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Dodd v. Woods Memorial Hospital

August 27, 2007

JOSEPH "JOEY" E. DODD, JR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WOODS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, MCMINN COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER, SHERIFF STEVE FRISBIE, CHIEF TIM SMITH, LIEUTENANT PENNI PALMER, SERGEANT RICK CLAYTON, NURSE KAY STANSBERRY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lee

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Pro se Plaintiff, Joseph "Joey" E. Dodd, Jr. ("Dodd"), a prisoner when he filed suit, seeks damages from Defendants for deprivation of his civil rights under color of state law pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dodd's action arises from his incarceration at the McMinn County Justice Center ("Center") after being arrested on August 5, 2005. Dodd challenges his conditions of confinement in addition to raising a claim that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, deprived him of personal property, and subjected him to retaliation.*fn1 For these alleged constitutional violations, Dodd requests Defendants be held accountable and he seeks an unidentified amount of punitive damages.

Presently before the Court are: 1) Dodd's motion to strike/withdraw his previously filed affidavit [Doc. No. 36] and 2) a motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 47] filed by Defendants Woods Memorial Hospital ("Hospital") and Kay Stansberry ("Stansberry").*fn2 Dodd's motion to strike/withdraw his affidavit is GRANTED [Doc. No. 36].*fn3 While Dodd has not file a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss, he has carried his burden of pleading facts that, if true, demonstrate a constitutional violation with respect to the denial of medical care claims addressed in the pending motion to dismiss. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' motion to dismiss Dodd's medical claims [Doc. No. 47] will be DENIED and the parties will proceed to trial on September 10, 2007 on Dodd's claims.

II. Standard of Review and Screening

A. Pro Se Pleadings

Pro se pleadings filed in civil rights cases are liberally construed and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982); Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 110 (6th Cir. 1991). However, pro se status does not exempt the plaintiff from the requirement that he comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Hulsey v. State of Texas, 929 F.2d 168, 171 (5th Cir. 1991); Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981). Pro se plaintiffs must comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that a complaint must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. LRL Properties v. Portage Metro Housing Authority, 55 F.3d 1097, 1104 (6th Cir. 1995). Although the standard of review is liberal, it does require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. Of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996); LRL Properties, 55 F.3d at 1103-04; Allard v. Weitzman (In re DeLorean Motor Co.), 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993); Hartfield v. East Grand Rapids Public Schools, 960 F. Supp. 1259, 1268 (W.D. Mich. 1997). The complaint must give the defendants fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests. Lillard, 76 F.3d at 726; Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994). "In practice, a . . . complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Lillard, 76 F.3d at 726 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides a complaint may be dismissed if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is to permit a defendant to test whether, as a matter of law, the plaintiff is entitled to relief even if everything alleged in the complaint is true. Mayer v. Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993); Nishiyama v. Dickson County, Tennessee, 814 F.2d 277, 279 (6th Cir. 1987). Rule 12(b)(6) requires courts to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept all of the complaint's factual allegations as true. Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Saglioccolo v. Eagle Ins. Co., 112 F.3d 226, 228 (6th Cir. 1997); Columbia Natural Resources, Inc. v. Tatum, 58 F.3d 1101, 1109 (6th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1158 (1996).

In order to preclude dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations which comprise all of the material elements necessary to sustain a claim for relief under some viable legal theory. Lewis v. ACB Business Services, Inc., 135 F.3d 389, 406 (6th Cir. 1998); Columbia Natural Resources, 58 F.3d at 1109; Allard, 991 F.2d at 1240; Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988).

Recently, the Supreme Court revised the "no set of facts" portion of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard and dismissed an antitrust conspiracy complaint because it did not state a claim for relief that was "plausible on its face." Bell Atlanta Corp. v. Twombly, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965, 167 L.Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (the complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" in order to avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200, 167 L.Ed. 2d 1081 (2007). The Sixth Circuit has noted "[s]ignificant 'uncertainty as to the intended scope of the Court's decision [in Twombly]' persists, however, particularly regarding its reach beyond the antitrust context." Weisbarth v. Geauga Park District et al., ___ F.3d ___, 2007 WL 2403659, at * 3 (August 24, 2007) (quoting Iqbal v. Hasty, ___F.3d ___, 2007 WL 1717803, at * 11 (2d Cir. June 14, 2007) (applying the plausibility standard in the context of a motion to dismiss § 1983 claims based on qualified immunity) and citing Collins v. Marva Collins Preparatory School, No. 1:05cv614, 2007 WL 1989828, at * 3 n.1 (S.D. Ohio July 9, 2007) (noting that eight federal district courts in the Sixth Circuit have thus far applied Twombly in the manner discussed in Iqbal to require a pleader to amplify a claim with some factual allegations in those contexts where such amplification is need to render the claim plausible)). The Sixth Circuit has not yet issued an opinion addressing the nuances of Twombly's effect on the dismissal standard in cases such as this one, and the dispostion of this matter does not depend on the nuances of Twombly.

The court is required to construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and to accept all well-pleaded allegations of fact as being true. Scheur v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232 (1974); Columbia Natural Resources, 58 F.3d at 1109; Mayer, 988 F.2d at 638; Collins v. Nagle, 892 F.2d 489, 493 (6th Cir. 1989). When a factual allegation is capable of more than one reasonable inference, it must be construed in the plaintiff's favor. Saglioccolo, 112 F.3d at 228; Columbia Natural Resources, 58 F.3d at 1109. A court may not grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss simply because the court does not believe the allegations of fact in the complaint. Saglioccolo, 112 F.3d at 228-29; Columbia Natural Resources, 58 F.3d at 1109; Allard, 991 F.2d at 1240. The court does not, however, have to accept as true mere legal conclusions and unwarranted inferences of fact. Lewis, 135 F.3d at 405; Grindstaff v. Green, 133 F.3d 416, 421 (6th Cir. 1998); Columbia Natural Resources, 58 F.3d at 1109; Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987).

III. Facts

Dodd makes several claims of deliberate indifference to his medical needs that span a period of several months. Dodd's claims are not in chronological order and the Court will address the claims in the order in which they are raised in the complaint. As noted above, the ...


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