United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
TIFFANY B. LANDRY, PATRICIA WASHINGTON, and TASCO GILMORE
LOUISIANA CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
JOHN W. DEGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings by
Defendants, Former Warden Jim Rogers, Warden Fredrick Boutte,
Dr. John F. Prejean, Medical Director Doe, and Nurse
Practitioner Pamela B. Ross, (collectively
“Defendants”). (Doc. 67). Plaintiffs, Tiffany B.
Landry, Patricia Washington, and Tasco Gilmore (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) oppose the motion. (Doc. 74). Oral
argument is not necessary. After carefully considering the
law, the allegations of the operative complaint, and the
arguments of the parties, Defendants’ Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings is granted in part and denied as
moot in part.
Relevant Factual and Procedural Background
Landry became incarcerated at LCIW from June 16, 2015 to June
6, 2016. (Doc. 52, p. 5, ¶¶ 15-16). During
Landry’s incarceration, she became ill and alleges that
she “began informing the prison personnel and/or
authorities of her serious medical condition and problems
… and need for immediate … medical
attention”. (Doc. 52, p. 5, ¶ 16). Plaintiffs
allege that the “initial notification” of illness
was on or about May 30, 2016, at which time Landry allegedly
experienced “complaints of speech and/or writing
difficulty, generalized weakness including arm weakness, and
complaints of bilateral lower extremity tingling …
coupled with walking difficulty”. (Doc. 52, p. 5,
claim that Landry was treated by Dr. Prejean and Nurse
Practitioner Ross, for injuries commencing May 30, 2016,
until she was released from LCIW. (Doc. 52, pp. 4-5,
¶¶ 12-13). Plaintiffs allege that Medical Unit
Director Doe was the unit head of the medical division at
LCIW at the time Landry was treated. (Doc. 52, p. 5, ¶
14). Nurse Practitioner Ross allegedly “ignored”
the initial complaints of Landry on May 30, 2016, and
allegedly “refused” to allow Landry to be taken
to the infirmary. (Doc. 52, p. 6, ¶ 18).
was taken to the infirmary on May 31, 2016 and was informed
that she had suffered a “stroke and/or stroke-like
symptoms”. (Doc. 52, p. 6, ¶ 19). Plaintiffs claim
that Landry was not brought to an emergency medical facility
apart from LCIW for further medical treatment, despite her
“repeated complaints and requests”. (Doc. 52, p.
6, ¶ 21).
about June 1, 2016, Dr. Prejean conducted an EKG, lab work
and x-rays of Landry. Plaintiffs allege that Landry’s
blood pressure was “abnormally high”. (Doc. 52,
p. 6, ¶ 22). Plaintiffs claim that Landry requested
additional medical care but was told that there was nothing
that the LCIW prison staff could do for Landry, and
“she was ignored, causing her symptoms and condition to
manifest and become more severe, resulting in her increased
suffering, pain and damage to her brain, nervous system, and
ability to ambulate correctly”. (Doc. 52, pp. 6-7,
¶¶ 23-24). Plaintiffs claim that Landry’s
condition progressively worsened until her release on June 6,
2016, when LCIW advised Landry’s family that Landry was
unable to walk without assistance. (Doc. 52, p. 7,
Washington (Landry’s mother) and Plaintiff Gilmore
(Landry’s brother) picked Landry up from LCIW and
“observed [her] severe and serious medical
condition”, and they allegedly suffered mental anguish
or emotional distress. (Doc. 52, pp. 1, 7, ¶¶ 4,
her release from LCIW, Landry was treated at St. Bernard
Parish Hospital. Plaintiffs claim that the hospital told them
that LCIW did not properly treat Landry and that she had
suffered a stroke. (Doc. 52, p. 8, ¶ 28). According to
Plaintiffs’ complaint, due to Landry’s
“altered mental status”, she was transferred to
University Medical Center (“UMC”) in New Orleans
for evaluation and treatment. (Doc. 52, p. 8, ¶ 29).
Plaintiffs plead that UMC diagnosed Landry with a
“brain tumor” and that she underwent a
craniotomy. (Doc. 52, p. 8, ¶ 30). Plaintiffs claim that
the inadequate medical treatment by Dr. Prejean, Nurse
Practitioner Ross and others was the “proximate cause
which disabled [Landry]”, inhibited proper medical care
for a “stroke victim”, and which ultimately
resulted in more significant impairment. (Doc. 52, p. 9,
¶ 32). Plaintiffs also plead that is was the
“pattern and practice” of LCIW to “ignore
and disregard” medical requests, that the wardens
“knew or should have known” that the constant
disregard for Landry’s stroke symptoms would further
damage her neurological system, that the wardens made a
conscious decision not to allow additional medical treatment
outside the prison, and that Dr. Prejean, Nurse Practitioner
Ross and Medical Unit Director Doe decided not to recommend
and to block medical treatment offsite. (Doc. 52, pp. 9-10,
allege that Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S.
Constitution, as well as Louisiana state law due to acts of
negligence. (Doc. 52, pp. 10-16). Plaintiffs’ claims
against LCIW were dismissed on January 8, 2018, based on
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. (Doc. 30).
Plaintiffs’ claims against ORM were voluntarily
dismissed on January 25, 2019. (Doc. 72). Plaintiffs’
claims against the remaining Defendants in their official
capacity only were dismissed without prejudice for lack of
jurisdiction on May 23, 2018. (Doc. 40). Defendants bring the
instant motion seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs’
remaining claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, dismissal of
Washington and Gilmore’s claims under La. Civ. Code
art. 2315.6 for bystander damages, and for the Court to
decline supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’
other state law claims. (Doc. 67).
first seek dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims against
Defendants in their official capacity under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Doc. 67-1, pp. 6-7). Defendants acknowledge that
“LCIW and all official capacity claims have already
been dismissed by this Court. (See Rec. Doc. 30).
However, Plaintiffs mistakenly included the same claims in
their Second Amended Complaint. Out of [an]
abundance of caution, Defendants respond accordingly.”
(Doc. 67-1, p. 7, n. 49).
next seek dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims under Section
1983 against Defendants in their individual capacities. (Doc.
67-1, p. 7). Defendants address Plaintiffs’ claims
against Defendants in their individual capacities by grouping
the Defendants into three groups: (a) Former Warden Rogers,
Warden Boutte, and Medical Unit Director Doe, (Doc. 67-1, pp.
7-10); (b) Dr. Prejean and Nurse Practitioner Ross, (Doc.
67-1, pp. 10-17); and (c) Former Warden Rogers, Warden
Boutte, Dr. Prejean, Medical Unit Director Doe, and Nurse
Practitioner Ross, (Doc. 67-1, pp. 17-20).
regard to the first group of Defendants (Former Warden
Rogers, Warden Boutte, and Medical Unit Director Doe),
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs’ claims should be
dismissed because these Defendants are supervisors, and
supervisors are not liable for the acts of their subordinates
under Section 1983. (Doc. 67-1, p. 7). In support, Defendants
argue that the first group of Defendants (1) can not be found
liable for any acts or omissions of the LCIW medical
employees who directly treated Plaintiff Landry, and (2)
because they did not treat and were not qualified to treat
Plaintiff Landry directly. (Doc. 67-1, p. 8).
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently
developed the facts indicating that the first group of
Defendants had any personal involvement with Plaintiff
Landry. (Doc. 67-1, pp. 8-9). Defendants argue that it is
insufficient for Plaintiffs to allege a “pattern and
practice” of LCIW to “ignore and disregard
summarily virtually every single medical request” and
that this “callous disregard” was “directed
by, sanctioned by, and encouraged by” the first group
of Defendants. (Doc. 67-1, p. 8 (citing Doc. 52, p. 9,
conclude that the allegations against the first group of
Defendants “rest upon nothing more” than their
supervisory positions. In order for the first group of
Defendants to be found liable under Section 1983, they must
have been personally involved in the alleged conduct adverse
to Landry. Any allegations related to the acts of their
subordinates or co-employees is insufficient to state a claim
under Section 1983. (Doc. 67-1, pp. 9-10).
the second group of Defendants (Dr. Prejean and Nurse
Practitioner Ross), Defendants argue that Plaintiffs fail to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted because
Plaintiffs’ allegations “do not rise to the level
of a constitutional violation by demonstrating deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need of Plaintiff
Landry’s”. (Doc. 67-1, p. 12). Defendants argue
that in order for the second group of Defendants’
actions to qualify as “deliberate medical
indifference”, Plaintiffs must show (1) that the inmate
had a serious medical need; (2) that the prison officials
showed deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious
medical need; and (3) the deliberate indifference caused the
inmate’s injury.” (Doc. 67-1, p. 10 (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976))).
Defendants argue that “negligent or mistaken medical
treatment or judgment” does not qualify as
“deliberate indifference” and does not implicate
a violation of constitutional rights. (Doc. 67-1, p. 11). In
particular, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs have failed to
show that the second group of Defendants “refused to
treat Landry, ignored Landry’s complaints,
intentionally treated Landry incorrectly, or engaged in any
similar conduct that would clearly evince a wanton disregard
for any serious medical needs”. (Doc. 67-1, p. 12).
argue that Plaintiffs’ complaint with regard to
Landry’s medical care is that “attention has been
inadequate or improper”, that Landry is “unhappy
with the care that was provided”, and that Landry
believes “additional care was warranted”. (Doc.
67-1, pp. 14-15). Defendants argue that these types of
complaints-of dissatisfaction and questioning medical
judgment-do not support a claim of deliberate medical
indifference. (Doc. 67-1, p. 15). Defendants conclude that
Plaintiffs have failed to allege that the second group of
Defendants demonstrated deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need and, therefore, failed to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. (Doc. 67-1, p. 17).
third group includes all Defendants, and, as to them,
Defendants argue qualified immunity. (Doc. 67-1, p. 17).
Defendants assert the “two step method” to
determine whether they are entitled to qualified immunity.
The first step is to consider whether, taking the facts as
alleged in the light most favorable to the inmate,
Defendants’ conduct violated the inmate’s
constitutional rights. (Doc. 67-1, p. 18 (citing Pearson
v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 232 (2009))). The second step
is for the court to determine whether the right allegedly
violated was clearly established at the time of the
argue that their conduct did not violate Landry’s
constitutional rights. (Doc. 67-1, p. 18). Plaintiffs allege
that Landry “was ignored and abandoned and therefore,
she was furthermore forced to suffer in pain and with no
adequate medical treatment whatsoever at LCIW”. (Doc.
67-1, p. 19 (citing Doc. 52, p. 7, ¶ 24)). But
Defendants respond that these allegations are “nothing
more than unsupported, conclusory allegations that Plaintiff
Landry’s rights were violated by Defendants because she
had a disagreement over the diagnostic measures and methods
of treatment that were afforded to her by prison
officials”. (Doc. 67-1, p. 19). Because there is
“no violation of a clearly established law and
Defendants’ conduct does not violate an established
constitutional right”, Defendants are entitled to
immunity. (Doc. 67-1, p. 20).
Plaintiffs establish the first prong of the qualified
immunity analysis, Defendants argue that they are still
entitled to qualified immunity under the second prong because
any violation “was not objectively contrary to clearly
established law”. (Id.). Plaintiffs allege
that despite the treatment that Landry received, she should
have been brought to a medical facility separate and apart
from the prison. Defendants maintain that it would not have
been clear to a reasonable officer that it was unlawful to
obey Landry’s requests. Defendants also contend that
there was no “reckless disregard” for a
“clearly established law”. (Doc. 67-1, p. 20).
third and final argument in their motion is that Plaintiffs
have alleged various state law claims, and Defendants suggest
that the Court should decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction. (Doc. 67-1, p. 20). Defendants argue that the
Court is authorized to decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction if: (1) the claims raise novel or complex issues
of state law; (2) the claims would substantially predominate
over the claims over which the district court has original
jurisdiction; (3) the district court has dismissed all claims
over which it had original jurisdiction; or (4) for any other
compelling reason. (Doc. 67-1, p. 21). Defendants argue that
the Court should dismiss the claims over which it has
original jurisdiction and, therefore, should elect not to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state
law claims. In the alternative, Defendants argue that the
state law claims will predominate over the Plaintiffs’
remaining federal claims. (Doc. 67-1, p. 21).
also specifically seek dismissal of Washington and
Gilmore’s “bystander damages” claims under
La. Civ. Code Art. 2315.6. (Id.).
“Bystander” claims are those where the claimant
suffers serious mental anguish and emotional distress from
witnessing or coming upon the scene of an event soon
thereafter. La. Civ. Code Art. 2315.6. Here, Washington and
Gilmore claim that they suffered mental anguish and emotional
distress when they retrieved Landry from LCIW and observed
her “severe and serious” medical condition. (Doc.
67-1, p. 22 (citing Doc. 52, p. 7, ¶ 27)). Defendants
argue that because Washington and Gilmore did not witness a
specific event or specify a traumatic or shocking occurrence
that injured Landry, their claim must fail. (Doc. 67-1, pp.
response to Defendants’ first argument regarding
Plaintiffs’ claims under Section 1983 against
Defendants in their official capacities only, Plaintiffs
concede that Defendants “were dismissed in their
official capacity”. (Doc. 74, p. 1 (citing Doc. 32 and
40)). Plaintiffs further acknowledge that their claims
against Defendants in their individual capacities have been
retained. (Doc. 74, p. 2).
deny that the Defendants are entitled to immunity
“under federal or Louisiana law”. (Doc. 74, p.
2). Plaintiffs first argue that Dr. Prejean, Nurse
Practitioner Ross, and Medical Unit Director Doe were
directly involved with Landry’s treatment and are
“necessary to the proper prosecution of this
complaint”. (Doc. 74, p. 3). Plaintiffs rely upon
Dauzat v. Carter, Civ. A. No. 14-0239, 2015 WL
2066472 (E.D. La. Apr. 30, 2015), where an adult male inmate
“kept getting ignored” and was not referred for
treatment despite signs of needed medical attention.
Plaintiffs argue that in Dauzat the claims against
the members of the medical team were allowed to proceed and
that the same should be allowed here. (Doc. 74, pp. 3-4).
Plaintiffs’ claims adverse to Former Warden Rogers and
Warden Boutte, Plaintiffs argue that they are “not
entitled to qualified and/or sovereign immunity”. (Doc.
74, p. 4 (citing Price v. Louisiana et al, Civ. A.
No. 16-00402, 2017 WL 4686035 (M.D. La. Oct. 18, 2017))).
Little argument is provided as to the applicability of
Price. Plaintiffs then argue that there are
“exceptions to sovereign immunity”. (Doc. 74, p.
4 (citing Thompson v. Belt, 828 F.2d 298
(5th Cir. 1987))). Plaintiffs argue that Former
Warden Rogers and Warden Boutte are “necessary”
for the “proper adjudication” of their
“wrongdoing” and are “essential” to
the “explicit pattern and practice that occurred at
LCIW”. (Doc. 74, p. 4). Lastly, Plaintiffs argue that
“the wardens receive no sovereign immunity, because the
Plaintiffs averred that the warden[s’] erroneous
actions in denying access to urgently needed medical care
actually became a policy”, which the medical team
carried out. Plaintiffs contend that this satisfies the
pleading requirements under the Monell line of
cases. (Doc. 74, p. 5 (citing Monell v. Dept. of Social
Services of the City of N.Y., 463 U.S. 658 (1978))).
continue by arguing that “no dismissal of the wardens
are proper at this juncture” because: (1) of their
direct actions in not allowing patients to be seen off-site;
and (2) of their pattern and practice rising to the level of
an actual policy. (Doc. 74, p. 6). Plaintiffs aver that
Landry “repeatedly and consistently sought medical
relief for a period of seven days” but was ignored.
Plaintiffs characterize this seven-day period as the
“policy, systematic pattern and practice, as well as
the direct acts and inaction of the wardens”.
then address Defendants’ argument that this Court
should not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state
law claims. Plaintiffs argue that the claims derive from the
same case or controversy seeking the “’economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity’ mandated to include
the pendant state law claims”. (Doc. 74, p. 7). Also,
Plaintiffs argue that their state law claims of negligence,
assault, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and bystander liability will not predominate over
the federal claims. (Doc. 74, p. 8). Lastly, Plaintiffs argue
that the federal claims, such as “the deliberate
medical indifference claim”, replicate the state law
claims, such as the “negligent and ...