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George v. Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 29, 2015

TRUSSELL GEORGE
v.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS, et al.

RULING AND ORDER

JOHN W. DeGRAVELLES, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 34) filed by Defendant, Charles Vosburg, Ph.D. ("Dr. Vosburg" or "Defendant"), seeking to dismiss all claims against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff, Trussell George, opposes the motion (Doc. 36), and Defendant has filed a reply (Doc. 40). After careful review of the submissions of the parties, the Second Amended Complaint, and the relevant law, the Court denies the Defendant's motion.

I. Relevant Factual Allegations and Background

Plaintiff, a current inpatient at the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System ("ELMHS"), filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Title II of the Americans with D Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504") on May 28, 2014. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on September 24, 2014. (Doc. 24). Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint was filed on December 23, 2014. (Doc. 42). For purposes of this motion, the allegations in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint will be taken as true.

Plaintiff has a history of mental illness, which includes diagnoses of Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Psychosis NOS. (Doc. 42, ¶4). In December of 2008, Plaintiff was adjudged Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity ("NGRI") relative to a criminal offense (specifically, being a felon in possession of a firearm). (Id. at ¶46). By state court order and pursuant to state law, Plaintiff was conditionally released for a term of five years.[1] (Id.). The court order established numerous conditions on his release including requiring Plaintiff to reside in a group home and receive adequate outpatient treatment and medications. (Id. at ¶47).

During his conditional release, Plaintiff resided in a group home under the supervision of the Division of Probation and Parole of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Community Forensic Services of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. (Id. at ¶4). On two separate occasions during his conditional release, Plaintiff was arrested and placed in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.[2] (Id. at ¶¶55, 67). The basis for the arrests was "violating the terms of his conditional discharge." (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that no criminal charges were filed against him pertaining to either incarceration. (Id. at ¶¶58, 72).

Plaintiff alleges that "[o]nly persons with mental illness in Louisiana are intentionally subjected to punishment by incarceration in correctional facilities in the absence of pending criminal charges or a conviction of a criminal offense." (Id. at ¶80). This treatment of "persons found NGRI on the basis of their mental illness" allegedly subjects them to punishment in violation of the Due Process Clause and constitutes alleged intentional discrimination in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the ADA. (Id. at ¶¶83, 91, 97, 106).

In his Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names, among others, Charles P. Vosburg, Ph.D., as a defendant. (Id. at ¶13). Dr. Vosburg is a consulting psychologist for the Community Forensic Services ("CFS") of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Vosburg was a "key decision-maker in the arrest and incarceration of Plaintiff in 2014." (Id.).

Plaintiff alleges that the defendants, including Dr. Vosburg, "intentionally discriminate against persons found NGRI on the basis of their mental illness." (Id. at ¶83). Plaintiff further alleges that the defendants, including Dr. Vosburg, "knowingly and intentionally violated Plaintiffs' [sic] constitutional and federal statutory rights."(Id. at ¶84).

In his Motion to Dismiss, Defendant Vosburg asserts that he is a "state health care provider" and that all of Plaintiff's claims against him fall within the confines of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act ("LMMA"), La. Rev. Stat. 40:1299.41, et seq. (Doc. 34-1, p. 1). Claims falling under the LMMA must first be presented to a medical review panel. (Id.). Defendant, therefore, contends that because Plaintiff's claims against him have not been submitted to a medical review panel, they must be dismissed as premature. (Id.).

II. Discussion

A. Relevant Standard

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, the court must evaluate whether the complaint meets the legal standard for pleading found in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The federal pleading rules do not require dismissal of a complaint containing an "imperfect statement of the legal theory ...


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