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Baker v. Corizon Health

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

July 26, 2019

CALVIN E. BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH and DR. NICHOLAS DELGADO, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELIZABETH M. TIMOTHY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Calvin E. Baker (“Baker”), an inmate of the Okaloosa County Jail proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, commenced this case by filing a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF No. 1). Presently before the court is Baker's Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25). 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 Baker's pleadings, the undersigned concludes he has failed to state a plausible federal claim against Defendants. Therefore, his federal claims should be dismissed, and the court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Baker names two Defendants in his Second Amended Complaint: (1) Corizon Health, a private company which contracts with Okaloosa County to provide medical services to inmates of the Okaloosa County Jail, and (2) Dr. Nicholas Delgado, an employee of Corizon (ECF No. 25 at 1-2).[1] Baker asserts Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference to his need for medical treatment for granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's disease). Baker also asserts state law medical negligence/malpractice claims. Baker seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

         II. FAILURE TO STATE A FEDERAL CLAIM UNDER § 1983

         A. Statutory Screening Standard

         Because Baker is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis, the court must dismiss this case if the court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The statutory language “tracks the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), ” therefore, dismissals for failure to state a claim are governed by the same standard as Rule 12(b)(6). Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997). The allegations of the complaint are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to Baker. See Davis v. Monroe Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 120 F.3d 1390, 1393 (11th Cir. 1997).

         The court must consider the operative pleading (in this case, the Second Amended Complaint) in its entirety, and the court will also consider facts included in Baker's initial Complaint (ECF No. 1) and First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 15) where those facts clarify the meaning of the allegations of the Second Amended Complaint.

         The court will also consider other sources which courts ordinarily examine when ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, in particular, documents attached to the 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 . . . .”). The district court may also consider documents referenced in the complaint, even if they are not physically attached, if the documents' contents are alleged in a complaint and the authenticity of the document is not subject to challenge, so long as the documents meet the centrality requirement. See Day v. Taylor, 400 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2005); see also, e.g., Basson v. Mortg. Elec. Reg. Sys., Inc., 741 Fed.Appx. 770, 771 (11th Cir. 2018) (“The district court may also consider documents referenced in the complaint, even if they are not physically attached, if the documents are (1) central to the complaint and (2) no party questions their authenticity.”) (unpublished but recognized as persuasive authority).

         To survive statutory screening under §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and 1915A(b)(1), “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, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quotation marks 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 marks 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 court is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Id. at 678 (quotation marks 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 marks 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. Baker's Factual Allegations

         As noted above, the court includes factual allegations from Baker's Second Amended Complaint (see ECF No. 25 at 3-7) and any clarifying facts included in his initial and First Amended Complaints (ECF Nos. 1, 15). The court also includes facts from the medical records submitted by Baker with his motion for temporary restraining order (“TRO”) (ECF No. 26), because those documents are referenced in the Second Amended Complaint, they are central to the complaint, and there can be no question as to their authenticity. See, e.g., Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Comm'n of the State of Ala., 200 F.Supp.3d 1328, 1331 n.3 (M.D. Ala. 2016) (considering, at motion to dismiss stage, documents cited in defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction); see also, e.g., Moragas v. Sch. Bd. Of Miami-Dade Cnty., No. 19021517-Civ-Scola, 2019 WL 3252229, at *1 n.2 (S.D. Fla. July 19, 2019) (considering, at motion to dismiss stage, letter attached to plaintiff's motion for TRO, because it was referenced in and central to the complaint, and its authenticity was not in dispute) (citing Basson, 741 Fed.Appx. at 771)).

         Baker began experiencing problems with his vision in September of 2018 (Second Amended Complaint at 3). He was seen by Defendant Dr. Delgado, who advised him he would be referred to an eye specialist (see Second Amended Complaint at 3; First Amended Complaint at 5). Approximately three weeks later, Baker was seen by Dr. Planchard at the Emerald Coast Eye Institute (First Amended Complaint at 5). Baker received several diagnostic tests, including blood tests, and was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's) and ...


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