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Fontenot v. Upton

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

April 18, 2019

KIMBERLY DAWN FONTENOT, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN JODY R. UPTON, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of defendant Tarrant County Hospital District d/b/a JPS Health Network (``JPS") to dismiss. Plaintiff, Kimberly Dawn Fontenot, has failed to respond to the motion, which is ripe for ruling. The court, having considered the motion, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted.

         I.

         Plaintiff's Claims

         On August 15, 2018, plaintiff filed her complaint in this action against a number of defendants. Doc.[1] 1. Plaintiff generally alleges that defendants breached their duty of care to plaintiff and were wilfully indifferent to her serious medical needs. Id., at 1. The "Statement of Claim" portion of the complaint is not much more specific. Id. at PagelD[2] 8-9. Giving plaintiff the benefit of the doubt, she alleges that on or about November 20, 2014, she was taken to the emergency room, presumably operated by JPS, where she underwent surgery. Plaintiff discovered on July 19, 2018, that the surgeon, Inzune Hwang ("Hwang"), left a foreign body, possibly a straight pin, in the left aspect of plaintiff's bony pelvis. Id. at PagelD 8, 11. Plaintiff seeks to recover damages for her injuries.

         II.

         Grounds of the Motion

         JPS argues that plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim against it, either for violation of her constitutional rights or under state law. It further argues that, if plaintiff has alleged a state law claim, the court should decline to exercise jurisdiction over it inasmuch as she has not stated a federal constitutional claim against it.

         III.

         Applicable Pleading Principles

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in a general way, the applicable standard of pleading. It requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotation marks and ellipsis omitted). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, the "showing" contemplated by Rule 8 requires the plaintiff to do more than simply allege legal conclusions or recite the elements of a cause of action. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3. Thus, while a court must accept all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, it need not credit bare legal conclusions that are unsupported by any factual underpinnings. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) ("While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.").

         Moreover, to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the facts pleaded must allow the court to infer that the plaintiff's right to relief is plausible. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. To allege a plausible right to relief, the facts pleaded must suggest liability; allegations that are merely consistent with unlawful conduct are insufficient. Id. In other words, where the facts pleaded do no more than permit the court to infer the possibility of misconduct, the complaint has not shown that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

         As the Fifth Circuit has explained: "Where the complaint is devoid of facts that would put the defendant on notice as to what conduct supports the claims, the complaint fails to satisfy the requirement of notice pleading." Anderson v. U.S. Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev., 554 F.3d 525, 528 (5th Cir. 2008). In sum, "a complaint must do more than name laws that may have been violated by the defendant; it must also allege facts regarding what conduct violated those laws. In other words, a complaint must put the defendant on notice as to what conduct is being called for defense in a court of law." Id. at 528-29. Further, the complaint must specify the acts of the defendants individually, not collectively, to meet the pleading standards of ...


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