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Riddick v. Barber

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

November 18, 2019

RASHAD MATTHEW RIDDICK, Pro se Plaintiff,
v.
JACK BARBER, et al, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID J. NOVAK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Rashad Matthew Riddick ("Plaintiff) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Jack Barber ("Barber"), Hughes Melton ("Melton"), Rebecca A. Vauter ("Vauter"), Captain Bland ("Bland"), Dr. Nishant Parikh ("Dr. Parikh" or "Parikh"), Dr. Sridhar Yaratha ("Dr. Yaratha" or "Yaratha"), Dr. Ted Simpson ("Dr. Simpson" or "Simpson"), Mr. Oni ("Oni"), Holly Ernouf ("Ernouf'), Michael Shaefer ("Shaefer"), Daniel Herr ("Herr") and Diane Pope ("Pope") (collectively "Defendants"), alleging various violations of Plaintiff s Fifth, Eight and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as violations of 42 U.S.C. § 9510. This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Jack Barber, Hughes Melton, Michael Shaefer and Daniel Herr ("DBDHS Defendants' Motion") (ECF No. 16), the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Rebecca A. Vauter, Dr. Nishant Parikh and Holly Ernouf ("Central State Defendants' Motion") (ECF No. 20), the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Mr. Oni ("Oni Mot.") (ECF No. 22), the Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Dr. Ted Simpson ("Simpson Mot.") (ECF No. 24), and Plaintiffs Motion for the Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 33). For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby ORDERS that the DBDHS Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 16), the Central State Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 20), the Oni Mot. (ECF No. 22) and the Simpson Mot. (ECF No. 24) be GRANTED and that Plaintiffs Motion for the Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 33) be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court will accept a plaintiffs allegations as true and view the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.2d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). Based on this standard, the Court accepts the following facts.

         A. Moving Defendants

         Dr. Simpson is a Central State Hospital ("Central State") psychologist. (Am. Compl. (ECF No. 6) ¶ 1.) Oni is a "male rehab staff member" at Central State. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) Vauter is the Director of Central State. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) Parikh is the Assistant Medical Director at Central State and Ernouf is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Central State. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) Barber is the former Interim Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services ("DBHDS"), Melton is the current Commissioner of DBHDS, Herr is a Deputy Commissioner of DBHDS and Shaefer is an Assistant Commissioner of DBHDS. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.)

         B. Facts Alleged

         In December 2012, Simpson and Yaratha requested a court order in Madison County Circuit Court, where Plaintiff stood trial, to forcibly medicate Plaintiff for the purpose of competency restoration. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) The Madison County Circuit Court denied the request. (Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff then alleges that Simpson and Yaratha later sought and received a court order for emergency treatment from the Dinwiddie General District Court. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Dr. Simpson secured this court order over Plaintiffs objection and "under the pretext of dangerousness." (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff contends that Dr. Simpson told the court that Plaintiff "had engaged in significant acts of violence towards other patients and hospital staff, knowing that such assertions were false." (Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Due to the forced administration of Zyprexa, an antipsychotic, Plaintiff avers that he has experienced health problems including involuntary motor movements, extreme mood swings, sudden dizziness, obesity, high cholesterol and panic breathing. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.)

         Next, Plaintiff alleges that at around 11:45 a.m. on January 6, 2015, in the Central State Building 39 Library, Defendant Oni attacked Plaintiff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) However, following the incident, Plaintiff was charged with assault against Oni. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4.) On May 19, 2015, Plaintiff was indicted for maliciously wounding Oni, in violation of Va. Code § 18.2-51.[1](Ex. A to Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Def. Oni ("Oni Ex. A") (ECF No. 23-1) at 1.). On September 29, 2015, Plaintiff entered into a plea agreement, and on October 26, 2015, the Circuit Court of the County of Dinwiddie entered a trial and sentencing order, finding Plaintiff guilty of malicious wounding. (Ex. B to Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Def. Oni ("Oni Ex. B") (ECF No. 23-2) at 1-4; Ex. C to Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Def. Oni ("Oni Ex. C") (ECF No. 23-3) at 1-2.)

         Plaintiff further contends that on January 14, 2018 another patient attacked him from behind without provocation. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7.) Later that same day, Plaintiff states that he asked his treatment team if either he or the other patient could be moved to avoid further confrontation and injury. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff describes that "this request was met with sarcasm." (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Hospital staff placed Plaintiff in four-point restraints on January 30, 2018. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.) Plaintiff claims that this was done "at the behest" of Vauter and Barber. (Am. Compl. ¶ 9.)

         Plaintiff states that he remained in four-point restraints until February 15, 2018. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) He describes that hospital staff forced him to sleep with these restraints, which caused "severe cramping of the arms, pain in his side, no sleep and back pain due to what can be called a permanent stress position." (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) During this time, Plaintiff also states that he was denied the opportunity to attend religious services, receive treatment, go outdoors for daily exercise or participate in any "activity or structured program [s]" offered to the other patients. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11-14.) Plaintiff also states that during this period, the hospital staff forced him to shower wearing the four-point restraints, with only one arm outside the restraints at a time, "making hygiene a major issue." (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.)

         Once hospital staff released Plaintiff from the four-point restraints, on February 15, 2018, they placed Plaintiff on a ward with no physical human contact. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff avers that Vauter and Barber placed him in seclusion under the pretext of aggression. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) As of the time of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff remained in the secluded housing ward. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) Since February 15, 2018, hospital staff have not allowed Plaintiff to participate in treatment groups or religious services. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-18.) Plaintiff further states that hospital staff observe him through a two-way mirror. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff contends that because of this isolation, his mental health has deteriorated and that he has experienced depression, hallucinations and anxiety. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff asserts that his continued placement in isolation comes at the behest of Parikh, Ernouf, Vauter, Herr and Melton.

         C. Plaintiffs Causes of Action and Demands for Relief

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on January 30, 2019, and his Amended Complaint on March 29, 2019. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Simpson and Dr. Yaratha violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they forcibly medicated Plaintiff over Plaintiffs explicit objections. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22-23.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $89, 000 and punitive damages in the amount of $196, 000. (Am. Compl. ¶ 32.)

         In Count II, Plaintiff asserts that when Defendant Oni attacked him, Oni used excessive force, in violation of Plaintiff s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 24-25.) Further, Plaintiff contends that Dr. Yaratha orchestrated the attack, also in violation of Plaintiffs Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Am. Compl. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $42, 000 and punitive damages in the amount of $60, 000. (Am Compl. ¶ 33.)

         In Count III, Plaintiff alleges that Barber and Vauter are liable for knowingly and willingly subjecting Plaintiff to a prolonged period of severe bodily restraint when Plaintiff was not a present physical threat to himself or others, in violation of Plaintiff s Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26-27.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages totaling $816, 000 and punitive damages in the amount of $760, 000. (Am. Compl. ¶ 34.)

         Finally, in Count IV, Plaintiff asserts that in failing to "keep Plaintiff safe from the implementation of the unnecessary and wanton infliction of bodily restraint and seclusion," Vauter, Barber, Melton, Parikh, Ernouf, Shaefer, Pope and Herr have violated Plaintiffs rights under 42 U.S.C. § 9501, as well as under the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 29-30.) Plaintiff requests compensatory damages in the amount of $912, 000 and punitive damages totaling $1, 800, 000. (Am. Compl. ¶ 35.) Further, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and requests that the Court order Defendants to release him from solitary confinement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 35.)

         D. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

         Defendants argue that Plaintiffs complaint fails to state claims upon which relief may be granted, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In his Motion to Dismiss, Simpson asserts that the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs claim. (Br. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss of Def. Dr. Ted Simpson ("Simpson Br.") (ECF No. 25) at 1.) Defendant Oni similarly argues in his Motion to Dismiss that the statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs claim. (Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Def. Oni ("Oni Br.") (ECF No. 23) at 1.) Oni further contends that because Plaintiff attacked Oni, and indeed pled guilty to the crime, Plaintiff is barred from bringing the claim. (Oni Br. at 1.) Moreover, Oni asserts qualified immunity. (Oni Br. at 1.)

         Barber, Melton, Shaefer and Herr (collectively, the "DBHDS Defendants") moved to dismiss Counts III and IV, asserting that Plaintiffs Fifth Amendment claims are duplicative of his Fourteenth Amendment claims, that the Eighth Amendment does not apply to the involuntarily committed, and that 42 U.S.C. § 9501 does not create a private right of action enforceable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Jack Barber, Hughes Melton, Michael Shaefer, and Daniel Herr ("DBHDS Br.") (ECF No. 17) at 5, n. 1.) As to the Fourteenth Amendment claims, they further contend that Plaintiff fails to allege sufficient facts to show personal participation in any Fourteenth Amendment violations and, moreover, that the Professional Judgement Standard protects their actions. (DBHDS Br. at 5-6.) Finally, the DBHDS Defendants each assert qualified immunity. (DBHDS Br. at 11.) Vauter, Parikh and Ernouf (collectively, the "Central State Defendants") put forth the same arguments in support of their Motion to Dismiss. (Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss of Rebecca A. Vauter, Dr. Nishant Parikh, and Holly Ernouf ("Central State Br.") (ECF No. 21) at 5, n.1, 6, 11).

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint need only contain "a short, plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint or a counterclaim. Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin,980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). A claim or counterclaim must state facts sufficient to "'give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Further, the facts alleged must be sufficient to "state all elements of [any] claim[s]." Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co.,324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp.,309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002) and Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)). Ultimately, "[t]o ...


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