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Stafford v. Wexford of Indiana, LLC

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

October 10, 2017

MICHAEL RAY STAFFORD, CHARLES SMITH, and DOUGLAS SMITH, Plaintiffs,
v.
WEXFORD OF INDIANA, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Plaintiffs Michael Ray Stafford, Charles Smith, and Douglas Smith filed this Amended Complaint (“Complaint”) alleging that Wexford of Indiana, LLC (“Wexford”) violated their rights under the Eighth Amendment via 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. (“ADA”), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 791 et seq. (“Rehabilitation Act”). [Filing No. 39.] Wexford has filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims [Filing No. 77], and the motion is now ripe for the Court's decision.

         I.

         Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] 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) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II.

         Relevant Background

         The following background is set forth pursuant to the applicable standards, accepting all well-pled factual allegations against Wexford from Plaintiffs' Complaint as true. Stafford is an inmate of the Indiana Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) who was informed that he tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus (“HCV”) following an altercation with another inmate who infected him with HCV-positive blood products. [Filing No. 39 at 3.] Charles Smith is an inmate of IDOC who was informed by IDOC personnel that he was HCV-positive when he was incarcerated at an IDOC facility. [Filing No. 39 at 3.] Douglas Smith is also an inmate of IDOC who was informed by IDOC that he was HCV-positive. [Filing No. 39 at 3.]

         Wexford is a for-profit company doing business in the State of Indiana that receives federal funds. [Filing No. 39 at 5.] Wexford is under contract to provide medical care to incarcerated inmates for the State of Indiana. [Filing No. 39 at 5.] Plaintiffs alleged that Wexford created and implemented “policies that have directly inflicted harm and demonstrated deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs' disability, disease, and serious medical needs.” [Filing No. 39 at 5.] This alleged treatment led Plaintiffs to “sue Defendants for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs' disability, disease, and serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.” [Filing No. 39 at 5.]

         Plaintiffs allege that HCV is a “disability and physical impairment that can and does substantially affect the major life activities of digestive systems, circulatory systems, and life itself, of which Defendants were aware, ” and that they are qualified individuals with a disability for purposes of the ADA. [Filing No. 39 at 17.] They assert that Wexford created and implemented policies that discriminate against Plaintiffs on the basis of their disability. [Filing No. 39 at 10.]

         Plaintiffs allege that, due to Wexford's failure to treat Plaintiffs' HCV pursuant to the standard of care, they are exposed to an increased likelihood of cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and death. [Filing No. 39 at 8.] They further allege that Wexford has actual knowledge of Plaintiffs' serious medical needs and the standard of care for treating said needs. [Filing No. 39 at 9.] Plaintiffs claim that, despite this knowledge, Wexford “willfully delayed, denied, and deliberately and indifferently interfered with Plaintiffs' HCV treatment for non-medical reasons, contrary to the standard of care, by withholding HCV treatment; and by permitting HCV-infected persons to remain infectious to others.” [Filing No. 39 at 10.]

         Plaintiffs claim that Wexford could have reasonably accommodated their disabilities by treating them in accordance with the standard of care, so as not to exclude them from participation in, or deny them the benefits of, federally funded services, programs, or activities of IDOC. [Filing No. 39 at 17.] Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that Wexford discriminates against them by withholding medically appropriate treatment capable of curing HCV and thus their disability, while Defendants do not withhold life-saving treatments from individuals with different disabilities. [Filing No. 39 at 18.] They allege that this has resulted in Wexford wrongfully discriminating against them on the basis of their disability and precludes them from receiving the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations” that Wexford provides to other inmates at IDOC. [Filing No. 39 at 19-20.]

         Plaintiffs have alleged that Wexford violated their rights under the Eighth Amendment, the ADA, and the Rehabilitation Act.[1] Wexford moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims ...


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