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Doe v. Sutton-Wallace

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

October 10, 2019

Jane Doe, Plaintiff,
v.
Pamela Sutton-Wallace, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On January 11, 2018, a law enforcement officer found Plaintiff Jane Doe attempting suicide and transported her to the University of Virginia (“UVA”) Medical Center emergency department, where she was treated for injuries sustained as a result of her attempted suicide. (Dkt. 1). In Plaintiff's initial complaint, she alleges that Defendants' treatment violated her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution (Counts I-III) and is actionable under state law as gross negligence, assault and battery, and false imprisonment (Count IV). (Dkt. 1 at 4-6). This Court previously granted judgment on the pleadings in favor of Dr. Syverud, who was thereby dismissed as a defendant in this case. (Dkt. 33). The remaining specifically identified defendants-Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Dr. Kathleen Root, Adam Carter, and Callie Bateman- have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. 34). Plaintiff has moved to file an amended complaint, seeking to include additional factual allegations and requesting authorization to seek a declaratory judgment, in addition to her other claims for relief. (Dkt. 38). Defendants oppose this motion.

         Plaintiff's original complaint fails to establish that she has standing to ask for a court injunction that would require the Medical Center to respect, inter alia, her right to refuse medication and treatment. Further, Plaintiff has not shown good cause to permit her an eleventh- hour amendment-made after a year of litigation and ten months beyond the forty-five-day deadline to amend her complaint-to introduce a request for a declaratory judgment as well as new factual allegations to bolster her claims for relief. Based on the current record and the following analysis, the Court shall deny Plaintiff's Motion to Amend, while Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings shall be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Alleged Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that she attempted suicide on January 11, 2018, by running a hose from the exhaust pipe of her car into its passenger compartment. (Dkt. 1, ¶ 9). A law enforcement officer found Plaintiff in her car, and she was taken to UVA Medical Center's emergency department, pursuant to a “paperless” Emergency Custody Order (“ECO”). (Id., ¶¶ 10-11). Plaintiff alleges that “at all relevant times . . . she was competent to make decisions concerning her treatment, ” (id., ¶ 20), despite being an unwilling patient. (See id., ¶ 22). Plaintiff alleges that the following individuals-acting under color of state law-provided, or assisted in providing, medical care to her while at UVA Medical Center: Defendant Dr. Root, [1] (id., ¶¶ 4, 12), Defendants Nurses Carter and Bateman, (id., ¶¶ 5-6, 16), Jane Roes 1-3 (employees in the emergency department who assisted in treating Plaintiff), (id., ¶¶ 7, 19), and John Does 1-5 (employees in the emergency department who assisted in treating Plaintiff), (id., ¶¶ 8, 17).

         Plaintiff alleges that her medical providers extracted blood and urine samples over her objections. (Id., ¶ 12). Upon information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that either Dr. Syverud, who has been dismissed from this action, or Dr. Root ordered the administration of various medications in order to restrain her, including Zyprexa, a psychoactive drug; Benadryl; and Ativan, a sedative also used to combat anxiety. (Id., ¶ 12). Plaintiff claims that she was not advised of the drugs administered to her, nor told of their likely effects or side effects. (Id., ¶ 15).

         In order to extract a blood sample, Plaintiff alleges that John Does 1-5 surrounded Plaintiff, her arm was held against her wishes, and blood was then extracted from her arm. (Id., ¶ 13). At the request of Defendants Nurses Carter and Bateman, Dr. Syverud or Defendant Dr. Root ordered Plaintiff to be placed in physical restraints “for the sole purpose of extracting urine.” (Id., ¶ 16). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Nurse Carter requested-and Dr. Syverud or Defendant Dr. Root entered-an order to catheterize Plaintiff to obtain urine. (Id., ¶ 18). Plaintiff further claims that, thereafter, Jane Roes 1-3 assisted in extracting the urine from Plaintiff via catheter. (Id., ¶ 19).

         B. Procedural Background

         On June 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Dr. Scott Syverud, Dr. Kathleen Root, Nurse Adam Carter, Nurse Callie Bateman, Jane Roe 1-3, and John Doe 1-5, raising claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law. Plaintiff claims Defendants violated her “protected liberty interest in refusing unwanted medical treatment, ” her right to give informed consent to medical treatment, and her right to be free of restraints. (Id., ¶¶ 24, 28, 32). Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants' conduct constituted “gross negligence as well as assault and battery and false imprisonment.” (Id., ¶ 36). In her initial complaint, Plaintiff requested relief in the form of compensatory damages as well as an injunction directed at Sutton-Wallace ordering her to (1) “require all physicians, nurses and other medical care providers at the University of Virginia Medical Center to inform Plaintiff of the medications being administered her and to obtain consent for the use of those medications”; (2) “require all physicians, nurses, and other medical care providers to respect the right of Plaintiff to refuse medication or other treatment”; and (3) “require all physicians, nurses and other medical care providers not to use restraints on Plaintiff for the purpose of administering medications or providing treatment against her wishes.” (Id., at 6-7).

         Dr. Syverud, one of the thirteen named defendants, filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (Dkt. 26). The Court granted the motion, holding that Dr. Syverud was entitled to qualified immunity as to the constitutional claims and that Plaintiff failed to state a claim under Virginia law. (Dkt. 32-33); Doe v. Sutton-Wallace, No. 3:18-cv-00041, 2019 WL 2061969 (W.D. Va. May 9, 2019) (slip copy). The remaining defendants then filed their Joint Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, (Dkt. 34), which argues that (1) Defendants Root, Carter, Bateman, Jane Roe 1- 3, and John Doe 1-5 are entitled to qualified immunity as to Plaintiff's constitutional claims, (2) Plaintiff fails to state a claim under Virginia law, and (3) Plaintiff is not entitled to her proposed injunctive relief. (Dkt. 35).

         In response to Defendants' motion, Plaintiff simultaneously filed a reply and a motion to amend her complaint, attaching her proposed Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 37-38). In Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, she requests a declaratory judgment stating, “Plaintiff [has] a constitutional right to refuse medications and other treatment under the circumstances of this case”; “Plaintiff has a constitutional right to be informed of the medications being administered to her”; and “that physically restraining Plaintiff to administer drugs against her wishes violates the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.” (Dkt. 38-2, at 7).

         The Amended Complaint also includes the following additional factual allegations: (1) “Jane Doe has been the subject of Emergency Custody Orders (ECO) and/or Temporary Custody Orders (TDO) [sic] on dozens of occasions. In each instance she is taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center Emergency Room, which is the only facility available for that purpose, ” (id., ¶ 23), and (2) “Jane Doe fears that when she is subject to another ECO or TDO she will again be forcibly medicated injected with drugs and forced to provide blood and urine samples, ” (id., ¶ 24). Along with her Motion to Amend, Plaintiff included a declaration stating that she has been subject to “dozens of Emergency and Temporary Custody Orders, and on each occasion [she has] been taken to the UVA Medical Center.” (Dkt. 38-1). The declaration also states that she has had approximately seventy-five admissions to the hospital over the last ten years and that UVA is “the only location to take people subject to an Emergency or Temporary Custody Order.” (Id.).

         In Plaintiff's response to Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Plaintiff “concedes that the Court's ruling with regard to Dr. Syverud would apply to all defendants save Pamela Sutton-Wallace, ” who is sued in her official capacity for injunctive relief. (Dkt. 37 at 1- 2). Plaintiff argues that she has stated plausible claims for injunctive and declaratory[2] relief, and therefore, those claims should survive Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. ...


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