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Waites v. Limestone Correctional Facility

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

March 2, 2015

MIRANDA WAITES, Plaintiff,
v.
LIMESTONE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDERS

C. LYNWOOD SMITH, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Miranda Waites commenced this action on her own behalf, as well as on behalf of the estate of Mark Tinsley, a former prisoner at Limestone Correctional Facility. Her complaint asserts several claims under the Eighth Amendment - e.g., deliberate indifference to her decedent's serious medical needs - as well as state law claims for wrongful death and negligent and wanton retention of employees. The claims are asserted against the correctional facility in which plaintiff's decedent was incarcerated, and several officers and employees of the State of Alabama's Department of Corrections. The action presently is before the court on the motion to dismiss filed by defendants Dewayne Estes, Ruth Naglich, Guy Noe, Jimmy Patrick, and Kim T. Thomas for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[1] Upon consideration of the pleadings and briefs, this court concludes that the motion should be granted in part and denied in part.

I. LEGAL STANDARDS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for, among other reasons, "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). This rule must be read together with Rule 8(a), which requires that a pleading contain only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While that pleading standard does not require "detailed factual allegations, " Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). As the Supreme Court stated in Iqbal:

A pleading that offers "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." [ Twombly, 550 U.S., at 555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders "naked assertion[s]" devoid of "further factual enhancement." Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face."

Id., at 570. 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. Id., at 556. 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. Ibid. 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 557 (brackets omitted).

Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation" (internal quotation marks omitted)). Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. 490 F.3d, at 157-158. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not "show[n]" - "that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).

In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then

determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis added).

When ruling upon a motion to dismiss, the court must assume that the well-pleaded facts set forth in the plaintiff's complaint are true. See Anza v. Ideal Steel Supply Corp., 547 U.S. 451, 453 (1994) (stating that on a motion to dismiss, the court must "accept as true the factual allegations in the amended complaint"); Marsh v. Butler County, 268 F.3d 1014, 1023 (11th Cir. 2001) ( en banc ) (setting forth the facts in the case by "[a]ccepting all well-pleaded factual allegations (with reasonable inferences drawn favorably to Plaintiffs) in the complaint as true") (alteration supplied). Accordingly, that which is set out in the following portions of this memorandum opinion as "facts" for Rule 12(b)(6) purposes may, or may not, be the actual facts. See, e.g., Williams v. Mohawk Industries, Inc., 465 F.3d 1277, 1281 n.1 (11th Cir. 2006).

II. FACTS AS ALLEGED

Mark Tinsley entered Limestone Correctional Facility during September of 2012 to serve a twelve-year prison sentence.[2] For several years prior to his incarceration, and at the direction of his physician, Tinsley had been using on a daily basis a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure ("C-PAP") machine to prevent the collapse of his airway.[3] He also had been suffering from hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, and atrial fibrillation.[4]

Limestone Correctional Facility requires each new prisoner to undergo, within fourteen days of arrival, a complete health evaluation by a medical professional, including laboratory analyses and an assessment of medical history.[5] When Tinsley entered the facility, he was placed in the Protective Custody Unit "due to his law enforcement background."[6] Tinsley began requesting his C-PAP machine immediately upon his placement in the Protective Custody Unit.[7] He submitted numerous formal, written requests for the machine from November of 2012 until his death in November of the following ...


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