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Reaves v. Hobson

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 21, 2018

DOUGLAS A. REAVES, Plaintiff,
v.
KIM HOBSON, K. GILMORE, WEXFORD MEDICAL SOURCES, ESTHER HINTON, DR. JEFF PEARCY, MIKE SMITH, JULIE, JUDIE, DR. RUTHIE JIMERSON, Defendants.

          ENTRY GRANTING CERTAIN DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS, DISCUSSING OTHER PENDING MOTIONS, AND DIRECTING PLAINTIFF TO SHOW CAUSE

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Douglas A. Reaves brings this civil rights Eighth Amendment action alleging deliberate indifference to his dental care needs while incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”). He seeks compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. Four of the nine defendants, Ruthie Jimerson, DDS, Jeff Pearcy, DDS, Nurse Kim Hobson, and dental assistant Julie (Atkinson), have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiff has opposed the motion and the moving defendants have replied. The moving defendants have also moved to strike the plaintiff's surreply.

         For the reasons discussed in this Entry, the moving defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, dkt. [41], must be granted.

         II. Background

         The Court takes judicial notice of the plaintiff's prior action against Dr. Jimerson (and another dentist not named in this action), complaining about dental care at Wabash Valley in Reaves v. Ruthie Jimerson, DDS, et al., 2:15-cv-0350-JMS-MJD (Reaves I). During the litigation of the plaintiff's claims in Reaves I, on April 15, 2016, the Court granted the plaintiff's motion for emergency medical injunction by ordering “Dr. Jimerson, or her designee with the authority to do so, shall refer Reaves to an outside dentist to examine and evaluate Reaves's teeth. The Court leaves whatever treatment, if any, is appropriate, to the determination of the outside dentist.” Reaves I, dkt. 37, pp. 9-10. An outside dentist, Dr. Roshel, examined the plaintiff and noted some recession on teeth #21 and #22 and cavities on teeth #19, #29, #30, and #31. He recommended fillings. Id. at dkt. 44-1. A prison dentist other than Dr. Jimerson ultimately performed the dental work in June 2016. Id. at dkt. 80. The claims alleged in Reaves I were later resolved by settlement. A final Order dismissing that action with prejudice was issued on April 7, 2017. Id. at dkt. 107.

         The plaintiff filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the defendants on February 16, 2018, alleging deliberate indifference to his serious dental conditions in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Dkt. 1. In the complaint, the plaintiff recited his history of treatment by defendant Dr. Jimerson, alleging that he has suffered tooth damage and extreme pain as far back as 2010. Dkt. 1, pp. 17-19. The complaint alleges that sometime after the other prison dentist filled his cavities, Dr. Jimerson intentionally diagnosed him with advanced gum disease, which he disputes he has, and also advised that he should consider extraction of his teeth. Dkt. 1, pp. 14-15, 19. In addition, he alleges that he suffers from severe pain from a filling that fell out of tooth #14 on January 9, 2017, a tooth Dr. Jimerson had filled on March 21, 2014. Dkt. 1, pp. 19-20.

         The complaint further alleges that Dr. Jeff Pearcy, supervisor over the dental department, and Nurse Kim Hobson, Health Care Administrator, failed to provide basic dental treatment when they allowed Dr. Jimerson to “intentionally diagnose[] the plaintiff with advanced gum disease” (when he believed he had no gum disease) and knew she wanted to pull his teeth that could be saved. Dkt. 1, pp. 6-7, 12-14. He alleges that he informed these defendants by letter than he had suffered pain when Dr. Jimerson treated him but they disregarded his serious dental needs. Id. He alleges that dental assistant Julie (Atkinson) failed to provide basic dental treatment by allowing Dr. Jimerson to continue bad dental practices that Julie witnessed without informing medical supervisors. Dkt. 1, pp. 11-12.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for judgment after the parties have filed a complaint and an answer. “[A] motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is subject to the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Katz-Crank v. Haskett, 843 F.3d 641, 646 (7th Cir. 2016). “To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The Court must “accept the allegations in the complaint as true unless they are ‘threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements.'” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009)). “As the title of the rule implies, Rule 12(c) permits a judgment based on the pleadings alone. . . . The pleadings include the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached as exhibits.” Northern. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998).

         IV. Discussion

         The moving defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment because the plaintiff's claims against them are barred: 1) by the Reaves I settlement, 2) by the doctrine of res judicata, 3) by issue preclusion, 4) by the applicable statute of limitations, and 5) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dkt. 42. The Court finds that only the issues of res judicata and whether the allegations state a viable claim warrant discussion.[1]

         A. Res Judicata

         The moving defendants argue that the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference for the dental care he received from 2010 through April 7, 2017, are precluded by the doctrine of res judicata based on the stipulation of dismissal entered in Reaves I. “A fundamental precept of common-law adjudication, embodied in the related doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata, is that a right, question or fact distinctly put in issue and directly determined by a court of competent jurisdiction...cannot be disputed in a subsequent suit between the same parties or their privies[.]” Ross v. Bd. of Educ. of Tp. H.S. Dist. 211, 486 F.3d 279, 282 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). The three requirements for res judicata under federal law are: “(1) an identity of the causes of actions; (2) an identity of the parties or their privies; ...


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