United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER GRANTING DOC DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Lisa Rena Moore, on behalf of decedent Tonya Sue Moore
(“Moore”), Jeremy Eugene Moore, and Natasha Rose
Moore (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a
Complaint against the Prison's private health care
contractor (Corizon Health), seven employees of the Indiana
Women's Prison,  five employees of Corizon Health,
four unknown employees referred to as Jane Doe and John Doe
seeking relief based on the death of Moore, which occurred
approximately fourteen months after her incarceration at the
Indiana Women's Prison. Plaintiffs bring their action
alleging a violation of the Eighth Amendment and state-law
negligence claims. Corizon Health and its employees have not
filed a motion to dismiss, and the claims against them will
not be addressed in this order.
cause is now before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim filed
by Defendants McCauley, Walker, Wilson, Todd, Redmond, Ray,
and Quenzer (collectively, “DOC Defendants”) on
May 30, 2017, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). [Dkt. 34.] For the reasons detailed in this order,
we GRANT Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
Background and Procedural History
addressing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, we treat all well-pleaded
factual allegations as true, and we draw all reasonable
inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to
the non-movant. Lee v. City of Chicago, 330 F.3d
456, 459 (7th Cir. 2003). As such, Plaintiffs pleaded the
following facts in their complaint which are considered to be
true for this purposes of this motion. Moore was incarcerated
on February 13, 2014,  and subsequently passed away on April 12,
2015, while still incarcerated. [Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 26-27.]
During this period, Moore submitted approximately thirty
“Health Care Slips” for treatment of unknown
illnesses causing her “back pain, shortness of breath,
weakness, trouble walking any distance, ” and a
sixty-five pound weight loss. [Id. ¶¶
29-31.] Plaintiffs did not plead specific facts regarding the
extent of the medical treatment Moore received or did not
receive in response to these “Health Care Sips.”
a week before Moore's death, she “became
lightheaded in a shower stall and collapsed”; Moore was
transferred to the medical care unit by an unknown prison
nurse. [Id. ¶ 32.] On April 10, 2015, an
unknown inmate reported to a nurse that Moore was in
excruciating pain and was in urgent need of medical care.
[Id. ¶ 33.]
April 11, 2015, Moore was semiconscious in her cell when
Defendant Todd entered and called for medical assistance.
[Id. ¶ 34.] During this interaction, Defendant
Todd made comments about the seriousness of Moore's
condition, such as “it's just Tonya Moore; she
[sic] just in pain.” [Id.] Following
the call for medical assistance, unknown medical personnel
came and took Moore to the medical unit by wheelchair.
[Id. ¶ 35.] Plaintiffs do not allege what
occurred while Moore was in the medical unit. Moore was
returned to her cell shortly thereafter and was left in her
cell without the ability to sit up and after having vomited
the medication she was given. [Id. ] Defendant
Todd threatened other inmates by telling them that they would
be given a conduct report if they assisted Moore in any way.
[Id. ¶ 36.] Despite the threat, two fellow
inmates assisted Moore and did, indeed, receive Defendant
Todd's threatened conduct reports. [Id.]
the night of April 11, 2015, unknown inmates reported that
they heard Moore moaning for help. [Id. ¶ 37.]
One inmate continually pushed the call button in her cell to
alert prison officials of Moore's medical necessity, but
no prison staff came to assist Moore. [Id. ¶
39.] One inmate was so concerned that she called Moore's
father to inform him of his daughter's medical needs and
to suggest that he employ private medical assistance.
[Id. ¶ 38.]
approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 12, 2015, Defendant Walker
observed Moore in her cell and called medical personnel
because Moore appeared “very pale, in severe pain and
could not sit up.” [Id. ¶ 41.] When
medical assistance arrived, Moore exhibited no blood
pressure, no measurable oxygen levels, appeared very pale,
and could not move from the fetal position. [Id.] At
this time, emergency services were called, and Moore left the
prison by ambulance. [Id.] Later that day, Moore
died from septic shock, cardiac arrest, and complications
from undiagnosed lung cancer. [Id. ¶ 42.]
Plaintiffs do not allege any fact regarding the involvement
of Defendants McCauley, Wilson, Redmond, Ray, and Quenzer
with Moore or her medical treatment.
filed a four-count complaint seeking relief for Moore's
death. [Dkt. 1.] Count I of Plaintiffs' complaint alleges
a violation of the Eighth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. [Id. at 12-15.] Count II of
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges a state-law gross
negligence claim. [Id. at 15-17.] Count III of
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges a claim under the Indiana
General Wrongful Death Statute. [Id. at 17-18.]
Lastly, Count IV of Plaintiffs' complaint alleges a claim
under the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Statute. [Id.
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' complaint fails to
state a plausible claim upon which relief could be granted
against any of them. In support, DOC Defendants contend that:
(1) Plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim does not include
sufficient facts to show personal or direct involvement by
any of the DOC Defendants [Dkt. 34 ¶ 2] and that
Plaintiffs' Section 1988 request is improperly listed as
a separate claim for relief [id. ¶ 4]; (2)
Plaintiffs state-law general wrongful death claim cannot be
brought against DOC Defendants because they enjoy immunity,
or alternatively, Plaintiffs did not plead sufficient facts
upon which relief could be granted under the statute
[id. ¶ 5]; and (3) Plaintiffs' state-law
adult wrongful death claim fails to state a claim because
Moore is not an “adult person” within the meaning
of the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Statute [Id.].
response to DOC Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiffs
concede the following claims should be dismissed: (1) any
claim found in Count I of the complaint against DOC
Defendants in their official capacity [Dkt. 42 ¶ 2]; (2)
any claim in Counts I through IV against those prison and
healthcare providers referred to as John Doe and Jane Doe
[id. ¶ 4]; and (3) any claim found in Count II
against DOC Defendants [id. ¶ 6]. We accept
that concession and order these claims dismissed with
prejudice. No further discussion of them will ensue. We
address Defendants' remaining arguments in turn below.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Under Seventh Circuit law, “[t]o
survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint ‘must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face . . . . A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Arnett v. Webster, 658 F.3d
742, 751-52 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). “Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to satisfy
Rule 8 or withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Iqbal,
129 S.Ct. at 1949. The complaint “must actually suggest
that the plaintiff has a right to relief, by providing
allegations that raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Arnett, 658 F.3d at 752
(quoting Windy City Metal Fabricators & Supply, Inc.
v. CIT Tech. Fin. Servs., 536 F.3d 663, 668 (7th Cir.
standard does not require, however, that a plaintiff plead a
probable cause of action. Arnett, 658 F.3d
at 752. “[A] well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if
it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is
improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and
unlikely.” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). A party moving to
dismiss bears a weighty burden. “[O]nce a claim has
been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any
set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 546.
Plaintiffs have failed to plead sufficient facts to state a
claim of relief that is plausible on its face, the court
should grant the motion to dismiss. See, e.g.,
Arnett, 658 F.3d 742. When a district court grants a
motion to dismiss an original complaint, the plaintiff no
longer has a right to amend her complaint. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). However, under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15, a court should freely grant leave to a
plaintiff to amend her complaint “when justice so
requires, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(2), and the “liberal
amendment policy embodied in Rule 15 continues to govern a
court's decision to dismiss a complaint with prejudice,
” Gonzalez-Koeneke v. West, 791 F.3d 801, 808
(7th Cir. 2015). “[A] plaintiff whose original
complaint has been dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) should be
given at least one opportunity to try to amend her complaint
before the entire action is dismissed.” Runnion v.
Girl Scouts of Greater Chi. & Nw. Ind., 786 F.3d
510, 519 (7th Cir. 2015). However, where it is clear that the
complaint's defect cannot be corrected because any
amendment is futile, a court may deny leave to amend and
enter an immediate final judgment. Id. at 520.
I. Section 1983 and the Eighth Amendment (Count
of Plaintiffs' complaint brings an action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging a violation of the Eighth Amendment of
the Constitution, which has been made applicable to the
States through the Fourteenth Amendment. See,
e.g., Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660
(1962);[Dkt. 1 at 12-15.] “To recover damages under
§ 1983, a plaintiff must establish that a defendant was
personally responsible for the deprivation of a
constitutional right.” Gentry v. Duckworth, 65
F.3d 555, 561 (7th Cir. 1995). “By the plain terms of
§ 1983, two-and only two-allegations are required in
order to state a cause of action under that statute. First,
the plaintiff must allege that some person has deprived him
of a federal right. Second, he must allege that the person
who has deprived him of that right acted under color of
state or territorial law.” Jacobs v.
City of Chicago, 215 F.3d 758, 774-75 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quoting Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980).
case, Plaintiffs allege that DOC Defendants violated
Moore's rights under the Eighth Amendment, which bars the
infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.”
U.S. Const. amend. VIII. The Eighth Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects
inmates against punishments that “involve the
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, ”
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976) (internal
citations omitted), and obligates the government “to
provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by
incarceration.” Id. This protects inmates
“against a lack of medical care that ‘may result
in pain and suffering which no one suggests would serve any
penological purpose.'” Rodriguez v. Plymouth
Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 828 (7th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 103). It is well
settled that the “‘unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain' proscribed by the Eighth Amendment
includes a prohibition on deliberate indifference to the
serious medical needs of prisoners.”
Orlowski v. Milwaukee Cty., 872 F.3d 417, 423 (7th
Cir. 2017) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104).
a government officer may be held individually liable under
Section 1983 if he exhibits “deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs” of an inmate.
Rodriquez, 577 F.3d at 828. However, mere negligence
in the provision of medical care is not a constitutional
violation. Id. at 829. A plaintiff must show both:
“(1) an objectively serious medical condition to which
(2) a state official was deliberately, that is subjectively,
indifferent.” Id. (quoting Duckworth v.
Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008)).
Objectively Serious Medical Condition
the first prong of the Eighth Amendment test, an objectively
serious medical condition “is one that ‘has been
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that
is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need
for a doctor's attention.'” Thomas v. Cook
County Sheriff's Dep't, 604 F.3d 293, 301 (7th
Cir. 2010) (quoting Hayes v. Snyder, 546 F.3d 516,
522 (7th Cir. 2008)).
are facts alleged here that plausibly support the conclusion
that Moore had an objectively serious medical condition.
Moore, on several occasions, was brought to a medical unit
after inmates or prison employees called for medical care.
[Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 32, 34, 41.] Similarly, Moore exhibited
outward, obvious symptoms, such as vomiting [id.
¶ 35]; collapsing in a shower stall [id. ¶
32]; reporting back pain, shortness of breath, weakness,
trouble walking any distance, and a sixty-five pound weight
loss [id. ¶¶ 29-31]; appearing very pale
and in severe pain, and lacking the ability to sit up
[id. ¶ 41]. These symptoms were so obvious that
even other inmates (laypersons) recognized her need for
medical assistance by reporting Moore's condition to a
nurse [id. ¶ 33]; continually pushing a call
button to get Moore medical assistance [id. ¶
39]; and calling Moore's father to suggest that he pursue
private medical assistance [id. ¶ 38].
Plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded that Moore had an objectively
serious medical condition, we must now determine whether
Plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded that the individual DOC
Defendants were deliberately indifferent to that condition.
Deliberate Indifference to ...