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Mendoza v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 7, 2017

JAMES H. MENDOZA, SR.
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

         SECTION "S" (2)

          ORDER

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         ORDER AND REASONS IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the United States of America's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc. #7) is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on the United States of America's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim against it for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         On September 19, 2016, plaintiff herein, James H. Mendoza, Sr., filed Civil Action No. 16-14790 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging that the United States retaliated against him for filing a complaint about his treatment at a Department of Veterans' Affairs medical center.[1] Specifically, Mendoza alleged that he filed a complaint with Theresa Cruthids, a Patient Advocate, concerning Dr. Eleanor Daveron and Nurse Brandi Torres claiming that they gave Mendoza “false information concerning a medical report from the Pain Management Clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana.” Within an hour of Mendoza's filing the complaint, Dr. Tanya D. Martin, who was not Mendoza's doctor, stopped a prescription refill that was in progress. Mendoza alleges that Drs. Daveron and Martin falsified his medical records in retaliation for his filing the original complaint, which caused him mental and physical pain. Mendoza “demand[ed] that his medical records be cleared of any false information” and sought $350, 000 for mental and physical distress.

         The United States filed a motion to dismiss Mendoza's claims arguing that this court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Mendoza's claims for libel, slander and misrepresentation. The United States also argued that Mendoza did not state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress or a claim under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. In response, Mendoza stated facts in his medical records that he claimed were untrue and that he had a conversation with Cruthirds, who said that Torres caused many problems. The court granted the motion and dismissed Mendoza's claims. Mendoza's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was dismissed without prejudice.

         On May 18, 2017, Mendoza, acting pro se, [2] filed this Civil Action No. 17-5035 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. In the current suit, he names the United States as the defendant and claims that employees at the Department of Veterans' Affairs medical center in Hammond, Louisiana intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him by various actions. First, he alleges that on July 28, 2015, nurse Brandi Torres embarrassed him “as though [he] was a drug addict trying to obtain medication that was not [his]” when she yelled at him “loudly in front of all the patients in the lobby” about having his Xanex pills counted by the pharmacist.

         Next, Mendoza alleges that on July 28, 2015, he filed a complaint against Torres with Cruthirds, and that Cruthirds stated that Torres had a bad attitude. Mendoza claims that an affidavit Cruthirds executed in connection with his prior law suit was untruthful. Mendoza claims that he never discussed undergoing a drug test with Cruthirds, and that her stating that their conversation involved anything other than Torres's job performance was a false statement made to “knowingly, willingly and INTENTIONALLY hurt someone mentally [which] goes far beyond outrageous. It is cruel, disgusting and inhumane.”

         Mendoza also alleges that Dr. Tanya D. Martin intentionally caused him emotional distress on September 3, 2015, by including false statements in his medical records concerning his use of hydrocodone, following Dr. Sharma's instructions, and his family history. Mendoza seeks “$400, 000 for the outrageous intentional emotional distress” that he endured “because of the lies and accusations made by the medical staff” at the Hammond clinic.

         The United States filed the instant motion to dismiss Mendoza's complaint arguing that his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is barred by the application of res judicata, or alternatively, that Mendoza failed to properly allege a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mendoza points out items that he believes were falsified in his medical records. Specifically, he states that Dr. Martin misrepresented the content of a telephone consultation “in retaliation” and “to cast as negativity on [his] dignity, integrity and lifestyle” and that Dr. Martin misrepresented statements Mendoza made about the amount of morphine he takes. Further, Mendoza claims that Cruthirds made false statements in her affidavit concerning the content of their conversation.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face must be pleaded. In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 & 1973 n. 14 (2007)). A claim is plausible on its face when the plaintiff pleads facts from which the court can “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. The court “must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” In re S. Scrap Material Co., LLC, 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th Cir. 2008). However, the court need not accept legal conclusions couched as factual ...


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