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Myers v. Norman

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

August 16, 2019

THOMAS MYERS, JR. AND TIFFANY CLOUSE PLAINTIFFS
v.
RYAN NORMAN, et al ., DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on two motions. First, Defendant McCracken County Regional Jail (“MCRJ”) filed a Motion to Dismiss, [R. 7]. Plaintiffs Thomas Myers, Jr. and Tiffany Clouse responded, [R. 11], and MCRJ replied, [R. 13]. Secondly, Defendants Denise Burkett, Cookie Crews, Jim Erwin, and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (collectively “KDOC Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [R. 9]. Plaintiff Myers responded, [R. 10], [1] and KDOC Defendants replied, [R. 12]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, MCRJ's Motion to Dismiss, [R. 7], is GRANTED and KDOC Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, [R. 9], is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         The factual allegations as set out in the Complaint, [R. 1], and taken as true are as follows.[2] On or about November 3rd, 2018, Myers was allegedly shot by Detective Ryan Norman of the McCracken County Sheriff's Office while Norman and Detective Kyle Seratt, also of the McCracken County Sheriff's Office, were attempting to execute a warrant for Myers's arrest. [R. 1 at 8.] Afterward, Myers was transported to Western Baptist Hospital where he received medical aid, including emergency staples in his stomach. [Id. at 12.] Plaintiffs allege that before Myers could recover from the surgeries administered at Western Baptist Hospital, he was arrested and housed at MCRJ. [Id.] Plaintiffs also allege that Myers “did not have adequate monitoring at MCRJ, ” “MCRJ staff did not keep the wounds clean while he was housed within the facility, ” and Myers did not get dialysis treatments while at MCRJ. [Id.] Eventually, the Kentucky Department of Corrections (“KDOC”) took Myers into state custody at a hospital facility within the Department of Corrections. [Id.] Plaintiffs also allege that “Medical Staff within the [KDOC] refused to perform needed and required surgeries to take staples out of MYERS stomach. These surgical staples were infected. The symptoms of infection were exacerbated because he did not receive proper medical care within the facility. Additionally, conditions at MCRJ and within the [KDOC] were not clean and caused further infection.” [Id. at 13.] Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that “[KDOC] failed to provide all medical treatments which were medical necessary for the health and wellbeing of MYERS.” [Id.]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In order to survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a party must “plead enough ‘factual matter' to raise a ‘plausible' inference of wrongdoing.” 16630 Southfield Ltd. P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). A claim becomes plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc., 552 F.3d at 434 (citing Great Lakes Steel, 716 F.2d at 1105). “The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)). Should the well-pleaded facts support no “more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then dismissal is warranted. Iqbal, 556 U.S at 679. The Court may grant a motion to dismiss “only if, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint in favor of the plaintiff, the complaint still fails to allege a plausible theory of relief.” Garceau v. City of Flint, 572 Fed.Appx. 369, 371 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677- 79).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiffs assert claims against two sets of defendants. Against MCRJ, Plaintiffs assert claims of medical malpractice and negligence, as well as denial of the right to counsel. Against KDOC Defendants, Myers asserts a claim of medical malpractice and negligence. The Court will first address Plaintiffs' claims against MCRJ, followed by Myers's claim against KDOC Defendants.

         I. Motion to Dismiss McCracken County Regional Jail

         In the Complaint, MCRJ is listed as a defendant under Count VIII: Medical Malpractice and Negligence, as well as Count IX: Denial of the Right to Counsel. [See R. 1 at 19-21.] In its motion to dismiss, MCRJ argues that the claims against it must be dismissed as a matter of law because, as a jail, it is not an entity subject to suit. [R. 7 at 1-2.] In response, Plaintiffs state that they “cannot make a good faith argument that the McCracken County Regional Jail is an entity given the case law cited by the Defendant.” [R. 11 at 2.] However, Plaintiffs also ask the Court to “look at the operation of the jail and the way it holds itself to the public entity as a person and rule that the jail has conducted business as an entity and therefore is subject to suit.” [Id.]

         As this Court has stated before: “This matter is straight-forward. The McCracken County Regional Jail is not an entity subject to suit. See Comer v. McCracken Cty. Det. Ctr., No. 5:18-CV-020-TBR, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133195, at *8 (W.D. Ky. Aug. 7, 2018) (citing Matthews v. Jones, 35 F.3d 1046, 1049 (6th Cir. 1994)); Blay v. Daviess County Detention Center, No. 4:07-CV-P69-M, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71131, 2007 WL 2809765, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 25, 2007).” Parker v. McCracken Cty. Reg'l Jail, No. 5:19-CV-27-TBR, 2019 WL 2527095, at *1 (W.D. Ky. June 19, 2019) Furthermore, Plaintiffs give no case law or reasoning to support their request to analyze the jail as an entity in general. Therefore, MCRJ's Motion to Dismiss, [R. 7], is GRANTED. As this claim cannot be saved by an amendment of the complaint, the claims against MCRJ are dismissed with prejudice.

         The Court recognizes that at the end of their response, Plaintiffs make a brief request that “the Defendant Tonya Ray in her official and individual capacity as Jailer be required to give an answer to the complaint.” [R. 11 at 2.] However, as pointed out in MCRJ's Reply, Plaintiffs have failed to file proof of service to Defendant Tonya Ray as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(1). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), when a defendant has not been served within ninety days of the filing of the complaint, the Court “must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time” unless “the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). The ninety-day period has expired, and the record shows no attempts by Plaintiffs to serve Defendant Ray. The Court will, therefore, provide Plaintiffs with an opportunity to show cause for their failure to comply with the ninety-day service requirement or face dismissal of this action against Defendant Ray in accordance with Rule 4(m).

         II. Motion to Dismiss Kentucky Department of Corrections, James Erwin, Cookie Crews, and Denise Burkett

         KDOC Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [R. 9.] KDOC Defendants are only listed in the Complaint as defendants under Count IV: Medical Malpractice and Negligence. [R. 1 at 17.] In their motion, KDOC Defendants first argue that Myers's claims against KDOC and Erwin, Crews, and Burkett in their official capacities must be dismissed under the defense of sovereign immunity. [R. 9-1 at 4.] According to the Complaint, at the time of the incidents involved in this action, Erwin was the Commissioner of the KDOC, Crews was the Director of Health Services within the KDOC, and Burkett was the Clinical Director within the KDOC. [R. 1 at 4.] Secondly, KDOC Defendants argue that Myers's state tort claims against Erwin, Crews, and Burkett in their individual capacities must be dismissed due to their lack of personal involvement in Myers's medical care. [Id. at 5.] In his Response, Myers argues that the factual allegations contained in the Complaint were sufficient, and, despite KDOC Defendants' interpretation of the Complaint, his claims fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. [R. 10 at 3-4.] In reply, KDOC Defendants argue that Myers still fails to state a cognizable claim even if it is construed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 12 at 2.]

         A. Claims Against KDOC and Erwin, Crews, and Burkett in their Official Capacities

         KDOC Defendants argue that Myers's state law claims of medical malpractice and negligence against KDOC and Erwin, Crews, and Burkett in their official capacities must be dismissed ...


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