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Hale v. Abangan

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

February 10, 2017




         This cause is before the Court on three motions - Defendant Centurion of Mississippi, LLC's (“Centurion”) Motion to Dismiss [99]; Defendant Evelyn M. Dunn's Motion to Dismiss [101]; and Defendant Kim Nagel's Motion to Dismiss [103]. Having considered the motions, Plaintiff's response, and the rebuttals, the undersigned recommends that the motions be denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff John Ashley Hale is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”), who is proceeding pro se in this litigation, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that he was denied adequate medical care during his incarceration at East Mississippi Correctional Facility (“EMCF”) in that EMCF officials and medical staff have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). See generally [62-1]. Specifically, the Court noted after the omnibus hearing that “Plaintiff alleges that the medical care and food services provided at EMCF are inadequate and fail to accommodate his disability needs.” [127] at 1.

         Defendants Centurion, Evelyn M. Dunn, and Dr. Kim Nagel (collectively, the “Centurion Defendants”) now move to dismiss the claims against them, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against them.

         II. Standard of Review

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a court must accept “all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Martin K. Eby Const. Co., Inc., v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004). “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.” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). “This standard ‘simply calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary claims or elements.” In re S. Scrap Material Co., 541 F.3d 584, 587 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this litigation, his pleadings must be construed liberally. Pena v. United States of America, 122 F.3d 3, 4 (5th Cir. 1997).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff's lawsuit levies claims against a number of individuals and entities associated with, employed by, or who provide services at EMCF. Among those, Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Evelyn Dunn denied and Dr. Kim Nagel refused to consider his requests for alternative medication for his Hepatitis C in violation, according to Plaintiff, of the ADA. [62-1] at 16-18. Plaintiff further alleges that Centurion's customs and practices and Dunn's and Nagel's actions violated his constitutional rights to adequate medical care. Id. at 18-19.

         The Centurion Defendants now move, through three separate motions, to dismiss the claims against them. Each motion argues that Plaintiff's ADA claims against them should be dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts that would show that he qualifies as “disabled” under the ADA due to his Hepatitis C. Dunn's and Nagel's motions also argue that Plaintiff's claims regarding medication are nothing more than mere dissatisfaction with medical care and cannot support a claim for deliberate indifference. Centurion further contends that Plaintiff makes no factual allegations in support of his claim that Centurion's customs and practices deny him adequate health care.

         A. Plaintiff's ADA Claims.

         Title II of the ADA provides that an individual shall not be “excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity” because of a qualifying disability. 42 U.S.C. § 12132. In order to state a claim for relief under Title II, a plaintiff must allege “(1) that he has a qualifying disability; (2) that he is being denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities for which the public entity is responsible, or is otherwise discriminated against by the public entity; and (3) that such discrimination is by reason of his disability.” Hale v. King, 642 F.3d 492, 499 (5th Cir. 2011). “As a threshold requirement, [a plaintiff] must establish that he has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.” Hardin v. Christus Health Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth, No. 1:10-CV-596, 2012 WL 760642, *5 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 6, 2012) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)).

         The ADA defines the term “disability” as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of [an] individual.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(A). The ADA expressly states that the definition of disability should “be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this Act, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this Act.” 42 U.S.C. § 12102(4)(A). The term “major life activities” includes activities such as caring for oneself, eating, sleeping, breathing, and working, but also was expanded by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 to include “the operation of a major bodily function, ...

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