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Cordova v. LSU Agricultural & Mechanical College Board of Supervisors

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

October 24, 2019

J. CORY CORDOVA
v.
LSU AGRICULTURAL & MECHANICAL COLLEGE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, ET AL.

          HANNA, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is a Motion to Dismiss [docs. 7, 22] filed by defendants Louisiana State University Agricultural and Mechanical College Board of Supervisors (“LSU Board of Supervisors”), Dr. Karen Curry, Dr. Nicholas Sells, and Kristi Anderson under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(4), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6).

         I.

         Background

         This suit arises from the termination of plaintiff Dr. J. Cory Cordova from his Internal Medicine residency/“house officer” program at the University Hospital and Clinics (“UHC”) at Lafayette General Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana. The house officer program at UHC is operated under contract with Louisiana State University Agricultural and Mechanical College (“LSU”). See doc. 1, att. 2, pp. 2-16 (original complaint); id. at 183- 97 (amended complaint). Cordova filed suit in the 15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, on March 29, 2019, against the LSU Board of Supervisors[1], UHC Internal Medicine program director Dr. Karen Curry, UHC Medicine Department Head/Section Chief Dr. Nicholas Sells, and LSU Director of Graduate Medical Education Kristi Anderson (collectively, “LSU defendants”); as well as attorney Christopher C. Johnston and the Gachassin Law Firm (“Gachassin defendants”).[2] Id. He alleges, in relevant part, that the LSU defendants denied him his right to due process under the state and federal constitutions and committed a breach of contract under state law by dismissing him from the house officer program. Id. at 192-93. In his prayer for relief he asks for “all costs, [and] expenses of these proceedings, and attorney's fees . . . .” Id. at 197.

         The LSU defendants removed the case to this court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1343. Doc. 1. They now move to dismiss the claims against them, alleging that (1) LSU Health Sciences Center (the entity named in the original complaint) is not the proper defendant; (2) Cordova has not identified the basis of his claim for costs and attorney fees; and (3) Curry, Sells, and Anderson cannot be held liable on the breach of contract claim because Cordova did not have a contract with them. Doc. 22, pp. 1-3. They also assert that Cordova has failed to properly effect service on any of the LSU defendants. Cordova opposes the motion in all respects. Doc. 25.

         II.

         Law & Application

         A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

         1. Law

         Rule 12(b)(6) allows for dismissal of a claim when a plaintiff “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” When reviewing such a motion, the court should focus on the complaint and its attachments. Wilson v. Birnberg, 667 F.3d 591, 595 (5th Cir. 2012). The court can also consider matters of which it may take judicial notice, including matters of public record. Hall v. Hodgkins, 305 Fed. App'x 224, 227 (5th Cir. 2008) (unpublished) (citing Lovelace v. Software Spectrum Inc., 78 F.3d 1015, 1017-18 (5th Cir. 1996) and Norris v. Hearst Trust, 500 F.3d 454, 461 n. 9 (5th Cir. 2007)).

         Such motions are also reviewed with the court “accepting all well-pleaded facts as true and viewing those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Bustos v. Martini Club, Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010). However, “the plaintiff must plead enough facts ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Accordingly, the court's task is not to evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success, but instead to determine whether the claim is both legally cognizable and plausible. Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010).

         2. ...


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