United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
Michael F. Urbanski, United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on defendant Southern Health
Partners, Inc.'s ("SHP") motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6) of me Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
ECF No. 9. SHP argues mat plaintiff Cary Hixson has failed to
state a breach of contract claim against SHP because Hixson
was not an intended third-party beneficiary of the contract
between SHP and Harrisonburg-Rockingham Regional Jail
("HRRJ"). ECF No. 10, at 1. Hixson has filed a
response in opposition, ECF No. 17, to which SHP has replied,
ECF No. 24. The court held a hearing on the motion on May 31,
2017. ECF No. 26. For the reasons that follow, the court
treats SHP's motion as requesting dismissal under Rule
12(b)(1),  and GRANTS the motion (ECF No. 9). SHP is
dismissed as a defendant in this matter.
Cary Hixson is a former inmate of Harrisonburg-Rockingham
Regional Jail.While incarcerated at HRRJ, Hixson, who is
diabetic, alleges that, despite medical staffs knowledge of
his diabetes, he was never provided with the insulin
necessary to treat his condition and keep his blood sugar
under control. "As a result, Mr. Hixson suffered
excruciating pain throughout his feet, hands and legs, as
well as experiencing blurred vision, ringing in his ears, on
top of his vital organs slowly depreciating in
functionality." ECF No. 1, at 2. Hixson was also
threatened with solitary confinement if he complained about
his neglectful treatment. Hixson's medical care was
administered by "Dr. Moran" and several unnamed nurses,
all of whom were employed by SHP, pursuant to a contract
between SHP and HRRJ providing for inmate healthcare.
filed his complaint on March 31, 2017 against SHP, Dr. Moran,
two "John Doe" nurses, Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson,
supervising operator of HRRJ, and Captain Steven Shortell,
operator of HRRJ. He alleges deliberate indifference to his
medical needs, negligence, gross negligence, and violation of
the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act,
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Relevant to the instant motion,
Hixson also alleges breach of contract against SHP, arguing
that, as an intended beneficiary of the contract between HRRJ
and SHP, he may sue to enforce its terms.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint need only contain sufficient
factual matter which, if accepted as true, "state[s] 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)). A complaint is "facially plausible" when
the facts alleged "allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id. This "standard is
not akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it asks
for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. When ruling on a motion to
dismiss, the court must "accept the well-pled
allegations of the complaint as true" and "construe
the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff." Ibarra v.
United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997).
the court must accept as true all well-pled factual
allegations, the same is not true for legal conclusions.
"Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also
Wag More Dogs. LLC v. Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th
Cir. 2012) ("Although we are constrained to take the
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need
not accept legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments."
(internal quotation marks omitted)).
considering a motion to dismiss, the court is "generally
limited to a review of the allegations of the complaint
itself." Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822
F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). However, other evidence may
sometimes be consulted:
(The court] also considers documents that are explicitly
incorporated into the complaint by reference, Tellabs.
Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights. Ltd., 551 U.S. 308,
322 (2007), and those attached to the complaint as exhibits,
see Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). And . . . [the court] may consider a
document submitted by the movant that was not attached to or
expressly incorporated in a complaint, so long as the
document was integral to the complaint and there is no
dispute about the document's authenticity. [Sec'y
of State for Defence v.] Trimble (Nav. Ltd.].
484 F.3d , 705 [(4th Cir. 2007)]; Am. Chiropractic
Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare. Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234
(4th Cir. 2004); Phillips v. LCI Int'l. Inc.,
190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999).
Id., at 166.
common law, 'the general rule was that... [a breach of
contract] action must be brought in the name of the party in
whom the legal interest was vested, and that this legal
interest was vested in the person to whom the promise was
made'"-i.e., the contracting party. Thorsen v.
Richmond Soc'y for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals, 786 S.E.2d 453, 453 (Va. 2016) (quoting
Thacker v. Hubard, 94 S.E. 929, 931 (Va. 1918)).
However, courts recognize an exception, and have found third
party standing to sue on the contract where the contract
evinces "[a] clear intent to benefit [a] third
person." Valley Landscape Co., Inc. v. Rolland,
237 S.E.2d 120, 122 (Va. 1977).
"[c]ourts have narrowly interpreted the standard for an
intended beneficiary." Radosevic v. Va. Intermont
Coll., 651 F.Supp. 1037 (W.D. Va. 1987). In
Obenshain v. Halliday, 504 F.Supp. 946 (E.D. Va.
1980), the court considered whether the estate of a passenger
killed in an airplane crash allegedly caused by
malfunctioning runway lights had standing to sue on the
contract between the county and the United States to build,
operate and maintain the airport. The court noted the basic
rule that "a third-party beneficiary [must] show that an
agreement is clearly and definitely intended to bestow a
direct benefit on him before he has standing to
sue." Id. at 956. Looking to "the four
corners of the contract, " the court found that
"there [was] no language which show[ed] clear and
definite intent to benefit [the plaintiff] in a manner which
would grant her standing to sue." Id. ...