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Eaves v. EL Paso Board of County Commisioners

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 12, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss From Defendant Correct Care Solutions LLC [#34][1] (the “Motion”). Plaintiff, who proceeds as a pro se litigant, [2] filed a Response [#42] in opposition to the Motion, and Defendant filed a Reply [#44]. The Court has reviewed all briefing on the Motion, the entire case file, and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#34] is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Bent County Correction Facility in Las Animas, Colorado. See Notice of Change of Address [#26]. Plaintiff initiated this action while he was a pretrial detainee at El Paso County Correctional Facility by filing his initial Complaint [#1] on May 10, 2016. On May 12, 2016, the Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to amend the Complaint [#1]. Plaintiff then filed his Amended Complaint [#6] on June 9, 2016, which included four separate claims for relief against fifteen Defendants. Defendants El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, Bill Elders, Rob King, Zachary Margurite, Canyon Parcell, and Michael Kimberlain filed a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8, 12(b)(1), and 12(b)(6) [#19] (“Defendants' First Motion”) on July 12, 2016. The Court entered an Order [#33] on March 24, 2017, granting in part and denying in part Defendants' First Motion [#19]. The Court dismissed only the state law claims against Defendants Parcell, Kimberlain, Elders, King, and El Paso County. Order [#33] at 19. Therefore, the remaining claims in this case are: (1) Fourteenth Amendment due process violation alleged against Defendant Margurite and the John and Jane Does; (2) Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement violation alleged against Defendant El Paso County; (3) Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim alleged against Defendants Parcell and Kimberlain and the John Does; and (4) Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim alleged against Defendant Correct Care Solutions, LLC (“Defendant”).

         The present Motion [#34] addresses only the Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Defendant. In that claim, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “asserted [he] had no injuries” after an alleged assault by El Paso County Deputies that resulted in injuries to Plaintiff's face and neck. Am. Comp. [#6] at 12. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant denied him medical care from April 13, 2015, until April 22, 2015, and “even after diagnostic procedures on 4-22-15 [Defendant] continued to deny [he] had no injuries [sic].” Id. Plaintiff alleges that he “requested to have [his] medical records reviewed by [his] own doctor and [Defendant] denied the release.” Id. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that “[n]othing has ever been done for my injuries. I was simply given naproxen for pain even though the doctor finally admitted to me that my C/T scan did come back showing some fractures to my face.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he has suffered lasting effects to his hearing, vision and breathing as a result of Defendant's “policies and procedures.” Id. at 13. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages against Defendant in the amount of $20, 000 and punitive damages in the amount of $10, 000. Am. Compl. [#6] at 15-20.

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff's deliberate indifference claim should be dismissed because Plaintiff only alleges in a conclusory manner than the alleged deliberate indifference was a result of Defendant's policy and procedure. Motion [#34] at 5. Specifically, Defendant argues that Plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege that Defendant's actions were widespread or well-settled customs because Plaintiff only alleges facts related to himself individually. Id. at 5-6.

         II. Legal Standard

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is to test “the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint after taking those allegations as true.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337, 340 (10th Cir. 1994); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (stating that a complaint may be dismissed for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted”). “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.” Sutton v. Utah State Sch. for the Deaf & Blind, 173 F.3d 1226, 1236 (10th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain enough allegations of fact to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Robbins v. Oklahoma, 519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Shero v. City of Grove, Okla., 510 F.3d 1196, 1200 (10th Cir. 2007) (“The complaint must plead sufficient facts, taken as true, to provide ‘plausible grounds' that discovery will reveal evidence to support the plaintiff's allegations.” (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)).

         “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. (brackets in original; internal quotation marks omitted).

         To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the factual allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Christy Sports, LLC v. Deer Valley Resort Co., 555 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2009). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” a factual allegation has been stated, “but it has not show[n][ ] that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (second brackets added; citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by its deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “acted under color of state law” in violating his Fourteenth Amendment rights “because [Defendant is] contracted by the El Paso County Sher[ ]iff[‘]s Department and [is] delegated constitutional obligations to provide medical care.” Am. Compl. [#6] at 5 ¶ 15.

         The Court first considers whether Defendant may be sued pursuant to U.S.C. 42 § 1983. The United States Supreme Court held that a municipality cannot be found liable under § 1983 merely on account of unauthorized acts of its agents. Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). However, governing bodies can be sued under § 1983 directly where “the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that body's officers.” Id. at 690. The Tenth Circuit “has extended the Monell doctrine to private entities acting under color of state law.” Carmody v. Ensminger, No. 16-cv-02603-PAB-NYW, 2017 WL 4150601, at *4 (D. Colo. Sept. 19, 2017) (citing Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, 1216 (10th Cir. 2003)). “[T]o hold the entity liable, the plaintiff must identify an ...

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