United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Correctional Officer
Susan Woodrow's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first
amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) and motion to stay discovery (ECF Nos. 33 & 61).
The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Woodrow's motion to
dismiss is granted in part and denied in part and the motion
to stay discovery is denied.
Connie Raybourn is an inmate at the Women's Eastern
Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in
Vandalia, Missouri. Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging violations of her Eighth Amendment right
to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff also
alleged that Defendants' treatment of her was negligent
under state law. With respect to her Section 1983 claim,
Plaintiff asserted that Defendants Corizon Medical
Services and various medical and correctional
personnel at WERDCC, including Woodrow, were deliberately
indifferent to her serious medical needs by ignoring her
request for medical care and denying proper treatment for
colon cancer and complications relating to colon cancer.
alleged two counts against Woodrow in her individual and
official capacity. In Count 5, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Plaintiff alleged that Woodrow violated her Eighth Amendment
right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when she
confiscated from Plaintiff, who was undergoing chemotherapy,
“a high quality hat, scarf and gloves” that
Plaintiff's oncologist had provided her to “protect
[P]laintiff from exposure to the cold and the risk of
permanent nerve damage.” (ECF No. 23 at 20). In
addition, Plaintiff stated that Woodrow “also denied
[P]laintiff's requests for the partition window to be
open to allow heat into the inmate area of the van during
transports for chemotherapy. . . .” (Id.).
support of her Section 1983 claim, Plaintiff asserted that
Woodrow acted “pursuant to an unconstitutional pattern,
practice, policy, procedure, custom or regulation…to
deny items and recommendations not typically thought of as
medical without regard to [P]laintiff's serious medical
needs and risks of harm or her doctor's
recommendations.” (Id.). Plaintiff further
alleged that Woodrow “knew or should have known of the
objective, substantial risk of pain, suffering and serious
harm from a failure to adequately protect [P]laintiff from
the elements” and, “with deliberate indifference,
” confiscated and refused Plaintiff's
“doctor's recommendations for a high quality hat,
scarf, gloves and [P]laintiff's requests for an open
partition window[.]” (Id. at 20-21).
Count 7, Plaintiff's state law negligence claim, she
alleged that Woodrow breached her “duty to take
reasonable care in supervising, directing, overseeing,
approving and denying medical care, recommendations and
orders from [Plaintiff's] health care providers”
when she failed or refused to “provide adequate
measures to protect against the elements during
chemotherapy.” (ECF No. 23 at 23). Plaintiff stated
that Woodrow's negligence caused her “to suffer
pain and emotional distress from being exposed to the cold
without sufficient protection from the elements along with
the risk and potential for contribution to permanent nerve
damage.” (ECF No. 23 at 21, 24).
filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended
complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) and a memorandum in support of her motion (ECF Nos.
33 & 34). Woodrow argued that Plaintiff failed to state a
claim for relief and, even if Plaintiff alleged sufficient
facts to establish a violation of a constitutional right or
negligence, Woodrow is protected from state and federal
claims by the doctrines of sovereign, official, and qualified
immunity. (ECF No. 34 at 1-2).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of
what the …claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A viable
complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547.
considering a motion to dismiss, the reviewing court must
accept the Plaintiff's factual allegations as true and
construe them in the Plaintiff's favor. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A motion to
dismiss should be granted ‘as a practical
matter…only in the unusual case in which a plaintiff
includes allegations that show, on the face of the complaint,
that there is some insuperable bar to relief.”
Strand v. Diversified Collection Serv., Inc., 380
F.3d 316, 317 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting Frey v.
Herculaneum, 44 F.3d 667, 671 (8th Cir. 1995)).
“At the very least, however, the complaint must contain
facts which state a claim as a matter of law and must not be
conclusory.” Id. “The issue in
determining a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the plaintiff
is entitled to present evidence in support of the
claim.” Schuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
(1976) (overruled on other grounds, see Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)).
Count 5 - Section 1983 claim against Woodrow in her official
Woodrow asserts that Plaintiff's Section 1983 damage
claims against her in her official capacity are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. (ECF No. 34). Woodrow further argues that
Plaintiff did not request injunctive and declaratory relief
and, even if she did, Plaintiff is not entitled to such
relief because she failed to allege an ongoing violation of
federal law. (Id.). In response, Plaintiff contends
that she properly limited her Section 1983 claims against
Woodrow in her official capacity to requests for prospective
and injunctive relief. (ECF No. 44).
Eleventh Amendment generally bars suits by private citizens
against a state and its agencies in federal court. Balogh
v. Lombardi, 816 F.3d 536, 544 (8th Cir. 2016).
Nevertheless, plaintiffs may seek prospective injunctive
relief against a state, its agencies, and its officers when
sued in their official capacities to prevent either
continuing or future violations of the Constitution or other
federal law. 281 Care Comm. v. Arneson, 638 F.3d
621, 632 (8th Cir. 2011). See also Ex Parte Young,
209 U.S. 123 (1908). “In determining whether this
exception applies, a court conducts ‘a straightforward
inquiry into whether [the] complaint alleges an ongoing
violation of federal law and seeks relief properly
characterized as prospective.” Id. ...