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Montin v. Moore

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

January 12, 2015

JOHN MAXWELL MONTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
Y. SCOTT MOORE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

LYLE E. STROM, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the motion of defendants, Y. Scott Moore M.D., Mary Paine Ph.D., Lisa Woodward Ph.D., Ann Evelyn M.D., Dinesh Karumanchi M.D., Rajeev Chaturvedi M.B.B.S., Joanne Murney Ph.D., Sherri Browning Ph.D., Lorrene Jurgens APRN, Mindy Abel Psy.D., Corrine McCoy, Jennifer Cimpl Psy.D., Shannon Black Psy.D., Zakaria Siddiqu M.D., Kathleen Barrett Psy.D., and Klaus Hartmann M.D., to dismiss plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Filing No. 9), with supporting brief (Filing No. 10). The plaintiff filed a brief in opposition (Filing No. 30), to which the defendants replied (Filing No. 31). After reviewing the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the Court finds as follows.

I. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, John Maxwell Montin ("Montin"), filed a complaint on July 11, 2014, alleging violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort medical malpractice claims (Filing No. 1). The plaintiff's claims arise out of his evaluation and diagnosis while committed to the Lincoln Regional Center ("LRC"). Montin was committed to the LRC on August 13, 1993, by the Hays County District Court for an evaluation after a jury found him to be not responsible by reason of insanity on two felony charges ( Id. at ¶ 29). On July 16, 2013, Montin was unconditionally released from court-ordered treatment at the LRC because he was found to be no longer dangerous to himself or others by reason of mental illness or defect and will not be so dangerous in the foreseeable future ( Id. at ¶ 31). Montin alleges that the defendants failed to determine that he was not mentally ill, and that he did not suffer from a condition requiring treatment during his time at the LRC ( Id. at ¶ 40). Montin also claims that the defendants failed to meet the standard of care while treating him. ( Id. at ¶ 51-52). In addition, Montin alleges various civil rights claims against the named defendants ( Id. at ¶¶ 76-90).

Defendants Y. Scott Moore M.D., Mary Paine Ph.D., Lisa Woodward Ph.D., Ann Evelyn M.D., Dinesh Karumanchi M.D., Rajeev Chaturvedi M.B.B.S., Joanne Murney Ph.D., Sherri Browning Ph.D., Lorrene Jurgens APRN, Mindy Abel Psy.D., Corrine McCoy, Jennifer Cimpl Psy.D., Shannon Black Psy.D., Zakaria Siddiqu M.D., Kathleen Barrett Psy.D., and Klaus Hartmann M.D., ("Defendants"), move this Court to dismiss the plaintiff's claims under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The defendants argue that the plaintiff's claims are barred by absolute immunity, sovereign immunity, and qualified immunity. In addition, the defendants argue that the plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim for medical or professional negligence because the physician-patient relationship necessary to give rise to a legal duty did not exist.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

A motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter. The party asserting jurisdiction bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. Great Rivers Habitat Alliance v. FEMA, 615 F.3d 985, 988 (8th Cir. 2010). The Court "has the authority to dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.'" Johnson v. United States, 534 F.3d 958, 962 (8th Cir. 2008)(quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981)); see also Jessie v. Potter, 516 F.3d 709, 712 (8th Cir. 2008)("Motions to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction can be decided in three ways: at the pleading stage, like a Rule 12(b)(6) motion; on undisputed facts, like summary judgment motion; and on disputed facts").

B. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

Under the Federal Rules, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Consequently, a motion to dismiss may be granted when the plaintiff has failed "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). "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, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570(2007)). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do...." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotations omitted). "The complaint must provide a defendant with some indication of the loss and the causal connection that the plaintiff has in mind.' Otherwise, a plaintiff with no hope of showing proximate causation could require inefficient expenditure of resources and potentially induce a defendant to settle a meritless claim." Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 347 (2005)).

"When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Coons v. Mineta, 410 F.3d 1036, 1039 (8th Cir. 2005). "The plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a sheer possibility.'" Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.) "It is not, however, a probability requirement.'" Id. Accordingly, "a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of the facts alleged is improbable, and that a recovery is very remote and unlikely.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Absolute Immunity

The defendants argue that the doctrine of absolute immunity bars the plaintiff's claims. The doctrine of absolute immunity shields "all persons - governmental or otherwise - who were integral parts of the judicial process" from damage claims. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 336 (1983). "[N]onjudicial persons who fulfill quasi-judicial functions intimately related to the judicial process have absolute immunity for damage claims arising from their performance of the delegated functions." Moses v. Parwatikar, 813 F.2d 891, 892 (8th Cir. 1987)(citing Myers v. Morris, 810 F.2d 1437, 1466 (8th Cir. 1987)). Courts have found that probation officers, guardian ad litems, and court-appointed psychologists are related to the judicial process and absolutely immune from damage claims. See, e.g., Demoran v. Witt, 781 F.2d 155, 157 (9th Cir. 1986)(probation officers); Dornheim v. Sholes, 430 F.3d 919 (8th Cir. 2005)(guardian ad ...


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