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Martinez v. Corrections Corporation of America

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

February 8, 2018

LANDON MARTINEZ PLAINTIFF
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Before this Court is a motion to dismiss [41] for failure to state a claim filed by Defendant CoreCivic, which was formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. Having considered the motion, the Court finds it should be granted.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility ("TCCF") is a Mississippi correctional facility managed by CoreCivic under a contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. PI. Comp. ¶ 4. Plaintiff Landon Martinez alleges that while incarcerated at TCCF, a CoreCivic employee struck him on the back of the head with a two-inch thick book. Id. ¶ 15. As a result he suffered, and continues to suffer, dizziness, migraines, memory loss, shortness of breath, anxiety attacks, swelling, pain, and other injuries. Id. ¶ 16.

         Martinez claims that after reporting the incident, he did not receive medical care, nor did CoreCivic employees document or otherwise investigate the incident. Id. ¶¶ 18-22. Martinez also claims that after reporting the incident, the special dietary restrictions he follows as a religious practice "became interfered with or otherwise completely denied." Id. ¶¶ 23-25.

         On July 21, 2016, Martinez filed this suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against CoreCivic, then known as Correction Corporation of America, and a number of individual employees that worked at the TCCF. Both CoreCivic and the individual employees filed motions to dismiss in the Southern District. That court found venue was proper in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, and the case was transferred to this Court on December 12, 2016. Following the transfer, both CoreCivic and the individual defendants renewed their respective motions.

         On October 25, 2017, this Court found that Martinez had failed to properly serve the individual defendants, and gave Martinez until December 24th, 2017, to serve those defendants and notify the Court that he had done so. Martinez failed to do so, and the individual defendants were dismissed.

         Turning to the present motion, CoreCivic renewed its motion to dismiss in this court on December 22, 2016. Martinez has not yet filed a response to the motion. The time to do so has passed. The matter is ripe for review.

         II. STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL UNDER 12(b)(6)

         Motions to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) "are viewed with disfavor and are rarely granted." Kocurek v. CunaMut. Ins. Soc'y, 459 Fed.Appx. 371, 373 (5thCir. 2012) (citing Gregson v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 322 F.3d 883, 885 (5th Cir. 2003)). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court is limited to the allegations set forth in the complaint and any documents attached to the complaint. Walker v. Webco Indus., Inc., 562 Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citing Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d 833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)).

         "[A plaintiffs] complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."' " Phillips v. City of Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772, 775-76 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007))). A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955). "[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid claim." Webb v. Morella, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam) (quoting City of Clinton, Ark v. Pilgrim 's Pride Corp., 632 F.3d 148, 152-53 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff has not alleged 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and has failed to 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level.' " Emesowum v. Hous. Police Dep't, 561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955).

         III. ANALYSIS

         CoreCivic's arguments for why Martinez's claims against it should be dismissed can be divided into two parts. First, CoreCivic argues that Martinez has failed to state a § 1983 claim against it because Martinez has not established a direct claim against CoreCivic because any constitutional violations the individual defendants may have committed cannot be attributed to Core-Civic. Second, CoreCivic argues that Martinez has failed to allege sufficient facts showing that any defendant was negligent, and thus the negligence-based claims (negligence, gross negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, professional malpractice, and respondeat superior) should be dismissed.

         A. § 1983 Claims

         Martinez claims that constitutional violations occurred when a CoreCivic employee struck him with a book, when employees denied him access to medical care, when employees ignored his report of his assault, and ...


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