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Davis v. Buchanan County

United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, St. Joseph Division

March 29, 2018

BRENDA DAVIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BUCHANAN COUNTY, MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          SARAH W. HAYS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Brenda Davis and Frederick Stufflebean filed suit against Buchanan County, Missouri, three former or current County Commissioners (Harry Roberts, Dan Hausman, and Ron Hook), the former Sheriff of Buchanan County (Mike Strong), the former Buchanan County Jail Administrator (Jody Hovey), members of the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department (Brian Gross, Natalie A. Bransfield, and Dustin Nauman), Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc. (hereafter “ACH”), a doctor and nurse employed by ACH (Dr. Catherine M. Van Voorn and Ann Marie Slagle, LPN), the Warden of the Western Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center (Ryan Crews), Corizon Health, Inc. (hereafter “Corizon”), and a nurse employed by Corizon (Donna Euler), seeking damages arising from the death of their son, Justin Stufflebean, who was incarcerated at the Buchanan County Jail (hereafter “the Jail”) and later at the Western Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center (hereafter “the Correctional Center”). (Doc. #1-2) Plaintiffs assert the following claims: Count I - a wrongful death action against Buchanan County, the County Commissioners, the former Sheriff, the former Jail Administrator, the employees of the Sheriff's Department, and the Warden; Count II - a wrongful death action against ACH and the doctor and nurse employed by ACH; Count III - a wrongful death action against Corizon and the nurse employed by Corizon; and Count IV - a §1983 claim against all defendants alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. (Doc. #1-2, at 19-26) Defendants removed the action to federal court on May 8, 2017. (Doc. #1)

         Five motions to dismiss have been fully briefed by the parties and are ripe for resolution:

1. Motion to Dismiss by Defendants Corizon Health, LLC[1] and Donna D. Euler, R.N. and Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer, doc. #7;
2. Defendants Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc., Catherine M. Van Voorn, M.D. and Ann Marie Slagle, LPN's Motion to Dismiss Count IV of Plaintiffs' Petition, doc. #12;
3. Defendants Corizon Health, Inc. and Donna Euler, R.N.'s Motion to Dismiss Count III of Plaintiffs' Petition for Damages for Plaintiffs' Failure to File Health Care Affidavits, doc. #46;
4. Defendants Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc., Catherine M. Van Voorn, M.D. and Ann Marie Slagle, LPN's Motion to Dismiss State Tort Claims Based on Failure to File An Affidavit Pursuant to RSMO. Section 538.225, doc. #47;
5. Buchanan County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count I of Plaintiffs' Petition for Damages for Failure to File Health Care Affidavits, doc. #52.

         The motions seeking to dismiss Counts I, II, and III for failure to file a medical affidavit are not opposed by plaintiffs[2]. Plaintiffs, however, maintain that the dismissal should be without prejudice (doc. #49, at 1-2 and #50 at 1-2), and defendants do not contend otherwise. Thus, these motions will be granted leaving for resolution, in this order, the two motions filed claiming that the petition fails to properly plead a constitutional violation in Count IV as to defendants ACH, Van Voorn, Slagle, Corizon, and Euler. (Doc. ##7 and 12)

         II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARD

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a claim for relief must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). The rule requires more than an “unadorned” complaint, but requires less than “detailed factual allegations.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Thus, in order to survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Courts ruling on a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Carton v. General Motor Acceptance Corp., 611 F.3d 451, 454 (8th Cir. 2010). The non-moving party is entitled to all reasonable inferences. Cent. Platte Nat. Res. Dist. v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 643 F.3d 1142, 1148 (8th Cir. 2011). Nevertheless, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Courts must read the complaint “as a whole, not parsed piece by piece to determine whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible.” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009).

         III. FACTS[3]

         On December 15, 2014, the plaintiffs' son, Justin Stufflebean (hereafter “decedent”), was charged with a crime and taken into custody and incarcerated at the Jail on December 23, 2014. Defendant ACH is a private for-profit company contracted to provide medical care to inmates at the Jail.

         Decedent suffered from a number of medical ailments including: Addison's disease, hypocalcemia, myelopathy, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, abdominal pain, vitamin B12 deficiency, Gastro-esophageal reflux ...


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