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Garcia v. MEND Medical Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 17, 2017

Trinidad Jesus Garcia, Plaintiff,
v.
MEND Medical Services; Gwen Blossom; and Jail Administrator Brian Frank, Defendants.

          Trinidad Jesus Garcia pro se Plaintiff.

          Jason M. Hill, Esq., and Joseph E. Flynn, Esq., Jardine, Logan & O'Brien, PLLP, Counsel for Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BECKY R. THORSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Trinidad Jesus Garcia alleges that he fell and injured himself due to a negligently-maintained shower at Sherburne County Jail. (Doc. No. 43, Am. Compl. 4.) Defendant Sherburne County Jail Administrator Brian Frank moves for judgment on the pleadings on this claim. (Doc. No. 44.) For the reasons stated below, this Court recommends that Defendant's motion be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 7, 2017, this Court issued a Report and Recommendation that recommended the dismissal of various defendants and claims in this action. (Doc. No. 8, 4/7/17 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) 6.) The Court also granted Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis with respect to the following claims: (1) Garcia's claim against Sherburne County Jail administrator Brian Frank that a negligently maintained shower led to physical injuries; and (2) Garcia's deliberate-indifference claims against MEND Medical Services, Gwen Blossom, and Michelle Skroch. (R&R 5.) United States District Judge Donovan W. Frank adopted this Court's R&R on May 11, 2017. (Doc. No. 15.)

         On August 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 43, Am. Compl.) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint removes Skroch as a Defendant, but his allegations against Defendant Frank are largely unchanged. (Id.) They are as follows:

In regards to a specific incident that occur[r]ed on November 25th, 2016 at approximately 9:05 P.M. in Delta South Unit, I fell and hit my head, injured my neck, my right arm, my left lower back and my right shoulder.
This was due to negligence and failure to repair shower number D3S3 right by my room in a timely manner where water comes out of the shower and pools up near my door. I am in pain due to this fall and may very well have ongoing serious pain and medical issues in the future due to this fall.

(Am. Compl. 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants MEND and Blossom were deliberately indifferent to a variety of medical concerns, including an injured ankle and dental issues due to pulled teeth, dentures, and hurt gums. (Id.) Plaintiff also alleges that MEND misdiagnosed an eye issue, causing him to have unnecessary surgery on his right eye. (Id. at 3.)

         ANALYSIS

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff's allegations fail to state an actionable claim for relief under Section 1983, and that the Court should not exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's supplemental state law negligence claim. (Doc. No. 46, Def.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for J. on the Pleadings (“Def.'s Mem.”) 6-14.) Plaintiff argues that the Court can exercise jurisdiction because he is a federal prisoner in a federal prison facility. (Doc. No. 63, Pl.'s Mem. 2.) Plaintiff also argues that fact issues should preclude judgment on the pleadings. (Id. at 2-4.)

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed--but early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Because Defendant Frank filed this motion before he answered the operative complaint in this matter--Plaintiff's August 21, 2017 Amended Complaint-- Defendant's motion is not a motion for judgment on the pleadings. (See Doc. Nos. 43, 44.)[1] The distinction is not relevant, however, because the “same standards that govern motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) also govern motions for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c).” Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 860 F.3d 1106, 1109 (8th Cir. 2017). To survive such a motion, Plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Courts are not required to accept as true legal conclusions “couched as . . . factual allegations” in the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. Courts do, ...


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