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Woodcock v. Correct Care Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

May 23, 2018

FRANKFORT BRIAN WOODCOCK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Ruben Rios Salinas, Brian Woodcock, Keath Bramblett, and Jessica Lawrence sued various individuals in charge of developing treatment plans and treating inmates in the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants failed to adequately treat them after they were diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus. Several Defendants now file a motion to dismiss, asserting many different theories relating to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [R. 38 at 3.] For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

         I

         A

         The Plaintiffs in this matter are inmates, incarcerated with the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC). [R. 1-2 at ¶ 3.] Each of them have been diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Id. Defendant James Erwin is the current Commissioner of the KDOC, responsible for its operations, policies, and employment. [R. 36 at ¶ 4.] The original Plaintiffs did not sue Mr. Erwin, but he was added to this lawsuit by Intervening Plaintiff Jessica Lawrence. Defendants Rodney Ballard and LaDonna Thompson are former Commissioners of the KDOC. Id. at ¶ 5-6. Defendant Doug Crall, M.D., is the Medical Director of the KDOC, responsible for policies, procedures, and employment concerning the inmates' medical care. [R. 1-2 at ¶ 12.] Defendant Cookie Crews is the Health Services Administrator of the KDOC. Id. at ¶ 13. Defendant Frederick Kemen, M.D., is responsible for managing the HCV treatment plan for KDOC inmates. Id. at ¶ 14. Defendants Correct Care Solutions, Inc., provides medical services to inmates of the KDOC. Id. at ¶ 15. All Defendants were sued in their individual, not official, capacities.

         Plaintiffs believe they were not provided treatment for their HCV infections that complied with the appropriate standard of care. Id. at ¶ 16. According to their complaint, Defendants did not employ qualified individuals, did not adequately train these employees, and did not create or enforce necessarily policies and procedures to ensure proper care. Id. Plaintiff Brian Woodcock is housed at the Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). Id. at ¶ 52. In December 2011, a biopsy indicated the fibrosis in his liver had advanced from Stage 1 to Stage 2. Id. Under Dr. Steven Shedlofshky's standards, he was first told he qualified for antiviral prescription medication. Id. But Dr. Shedlofsky then left KDOC, and KDOC found Mr. Woodcock did not qualify for medication. Id. Four years later, after his infection further progressed, he began receiving treatment. Id. at ¶53. Plaintiff Ruben Rios Salinas is also housed in KSP and has been denied testing and treatment of his HCV infection. Id. at ¶¶ 54-55. Plaintiff Keath Bramblett, another inmate at KSP, contracted HCV during incarceration. Id. at ¶ 56. He has been denied both participation in any program working with food and treatment for his condition. Id. at ¶¶ 56-57. Mr. Bramblett has been ordered to share razors with other inmates. Id. at ¶ 57. Intervening Plaintiff Jessica Lawrence has been diagnosed with HCV but has not received any treatment. [R. 36 at 5.]

         Plaintiffs sue Defendants on four separate theories. First, Plaintiffs sue Defendants under § 1983 for violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. [R. 1-2 at ¶ 61.] Also, Plaintiffs claim Defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1978 for failure to reasonably accommodate their infections. Id. at ¶ 64. Based on the failure to meet the standard of care, Plaintiffs believe Defendants acted with negligence and gross negligence. Id. at ¶ 66. Finally, Plaintiffs sue for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Id. at ¶ 68. Intervening Plaintiff Lawrence joins in each of these claims except for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. [R. 36 at ¶¶ 6-8.] They seek both injunctive relief for care and damages for lack of treatment. [R. 1-2 at 19; R. 36 at 9.]

         B

         This case began in 2015 in Franklin Circuit Court in Franklin County, Kentucky. [R. 38 at 1.] Mr. Salinas filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus against then-Commissioner LaDonna Thompson, seeking the Court to order treatment for his HCV infection. Id. at 1-2. On November 14, 2016, Mr. Salinas filed an Amended Class Action Complaint, naming additional plaintiffs and defendants. Id. at 2. The case was removed to this Court on December 7, 2016. [R. 1.] On August 18, 2017, Ms. Lawrence moved to intervene, adding Mr. Erwin as an additional defendant. [R. 33.] Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins permitted intervention. [R. 35.] Nearly a month later, Mr. Ballard, Dr. Crall, Ms. Crews, Mr. Erwin, and Ms. Thompson filed a joint Motion to Dismiss. [R. 38.] The Court has construed this motion to be a motion to dismiss both the First Amended Class Action Complaint [R. 1-2] and the Intervening Complaint [R. 36].

         II

         A

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the Plaintiffs' complaint. In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” DirecTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court, however, “need not accept as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.” Id. (quoting Gregory v. Shelby County, 220 F.3d 433, 446 (6th Cir. 2000)). The Supreme Court explained that in order “[t]o 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Courier v. Alcoa Wheel & Forged Products, 577 F.3d 625, 629 (6th Cir. 2009).

         B

         1 Plaintiffs sue Defendants in their individual capacities only. [R. 1-2.] When Plaintiffs filed their complaint in Franklin Circuit Court, they attempted service in compliance with the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, which allow service of the summons and complaint by registered mail or certified mail return receipt requested. CR 4.01(1)(a). Service is complete upon delivery of the envelope, and the return receipt serves as proof of place, time, and manner of service.

         Plaintiffs sent a copy of the summons and complaint to the Defendants via certified mail, but addressed each of their envelopes to the KDOC, their work addresses, rather than their home addresses. [R. 61-1; R. 61-2; R. 62-1.] Each of these return receipts were signed for, returned, and filed with the Court. Id. Upon removal of this Court, Mr. Ballard, Dr. Crall, Ms. Crews, and Ms. Thompson had entered appearances in Franklin Circuit Court. [R. 1 at 2.] After removal, they filed a joint Notice of Consent for Removal [R. 5] and a joint ...


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