United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc.
8) filed by Defendants, Louisiana State Board of
Medical Examiners (the “Board”) and Christy L.
Valentine, M.D. (“Valentine”), in her official
capacity (hereinafter collectively referred to as
“Defendants”). Plaintiff, Dr. Robin Ford
(“Ford”), opposes the motion (Rec. Doc. 12) and
Defendants have replied. (Rec. Doc. 15). Defendants have also
filed a Motion to Stay Discovery (Rec. Doc.
9). The motions, set for submission on July 25,
2018, are before the Court on the briefs without oral
argument. Having considered the motions and memoranda of
counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds
that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc.
8) is DENIED and Defendants'
Motion to Stay Discovery (Rec. Doc. 9) is
DISMISSED AS MOOT for the reasons set forth
1991, the Board licensed Dr. Ford to practice osteopathic
medicine. (Rec. Doc. 1, Complaint ¶ 2). In 1994, the
Board conducted an investigation and discovered that Dr. Ford
wrote prescriptions primarily for controlled substances in
the names of other individuals for her own personal
consumption and that she suffered from related issues of
substance abuse. (Rec. Doc. 8, Exhibit A). After the
Board's investigation, Dr. Ford signed a 1995 Consent
Order which suspended her license to practice medicine,
placed Dr. Ford on probation with various restrictions, and
provided an agreement to participate in a Physicians Health
Program (“PHP”). (Rec. Doc. 1, Complaint ¶
33-34). In the 1997 Superseding Consent Order, the Board
continued the restrictions imposed on Dr. Ford, but
reinstated her medical license. (Id. ¶ 37).
following year, Dr. Ford struggled with diagnosed manic
depressive (bipolar) disorder. (Id. ¶ 35). Dr.
Ford and the Board then entered into a 1998 Superseding
Consent Order to accommodate Dr. Ford and her bipolar
disorder as she suffered from somatic complaints, confusion,
agitation, and manic episodes. (Id. ¶ 31). For
several years, Dr. Ford remained stable and her disorder was
in remission. (Id. ¶ 39)
2006, Dr. Ford relapsed with her substance abuse disorder and
was diagnosed with opiate dependence. (Id.). Dr.
Ford removed herself from the medical profession by allowing
her license to expire while seeking treatment.
(Id.). After treatment, Dr. Ford requested to renew
her license and enter the re-admission process. The
re-admission process required Dr. Ford to agree to and sign
the 2011 Second Superseding Consent Order. (Id.
¶ 43-44). The 2011 Second Superseding Consent Order
again included the consent to a monitoring contract provided
by the PHP. (Id. ¶ 45). The PHP monitoring
contract provided for a five year term. (Id. ¶
2010, Dr. Ford has not relapsed. (Id. ¶ 55). In
2014, the Board issued a Third Superseding Order modifying
the Second Superseding Consent Order to allow Dr. Ford to
prescribe Schedule IV and V controlled substances. (Rec. Doc.
8, Exhibit E). The PHP released Dr. Ford from her monitoring
contract in January of 2017 and imposed a new, less
burdensome Post-Monitoring Contract for nine months.
(Id. ¶ 62). In April of 2017, Dr. Ford
requested the Board to reinstate the previously revoked
ability to prescribe Schedule II and Schedule III controlled
substances. (Rec. Doc. 8, p. 5). Soon thereafter, Dr. Ford
received the April 2017 Letter stating that her request was
under advisement. (Id., Exhibit F). The letter also
stated, “The Board believes that licensees currently
practicing with diagnosed psychiatric conditions should
continue monitoring with HPFL-PHP by signing a lifetime
monitoring contract.” (Id.). The April 2017
Letter further indicated that Dr. Ford should contact Dr.
Hammond at the PHP to discuss the monitoring requirements.
(Id.). When Dr. Ford contacted Dr. Hammond, Dr.
Hammond informed Dr. Ford that the PHP made a
“mistake” releasing Dr. Ford from the monitoring
contract. (Rec. Doc. 1, Complaint ¶ 72). Dr. Hammond
further instructed Dr. Ford that if she didn't sign the
New Monitoring Contract, then Dr. Hammond would report her to
the Board and her license would be “taken away.”
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides the vehicle by
which a party can challenge a court's subject matter
jurisdiction to hear a particular issue. In general, where
subject matter jurisdiction is being challenged under Rule
12(b)(1), the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and
resolve factual disputes to satisfy itself that it has power
to hear the case. Montez v. Dep't of Navy, 392
F.3d 147, 149 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Land v.
Dollar, 330 U.S. 731 (1947)). No. presumptive
truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff's allegations and
the court can decide disputed issues of material fact in
order to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear
the case. Id. However, where issues of fact are
central both to subject matter jurisdiction and the claim on
the merits, the trial court must assume jurisdiction and
proceed to the merits of plaintiff's case under either
Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56. Id. (citing Williamson
v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404 (5th Cir. 1981)).
well-settled standards governing Rule 12(b)(6) motions to
dismiss, a claim may not be dismissed unless it appears
certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts that
would entitle him to legal relief. In re Supreme Beef
Processors, Inc., 468 F.3d 248, 251 (5th Cir. 2006)
(citing Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19 (5th
Cir. 1992)). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss,
the plaintiff must plead enough facts to “state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A
claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. A court must accept all
well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S.
Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 239 (5th Cir. 2009). But
the Court is not bound to accept as true legal conclusions
couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
legally sufficient complaint need not contain detailed
factual allegations, but it must go beyond labels, legal
conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a
cause of action. Id. In other words, the face of the
complaint must contain enough factual matter to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
each element of the plaintiff's claim. Lormand,
565 F.3d at 257. If there are insufficient factual
allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculation
level, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint
that there is an insuperable bar to relief, the claim must be
dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Law and Analysis
bring the instant motion pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to
dismiss Dr. Ford's claims under Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). First, Defendants
argue that Dr. Ford's claims should be dismissed pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(1) because abstention from exercising
jurisdiction is warranted under the Younger
abstention doctrine. Second, Defendants argue that Dr.
Ford's claims should be dismissed pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) because her claims are barred by res
judicata. Third, Defendants argue that Dr. Ford's
claims should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because
she fails to state a claim under Title II of the ADA as a
matter of law. Fourth, Defendants argue that Dr. Ford's
relief against Defendants is barred in whole or in part under
the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
core, the Younger abstention doctrine was initially
a federal court's relinquishment of jurisdiction when
necessary not to interfere with a parallel, pending state
criminal proceedings. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37
(1971). Younger abstention subsequently been
expanded to apply in two additional scenarios. First,
Younger has been expanded to encompass a federal
court's relinquishment of jurisdiction when necessary not
to interfere with particular state civil enforcement
proceedings. Sprint Communications, Inc. v. Jacobs,
571 U.S. 69 (2013). Second, the Supreme Court also expanded
Younger to require abstention from interfering with
state civil proceedings that implicate a state's interest
in enforcing the orders and judgments of its courts.
Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1 (1987).
After a court has found that a case falls into one of these
categories, the court potentially invoking Younger
considers whether ...