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Delmart E.J.M. Vreeland v. Tiona

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 23, 2019

DELMART E.J.M. VREELAND, II, Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN M. TIONA, M.D., RENE JORDAN, ROBERT MAGNUSON, M.D., GINA NELSON, M.D., CELIA RIFE, R.N., ANITA NORMANDY, JODY SINKER, DOLF HALL, KATHY MICKEY, THEODORE L. LAURENCE, PA/NP, TEJINDER SINGH, PA/NP, CORRECTIONAL HEALTH PARTNERS, INC., JEFF ARCHAMBEAU, and S. TATESOIAN., Defendants.

          ORDER ACCEPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S RECOMMENDATION

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the Recommendation Re: Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss filed on August 5, 2019 [Docket No. 319] (“the recommendation”). Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews recommends that the Court grant in part and deny in part the Motion to Dismiss in Part Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint [Docket No. 256] filed by defendants Susan Tiona, Rene Jordan, Robert Magnuson, Gina Nelson, Anita Normandy, Jody Sinker, Dolf Hall, and Theodore Laurence (the “CDOC defendants”). Plaintiff, through counsel, filed timely written objections. Docket No. 331. The CDOC defendants did not file an objection.

         The Court will “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). An objection is proper if it is specific enough to enable the Court “to focus attention on those issues – factual and legal – that are at the heart of the parties’ dispute.” United States v. 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996).

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Docket No. 248.[1] In the operative complaint, plaintiff alleges that, under the direction of defendant Susan Tiona (“Tiona”), defendants purposefully refused him medical care. Id.[2] Plaintiff brings claims against all defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Id. at 6-7, ¶ 36.[3] The magistrate judge recommends that (1) all claims against defendants Rene Jordan (“Jordan”), Anita Normandy (“Normandy”), and Jody Sinker (“Sinker”) be dismissed as barred because the claims against them were previously dismissed with prejudice; (2) the Eighth Amendment claim against Tiona be dismissed in part as barred by the applicable statute of limitations; (3) the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against the CDOC defendants be dismissed for failure to state a claim, except for a First Amendment retaliation claim against Tiona; and (4) the Eighth Amendment claims against defendants Gina Nelson (“Nelson”), Dolf Hall (“Hall”), and Theodore Laurence (“Laurence”) be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Docket No. 319.

         Plaintiff first objects to the magistrate judge’s conclusion that the claims against defendants Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker are barred. Docket No. 331 at 2. On January 16, 2018, plaintiff and certain defendants – including Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker – filed a stipulated motion to dismiss certain claims. Docket No. 62. In the stipulated motion to dismiss, the parties represented that, earlier that day, they “discussed [p]laintiff’s claims against Jordan . . . Normandy . . . [and] Sinker . . . and agreed to the dismissal of the same with prejudice.” Id. at 2, ¶ 4 (emphasis added). The stipulated motion to dismiss is signed “s/ Delmart E.J.M Vreeland, II, by agreement.” Id. at 2. On January 17, 2018, the Court entered an order granting the stipulated motion to dismiss and dismissing the agreed claims with prejudice. Docket No. 63. However, in the operative complaint, plaintiff asserts substantively the same claims against defendants Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker as those that were previously dismissed with prejudice. Compare Docket No. 10 at 5-18 with Docket No. 248 at 2-6.

         Unless the Court makes some other provision, “[a] dismissal with prejudice [pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)] . . . is subject to the usual rules of res judicata.” 9 Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 2367 (3d. ed. Aug. 2019 update); see Schmier v. McDonald’s LLC, 569 F.3d 1240, 1242 (10th Cir. 2009) (“A voluntary dismissal with prejudice operates as a final adjudication on the merits and is thus a final judgment.” (internal citations and quotations omitted)). Plaintiff concedes that the claims brought against Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker in the First Amended Complaint are substantively the same as the previously dismissed claims. Rather, plaintiff now appears to argue that he did not intend to dismiss the claims with prejudice. See Docket No. 331 at 2.[4] Plaintiff fails to explain why, if he did not intend to dismiss the claims with prejudice, he did not file a motion for reconsideration of the Court’s order granting the stipulated motion to dismiss at any point before (or after) filing the operative complaint. Cf. Alpenglow Botanicals, LLC v. United States, 894 F.3d 1187, 1203 (10th Cir. 2018) (“[A] motion for reconsideration is appropriate where the court has misapprehended the facts, a party’s position, or controlling law.”). Moreover, plaintiff did not argue in his response to the motion to dismiss that he intended to dismiss Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker without prejudice. See Docket No. 266; see also Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir. 1996) (“Issues raised for the first time in objections to the magistrate judge’s recommendation are deemed waived.”). Thus, plaintiff has failed to establish that he intended the dismissal of the claims against Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker to be without prejudice. As the Court agrees with the recommendation that the claims against Jordan, Normandy, and Sinker are barred, the Court will overrule plaintiff’s objection.

         Next, plaintiff objects to the recommendation that the statute of limitations bars the Eighth Amendment claims against Tiona. The magistrate judge concluded that claims against Tiona that accrued more than two years prior to plaintiff filing this lawsuit on June 28, 2017 are no longer actionable. Docket No. 319 at 8-9. Plaintiff concedes that the statute of limitations is two years, but argues that the date that a claim accrues for the purposes of a statute of limitations is a “fact issue.” Docket No. 331 at 2. However, “[a] statute of limitations defense may be appropriately resolved on a Rule 12(b) motion when the dates given in the complaint make clear that the right sued upon has been extinguished.” Sierra Club v. Okla. Gas & Elec. Co., 816 F.3d 666, 671 (10th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court agrees with the recommendation that plaintiff may continue to pursue his claims against Tiona arising out of conduct occurring after June 28, 2015.[5] Cf. Chrisco v. Raemisch, 374 F.Supp. 3d 1093, 1098-99 (D. Colo. 2019) (holding that, where it appears from the complaint that at least some of defendant’s conduct may have occurred within the limitations period, plaintiff may pursue a medical malpractice claim on acts occurring within the limitations period only).

         Finally, plaintiff states that he “intends to bring First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against all named [d]efendants.” Docket No. 331 at 2. The Court interprets this as an attempt to object to the recommendation that the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims be dismissed against all of the CDOC defendants, other than a First Amendment complaint against Tiona. The objection is otherwise devoid of sufficient specificity to preserve the issue for de novo review by this Court. See Wofford v. Colvin, 570 Fed.Appx. 744, 745-46 (10th Cir. 2014) (unpublished) (holding that “conclusory and non-specific” objections that “fail[] to identify the particular errors the magistrate judge committed” fail to preserve an issue for appellate review); see also Lockert v. Faulkner, 843 F.2d 1015, 1019 (7th Cir. 1988) (“[A]n objection stating only ‘I object’ preserves no issue for review.”). In the absence of a proper objection, the district court may review a magistrate judge’s recommendation under any standard it deems appropriate. See Summers v. Utah, 927 F.2d 1165, 1167 (10th Cir. 1991); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985) (“[i]t does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a magistrate’s factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when neither party objects to those findings”). The Court has reviewed the portion of the recommendation analyzing the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims to satisfy itself that there is “no clear error on the face of the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes.[6] Based on this review, the Court has concluded that this portion of the recommendation is a correct application of the facts and the law, and will dismiss the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims against the CDOC defendants except for the First Amendment retaliation claim against Tiona.

         The Court has reviewed the remainder of the recommendation to satisfy itself that there is “no clear error on the face of the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Committee Notes.[7] Based on this review, the Court has concluded that the remainder of the recommendation is a correct application of the facts and the law, and will adopt the recommendation. It is therefore

         ORDERED that the Recommendation Re: Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 319] is ADOPTED. It is further

         ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Response to the Recommendation of Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews Re: Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss [Docket No. 331], construed as an objection, is OVERRULED. It is further

         ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss in Part Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint [Docket No. 256] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as consistent with this order. It is further

         ORDERED that all claims against defendants Rene Jordan, Anita Normandy, and Jody Sinker are DISMISSED because the claims were previously dismissed with prejudice. It is further

         ORDERED that the Eighth Amendment claims against Gina Nelson, Dolf Hall, and Theodore Laurence are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE ...


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