United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
Jackson L. Kiser SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Theresa Richardson and John G. Stephens, proceeding pro
se, initiated this action on behalf of the estate of
Harold Lee Richardson (“Richardson”) on January
10, 2017.[ECF No. 3]. Plaintiffs are alleging
violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) and
unlawful discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 as well
as medical malpractice and wrongful death under Virginia law.
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a
claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). [ECF No. 6]. The
matter was fully briefed, and oral arguments were held on
July 25, 2017. The matter is now ripe for a decision. For the
reasons stated below, I will grant Defendants' Motion and
dismiss the federal claims. Consequently, I will decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY 
December 8, 2014, Richardson went to the Danville Regional
Medical Center (“DRMC”) with a sore throat.
(Id. at ¶ 9.) He was examined and “told
he had a cold or perhaps a light flu.” (Id.) A
throat culture was taken, and he was released with
antibiotics prior to receiving the results. (Id.)
Richardson returned to DRMC on December 11, 2014, and was
diagnosed with strep throat. (Id. at ¶ 10.)
According to the Complaint,
Mr. Richardson walked into [DRMC] with strep throat and 16
days later was “dumped” to a lesser facility,
placed in a coma, transferred to [the ICU at Moses H. Cone
Memorial Hospital] and removed from life support eight days
later in Greensboro, North Carolina. [Twenty -four] days
after walking into [DRMC] with strep throat[, ] Mr.
Richardson was dead.
(Id. at ¶ 11.)
allege “multiple instances of gross medical negligence,
physical abuse, and racial discrimination . . . .”
(Id. at ¶ 6.) They claim that they were
discriminated against for being Jewish in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs allege that “[w]hen
walking away from one group of [four] personnel she spoke
with[, ] Mrs. Richardson heard ‘what do you expect,
she's a fucking Jew.'” (Id. at ¶
23.) Apparently, this was the second time that Mrs.
Richardson had heard a reference to “fucking
Jews.” (Id.) They further allege that
Richardson's death was caused by “student
doctors” who were not licensed to practice medicine.
(Id. at ¶ 12.) When Richardson was eventually
transferred from DRMC to Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in
Greensboro, North Carolina, the Regional One EMS
employees that provided the transfer “were not
paramedics and not qualified to transport a patient . . .
.” (Id. at ¶ 26.) Defendants allegedly
violated the FCA when they billed Medicare, the Department of
Veterans Affairs, and other, unnamed agencies for the work of
unlicensed practitioners. Plaintiffs seek to “recover
all sums fraudulently billed to Medicare, the [U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs], and other government
agencies by [Defendants] for unlicensed medical
providers.” (Id. at ¶ 5).
False Claims Act claim is brought on behalf of the United
States. When Plaintiffs first filed this suit, it was not
clear that they intended to proceed as qui tam
plaintiffs until they filed a motion to put the Complaint
under seal. (See Mot. to File Doc. Under Seal, Jan.
30, 2017 [ECF No. 6].) At that point, the Court issued an
Order putting the entire case under seal in order to
serve a copy of the Complaint upon the United States and
provide the United States Attorney with an opportunity to
intervene. (See Order, Jan. 31, 2017 [ECF No. 7].)
The case was also stayed during this period. (See
Order Staying Case, Feb. 14, 2017 [ECF No. 20].) The United
States declined to intervene. (See Not. of Election
to Decline Intervention, Mar. 30, 2017 [ECF No. 24].) Shortly
thereafter, the case was unsealed, and the stay was lifted.
(See Order, Apr. 4, 2017 [ECF No. 25].)
the United States declined to intervene, Plaintiffs filed a
motion to amend the Complaint. (Mot. to Am., Apr. 18, 2017
[ECF No. 42].) Plaintiffs stated that they had
“retained Thomas C. Wagner . . . to assist them in
obtaining appropriate representation in this case. Plaintiffs
have contacted attorneys and anticipate that they will have
appropriate counsel retained and an appearance entered in
the very near future.” (Id. at p. 2
(emphasis added).) Plaintiffs were given fourteen days to
file an amended complaint. (See Order, Apr. 21, 2017
[ECF No. 43].) On the fourteenth day, Plaintiffs asked for an
extension. (See Mot. for Extension of Time, May 5,
2017 [ECF No. 44].) Plaintiffs requested a one-year
extension. (Id. at p. 6.) Apparently, Plaintiffs
were in the process of hiring a team of sixteen attorneys,
and this legal team would need additional time to prepare an
amended complaint. (Id. at p. 3) Plaintiffs did not
identify these attorneys, and no attorney has filed a notice
of appearance. Because Plaintiffs had already told the Court
that they would be ready to proceed “in the very near
future, ” the extraordinary length of time requested,
and the fact that this case had already been subject to
multiple delays, the Motion to extend the deadline was
denied. (See Order, May 9, 2017 [ECF No. 56].)
Defendants were given fourteen days to respond to the
original Complaint. (Id.)
22, 2017, Defendants filed the Motion to Dismiss currently
before the Court. Defendants seek dismissal on multiple
grounds: (1) failure to state a claim; (2) lack of standing
to bring an FCA claim; (3) failure to comply with the statute
of limitations; and (4) failure to file a certification of
merit as required by Va Code § 8.01-20.1. Because I will
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state
claims, there is no reason to reach the statute of
limitations or certification issues.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
initial matter, pro se complaints are held to
“‘less stringent standards than the formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). District courts must
give liberal interpretations to pleadings filed by pro
se litigants but are not required to “conjure up
questions never squarely presented to them.”
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985).
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) 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)). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The
complaint must contain sufficient “[f]actual
allegations . . . to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S.