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Walker v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 28, 2019

SHERMAINE WALKER, individually and as administrator of the estate of Marques Davis, deceased, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., formerly known as Correctional Medical Services, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Daniel D. Crabtree United States District Judge

         On April 13, 2017, inmate Marques Davis died while he was in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections and housed at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas. Plaintiffs Shermaine Walker (as administrator of Mr. Davis's estate) and I.D.F. (as a minor and heir at law of Mr. Davis) bring this lawsuit against various entities and individuals who, plaintiffs allege, denied Mr. Davis access to adequate and competent medical care to evaluate and treat a serious medical condition. Plaintiffs assert that defendants' disregard for Mr. Davis's serious medical condition caused him to endure an untreated and progressively debilitating neurological condition for nearly eight months before dying a horrible and preventable death.

         This matter comes before the court on a motion by just one of the defendants. On June 29, 2018, defendant Sohaib Mohiuddin, M.D., filed a Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 41. Dr. Mohiuddin's motion asks the court to dismiss plaintiffs' claims against him under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failing to state a claim.

         On July 20, 2018, the parties filed a Joint Motion asking the court to permit Dr. Mohiuddin to file an Amended/Supplemental Suggestions in Support of his Motion to Dismiss and to extend plaintiffs' time for responding to the motion. Doc. 47. The court granted the parties' request in part. Doc. 48. Specifically, the court granted Dr. Mohiuddin's request to file an Amended/Supplemental Suggestions in Support of his previously filed Motion to Dismiss but denied the motion to the extent he was seeking to file a supplement that-when combined with his Memorandum in Support of his original Motion to Dismiss-would exceed the page limitations established by D. Kan. Rule 7.1(e). Rule 7.1(e) provides that “[t]he arguments and authorities section of briefs or memoranda must not exceed 30 pages absent a court order.” On July 30, 2018, Dr. Mohiuddin filed another Memorandum in Support of his Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 49. Plaintiffs then filed a Response and Suggestions in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Doc. 56. And Dr. Mohiuddin submitted a Reply. Doc. 59.

         Dr. Mohiuddin's original Motion to Dismiss includes 24 pages of Arguments and Authorities. Doc. 42 at 3-26. His Amended/Supplemental Suggestions in Support of his Motion to Dismiss consists of 26 pages of Arguments and Authorities. Doc. 49 at 4-29. On closer inspection, the court finds many similarities in the two filings. Most of the arguments asserted in the two filings are identical, but they appear in a different order in Dr. Mohiuddin's second filing. Dr. Mohiuddin's chosen method for proceeding with his motion practice is needlessly inefficient, and it has complicated the court's effort to understand his arguments. It has required the court to parse through the two filings to determine if they differ, and, if so, how they differ. And this practice either violated or came close to violating the court's explicit order that Dr. Mohiuddin could not supplement a brief that-when combined with his original filing-exceeds the page limitations established in the court's local rules. The court even considered striking Dr. Mohiuddin's Motion to Dismiss for violating the court's order. But exercising its discretion, the court declines to do so, preferring to consider the motion on its merits.

         The court thus considers the parties' arguments directed at the Motion to Dismiss in the following subsections. And for reasons explained, the court grants Dr. Mohiuddin's Motion to Dismiss in part and denies it in part.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts come from plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (Doc. 4), and the court must view them in the light most favorable to plaintiffs. S.E.C. v. Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014) (“We accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the [plaintiffs].” (citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).

         On March 12, 2010, Mr. Davis was sentenced to serve time in the Kansas penal system. In June 2016, Mr. Davis was transferred to the Hutchison Correctional Facility (“HCF”). Before he arrived at HCF, plaintiff was a healthy 27-year-old man.

         When Mr. Davis was housed at HCF, the Kansas Department of Corrections contracted with defendant Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”) to provide medical care to HCF inmates. Defendant Sohaib Mohiuddin, M.D., is a licensed medical doctor. During times relevant to this lawsuit, Corizon employed Dr. Mohiuddin to provide medical care to HCF inmates.

         In July and August 2016, Mr. Davis began experiencing numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, and severe mid-back pain. Mr. Davis reported his symptoms to many Corizon healthcare providers at the HCF medical unit. By September 2016, Mr. Davis's symptoms had worsened. During that month, Mr. Davis made about 12 visits to the HCF medical unit complaining about numbness in his feet, weakness in his right leg, severe mid-back pain, and an increasing inability to walk. He reported to medical staff: “I can barely walk on my right leg.” Doc. 4 at 14 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 37). Mr. Davis's numbness became so severe he fell in his cell block on September 5, 2016. Afterwards, Mr. Davis began falling repeatedly because of worsening numbness in his lower extremities. In response to Mr. Davis's symptoms, healthcare providers prescribed Tylenol and ordered a lumbar x-ray. But also, they documented their belief that Mr. Davis was faking his symptoms.

         Mr. Davis continued to experience the same symptoms through October 2016. During that month, Mr. Davis made eight visits to the HCF medical unit complaining of those symptoms. On October 25, 2016, healthcare providers recorded that Mr. Davis's limping was now “very visible and that he has some muscle weakness in his right lower extremity.” Id. at 15 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 44). That same day, a Corizon nurse documented that Mr. Davis needed a referral for an MRI.

         On October 31, 2016, a Corizon physician noted that Mr. Davis had muscle weakness in his right leg and numbness in both feet. Also, the physician documented that Mr. Davis's muscle strength and range of motion were impaired and that he “has lost vibration test in right leg . . . Raising the right leg by his muscle strength is impaired to 30 degrees.” Id. (First Am. Compl. ¶ 46).

         Mr. Davis continued to experience numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, severe mid-back pain, and an increasing inability to walk. In November 2016, Mr. Davis made five visits to the HCF medical unit to complain about his symptoms. And, in December 2016, Mr. Davis made another eight visits to the HCF medical unit. On December 15, 2016, Mr. Davis began complaining about other symptoms in addition to his previous chronic complaints. His new symptoms included pain, numbness, and itching in his arms that radiated down his arms from his elbows to his fingertips. About two weeks later, Mr. Davis visited the HCF medical unit and reported “it feels like something is eating my brain.” Id. at 16 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 57). Corizon healthcare providers documented that Mr. Davis's inability to walk was getting more severe, he was experiencing dizziness, and he was having hot sweats.

         On January 5, 2017, Mr. Davis reported during a visit to the HCF medical unit, “now my hands are going numb.” Id. at 17 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 62). In response to his complaints, healthcare providers continued to provide Tylenol to Mr. Davis. On January 19, 2017, Mr. Davis passed out while trying to use the phone. He was placed in the infirmary for observation of his symptoms which included fainting, weakness, tingling and numbness in the extremities, and difficulty walking. Healthcare providers prescribed Mr. Davis prednisone for 10 days but didn't document any diagnosis.

         Mr. Davis remained in the infirmary under observation. On February 5, 2017, healthcare providers documented that they were going to pursue a neurology consult for Mr. Davis. He never received the consult. During Mr. Davis's infirmary stay, he continued to ask healthcare providers what was wrong with his body. Mr. Davis's medical records include no response to his questions. Instead, many healthcare providers documented, once again, their belief that Mr. Davis was faking his illness. And the only treatment they provided Mr. Davis was Tylenol, prednisone, and constipation medicine. On February 14, 2017, Mr. Davis was released from the infirmary.

         On February 21, 2017, Mr. Davis returned to the medical unit for a follow-up visit. During this visit, Mr. Davis complained about numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, severe mid-back pain, an increasing inability to walk, numbness in his hands, dizziness, and persistent headaches. Healthcare providers documented that they weren't approving a neurology consult. Also, they documented that an EKG performed during the visit was abnormal. They did not memorialize any other action.

         On February 23, 2017, a corrections officer brought Mr. Davis to the HCF medical unit. Mr. Davis was having vision problems along with his previous symptoms. During this visit, healthcare providers documented that Mr. Davis was “dizzy and unsteady on his feet.” Id. at 18 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 72). Also, healthcare providers documented that Mr. Davis was having trouble tracking with his eyes, sluggish pupillary reaction, and erratic eye movement. On February 27, 2017, Mr. Davis again reported to the infirmary. He complained primarily about dizziness. He was discharged 23 hours later.

         During March 2017, Mr. Davis's condition declined even more. He continued to suffer from numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, severe mid-back pain, an increasing inability to walk, numbness in his hands, dizziness, vision problems, and migraines. Yet many healthcare providers continued to document that Mr. Davis was faking his symptoms On March 25, 2017, Mr. Davis made an emergency visit to the HCF medical unit. A nurse documented that Mr. Davis “also reports dizziness, balance disturbances, and decreased vision to right eye. Fingers to hands are stiff and bent in abnormal directions. Arms shake uncontrollably.” Id. at 19 (First Am. Compl. ¶ 76). Medical staff released him from the infirmary that same day.

         A few hours later, Mr. Davis was found lying on the floor outside his cell. He again was taken to the medical unit. Healthcare providers documented that Mr. Davis was complaining of dizziness and noted visible trembling in both of his arms. They admitted him to the infirmary and gave him a dose of Tylenol. Immediately after Mr. Davis's admission to the infirmary, healthcare providers documented that his “whole body is shaking.” Id. (First Am. Compl. ¶ 77).

         The next day, Mr. Davis's condition worsened. Mr. Davis still was suffering from numbness in his feet, weakness of his right leg, severe mid-back pain, an increasing inability to walk, numbness in his hands, dizziness, vision problems, and migraines. Also, Mr. Davis began acting erratically and uncharacteristically. He needed assistance using the toilet and began urinating in cups and his water pitcher. Because of Mr. Davis's bizarre behavior, staff moved him to an isolation cell within the infirmary.

         Between March 31, 2017 and April 12, 2017, Mr. Davis showed symptoms of incontinence. Frequently, he urinated and defecated on himself, making no attempt to clean up after himself. He became increasingly confused, and he began slurring his speech, talking incoherently, and drinking his own urine. Mr. Davis had lost a noticeable amount of weight and was eating only small amounts of his meals.

         On April 11, 2017, Mr. Davis finally received an MRI. It showed a widespread infection throughout his brain and evidence of tonsillar herniation (swelling of the brain). After learning the results of Mr. Davis's MRI, Corizon healthcare providers-including Dr. Mohiuddin- refused to order Mr. Davis's immediate hospitalization. Instead, Mr. Davis was returned to his isolation cell within the infirmary.

         Around 12:25 p.m. on April 12, 2017, Mr. Davis went into cardio-pulmonary arrest. Nearly 17 minutes later, healthcare providers began administering CPR and notified EMS. EMS transported Mr. Davis to Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. There, Mr. Davis was declared brain dead. A brain CT was performed at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center. It confirmed tonsillar herniation. Also, it showed that Mr. Davis had no hope for recovery.

         On April 13, 2017, Mr. Davis died after his life support was terminated. An autopsy revealed that Mr. Davis had a case of far advanced Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis, involving his lungs, liver, kidney, and brain.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject ...


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