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McKinnon v. Hullett

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division

July 16, 2019

SERGEANT B. HULLETT, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the court on a joint motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Centurion of Florida, LLC (“Centurion”) and Nurse Marie Williams (“Nurse Williams”) (ECF No. 93), and Defendants' Supplement to their motion to dismiss (ECF No. 96). Plaintiff Willie Menardo McKinnon (“McKinnon”) filed a response in opposition to dismissal (ECF No. 102). The case was referred to the undersigned for the issuance of all preliminary orders and any recommendations to the district court regarding dispositive matters. See N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(C); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Upon consideration of the parties' submissions and the relevant law, the undersigned concludes that Defendants' motion to dismiss should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         McKinnon, an inmate of the Florida Department of Corrections (“FDOC”) proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, commenced this case by filing a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). The operative pleading is now McKinnon's Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 84). McKinnon names ten Defendants: (1) Centurion, (2) Nurse Williams, (3) Sergeant B. Hullett, (4) Warden W. Clemmons, (5) former FDOC Secretary J. Jones, (6) Officer J. Tuttle, (7) Officer C. Jackson, (8) Officer F. Scheier, (9) Officer J. Carrico, and (10) FDOC Dietician A. Gaskins. McKinnon asserts Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference to his need for medical treatment for a hypoglycemic episode on December 13, 2017. McKinnon also asserts state law medical negligence/malpractice claims. McKinnon seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

         On May 19, 2019, Defendants Centurion and Nurse Williams filed a motion to dismiss asserting the following defenses: (1) McKinnon's federal claims are subject to dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (2) McKinnon failed to meet the conditions precedent to bringing state claims for medical negligence/malpractice; (3) McKinnon's factual allegations fail to state a plausible Eighth Amendment claim; (4) Centurion and Nurse Williams are entitled to qualified immunity with respect to McKinnon's federal claims against them in their individual capacities; (5) Centurion and Nurse Williams are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to McKinnon's claims for monetary damages against them in their official capacities; and (6) McKinnon's federal claims for monetary damages are barred due to the lack of physical injuries (see ECF No. 93). Centurion and Nurse Williams subsequently withdrew their qualified immunity defense (see ECF No. 96).

         McKinnon filed a Response in opposition to the motion to dismiss (ECF No. 102). McKinnon contends he exhausted his administrative remedies. He further contends his factual allegations state a plausible Eighth Amendment claim. With respect to the state claims, McKinnon argues the motion to dismiss did not specify that it was seeking dismissal of the state law claims. He contends, “the Defendants should motion specifically for the dismissal of state law claims” (id. at 3).


         A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         Motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim are governed by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In applying that rule, the allegations of the complaint are taken as true and are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Davis v. Monroe Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 120 F.3d 1390, 1393 (11th Cir. 1997). “Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.” Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006). The court may consider documents attached to a complaint or incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice. See Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322, 127 S.Ct. 2499, 168 L.Ed.2d 179 (2007); Saunders v. Duke, 766 F.3d 1262, 1272 (11th Cir. 2014); Brooks v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1369 (11th Cir. 1997) (“[W]here the plaintiff refers to certain documents in the complaint and those documents are central to the plaintiff's claim, then the Court may consider the documents part of the pleadings for purposes of Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal . . . .”).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quotation and citation omitted). A claim is plausible on its face where “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation omitted). Plausibility means “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. “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. (quotation and citation omitted).

         The determination of whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citation omitted). The pleader is not entitled to relief “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). The court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Id. at 678 (quotation and citation omitted). And “bare assertions” that “amount to nothing more than a “formulaic recitation of the elements” of a claim “are conclusory and not entitled to be assumed true.” Id. at 681 (quotation and citation omitted). Stated succinctly:

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.

Id. at 679.

         B. McKinnon's ...

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