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Saylor v. State

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 10, 2018

JAMES SAYLOR, Plaintiff,


          Joseph F. Bataillon Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's motion to remand, Filing No. 12, and the defendants State of Nebraska's and Nebraska Department of Correctional Services' motion for sanctions, Filing No. 6. This action was removed from the District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367, 1441, and 1446.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Related Proceedings

         The plaintiff is a Nebraska inmate who has been incarcerated by the Nebraska Department of Corrections for many years. The present action is one of several challenges he has made to the conditions of his confinement and his medical treatment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (“Eighth Circuit”) summarized the facts as follows:

In 2002, while a prisoner at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP), Saylor was allegedly attacked, beaten, and raped by other inmates. In 2005 Saylor was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the 2002 attack, and he began seeing Dr. Glen Christensen, a psychiatrist who contracted with NDCS. Saylor saw Dr. Christensen monthly for treatment. In April 2005, Saylor filed a complaint in state court alleging that the State of Nebraska and NDCS failed to protect him from the assault and failed to properly treat him after the assault. The trial was held in 2009, and in 2010 the state court entered an order in favor of Saylor, finding that the staff was negligent in failing to provide him with reasonably adequate protection from the 2002 assault. The court also found that Saylor received inadequate medical treatment from Dr. Kamal from 2002 to 2005. Saylor was awarded $250, 000 in damages.

Saylor v. Nebraska, 812 F.3d 637, 641 (8th Cir.), as amended (Mar. 4, 2016), cert. denied sub nom. Saylor v. Kohl, 137 S.Ct. 161 (2016) (collectively, “Saylor I”). In the state court action, the court also found, however, that the Nebraska Department of Corrections had provided medically appropriate care from and after March 31, 2010. Saylor v. State of Nebraska, No. CI 05-1597 (March 31, 2010); see Saylor v. Kohl, No. 4:12cv3115 (D. Neb.), Filing No. 143-18, Index of Evid., Ex. 16, State Court Decision at 35-36.

         In 2012, Saylor filed an action in federal district court. See Saylor I, No. 4:12-CV-3115 (D. Neb.). His action in federal court was centered on the allegation that the defendants reverted to providing him the type of inadequate medical care he had received prior to November 2005 subsequent to the state court decision. Id., Filing No. 113, Second Amended Complaint at 15. He asserted violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending, inter alia, that the Department of Corrections' failure to continue the treatment plan approved in his state tort action amounted to deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Id. at 26-27. He also asserted a state law claim for negligence. Id. at 27-28; see also id., Filing No. 124, Memorandum and Order at 1-5; Saylor v. Nebraska, No. 4:12cv3115, 2013 WL 6036630, *2-3 (D. Neb. Nov. 13, 2013) (summarizing the plaintiff's allegations in Saylor I).

         In that action, defendants Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, State of Nebraska, Natalie Baker, M.D., Dennis Bakewell, Fred Britten, Robert Houston, Mohammad Kamal, M.D., Randy Kohl, M.D., Mark Weilage, Ph.D., and Cameron White, Ph.D. (hereinafter, “the state defendants”) moved to dismiss the plaintiff's negligence claim on the ground of sovereign immunity. Saylor I, No. 4:12cv3115, Filing No. 116. The court granted the motion, finding that the State of Nebraska had not waived its sovereign immunity to suits for negligence in federal court through the State Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 81-8, 209. Id., Filing No. 124, Memorandum and Order at 6; Saylor I, No. 4:12cv3115, 2013 WL 6036630 at *4. The court found the Nebraska courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all tort claims against the State of Nebraska, its agencies, or its employees. Id. at 7; 2013 WL 6036630 at *4.[1] The court also found Saylor's § 1983 claims for damages against the individual defendants in their official capacities were barred by sovereign immunity. Id. at 10. The court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the § 1983 claims against the individual defendants in their individual capacities and claims for equitable relief. Id. at 12.

         The court later denied the state defendants' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Saylor I, No. 4:12CV3115, Filing No. 178, Memorandum and Order at 22-27; Saylor I, No. 4:12CV3115, 2014 WL 7335742 at *11-*13 (D. Neb. Dec. 22, 2014). Following an interlocutory appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed. See Saylor I, 812 F.3d at 642. The Eighth Circuit found no deprivation of Saylor's First, Fourteenth, or Eighth Amendment rights and remanded the action “with directions to dismiss [the state defendants] and for the entry of any further necessary orders concerning the non-appealing parties” consistent with its ruling. Id. at 647.

         On remand, this court dismissed the plaintiff's claims against the state defendants, dismissed the plaintiff's constitutional claims against the non-appealing parties (defendants Natalie Baker, M.D., and Correct Care Solutions) and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law negligence claim. Saylor I, No. 4:12CV3115, Filing No. 222, Memorandum and Order at 5-9; Saylor v. Kohl, 2016 WL 8201925, at *3-*5 (D. Neb. Nov. 28, 2016).

         Saylor later filed a motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59 and 60 to vacate the court's order dismissing the action, reopen the case, and grant leave to file a third amended complaint. Id., Filing No. 225. The attached proposed third amended complaint restated the plaintiff's earlier claims, added some factual allegations, and asserted a claim for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. Id., Filing No. 225-1, proposed third amended complaint. The court denied the motion, finding plaintiff had not met the standards for relief under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b). Id., Filing No. 230, Memorandum and Order; Saylor I, 2017 WL 486921, *1 (D. Neb. Feb. 6, 2017). Neither this court nor the Eighth Circuit ever addressed the merits of Saylor's negligence claim.

         B. The Present Action

         In his original complaint filed in state court, the plaintiff alleged both state and federal claims against the same defendants involved in Saylor I. Filing No. 1-1, Complaint. The original complaint appears to be substantially similar, if not identical, to the proposed third amended complaint submitted in the federal case. The state defendants removed the action to this court, basing jurisdiction on a federal question. Filing No. 1, Notice of Removal. After the action was removed to this court, the state defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on res judicata and the plaintiff amended his complaint.[2]Filin ...

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