Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Moghtader v. Geo Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

June 20, 2019

SINA MOGHTADER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEO GROUP, INC., DOCTOR GORDON, individually, DOCTOR MORGAN, individually, DOCTOR ROSARIO RODRIGUEZ, individually, MARK MCPHERSON, individually, GRIEVANCE INSPECTOR J.I.E, individually, DETENTION OFFICER BLAKE, individually, and DETENTION OFFICER RANDOLPH, individually, Defendants.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On this date, the Court considered Defendant Doctor Rosario Rodriguez's Motion to Dismiss. Docket no. 42. This case stems from the treatment Plaintiff Sina Moghtader received while confined in a federal prison operated and staffed by GEO Group. In her motion, Dr. Rodriguez, a psychiatrist who provided medical care at the prison, seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against her based on alleged inadequate medical care. Rodriguez's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         BACKGROUND

         For purposes of this motion, the Court accepts the facts pleaded by Plaintiff as true. Plaintiff alleges that he experienced religious persecution prior to fleeing Iran, and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a learning disability as a result of that persecution. Id. at 4. After completing his first two years of medical school, he experienced severe psychological side effects from a new medication that resulted in federal charges due to psychotic episodes. Id. at 5. Plaintiff was placed in a federal prison operated and staffed by GEO while he awaited trial. Id. Plaintiff alleges that GEO guards abused him by calling him a terrorist and encouraging other prisoners to beat him and take his food. Id. He alleges that a group of prisoners broke his nose, held him down, and sodomized him under the supervision of GEO guards. Id. Plaintiff later developed an ear infection, but he was allegedly told not to report it or anything else or he would be beaten again or killed. Id. When Plaintiff requested medical attention, the guards allegedly told him that he could only see a doctor if he pled guilty to his pending criminal charges so that he could be placed in a different federal prison. Id. at 6.

         The judge assigned to Plaintiff's federal criminal case ordered that Plaintiff be assessed by Dr. Arambula, who recommended that Plaintiff begin to take anxiety medication after assessing him on July 21, 2016. Id. Plaintiff then requested the medication from Dr. Gordon, a doctor at the GEO facility, based on that recommendation. Id. By July 29, Plaintiff still had not received the medication, so he filed formal paperwork requesting the medication recommended by Dr. Arambula and access to a doctor for his ear infection. Id. This request was returned indicating that the grievable time period had expired. On August 5, Dr. Arambula sent a letter to Dr. Gordon at the prison advising that the doctor give Plaintiff the anxiety medication. Id. In response to Plaintiff's second formal request for medical attention filed on August 6, prison officials wrote to Plaintiff that their records showed that he had been seen by the prison psychologist, Dr. Morgan, who referred him to the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Rodriguez. Id. It further stated that Dr. Rodriguez was the only person authorized to prescribe medication. Id.

         On August 15, Plaintiff's criminal defense attorney sent a letter to Dr. Gordon requesting that he give Plaintiff the anxiety medication. Id. at 7. On August 17, Plaintiff filled out a third formal request for medical attention. Id. Plaintiff received the medication only after his attorney wrote to the Supervisor for Operations with the U.S. Marshals of the Western District of Texas, Mark McPherson, requesting the medication. Id. Plaintiff allegedly suffered nerve damage, broken teeth, and permanent hearing loss in his left ear as a result of his time in the prison. Id. No GEO employees were disciplined or reprimanded in relation to Plaintiff's treatment by either GEO or the U.S. Marshal Service. Id.

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on June 24, 2018. Therein, Plaintiff alleges that “individual Defendants” engaged in certain behavior depriving him of his constitutional rights by encouraging other prisoners to attack Plaintiff and denying him access to medical care for his wounds, severe ear infection, and need for anxiety medication. Id. at 9. The only constitutional claims applicable to Rodriguez are (1) that she deprived Plaintiff of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by displaying deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs by denying him access to medical care for his wounds, severe ear infection, and need for anxiety medication and (2) that Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment equal protection rights were violated because healthcare employees refused to give Plaintiff the medications he needed. Id. at 9, 14. Plaintiff also claims that Rodriguez was negligent in the course of rendering medical care and treatment to Plaintiff by failing or refusing to give Plaintiff anxiety medication as prescribed by Dr. Arambula, failing or refusing to treat Plaintiff's ear infection, and failing or refusing to treat Plaintiff's injuries from multiple beatings he sustained. Id. at 13. Plaintiff also asserts a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         Defendant Rodriguez moves for dismissal of all claims on the basis of untimely service of process. Docket no. 42 at 6. On February 28, 2019, this Court extended the deadline for service upon Rodriguez through February 1, the date that Rodriguez was served. Text Order on Plaintiff's Motion to Substitute Service and to Extend Time for Service (docket no. 37) dated February 28, 2019.

         Rodriguez moves for dismissal of the § 1983/Bivens constitutional claims on the basis of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Additionally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims are governed by the Texas Medical Liability Act (“TMLA”) and that Plaintiff cannot artfully plead his claim to avoid its procedural requirements. Docket no. 42 at 6. Defendant also argues that there are no factual allegations in the complaint that could indicate Rodriguez was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs. Id. at 7. Lastly, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim is not plausible as to Rodriguez because it is barred by the TMLA as a health care liability claim and the complaint lacks any factual allegation that Plaintiff was treated differently by Rodriguez on the basis of any protected characteristic. Id. at 8.

         Defendant also moves for the dismissal of all state-law claims of medical malpractice and intentional infliction of emotional distress on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to plead facts that could constitute medical malpractice or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 7, 9. Plaintiff contends that he has adequately stated his claims, that private operators of prisons and their officers and employees may be sued under § 1983 and/or Bivens, and that he should be given leave to amend to state a claim if the Court finds that the current pleadings are inadequate.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows the dismissal of a complaint for the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While the complaint does not need to contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain enough factual allegations to “raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The plaintiff has an obligation to present more than labels, conclusions, and formulaic recitations of the elements to avoid dismissal. Id. However, the court does not accept conclusory allegations or unwarranted deductions of fact as true. Tuchman v. DSC Commc'ns. Corp., 14 F.3d 1061, 1067 (5th Cir. 1994).

         II. Plaintiff's Federal Constitutional Claims

         Plaintiff brings claims under § 1983 and Bivens against Rodriguez for violating his constitutional rights by displaying deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical needs in denying him access to medical care for his wounds, severe ear infection, and need for anxiety medication. Docket no. 1 at 9. Plaintiff also alleges that his Fifth Amendment equal protection rights were violated because GEO healthcare employees refused to give Plaintiff medications he needed. Id. at 14. Defendant Rodriguez moves ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.