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Suffal v. Parish

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 13, 2015

TINA SUFFAL, ET AL
v.
JEFFERSON PARISH, ET AL, SECTION:

ORDER AND REASONS

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court are a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Jefferson Parish (Doc. 6), a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Correcthealth Jefferson, LLC ("Correcthealth") and Stacy Greene (Doc. 7), and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Correcthealth, and Stacy Greene (Doc. 10). For the following reasons, Jefferson Parish's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED AS MOOT, Correcthealth and Dr. Greene's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED, and the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED IN PART.

BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiffs are the surviving mother and children of Eric Suffal. Mr. Suffal died on July 28, 2013, as a result of a perforated duodenal ulcer, acute peritonitis, and a brain herniation allegedly sustained while he was incarcerated in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center ("JPCC"). Suffal was booked into the JPCC on July 11, 2013. At that time, he reported to the staff of the JPCC that he had ingested rat poison over a period of three days prior to his incarceration. After evaluating Suffal, the staff of the JPCC determined that he presented a high risk of suicide, admitted him to the infirmary, and placed him on suicide watch. Suffal remained in JPCC custody until July 24, 2013, when he was found unresponsive and drooling in his cell. He was transferred to the LSU Interim Public Hospital, where he died four days later. This suit followed.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants Sheriff Normand, Correcthealth (the medical provider at the JPCC), and Dr. Stacy Greene (the medical director at the JPCC) were deliberately indifferent to Suffal's serious medical needs in violation of 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and the Eighth Amendment, that Defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodations for his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that Defendants are liable for various state law torts, including medical malpractice. Plaintiffs initially named Jefferson Parish as an additional Defendant but have since filed an amended complaint removing all claims against Jefferson Parish. Defendants Jefferson Parish, Correcthealth, LLC, and Dr. Greene seek dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(c) provides that a party may move for judgment on the pleadings, after pleadings are closed but early enough not to delay trial.[2] The standard for determining a Rule 12(c) motion is the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.[3] To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[4] A claim is "plausible on its face" when the pleaded facts allow the court to "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."[5] A court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor."[6] The court need not, however, accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.[7] To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a "sheer possibility" that the plaintiff's claims are true.[8] The complaint must contain enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim.[9] If it is apparent from the face of the complaint that an insurmountable bar to relief exists and the plaintiff is not entitled to relief, the court must dismiss the claim.[10] The Court's review "is limited to the complaint, any documents attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint."[11]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

The Court will address each of the three Motions in turn.

I. Jefferson Parish's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 6)

Plaintiffs' initial Complaint purported to assert claims against Jefferson Parish. The Amended Complaint, however, does not assert any claim against the Parish. "[A]n amended complaint supersedes original complaint and renders it of no legal effect unless the amended complaint specifically refers to and adopts or incorporates by reference the earlier pleading."[12] Thus, the Court construes the amendment as a request to voluntarily dismiss the Parish.[13] Nonetheless, Jefferson Parish asks this Court to construe the amendment as an admission that Plaintiffs have no viable claim against it and to dismiss it with prejudice. This request is denied. A plaintiff generally has an absolute right to voluntarily dismiss a claim before the opposing party serves an answer or motion for summary judgment.[14] "Moreover, the first time a plaintiff voluntary dismisses his claim, it is without prejudice."[15] Jefferson Parish has filed neither an answer nor a motion for summary judgment. Therefore, the Court construes Plaintiffs' amendment as a voluntary dismissal of Jefferson Parish. Accordingly, Jefferson Parish is dismissed without prejudice, and the Motion to Dismiss is denied as moot.

II. Correcthealth and Dr. Greene's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7)

Correcthealth and Dr. Greene move to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims, to the extent that they arise under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act as premature. Defendants argue, and Plaintiffs concede, that Louisiana law requires that all medical malpractice actions be presented to a medical review panel prior to the institution of litigation.[16] Indeed, Plaintiffs requested a medical review panel in connection with this matter and concede that the medical malpractice claims are premature. ...


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