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Myart v. City of San Antonio

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

December 23, 2019

JAMES W. MYART JR., Plaintiff,


          Honorable Chief United States District Judge

         This Report and Recommendation and Order concerns the following dispositive and nondispositive motions: the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants VHS San Antonio Partners, LLC d/b/a Baptist Medical Center (misnamed as Baptist Hospital System) and Matthew Stone (misnamed as Matt Stone, CEO, Baptist Hospital System Corporately and Individually) [#3]; the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant City of San Antonio [#19]; Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Motion for 90 Day Stay with Medical Evidence [#21]; and Plaintiff's Motion to Lift Stay and Various Notices to the Court [#38]. All pretrial matters in this case have been referred to the undersigned for disposition pursuant to Western District of Texas Local Rule CV-72 and Appendix C [#4]. The undersigned has authority to enter this recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and this Order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [#3, #19] be GRANTED and that Plaintiff's claims against the unserved Defendants be dismissed sua sponte. The Court will also order that Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Motion for 90 Day Stay with Medical Evidence [#21] be DENIED and Plaintiff's Motion to Lift Stay and Various Notices to the Court [#38] be GRANTED IN PART.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff James W. Myart, Jr. originally filed this action in the 45th Judicial District of Bexar County, Texas. (Orig. Pet. [#1-3] at 2-18.) Plaintiff's Original Petition named the following parties as Defendants: Baptist Hospital System; Matt Stone, CEO; Baptist Hospital System Private Security Company; John Doe Company; Jacob Coronal; John Doe Security Company; John and Jane Does 1-5; Head ER Nurse Jane Doe; Jane Does 1-6; and ER Nurses. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants falsely accused him of assaulting one of the Jane Doe nurses and issued him a criminal trespass citation barring him from entering Baptist Hospital. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Plaintiff asserted the following causes of action against Defendants: business disparagement, defamation, libel, slander, false imprisonment, assault, conspiracy to deny Plaintiff's constitutional rights, theft, and trade-secret misappropriation. (Id. at ¶¶ 38-58.) Plaintiff's Original Petition pleaded damages in the amount of $1, 500, 000.00 and sought a temporary and permanent injunction against Defendants prohibiting them from enforcing the criminal trespass citation. (Id. at ¶¶ 24, 59.)

         The record reflects that a Bexar County judge granted Plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order on May 30, 2019. (TRO [#1-3] at 23-24.) Plaintiff thereafter filed an Amended Petition in state court, adding as Defendants the City of San Antonio, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Police Chief William McManus, Officer John Turner, Officer John Villareal, and Sgt. John Doe. (Am. Pet. [#1-3] at 60-68.) The Amended Petition, which remains the live pleading in this case, alleges that, despite the issued TRO, Baptist Hospital refused to treat Plaintiff and instead contacted SAPD to arrest him. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.) The chronology of the subsequent events described in Plaintiff's pleadings is unclear, but it appears that Plaintiff's arrest did not result in criminal charges. Plaintiff claims he “was rejected” by the Office of the Magistrate and was taken instead to University Hospital for emergency medical treatment, because he apparently had need for further treatment. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiff alleges that at some later point, presumably after his discharge from University Hospital, he attempted to return to Baptist Hospital for treatment, but treatment was again denied. (Id. at ¶ 8.) Plaintiff asserts additional causes of action under Section 1983 against Defendants, alleging a violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at ¶ 15-18.) A Bexar County judge issued a second TRO on June 10, 2019. (TRO [#1-3] at 78-82.)

         The City of San Antonio answered Plaintiffs' Amended Petition in state court and then removed this case to federal court. (Answer [#1-6] at 1-5; Notice of Removal [#1].) Defendants VHS San Antonio Partners (misnamed Baptist Hospital System) (hereinafter, “Baptist”) and Matthew Stone (misnamed Matt Stone, CEO) (hereinafter, “Stone”) consented to removal and promptly filed the Motion to Dismiss that is currently pending before the Court. (Consent [#1-5]; Mot. to Dismiss [#3].) The Court subsequently stayed this case pending the resolution of the threshold issues raised in Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Order [#5].) Under this Court's Local Rules, Plaintiff's response to Defendants' motion was due on or before July 12, 2019. See Loc. R. CV-7(e) (responses to dispositive motions due within 14 days of motion's filing); Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a), (d) (adding three days to response deadline for service by mail and extending the deadline to Monday if the final date otherwise falls on a Sunday).

         Plaintiff did not file a response to Defendants' motion by the July 12, 2019 deadline. Instead, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting a 90-day stay of all deadlines in this case due to Plaintiff's medical issues, including his deadline to respond to Defendants' motions to dismiss. The Court held a status conference to address the requested stay on August 7, 2019. After hearing the arguments of Plaintiff at the conference, considering Plaintiff's substantial litigation activity in this and other cases leading up to the conference, and reviewing the medical evidence attached to Plaintiff's motion, the Court denied Plaintiff's request for a 90-day stay of the entire case, but stayed all discovery pending the resolution of Defendants' motions to dismiss. (Order [#10].) In the same Order, the undersigned ordered that any party seeking to file any document in this case must first seek leave of court and ordered the City of San Antonio to file an amended answer or Rule 12 motion within 10 days of the Order. The City of San Antonio timely filed the motion to dismiss that is pending before the Court [#19].

         Since this hearing and Order was issued, Plaintiff moved for leave to file another 90-day stay on September 25, 2019, which would further delay a ruling on Defendants' motions to dismiss [#21]. A few weeks later, Plaintiff filed a motion to lift the stay and proceed with this case [#38]. In the interim, Plaintiff has also filed a No. of appeals to the District Court (alleging bias, asking for reconsideration, and seeking recusal) and two appeals with the Fifth Circuit. The District Court denied Plaintiff's appeals and motions for recusal, and the Fifth Circuit dismissed both of Plaintiff's interlocutory appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The undersigned now considers each of the four pending motions in this case in turn.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Motion for 90-Day Stay and Motion to Lift Stay

         Plaintiff asks the Court for leave to file another motion for a 90-day stay of this case due to his medical issues. Attached to the motion are over one hundred pages of medical evidence demonstrating that Plaintiff has been hospitalized numerous times in the past several months, has lost eyesight in his right eye, and suffers from end-stage renal disease. (Med. Records [#21-1].) Plaintiff also filed additional supplemental records in support of his motion. (Med. Records [#24, #26].) In his motion, Plaintiff accuses the undersigned and the District Court of not caring about his medical condition or believing him to be lying to the Court about his illnesses. To the contrary, Plaintiff has sufficiently documented that he suffers from serious medical conditions, which have at times required his hospitalization. Nonetheless, the Court will deny leave to file a second request for a 90-day stay for the following reasons.

         This case is currently at the preliminary stage in which the Court is asked to decide threshold issues raised in two motions to dismiss filed by Defendants. At the motion-to-dismiss stage, the Court reviews only the plausibility of Plaintiff's pleadings and does not consider any evidence. Accordingly, there is no need for discovery or any other action by Plaintiff, aside from a response to the pending motions to dismiss or supplemental pleading clarifying Plaintiff's allegations to demonstrate that they give rise to valid causes of action under the law. Plaintiff has filed responses to Defendants' motions (albeit late ones) [#27, #31, #35, #36]. Discovery has been stayed pending the resolution of Defendants' motions. Other than supplementing his pleadings or filing objections, nothing else is required of Plaintiff at this time and a stay of the entire case is unnecessary.

         Moreover, even if discovery and other aspects of the litigation were proceeding (and thus a stay would have a bigger impact), the Court would deny the motion. Plaintiff has filed dozens of pleadings, motions, and appeals in this case and other cases pending before this Court[1] since Defendants filed their motions to dismiss. Plaintiff has demonstrated that, although his illness may be serious, he is capable of drafting hundreds of pages of court filings and actively pursuing multiple cases before this Court and others.

         Finally, Plaintiff has also most recently filed a motion to lift the stay in this case [#38], complaining about the delay in the issuance of any rulings in his case and the lack of a scheduling order and a date for trial.[2] It appears therefore that Plaintiff is abandoning his request for a stay. The Court therefore will deny the current pending motion for leave to file a motion to stay and grant in part Plaintiff's motion to lift the stay and proceed with this case.

         III. Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

         The Court should grant the motions to dismiss filed by Baptist and Stone [#3] and the City of San Antonio [#19] and dismiss all of the claims and causes of action asserted against them in this lawsuit for failure to state a claim. The Court should also sua sponte dismiss Plaintiff's claims against all remaining unserved Defendants.

         A. Legal Standards

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting 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.” Id. “Although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” the “allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The allegations pleaded must show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court “accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Martin K. Eby Const. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation omitted). However, a Court need not credit conclusory allegations or allegations that merely restate the legal elements of a claim. Chhim v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin, 836 F.3d 467, 469 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In short, a claim should not be dismissed unless the court determines that it is beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove a plausible set of facts that support the claim and would justify relief. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The undersigned is mindful that in evaluating the merits of Defendants' motions to dismiss, a court views Plaintiff's pro se pleadings under a less stringent standard than those drafted by an attorney. See Alexander v. Ware, 714 F.2d 416, 419 (5th Cir. 1983). As a result, Plaintiff's filings are entitled to a liberal construction that includes all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from these pleadings. See Id. The undersigned does remind the District Court, however, that although Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this case, he did attend law school and previously was a member of the bar, so he has more legal training and experience than a typical pro se litigant.

         B. Factual Allegations in Plaintiff's Live Pleading

         Plaintiff's Original and First Amended Petitions read together contain the following factual allegations: Plaintiff claims that on an unidentified date he was taken by ambulance to Baptist Hospital's Emergency Room, and the doctor on duty told him it was “ok for [him] to leave the Emergency Room.” (Pet. [#1-3] at ¶ 19.) Plaintiff alleges he was thereafter falsely accused of assaulting a nurse and was issued a criminal trespass form indicating he could no longer enter the hospital, even though his specialists and primary care physician work there. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Plaintiff further alleges that he was held under false arrest by John Doe Security Guard Company until SAPD arrived on the scene, and during this false arrest he was “physically manhandl[ed].” (Id. at ¶ 3.) Upon SAPD's arrival, Plaintiff claims he was released. (Id.) As previously stated, the state court issued a temporary restraining order declaring the criminal trespass order null and void on May 30, 2019. (TRO [#1-3] at 21.)

         Plaintiff's Amended Petition contends that on May 31, 2019, he again presented himself to Baptist Hospital seeking medical care, but Baptist Hospital refused him care based on the criminal trespass order described in Plaintiff's Original Petition. (First Am. Pet. [#1-3] at ¶ 5.) Plaintiff claims he was arrested for trespass despite showing SAPD Officers Turner and Villareal the TRO issued by the state court. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6.) When Plaintiff was taken to the Office of the Magistrate for processing, he claims he was “rejected” (likely meaning no criminal charges ensued) and was instead taken to University Hospital for emergency medical treatment. (Id. at ΒΆ ...

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