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Coffey v. Xerox Corp.

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 25, 2014

PAULI COFFEY, Plaintiff,
v.
XEROX CORPORATION, Defendant.

ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS

SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

This cause is before the Court on Defendant Xerox Corporation’s Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Docket No. 13], filed on April 2, 2013 pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

Factual and Procedural Background

The Plaintiff is proceeding without the assistance of counsel, and her Complaint is neither clear nor concise in its presentation of the chronological narrative of her case. Nonetheless, we can glean the following basic facts from the complaint and other filings, which we treat as true for the purposes of this motion.

Sometime in 2010, Plaintiff Pauli Coffey, a resident of Indiana, suffered a severe injury to her right leg, which she describes as a “crushed femur.” Compl. 2. Plaintiff applied for Medicaid on October 20, 2010, and by October 25, 2010, she had supplied all information that was required for approval by Medicaid. Pl.’s Resp. 2, ¶ 6[1]; Docket No. 65 at 5.[2] For at least some periods in 2010 and 2011, Plaintiff was approved for Medicaid coverage and received a Medicaid card. See Docket No. 20, Ex. C.[3]

Plaintiff alleges that employees with Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (“ACS”), a subsidiary of Defendant Xerox working under contract for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (“FSSA”), mishandled her Medicaid coverage and denied her proper care for her injury. See generally Compl. 2–6; Def.’s Br. 2. For a three-month period from November 2010 to the end of January 2011, Plaintiff says that she was instructed by Xerox employees at FSSA to seek care for her injury at the nearest emergency room. Compl. 2. Upon repeated visits, emergency room staff provided her with “emergent care, ” including taping for her knee and braces for her leg. See Compl. 2; Docket No. 65 at 5. However, staff at Community Hospitals told Plaintiff that they could not fulfill her requests to see an orthopedic specialist to address the underlying bone injury, because such treatment was not covered under her Medicaid program benefits. See Docket No. 1, Ex. H.[4] In the course of visiting numerous hospitals in an attempt to get more substantial treatment, Plaintiff also asserts that she underwent an “unsafe” number of x-ray scans. Compl. 2.

Plaintiff further relates that when, in December 2010, Xerox employees at FSSA finally did approve her access to a specialist, they informed her that there was only one orthopedic specialist in the greater Indianapolis area from whom she could seek care, a Dr. Jeff Anglen. Compl. 3; see also Docket No. 1, Ex. G. However, Plaintiff discovered that even a preliminary intake appointment with Dr. Anglen was not possible until February 10, 2011-with actual treatment for her leg likely delayed still further until a subsequent visit. Compl. 3. Plaintiff ultimately never saw Dr. Anglen, but she asserts that he still received reimbursement from Medicaid for having provided care to her. Id. Eager to receive more prompt care for her injury- which rendered her unable to work and severely impacted her mobility and ability to care for her child-Plaintiff sought to consult with other orthopedists throughout the Greater Indianapolis area who would agree to provide her care despite the FSSA determination (allegedly reached by Xerox employees) that she was authorized to receive care only through Dr. Anglen. Docket No. 65 at 5–6.

After several weeks of searching, Plaintiff was seen by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Berrios, who performed surgery on her right leg on February 1, 2011, four days after her initial visit. Compl. 4. Because she had also damaged her left leg from placing disproportionate weight on it in an attempt to compensate for her right leg injury, Plaintiff underwent a second surgery shortly thereafter. Id. In June 2011, Dr. Berrios informed Plaintiff that the surgeries had not been fully successful-at least in part because of the delay in obtaining treatment for so long after the initial injury-and Plaintiff’s right leg is now shorter than her left leg, causing pain and hampering her ability to ambulate. Id.; Docket No. 65 at 6. Plaintiff now wears leg braces and corrective shoes to ameliorate the effects of this condition. Compl. 4.

Medicaid provided coverage for Plaintiff’s various visits to emergency rooms between November 2010 and February 2011, and it also provided coverage for the large quantities of painkillers prescribed by emergency room doctors to help her cope with her pain in the absence of more substantial treatment for her leg injury. Compl. 5. However, consistent with their earlier statements, Xerox employees at FSSA maintained to Plaintiff that Dr. Berrios was not authorized to provide her coverage, and her only recourse was through Dr. Anglen. Plaintiff asserts that she contacted Xerox/ACS employees on multiple occasions via mail or telephone-the last such contact being on February 7, 2011-and received the same response. Compl. 6.

On September 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed a notice of tort claim with the State of Indiana, listing a loss date of February 1, 2011. Docket No. 1 Ex. B. She subsequently filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Indiana, former Governor Mitch Daniels, and an assortment of other state and FSSA figures in their official capacities. See Coffey v. State of Indiana et al, Case No. 1:13-cv-00117-JMS-TAB (S.D. Ind. 2013). Judge Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana dismissed her claim on the grounds that a state and its agencies are not “persons” susceptible to suit under Section 1983. Plaintiff filed this suit against Xerox Corporation on January 16, 2013. See Docket No. 1.

Legal Analysis Standard of Review

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of claims for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In determining the sufficiency of a claim, the court considers all allegations in the complaint to be true and draws such reasonable inferences as required in the plaintiff's favor. Jacobs v. City of Chi., 215 F.3d 758, 765 (7th Cir. 2000). Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) applies, with several enumerated exceptions, to all civil claims, and it establishes a liberal pleading regime in which a plaintiff must provide only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief, ” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2); this reflects the modern policy judgment that claims should be “determined on their merits rather than through missteps in pleading.” E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 779 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing 2 James W. Moore, et al., Moore’s Federal Practice § 8.04 (3d ed. 2006)). A pleading satisfies the core requirement of fairness to the defendant so long as it provides “enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008).

In its decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the United States Supreme Court introduced a more stringent formulation of the pleading requirements under Rule 8. In addition to providing fair notice to a defendant, the Court clarified that a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Plausibility requires more than labels and conclusions, and a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Instead, the factual allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. The plausibility of a complaint depends upon the context in which the allegations are situated, and turns on more than the pleadings’ level of factual specificity; the same factually sparse pleading could be fantastic and unrealistic in one setting and entirely plausible in another. See In re Pressure Sensitive Labelstock Antitrust Litig., 566 F.Supp.2d 363, 370 (M.D. Pa. 2008).

Although Twombly and Iqbal represent a new gloss on the standards governing the sufficiency of pleadings, they do not overturn the fundamental principle of liberality embodied in Rule 8. As this Court has noted, “notice pleading is still all that is required, and ‘a plaintiff still must provide only enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, and, through his allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief.’” United States v. City of Evansville, 2011 WL 52467, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Jan. 8, 2011) (quoting Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1083). On a motion to dismiss, “the plaintiff receives ...


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