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Durden v. Newton County

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

January 5, 2015

LATISH DURDEN, Individually and as Surviving Parent and Next of Kin of Baby Durden, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, EZELL BROWN, NEWTON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, NEWTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, and NAPHCARE, INC., Defendants.

ORDER

RICHARD W. STORY, District Judge.

This case comes before the Court on Defendant NaphCare, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss [4] and Motion for Reconsideration [18]. After considering the record, the Court enters the following Order.

Background[1]

This action arises out of the stillbirth of Plaintiff Latish Durden's child while she was an inmate at the Newton County Detention Center. Plaintiff was in the second trimester of a high-risk pregnancy when Plaintiff's incarceration began on January 25, 2012. In fact, Plaintiff had notified prison staff that she had a high-risk pregnancy and requested medical care related to her pregnancy throughout her incarceration. On March 13, 2012, Plaintiff had surgery at the Newton County Medical Center to treat an incompetent cervix. Her doctor there instructed Plaintiff to observe strict bed rest while she was monitored around the clock by prison staff. Staff members included employees of Defendant NaphCare, Inc., a government contractor that has supplied healthcare professionals and staff for the Newton County Detention Center since 2003. Further, Defendants were instructed to monitor warning signs of pre-term labor, including abdomen cramps, low dull back pain, pelvic pressure, vaginal discharge, and diarrhea. If any of these warning signs did not go away after one hour, Defendants were to bring Plaintiff back to the hospital.

In the days following her surgery, Plaintiff experienced a number of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dehydration, dizziness, cramping, and bleeding and other vaginal discharge. Plaintiff reported these symptoms and repeatedly requested medical treatment, but Defendants refused to take any action for several days. Plaintiff experienced extreme cramping and pain in her abdomen while she continued to bleed; she soaked through up to seven sanitary pads each day. Plaintiff's symptoms lasted for four to five days before prison officials finally transported her by ambulance to the Newton County Medical Center on the morning of March 19, 2012. On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff's child was stillborn.

Plaintiff filed this action in the State Court of Fulton County against the Newton County Defendants and NaphCare, the company providing healthcare services at the Newton County Detention Center, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs resulting in a violation of her Eighth Amendment rights. Plaintiff also asserted a state-law claim for medical negligence. Defendants removed the case and then moved for dismissal. Plaintiff later filed motions to remand, amend, and voluntarily dismiss her Complaint. On June 11, 2014, the Court entered an Order [15] dismissing all of Plaintiff's claims except her state-law negligence claim against NaphCare and then remanded the case to the State Court of Fulton County. NaphCare moves for reconsideration of the Court's decision to remand.

Discussion

I. Motion for Reconsideration

On April 18, 2014, Defendants filed their Notice of Removal indicating that their sole basis for removal was federal question jurisdiction. After Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed all her claims against the Newton County Defendants, as well as her § 1983 claim against NaphCare, her only remaining claim was state-law negligence against NaphCare. The Court then remanded this case because it determined it lacked diversity jurisdiction, as Plaintiff alleged that NaphCare was a Georgia corporation in her Complaint. NaphCare moves for reconsideration, however, arguing that it is an Alabama corporation, and therefore the Court retains diversity jurisdiction. Indeed, NaphCare pointed out in its Answer that it is an Alabama corporation. (Dkt. [2] ¶ 9.) Plaintiff did not file a response to NaphCare's motion, and thus NaphCare's motion is deemed unopposed. See LR 7.1B ("Failure to file a response shall indicate that there is no opposition to the motion."). Because the Court finds a basis for diversity jurisdiction in the record, and given the lack of opposition to the motion, the Court GRANTS Defendant NaphCare's Motion for Reconsideration [18] and hereby VACATES the portion of its Order [15] remanding the case to the State Court of Fulton County. The Court next considers NaphCare's previously submitted Motion to Dismiss.

II. Motion to Dismiss

A. Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a pleading contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." While this pleading standard does not require "detailed factual allegations, " mere labels and conclusions or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In order to withstand 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.'" Id . (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A complaint is plausible on its face when the plaintiff pleads factual content necessary for the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the conduct alleged. Id.

"At the motion to dismiss stage, all well-pleaded facts are accepted as true, and the reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bryant v. Avado Brands, Inc., 187 F.3d 1271, 1273 n.1 (11th Cir. 1999). However, the same does not apply to legal conclusions set forth in the complaint. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id . ...


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