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Weeks v. St. Mary's Hospital

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

June 11, 2019

RUBIN RURIE WEEKS, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the motions of pro se plaintiff Rubin Rurie Weeks. After initial review of plaintiff s complaint in this matter, the Court found it subject to dismissal under the three strikes rule, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), and as duplicative of another currently pending complaint that plaintiff has before this Court. Now, plaintiff seeks to alter or amend the Court's dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 and/or to correct the judgment under Rule 60. Plaintiff has also filed a motion to disqualify the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. from this matter. Plaintiffs request for disqualification of Judge Limbaugh Jr. will be denied, as he is not the judge presiding over this case. However, as requested by plaintiff in his motion to amend or correct, the dismissal of this matter will be reconsidered by a different district court judge. Nevertheless, for the reasons discussed below, the motion to amend or correct the judgment will be denied.

         Background

          On February 13, 2019, plaintiff filed the instant complaint in this Court, seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. ("ADA"); and state law. Plaintiff named as defendants: St. Mary's Hospital; two doctors employed at the Hospital (Jeff Lehmen and Kevin Huffman); the risk manager of the Hospital (Julie Henley); two Hospital security officers (Unknown Flowers and Unknown Jennings); the Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections ("MDOC") (Anne Precythe); the prison health care (Corizon) Regional Medical Director (Dr. Thomas Bredeman); and multiple John and "Jone" Doe defendants. Plaintiff brought suit against defendants in both their individual and official capacities, except Precythe who was named in her official capacity only.

         All of plaintiff s claims arose from events that followed a spine surgery plaintiff had at St. Mary's Hospital on February 14, 2017, while he was incarcerated with the MDOC. In summary, plaintiff claims that MDOC correctional officers assaulted and used excessive force on him when they transported him from the hospital back to the prison after the surgery. According to plaintiff, the Hospital and its defendant employees (Drs. Lehmen and Huffman, risk manager Henley, and security officers Flowers and Jennings) knew about the abuse and did nothing as part of a conspiracy with Precythe and Bredeman to deprive him of adequate medical care and to cover up the abuse. Plaintiff also alleged that the Hospital, risk manager Henley, and security officers Flowers and Jennings failed to protect him and violated his right to equal protection. He argued that the failure to protect him, as a disabled person, violated the ADA. Once back at the prison, plaintiff alleged that he was denied timely follow-up medical care and treatment following the spine surgery, in violation of both the Eighth Amendment and the ADA. Finally, plaintiff asserted a state law claim of negligence. He sought injunctive and monetary relief.

         About two years before the filing of this suit, on January 27, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court against MDOC and Corizon defendants. See Weeks v. Birch, No. 1:17-CV-22-AGF (E.D. Mo. Jan. 27, 2017) (hereafter 'Weeks F). The Court appointed counsel for plaintiff in that matter and plaintiffs counsel filed the currently pending Second Amended Complaint on April 11, 2018. Weeks I, ECF No. 98. In the second amended complaint, plaintiff names twenty-three defendants, including two of the same defendants named in this matter (Precythe and Bredeman). There, as here, three of plaintiff s claims stem from events that occurred following his spine surgery in February 2017, including claims of "Use of Excessive Force During Transportation from Hospital to JCCC" and "Refusal to Provide Timely Follow up Treatment After Surgery." In summary, plaintiff alleges in Weeks I that defendant MDOC correctional officers used excessive force on him when transporting him from the hospital back to the prison following his surgery and that Corizon prison medical staff defendants failed to provide him timely follow-up medical treatment after his spinal surgery. Finally, he includes a state law negligence claim against prison medical defendants. In Weeks I, plaintiff also seeks injunctive and monetary relief. As of the date of this Order, Weeks I remains pending as to twenty-two of the defendants. It is currently scheduled for trial in January 2020.

         Upon initial review of plaintiffs complaint in this matter, the Court found it subject to dismissal under the Three Strikes Rule, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), and also subject to dismissal as being duplicative of Weeks I. ECF Nos. 8 & 9. Although this case was randomly assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker upon case opening under Local Rule 2.08, the dismissal order was signed by U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. because full consent of the parties had not been received. See 28 U.S.C. § 636. However, on June 4, 2019, Judge Baker recused herself from this matter and the case was reassigned to U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie L. White. ECF Nos. 15 & 16.

         Motion to Disqualify the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. (ECF No. 13)

         Plaintiff argues that Judge Limbaugh's review of this case is unfair because Judge Limbaugh presided over plaintiffs criminal conviction in state court which resulted in plaintiffs current incarceration. See State v. Weeks, No. 32R059101115-01 (32nd Jud. Cir. Feb. 13, 1992). Plaintiff alleges that Judge Limbaugh "was involved in the forced plea negotiations" in his criminal case and that Judge Limbaugh is bias and prejudiced against him. ECF No. 11 at 1. Plaintiff asks that his case be "referred to another district judge for review under section 1915e." Id. at 7. Plaintiff elaborates on these recusal and disqualification arguments in his motion to alter or amend, but also in a separately filed "Motion to Disqualify." ECF No. 13.

         A review of the Court's docket reveals that Judge Limbaugh did recuse himself from plaintiffs currently pending case, Weeks I, on October 20, 2017. However, recusal or disqualification of Judge Limbaugh in this matter is unnecessary, as he is not the assigned judge to this case. Therefore, to the extent plaintiff seeks an order of disqualification of Judge Limbaugh in this matter, such request is denied. However, in consideration of Judge Limbaugh's previous recusal in Weeks I and. the recent reassignment of this matter by the Court, a different district court judge will consider plaintiffs motion to alter or amend the judgment.

         Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment (ECF No. 11)

         Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of the Court's dismissal order under both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59 and 60(b). After reviewing the dismissal order signed by the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. and the arguments made by plaintiff in his motion to alter or amend, the Court finds that plaintiffs motion should be denied.

         Legal Standard

         Under Rule 59(e), a court may alter or amend a judgment upon a motion filed no later than 28 days after entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Rule 59(e) gives the Court power to rectify its own mistakes in the period immediately following the entry of judgment. White v. N.H. Dep't of Emp'tSec,455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982). Rule 59(e) motions are limited, however, to correcting "manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly ...


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