United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
GEORGIA JONES, Administrator of the Estate of ARLENE DUKE, THE DECEDENT, deceased, Plaintiff,
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendant
OPINION & ORDER
COKE MORGAN, JR. SENIOR UNTIED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes to the Court on a Motion to Dismiss under rule
12(b)(6), filed by several Defendants. Doc. 17. The parties
have agreed that a hearing is not necessary as to the Motions
to Dismiss. See Doc. 40. The Court agrees that no hearing is
necessary; accordingly, the Court will decide this motion on
instant motion to dismiss raised numerous issues, most of
which have been disposed of by agreement or Order. The motion
requested dismissal of claims against the VDOC and FCC W as
they are not section 1983 "persons." Doc. 18 at 2.
The claims against those two (2) defendants were voluntarily
dismissed. Doc. 34. The motion requested dismissal of
official capacity claims against Defendants Clarke,
Schilling, and Brown Williams as they are not section 1983
"persons." Doc. 18 at 5. That request was addressed
by an Order granting a motion for voluntary dismiss such
claims, Mot. to Vol. Dismiss doc. 35. Order, doc. 50. All
that is left for this Court to decide is whether it should
dismiss the individual-capacity claims against Clarke,
Schilling, and Brown Williams on grounds that the Complaint
fails to state a claim that they acted with "deliberate
indifference." Doc. 18 at 2-5.
reasons discussed herein, the Court DENIES the balance of the
case concerns the incarceration and death of Arlene Duke
("Decedent"). Decedent's mother, Georgia Jones,
brings this action as Decedent's estate representative.
Compl.¶ 4. Decedent was incarcerated in 2014 at the
FCCW, which is a facility of the VDOC. Id.
¶¶ 1, 6. Decedent died due to
serious medical complications while in custody on September
30, 2016. Id. ¶
Harold Clarke ("Clarke") is the Director of the
VDOC, Defendant Frederick Schilling ("Schilling")
is the Director of Health Services of the VDOC, and Defendant
Tammy Brown Williams ("Brown
Williams") was the Warden of FCCW at the relevant
times of this action. Id. ¶¶ 10-12. These
Defendants move to dismiss the section 1983 claims against
Armor ("Armor") is a private corporation which
contracts with VDOC to provide medical services and treatment
to inmates. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. Prior to this
lawsuit, the VDOC was a defendant in a lawsuit concerning its
allegedly inadequate medical care of FCCW inmates.
Id. ¶ 14; Scott v.
Clarke. Civ. Action No. 3:12-CV-36 (W.D. Va. 2014),
before the Honorable Judge Norman Moon. The adequacy of
Armor's services has been the subject of much litigation.
On November 1, 2015, the VDOC executed a renewed with Armor
for its services. Compl. ¶ 44. The Scott v. Clarke
litigation ended in Settlement Agreement under which the
defendants promised to improve the medical care. Id.
¶ 29. In the months leading to Decedent's death, two
(2) years after that Settlement Agreement, one doctor noted
"I see no evidence of progress in the critical areas of
clinical and administrative leadership and staffing."
Id. ¶ 34.
18, 2014, Decedent was incarcerated at FCCW. Id.
¶ 75. At her initial medical assessment, Decedent
informed the FCCW nurse that she had numerous health
problems, including congestive heart failure, diabetes, and
hypertension. Id. ¶ 76. The Complaint outlines
a long list of allegations of inadequate attention and
treatment of Decedent's growing health problems while in
custody, including months-long delays in drawing labs,
ignoring results indicating kidney disease, refusal to allow
Decedent to see emergency medical staff and specialists,
delay in attention to symptoms allegedly resulting in
infection of Decedent's dialysis port catheter, and
alleged denials of Decedent's request to clean herself
and her laundry causing Decedent to live in unsanitary
conditions. Id. ¶¶ 79-119.
Complaint alleges several instances of Decedent submitting
complaints and notarized letters to prison staff including
"Medical Director at FCCW." Id.
¶¶ 119-134. The Complaint alleges that in the
months leading to, and the day of, Decedent's death,
Decedent's complaints and those her roommate, as well as
observed symptoms, went either unaddressed or inadequately
addressed. Id. ¶¶ 136-165. The personnel
who responded to Decedent's coding were allegedly
inadequately trained. Id. ¶ 166.
Complaint further alleges that from January 2016 to the date
of Decedent's death a staff doctor submitted quarterly
reports to "VDOC officials" cataloguing the
"systemic deficiencies in healthcare at FCCW in great
detail." Id. ¶ 32.
September 28, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action against
numerous defendants, including VDOC; FCCW; and Clarke,
Schilling, and Brown Williams in their individual and
MOTION TO DISMISS
prison conditions, section 1983 case, a defendant is liable
for the plaintiffs injuries when he acts with
"deliberate indifference," which requires that a
defendant be subjectively aware of a risk and disregards it,
similar to criminal recklessness. Farmer v. Brennan.
511 U.S. 825, 837, 839-40 (1994). The dispute here boils down
to the breadth of the word "risk" and whether
Plaintiff adequately pleaded such facts. Defendants argue
that "deliberate indifference" requires that the
official be specifically aware of the plaintiff and her
medical needs. Doc. 18 at 3. Plaintiff argues that the law
only requires that she plead that the official was aware of a
substantial risk of harm, not necessarily that the official
knew of her and her specific medical needs. Doc. 28 at 5.
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss
tests the sufficiency of a complaint; 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) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)); see also Venkatraman v. REI Svs.. Inc.. 417
F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) ("In considering a motion
to dismiss, we accept as true all well-pleaded allegations
and view the complaint [or counterclaim] in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff [or counterclaim
plaintiff].") (citing Mylan Labs.. Inc. v.
Matkari. 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). A complaint
establishes facial plausibility "once the factual
content of a complaint allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Nemet Chevrolet. Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com. Inc.. 591 F.3d 250, 256 (4th Cir.
2009) (quoting Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore,
the complaint need not include "detailed factual
allegations" as long as it pleads "sufficient facts
to allow a court, drawing on judicial experience and common
sense, to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct." Id. Although a court must accept
as true all well-pleaded 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
deciding the motion, a court may consider the facts alleged
on the face of the complaint as well as "'matters of
public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the
case, and exhibits attached to the complaint.'"
Moore v. Flaestar Bank. 6 F.Supp.2d 496, 500 (E.D.
Va. 1997) (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (1990)).
The court may look to documents attached to the complaint and
those incorporated by reference without converting a Rule
12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment.
See Pueschel v. United States. 369 F.3d 345, 353 n.3
(4th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted); see also Goines v.
Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd.. 822 F.3d 159, 166 (4th Cir.
2016) (observing that the court may consider a document
attached to a motion to dismiss "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.").
Supervisory and Prison Conditions Cases
brings claims against these Defendants under a section 1983,
supervisory liability theory under the Eighth Amendment's
cruel and unusual punishment clause. Compl. ¶ 3. In
order to succeed on such a claim, a plaintiff must show:
(1) that the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge
that h[er] subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed a
pervasive and unreasonable risk of constitutional injury to
citizens like the plaintiff;
(2) that the supervisor's response to that knowledge was
so inadequate as to show deliberate indifference to or tacit
authorization of the alleged offensive practices; and
(3) that there was an affirmative causal link between the
supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional