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Glasgow v. State

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

February 18, 2015

ELITA GLASGOW, Special Administrator of the Estate of Curtis Bradford, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF NEBRASKA; DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES; ROBERT HOUSTON, Retired Director, Department of Correctional Services, in his official and individual capacities; DR. CAMERON WHITE, Behavioral Health Administrator for the Department of Correctional Services, in his official and individual capacities; CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS; DR. RANDY KOHL, in his official and individual capacities, CITY OF OMAHA, JOHN DOE 1-100, and COUNTY OF DOUGLAS, JOHN DOE 1-100, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LYLE E. STROM, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on four related motions to dismiss this action pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 12(b)(6). The four movants are Correct Care Solutions ("CCS") (Filing No. 8), Douglas County and its 100 John Doe defendants ("County Defendants") (Filing No. 10), the City of Omaha and its 100 John Doe defendants ("City Defendants") (Filing No. 13), and defendants Robert Houston, Randy Kohl, Cameron White, and the State of Nebraska, Department of Corrections (collectively, the "State Defendants") (Filing No. 17). The matter has been fully briefed and is ready for disposition. After review of the motions, briefs, indices of evidence, and relevant case law, the Court finds as follows.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Velita Glasgow ("Glasgow") is the mother of Curtis Bradford ("Bradford"). Bradford was a victim of serial killer, Nikko Jenkins ("Jenkins"). Bradford and Jenkins were acquaintances in prison. Upon Jenkins' release, they reconnected and Bradford was killed. Jenkins entered a plea of nolo contendere in state court and was found guilty of the murder of Bradford, in addition to the murders of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Juan Uribe-Pena, and Andrea Kruger.

Glasgow, as special administrator of her son's estate, brought the instant action for various negligence claims and violations of her son's constitutional rights under Title 42, Sections 1983 and 1988(a) in federal court.[1] Glasgow has amended her complaint (Filing No. 5). All defendants moved for dismissal.

In her amended complaint, Glasgow brings Nine Causes of Action against the defendants in their official and individual capacities. In the First Cause of Action, Glasgow claims that actions and inactions of the defendants deprived Bradford of his life and liberty without due process of law (Filing No. 5, at 11-13). In the Second Cause of Action, Glasgow states that she seeks punitive damages, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees for Bradford's fear and conscious pain of impending death (Id. at 14). In the Third Cause of Action, Glasgow seeks compensation for Bradford's health care and funeral expenses (Id. at 14-15).

In the Fourth Cause of Action, Glasgow seeks damages from the State Defendants for their negligence in allowing Jenkins' release when they knew that Jenkins may harm "the public" (Id. at 15-16). Like the Second Cause of Action, the Fifth Cause of Action seeks compensatory damages and attorneys' fees for Bradford's fear and conscious pain of impending death (Id. at 16-17). The differences between the Causes of Actions are that the Second asks for punitive damages and the Fifth does not seek punitive damages, and the Second focuses on all defendants while the Fifth focuses solely on the State Defendants ( Compare Filing No. 5, at 14 (Second Cause of Action), with Filing No. 5, at 16-17 (Fifth Cause of Action)). Similarly, the Sixth Cause of Action seeks compensation for Bradford's health care and funeral expenses from the State Defendants (Id. at 17; Compare Filing No. 5, at 14 (Third Cause of Action), with Filing No. 5, at 17 (Sixth Cause of Action)).

In the Seventh Cause of Action, Glasgow claims that the defendants violated their medical care obligations to Jenkins. According to Glasgow, the citizens of Nebraska, including Bradford, have a right to assert inmates' rights. Glasgow seeks compensatory damages and attorneys' fees (Filing No. 5, 18-19). The Eighth Cause of Action echos the same claims for damages as the Fifth and the Second Causes of Action. (Id. at 19-20; Filing No. 5, at 14 (Second Cause of Action), and Filing No. 5, at 16-17 (Fifth Cause of Action), with Filing No. 5, at 19-20 (Eighth Cause of Action)). The Ninth and final Cause of Action is another request for health care and funeral expenses (Filing No. 5, at 20; Compare Filing No. 5, at 14 (Third Cause of Action), and Filing No. 5, at 17 (Sixth Cause of Action), with Filing No. 5, at 20 (Ninth Cause of Action)).

The Court will analyze these Causes of Action in four parts: § 1983 actions (First, Second, and Third Causes of Action), the negligence claims against State Defendants and CCS (Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Causes of Action), the defendants' violation of Jenkins' rights (Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Causes of Action), and the motions to dismiss from the City, County, and CCS (All Causes of Action).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

The Court has an obligation to consider sua sponte whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over a case. Thomas v. United Steelworkers Local 1938, 743 F.3d 1134, 1139 (8th Cir. 2014). The Court "must raise jurisdictional issues when there is an indication that jurisdiction is lacking, even if the parties concede the issue.'" Id. (quoting Thomas v. Basham, 931 F.2d 521, 523 (8th Cir. 1991)). Suits are subject to dismissal when the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the matter. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). 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).

To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is "a context-specific task" that requires the court "to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 556. Under Twombly, a court considering a motion to dismiss may begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009). Although legal conclusions "can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has prescribed a "two-pronged approach" for evaluating Rule 12(b)(6) challenges. Id. First, a court should divide the allegations between factual and legal allegations; factual allegations should be accepted as true, but legal allegations should be disregarded. Id. Second, the factual allegations must be examined for facial plausibility. Id.

"A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 677-78 (stating that the plausibility standard does not require a probability, but asks for more than a mere possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully). A court must find "enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest" that "discovery will reveal evidence" of the elements of the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558, 556. When the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, the complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Id. at 558; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

III. DISCUSSION

A. FIRST THEORY: § 1983 ACTIONS

As a preliminary matter, the plaintiff believes the defendants have waived their Sovereign Immunity defense and that the Court should therefore deny the defendants' motion to dismiss the First, Second, and Third Causes of Action against Nebraska and its employees for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. Filing No. 25, at 2-3. This action was never in state court and was not removed. See ...


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