United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court is Defendants Michael Toney and Jaburs
Terry's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 110]. For the
following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part.
awaiting trial, Dr. Charles Knouse was detained at South
Central Regional Jail (“SCRJ”) in Kanawha County,
West Virginia, for various violations of the Controlled
Substances Act. At his detention hearing, Dr. Knouse
explained to Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn his belief
that the jail authorities at South Central Regional Jail were
not meeting his serious medical needs. Dr. Knouse was
apparently concerned that his heart would become arrhythmic
if he did not receive his heart medication. He also explained
that withdrawal from a second medication would render the
first medication unable to control his heart rhythm, and he
detailed the great pain he was in because the Jail
Authorities did not allow him to self- catheterize the first
few days of his detainment.
a potential life-threatening situation, and choosing to err
on the side of caution until Dr. Knouse's medical
conditions could be verified, Magistrate Judge Aboulhosn
ordered the authorities at SCRJ “to immediately place
and hold [Dr. Knouse] in the medical unit . . . and to
immediately resume [Dr. Knouse] on all of his prescribed
medications.” Order 2, United States v.
Knouse, No. 1:17-mj-00046 (Aug. 4, 2017), [ECF No. 6]. A
few days later, however, Dr. Knouse died while in custody.
Hannah Knouse, administrator of his estate, filed this
plaintiff's initial Complaint alleged, inter alia, that
certain prison personnel and medical provides at SCRJ were
deliberately indifferent to Dr. Knouse's serious medical
needs. On a Motion [ECF No. 32], the court dismissed most of
the Complaint for failure to state a claim but allowed the
plaintiff's § 1983 claim for deliberate indifference
in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to move forward. The
court noted the plaintiff's lack of factual matter,
conclusory statements, and inapposite legal theories. On
October 23, 2018, by leave of court, the plaintiff filed an
Amended Complaint [ECF No. 71], largely ignoring the
court's guidance on pleading. The Amended Complaint
continues to include irrelevant state constitutional claims
with no factual basis, contains even more conclusory
statements, and entails 275 pages of appended exhibits.
Defendants Toney and Terry, the Amended Complaint sounds in
negligence and state and federal constitutional claims. On
November 27, 2018, Defendants Toney and Terry moved to
dismiss the claims against them [ECF No. 110]. On December
11, 2018, the plaintiff responded [ECF No. 118]. The Motion
is now ripe for review.
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal
sufficiency of a complaint or pleading. Giarratano v.
Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008). Rule 8
requires that a pleading contain a “short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). As the Supreme Court
stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, that standard
“does not require ‘detailed factual
allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). “[A]
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of [her] ‘entitle[ment] 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. A court cannot accept as
true legal conclusions in a complaint that merely recite the
elements of a cause of action supported by conclusory
statements. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78.
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.'”
Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570). To achieve facial plausibility, the plaintiff must
plead facts that allow the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable, and those facts must
be more than merely consistent with the defendant's
liability to raise the claim from possible to plausible.
Section 1983 Qualified Immunity
plaintiff alleges that Defendants Toney and Terry were
deliberately indifferent to Dr. Knouse's serious medical
needs in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due
Process Clause. The defendants assert that they are entitled
to qualified immunity and that the § 1983 claim
therefore should be dismissed.
are entitled to qualified immunity under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 unless (1) they violated a federal statutory or
constitutional right, and (2) the unlawfulness of their
conduct was “clearly established at the time.”
Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, 664 (2012).
“Clearly established” means that, at the time of
the officer's conduct, the law was
“‘sufficiently clear' that every
‘reasonable official would understand that what he is
doing'” is unlawful. Ashcroft v. al-Kidd,
563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011) (quoting Anderson v.
Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987)). In other words,
existing law must have placed the constitutionality of the
officer's conduct “beyond debate.”
Id. at 741. This demanding standard protects
“all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly
violate the law.” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S.
335, 341 (1986). The court's “first task is to
identify the specific right that [the plaintiff] asserts was
infringed by the challenged conduct, recognizing that the
right must be defined at the appropriate level of
particularity.” Winfield v. Bass, 106 F.3d
525, 530 (4th Cir. 1997) (en banc). As discussed previously
by this court in this case, “[t]he right to be free
from deliberate ...