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Fuller v. Louisville Metro Government

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

June 19, 2018

DEBORAH FULLER, as Administratrix of the Estate of Matthew Fuller, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUISVILLE METRO GOVERNMENT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Deborah Fuller brings this action as Administratrix of the Estate of Matthew Fuller against Defendants Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government, Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Director Mark Bolton, Correct Care Solutions, LLC, and several doctors and nurses employed by Correct Care. (Docket No. 1) Fuller alleges that while in the custody of Metro Corrections, her son Matthew Fuller suffered from the defendants' deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Id.) Louisville Metro and Metro Corrections Director Bolton move to dismiss the claims against them. (D.N. 10) Because Fuller fails to provide sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief against Louisville Metro or Director Bolton, the Court will grant Defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         The following facts are set forth in the complaint and taken as true for the present motion. See Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         This action arises out of serious medical complications that Matthew Fuller developed during his incarceration in Louisville Metro Department of Corrections. (D.N. 1) Correct Care is a private entity contracted to provide medical services to inmates at LMDC. (Id., PageID # 4) The doctors and nurses named as defendants in this matter are Correct Care employees. (Id.)

         On June 9, 2016, Matthew Fuller was arrested and admitted to LMDC. (Id., PageID # 5) In light of Fuller's acknowledgement that he used a 1/2 gram of heroin on a daily basis, the Correct Care employees at issue charted Fuller's progress on an Opiate Withdrawal Score Sheet. (Id.) Despite running a fever of 100.9 degrees, the employees removed Fuller from monitoring on June 11. (Id.) Three days later, Fuller submitted a Healthcare Request Form, in which he complained of continuing fever. (Id.) A nurse gave Fuller Tylenol, documented his fever as “routine, ” and instructed him to “contact medical if symptoms reoccur.” (Id., PageID # 6) On June 17, Fuller again complained of continuing fever. (Id.) A nurse documented the complaint as “routine, ” and instructed him to “contact medical if symptoms reoccur.” (Id.)

         Also on June 17, Fuller submitted an additional Healthcare Request Form, in which he stated: “I have not had a bowel movement in over one week - serious pain!!” (Id.) A doctor prescribed Fuller a stool softener but took no further corrective action. (Id., PageID # 7) Thereafter, Fuller's condition deteriorated significantly. A Progress Note prepared on June 21, 2016, indicated that Fuller's vitals were abnormal. (Id.) Defendant Dr. Rozefort diagnosed Fuller with dehydration and ordered that he be administrated fluids intravenously. (Id.) On June 22, Fuller's pulse rate increased to 140 beats per minute, his temperature increased to 100.2 degrees, and his oxygen saturation decreased to 91%. (Id., PageID # 8) That same day, Defendant Dr. Kutnicki assessed Fuller for potential sepsis and directed that he be immediately transported to the E.R. at the University of Louisville Hospital for further testing. (Id.)

         Upon his arrival to U of L Hospital, Fuller was “intubated for hypoxic respiratory failure, and diagnosed with septic shock and acute infective endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart that can be caused by sepsis.” (Id.) Fuller was then transferred to Jewish Hospital, where he remained until his death on July 5, 2016. (Id.)

         On October 31, 2017, Deborah Fuller brought this action against Defendants Louisville Metro, Director Bolton, Correct Care, and several doctors and nurses employed by Correct Care, alleging constitutional and state-law violations. (D.N. 1) She contends that “[t]he signs and symptoms of sepsis include fever, an elevated heart rate, weakness, diarrhea and pain, all of which Mr. Fuller . . . exhibited long before he saw Dr. Kutnicki.” (Id., PageID # 8) She claims that the medical professionals failed to timely diagnose Matthew Fuller as a result of their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Id., PageID # 9) Louisville Metro and Director Bolton now move to dismiss Fuller's claims against them. (D.N. 10)

         II. Standard

         In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). If “the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” the plaintiff has not shown that he is entitled to relief. Id. at 679. The complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but it must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss [the Court] must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, [the Court is] not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Furthermore, “[w]hile a complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it contains either direct or inferential allegations respecting all material elements necessary for recovery under a viable legal theory . . . legal conclusions masquerading as factual allegations will not suffice.” Phila. Indem. Ins. Co. v. Youth Alive, Inc., 732 F.3d 645, 649 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal quotations omitted).

         III. Discussion

         A. Factual Matters Outside the Pleadings

         As an initial matter, Fuller argues that Defendants improperly rely on factual matters outside the pleadings to support their motion to dismiss. (D.N. 11, PageID # 106) See also Rondigo, LLC v. Township of Richmond, 641 F.3d 673, 680 (6th Cir. 2011) (“Assessment of the facial sufficiency of the complaint must ordinarily be undertaken without resort to matters outside the pleadings.”). Fuller seems to take issue with Defendants' contention that they neither “supervise [n]or establish policies for medical professionals who are employed by Correct Care Solutions.” (D.N. 10-1, PageID # 92) Even if that contention constitutes an assertion of fact outside the pleadings, Fuller's concern is ultimately irrelevant. In her complaint, Fuller alleges that her son's death resulted from “customs and practices of Defendants that were contrary to or expressly violated written policies of Correct Care and/or the Jail.” (D.N. 1, PageID # 9 (emphasis added)) Put differently, Fuller's municipal and supervisory claims under § 1983 do not depend on whether Louisville Metro and Bolton established policies for Correct Care. See also Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978) (finding that a municipality may be held ...


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