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Lundeen v. Rhoad

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

July 8, 2015

JAMES E. LUNDEEN, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS RHOAD, et al. Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

SARAH EVANS BARKER, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Docket No. 39], filed on October 22, 2014 pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

Background

Because we do not reach the merits of Plaintiff's allegations, we present only a brief background summary of this matter and its procedural history.

Plaintiff James E. Lundeen, Sr. is a medical doctor, and Defendants are officers of Indiana state agencies. According to the Complaint, Defendant Nicholas Rhoad is the Executive Director of the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, Defendant Stephen Huddleston is the President of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, and Defendant Amber Swartzell is an Indiana Deputy Attorney General.[1] Compl. ¶¶ 2.1-2.3.

Plaintiff was originally licensed to practice medicine in Ohio, but the Ohio State Medical Board summarily and temporarily suspended his license on May 11, 2011. Pl.'s Ex. AA, BB. On December 14, 2011, the Ohio board permanently revoked the license, determining that Plaintiff's "continued practice presents a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public." See Pl.'s Ex. G. The board based its decision on the findings of a state hearing examiner that Plaintiff had violated medical ethics and compromised patient safety by over-prescribing medications, particularly narcotics. Id. Plaintiff filed suit in Ohio state court, which ultimately affirmed the Ohio board's decision. See Lundeen v. State Med. Bd. of Ohio, No. 11CV-16295, Decision and Judgment Entry (Franklin Cnty. Ct. of Common Pleas, June 28, 2012), aff'd, 2013 WL 209136 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 17, 2013).

After the temporary Ohio license suspension but before the permanent revocation, Plaintiff applied for and received an Indiana medical license, which was issued on September 21, 2011. On February 10, 2012, following notice and a pre-deprivation hearing and based on the Ohio board's findings, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board ("the Board") ordered the emergency summary suspension of Plaintiff's medical license in Cause No. 2012 MLB 0005, pursuant to Indiana Code § 25-1-9-10.[2] Plaintiff challenged this decision in Indiana court, but the court dismissed his suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. See Lundeen v. Rhoad, Cause No. 1:12-cv-696-DKL-SEB, 991 F.Supp.2d 1008, 1012 (S.D. Ind. 2014).[3] The Indiana Attorney General then filed a complaint seeking the permanent revocation of Plaintiff's license, asserting-again, based on the Ohio's board's findings and revocation order-that Plaintiff's misconduct violated Indiana Code § 25-1-9-4(a)(7). Id. After a hearing, the Board on May 2, 2012 found Plaintiff to have violated the statute and placed his medical license on indefinite suspension with the condition that he not petition for reinstatement until he submits proof that he holds an active medical license in Ohio. Id.

On May 22, 2012, Plaintiff filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana ["the 2012 suit"] against Defendant Rhoad in his official capacity, seeking redress under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his rights under the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. See Lundeen v. Rhoad, Cause No. 1:12-cv-696-DKL-SEB, Docket No. 52 (Am. Compl.). Magistrate Judge LaRue dismissed Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on January 7, 2014, ruling that his claims were barred by the state's sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment or failed to state a claim for relief under the due process clause. 991 F.Supp.2d at 1018-1021. Because Plaintiff was (as he remains) pro se, Magistrate Judge LaRue dismissed without prejudice, allowing Plaintiff an additional opportunity to cure the defects of his previous complaints.

Plaintiff filed his proposed Second Amended Complaint in the 2012 suit on January 24, 2014; in it, he added four new counts, dropped his Eighth Amendment claim, and added three new Defendants: Stephen Huddleston, Amber Swartzell, and Frances Kelly. Cause No. 1:12-cv-696-DKL-SEB, Docket No. 77-3. In all relevant respects, that complaint is the same as the one now before us-in fact, save for a few non-substantive changes and the addition of several new prefatory sentences, the present Complaint is a word-for-word copy of that document. Compare Docket No. 1 with Cause No. 1:12-cv-696-DKL-SEB, Docket No. 77-3.[4] In an Entry dated June 9, 2014, Magistrate Judge LaRue dismissed the proposed Second Amended Complaint with prejudice. Reasoning that "Mr. Lundeen has had ample opportunity to plead all claims he has against all defendants that he desires in this Cause, " and that he had pointed to "no new evidence that explains or justifies his failure to plead the new claims or join the new defendants before now, " Judge LaRue denied leave to add new claims and defendants. Cause No. 1:12-cv-696-DKL-SEB, Docket No. 80 at 2-3. With regard to the remaining counts, Judge LaRue found that Plaintiff had failed to correct the deficiencies in his pleading and had otherwise failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted as to any of the claims. The court therefore dismissed the 2012 suit with prejudice, and accordingly entered judgment against Plaintiff on June 9, 2014. Id. at Docket Nos. 80, 82.

While his motion for leave to file a second amended complaint in that action was still pending, Plaintiff filed the present suit-using a near-carbon copy of the complaint pending before Judge LaRue-on April 10, 2014. Defendants filed their motion to dismiss on October 22, 2014. Docket No. 39. Legal Analysis

1. Standard under Rule 12(b)(1)

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure command that courts dismiss any suit over which they lack subject matter jurisdiction-whether acting on the motion of a party or sua sponte. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(1). In ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), we "must accept the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw reasonable inferences from those allegations in the plaintiff's favor." Franzoni v. Hartmax Corp., 300 F.3d 767, 771 (7th Cir. 2002); Transit Express, Inc. v. Ettinger, 246 F.3d 1018, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001). We may, however, "properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." See Capitol Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993); Estate of Eiteljorg ex rel. Eiteljorg v. Eiteljorg, 813 F.Supp.2d 1069, 1074 (S.D. Ind. 2011).

2. Standard under Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes dismissal of claims for "failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted"; similarly, Rule 12(c) authorizes motions for judgment on the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 12(c).[5] 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 Rule 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. ...


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