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Hinojosa v. Larpenter

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 8, 2018


         SECTION "F"



         Before the Court is Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, Richard Neal, and Kelly Gaudet's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED in part (as to the federal claims against Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government and Neal and Gaudet in their official capacity) and DENIED in part (as to the federal claims against Neal and Gaudet in their individual capacity and all state law claims).


         After sustaining an injury at Terrebone Parish Criminal Justice Complex, Jesus Hinojosa waited for four days before receiving medical treatment. Once he was evaluated, he was transported to Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center, admitted to their internal medicine unit, and shortly thereafter transferred to the intensive care unit. After twenty days, he died in the ICU of hypoxia.[2] This Section 1983 suit followed.

         Jesus Hinojosa was a Texas resident, but had temporarily relocated to Denham Springs, Louisiana in the fall of 2016. He was hired by Adrian Robles to repair houses damaged by the devastating flooding in August 2016. Robles asked Jesus, along with Jesus's nephew Jose Hinojosa, to join him on a trip.[3] During that trip, Robles, Jesus, and Jose, and two others, were arrested on November 29, 2016 after law enforcement found large quantities of cocaine in Robles' truck.[4] Jesus maintained that he had no knowledge of the drug presence, and was not aware that the trip involved drug trafficking.

         Jesus was housed at the Terrebonne Parish Criminal Justice Complex, which is managed by the Terrebonne Parish Sherriff's Office. The jail and medical staff was aware that Jesus required treatment, proper diet, and medications to treat his serious medical conditions; he had undergone two open heart surgeries within the previous two years. Jesus's wife, Georgina Hinojosa, repeatedly called the jail staff to remind them of her husband's condition. On February 3, 2017, Jesus was injured.[5] For four days, Jesus requested treatment several times and complained of chest pains and shortness of breath, but he was not evaluated by the jail's medical staff until February 7, 2017. He was admitted to the internal medicine unit of Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center the next day, but was promptly moved to the intensive care unit for treatment of hypoxia and other ailments. After twenty days in the ICU, Jesus died on March 1, 2017. The Terrebonne Parish Sherriff's Office would not provide information of Jesus's condition or location to his wife.[6] Accordingly, Jesus had no contact with any family member after he was injured, and died alone.

         Georgina Hinojosa brought this lawsuit individually and on behalf of her deceased husband, Jesus Hinojosa, on September 29, 2017. She sued Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, and Terrebone Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, Richard Neal, and Kelly Gaudet, in their official and individual capacities. Richard Neal was an employee of TPCG and provided care to pre-trial inmates. Kelly Gaudet is a registered nurse and was an employee of TPCG, and oversaw the care for Jesus Hinojosa.[7] Mrs. Hinojosa brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; she asserts that the defendants violated her husband's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights of the federal, and state, constitutions by failing to provide adequate medical care and access to medications.[8] She also asserts that the defendants were negligent under Louisiana law tort principles and are liable to her for damages caused by Mr. Hinojosa's wrongful death.[9]

         Terrebone Sheriff Jerry Larpenter answered the complaint on October 24, 2017. Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, Richard Neal, and Kelly Gaudet filed this motion to dismiss on November 17, 2017. In the plaintiff's opposition to the motion to dismiss, she requests that should the Court grant the defendants' motion to dismiss that she be afforded the opportunity to amend her complaint to remedy the deficiencies.


         In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and view[s] all facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” See Thompson v. City of Waco, Texas, 764 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Doe ex rel. Magee v. Covington Cnty. Sch. Dist. ex rel. Keys, 675 F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2012)(en banc)). But in deciding whether dismissal is warranted, the Court will not accept conclusory allegations in the complaint as true. Id. at 502-03 (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         To survive dismissal, “‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678)(internal quotation marks omitted). “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).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and footnote omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”). This is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. at 678 (internal quotations omitted) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief'”, thus, “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (alteration in original) (citation omitted).


         Title 42, U.S.C. § 1983 creates a private right of action for violations of federally-secured rights under color of state law. To establish Section 1983 ...

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