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Hamby v. O'Toole

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 20, 2018

WILLIAM D. HAMBY, JR., Plaintiff,
MOLLY O'TOOLE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM and ORDER


         The magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 105) on May 14, 2018, recommending that the defendant's Motion to Add Suit to Class Certification (Doc. No. 104) be granted and that “the instant action be dismissed insofar as Mr. Hamby has requested that his claims be included in” the class defined by Chief Judge Crenshaw in Charles Graham v. Russell L. Davis, 3:16-cv-1954 (M.D. Tenn.) (the “Graham class action”).

         Now before the court is defendant Molly O'Toole's Rule 72 Objection (Doc. No. 108) to the R&R, arguing that the magistrate judge erred in granting the motion and dismissing this case to be included in the related class action, instead of ruling on the merits of the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, which was filed one day after the R&R was entered and well within the dispositive motion deadline established by the Scheduling Order (Doc. No. 84) entered in this case. Defendant O'Toole argues that she would be prejudiced by having to defend this matter in a class action when the same should be disposed of on the merits through a Motion for Summary Judgment.

         For the reasons set forth herein, the court finds the defendant's Objection to have merit. The court will therefore reject the R&R and direct the plaintiff to respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         This case has a lengthy and tortuous history. Hamby filed his pro se Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in May 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) At the time, Hamby was incarcerated at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary (“WTSP”) in Henning, Tennessee, and his claims arose from allegations of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while he was incarcerated at WTSP and at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility (“DSNF”), located in Nashville, in 2015 and 2016. On May 23, 2016, U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews transferred the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. (Doc. No. 4.) In July 2016, that court granted the plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessed the filing fee, but did not conduct a review of the Complaint or direct service of process on any of the defendants.

         Hamby filed numerous letters and motions over the course of the next year. Finally, in March 2017, Judge James D. Todd of the Western District of Tennessee entered an Order addressing many of the pending motions, severing the claims against O'Toole “and any possible claims against Defendant Corizon” arising from Hamby's treatment as DSNF in 2015, and transferring those claims to this court. (Doc. No. 61, at 7.) Following transfer, this court referred the matter to the magistrate judge, who directed service of process. To facilitate service, the plaintiff was directed to return to the Clerk's Office a summons and USM-285 form for “each Defendant named in this action.” (Doc. No. 79, at 1.) He returned forms only for Molly O'Toole, as a result of which the court concludes that Molly O'Toole is the only defendant against whom the plaintiff proceeds in this action. O'Toole was served and filed an Answer to the Complaint in November 2017. (Doc. No. 82.) The magistrate judge entered a scheduling order on December 6, 2017, setting deadlines for conducting discovery and filing dispositive motions (Doc. No. 84), and this court entered an order setting trial for December 11, 2018 (Doc. No. 85).

         Between December 2017 and May 2018, the plaintiff filed fifteen motions, the last of which, his Motion to Add Suit to Class Certification (Doc. No. 104) was filed on May 9, 2018.[1]The R&R recommending that the motion be granted and that the case be dismissed was entered on May 14, 2018, prior to the expiration of the defendant's deadline for responding to the motion. L.R. 7.01(b).

         II. Standard of Review

         When a magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation regarding a dispositive pretrial matter, the district court must review de novo any portion of the report and recommendation to which a specific objection is made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001); Massey v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 510 (6th Cir. 1993).

         III. Discussion

         The basis for the defendant's Objection seems to be that she is entitled to resolution of the plaintiff's claims on the merits and that she should not be required to litigate the claims in the context of the Graham class action. She seeks dismissal with prejudice through the filing of her Motion for Summary Judgment.

         It appears to the court that the plaintiff and the defendant both misapprehend the import of Judge Crenshaw's order certifying a class in Graham. The Class Action Complaint in that case seeks only prospective injunctive and declaratory relief requiring the defendant in that case to adequately treat inmates with Hepatitis C and class certification under Rule 24(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Chief Judge Crenshaw granted the motion for class certification and defined the class as:

All persons currently incarcerated in any facility under the supervision or control of the Tennessee Department of Corrections or persons incarcerated in a public or privately owned facility for whom the Tennessee Department of Corrections has ultimate responsibility for their medical care and who have at least 90 days or more remaining to serve on their sentences and are either currently diagnosed with Hepatitis C infection or are ...

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