Id. at 11.) Throughout the case, Tiemeier continued to state, “[CCS] Defendants did not agree to the terms of the stipulation [to dismiss Dr. Brill] and did not sign it” (id.), and he even went so far as to designate Brill as a non-party tortfeasor (id). This caught the attention of the presiding judge in that case, United States District Judge R. Brooke Jackson, who commented, “I suspect Dr. Brill would be rather surprised and disappointed, to say the least, to find that [CCS] and its lawyers have turned on him.” (Id. at 12.)

         On December 2, 2014, during the jury trial in that case, McGill's counsel called Brill as a witness to testify regarding McGill's treatment at the Jefferson County Detention Facility. (Id.) McGill's counsel asked Brill what he would have done had CCS Defendants' nurse contacted him on the relevant night regarding the neurological abnormalities plaintiff was exhibiting. (Id.) Brill testified that had he been contacted, he would have promptly sent McGill to the hospital instead of waiting until the following morning, as the CCS Defendants had done. (Id.) Brill's testimony undermined the CCS Defendants', Tiemeier's, and Jefferson County's theory of the case that McGill's symptoms did not present as being serious enough to justify prompt treatment outside the jail. (Id.) Brill was recalled to testify by the CCS Defendants' counsel on December 15, 2014. (Id.) Within hours of this testimony, Defendant Anderson, the CCS Defendants' Regional Manager, Jail Division, called Brill to alert him that the CCS Defendants had terminated his employment contract and were giving him two weeks' notice. (Id. at 13.) When Brill asked why he was being terminated, Defendant Anderson refused to give him a reason. (Id.) That same evening, the jury awarded Mr. McGill over $11 million in damages, with over $7.5 million in punitive damages. (Id.)

         Based on this set of events, Brill raises four claims for relief against the CCS Defendants and Anderson: (1) violations of First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (id at 17); (2) Conspiracy to tamper with and/or retaliate against witness under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2) (id at 18); (3) Prevention of judicial access to employees under C.R.S. § 8-2.5-101 (id at 20); and (4) Outrageous conduct/ intentional infliction of emotional distress (id. at 21).

         As to Brill's second claim, of witness tampering or retaliation, he alleges two theories in the alternative. First, Brill argues that Defendants' conduct was motivated by a desire to tamper with Brill as a witness. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, “[i]f Defendants had already decided to terminate Dr. Brill before he provided his testimony, but for their intention to illegally induce and bribe Dr. Brill to provide relatively favorable testimony for them during the McGill trial by continuing to employ and pay him during that time, they illegally tampered with his testimony by retaining him as an employee until right after he finished testifying.” (Id. at 13-14.) Alternatively, Brill argues, “Defendants fired Dr. Brill to retaliate against him for testifying truthfully at the McGill trial instead of towing [sic] the party line, as his then-employer and Defendant Tiemeier had repeatedly pressured him to do.” (Id. at 14.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         In their motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 32), the CCS Defendants and Anderson argue that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed in its entirety on three grounds: (1) the FAC fails to plead that the termination of Brill's contract was controlled by a state actor, and therefore there is no state action for purposes of § 1983 (ECF No. 32 at 5); (2) Brill has not adequately plead that there was an agreement to conspire against him for testifying in the McGill case (id. at 10); and (3) Plaintiff's remaining claims are state law claims, over which this Court ...


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