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Adams v. Naphcare, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

March 24, 2017

ROXANNE ADAMS, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JAMYCHEAL M. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
NAPHCARE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          REBECCA BEACH SMITH CHIEF JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on the Motion to Dismiss ("Motion") and Memorandum in Support filed by Defendant Natalya Thomas ("Thomas") on August 15, 2016. ECF Nos. 109, 110. The Plaintiff filed a Response on September 12, 2016, ECF No. 129, and on September 30, 2016, Thomas filed a Reply. ECF No. 135.

         On October 3, 2016, this court referred the Motion to United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, if necessary, and to submit to the undersigned District Judge proposed findings of fact, if applicable, and recommendations for the disposition of the Motion. ECF No. 137.

         Having conducted a hearing regarding the Motion on October 19, 2016, ECF No. 139, the Magistrate Judge filed the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on February 22, 2017. ECF No. 164. The Magistrate Judge recommended denying the Motion. R&R at 1. By copy of the R&R, the parties were advised of their right to file written objections to the findings and recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. See id. at 17-18. On March 8, 2017, Thomas filed Objections to the R&R. ECF No. 168. On March 20, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a Response to the Objections. ECF No. 170. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         I.

         This action was brought by the Plaintiff in her capacity as the administrator of the estate of Jamycheal Mitchell ("Mitchell"), who died as a pretrial detainee in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail ("HRRJ"). Compl. ¶¶ 1, 20. During Mitchell's period of pretrial detention, Defendant Thomas was "a licensed registered nurse and the Health Services Administrator at HRRJ, " employed by Defendant NaphCare, Inc. ("NaphCare"). Id. ¶ 27. Under a contract with HRRJ, NaphCare provided on-site medical services to the HRRJ inmates, including Mitchell, and supervised, directed, and controlled health care personnel at the jail. Id. ¶ 21. Throughout the Complaint, Defendant Thomas and other Defendants who worked for NaphCare are collectively referred to as the "NaphCare Defendants." Id. ¶ 32. The Complaint alleges the following claims against Defendant Thomas in particular: negligence, gross negligence, and willful and wanton negligence under Virginia law (Count One), id. ¶¶ 202-211; deprivation of civil rights through the denial, delay, and withholding of medical care, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Two), id. ¶¶ 212-223; deprivation of civil rights due to conditions of detention, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Three), id. ¶¶ 224-238; and a general deprivation of civil rights, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count Five), id. ¶¶ 252-258.

         In the instant Motion, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Thomas seeks dismissal of the aforementioned claims due to the Plaintiff's failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Mot. at 1. The Magistrate Judge, accepting the facts as alleged in the Plaintiff's Complaint as true, found that the Plaintiff has sufficiently stated these claims against Thomas, and recommended denying the Motion. See R&R at 13-17.

         II.

         Pursuant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), the court, having reviewed the record in its entirety, shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which a party has specifically objected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to him with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must be dismissed when a plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). "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.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility means that a "plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) . It is, therefore, not enough for a plaintiff to allege facts demonstrating a "sheer possibility" or "mere[] consist[ency]" with unlawful conduct. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Supreme Court has offered the following guidance to courts evaluating a motion to dismiss:

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Id. at 679. That is, the court accepts facts alleged in the complaint as true and views those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Venkatraman v. REI Sys.,Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005). After doing so, the court should not grant the defendant's motion if the plaintiff "demonstrate[s] more than a sheer possibility"' that the defendant has violated his rights, by "articulat[ing] facts, when accepted as true, that 'show' that the plaintiff has stated a claim entitling him to relief . . . ." Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 ...


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