United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Standard of Review
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).
Plaintiff's Federal Constitutional Claims
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 ...