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Williams v. Smith

August 1, 2006

ALAN WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
YVONNE SMITH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Gregory L. Frost

Magistrate Judge Abel

OPINION & ORDER

Currently before the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Ohio Board of Nursing, Yvonne Smith, Lisa Ferguson-Ramos, Betty Jo Horst, Anne Barnett, Judith Brachman, Debra Broadnax, Elizabeth Buschmann, T. Diann Caudill, Lisa Klenke, Patricia Schlecht, Teresa Williams, Bertha Lovelace, and John M. Brion ("Defendants").*fn1 (Doc. # 17). Pro Se Plaintiff Alan Williams ("Williams") filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc. # 19), to which the Defendants replied (Doc. # 20). The Court finds the motion to be well-taken and therefore GRANTS the same. (Doc. # 17).

BACKGROUND

Williams instituted this action on September 13, 2005. Shortly after he filed his Complaint, the Defendants--members, former members, and employees of the Ohio Board of Nursing--filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, a motion for a more definitive statement. Although the Court denied the motion to dismiss, the Court granted Williams' motion for leave to amend that was contained within his memorandum in opposition to the Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. # 15). The motion for a more definitive statement thus became moot.

Williams timely filed his Amended Complaint on February 28, 2006. (Doc. # 16). That document is somewhat disjointed. What follows is the best interpretation of the Amended Complaint the Court can muster under the circumstances.

Williams had a daughter named Lakisha Williams ("Lakisha"). (Doc. # 16 at ¶ 6). Lakisha had Rett's Syndrome. Id. On February 14, 2003, Lakisha checked into Childrens Hospital for treatment for malnutrition and dehydration. Id. at ¶ 7. While at the hospital, Lakisha apparently suffered an allergic reaction to Dilantin, the medication the hospital administered to her. Id. at ¶ ¶ 6, 10.*fn2

It appears that Franklin County Childrens Services took custody of Lakisha during her stay at Childrens Hospital. Id. at ¶ ¶ 9, 28, 31. Lakisha was placed in the Villa Angela Nursing Home after being discharged from the hospital. Id. at 11. Tragically, Lakisha died at the nursing home on August 27, 2004. Id. at ¶ 3.

Williams alleges in his Amended Complaint that Defendants disregarded Lakisha's Rett's Syndrome and that Defendants "never disclosed" Lakisha's allergic reaction to Diantin. Id. at ¶ ¶ 7, 10. Williams further alleges that Defendants conducted a fraudulent investigation of Nurse Delores Johnson, a nurse who cared for Lakisha, "in order to allow county and hospital staff improper motive and ability to cover up their malpractice and wrongful removal of my child from my custody." Id. at ¶ 2. Williams states that the Defendants failed to hold the hospital or nursing home accountable and that the Defendants worked in concert with those entities. Id. at ¶ 13.

Williams asserts the following claims against the Defendants in his Amended Complaint: wrongful death, medical malpractice, professional negligence, conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, coercion, abuse of discretion, false imprisonment, interference with custody, child endangerment, abuse of process, racial discrimination, disability discrimination, breach of duty, false statements, violation of due process, failure to investigate, and RICO.*fn3

(Doc. # 16). He seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. Id.

Williams filed substantially similar complaints based upon the same facts and against the same Defendants in the Ohio Court of Claims and in the Franklin County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas. The common pleas court dismissed his case for lack of jurisdiction. (Doc. # 17 Ex. 2). The court of claims dismissed all but two of his claims but has not made an immunity determination for the individual defendants named in this case. (Doc. # 17 Ex. 1).*fn4 Lastly, Williams' Amended Complaint references another case in the Franklin County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas involving himself, Children's Hospital, and Franklin County Children's Services that is pending before the Honorable Beverly Pfeiffer. (Doc. # 16 at ¶ 2).

Defendants now move to dismiss Williams' Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed. Rs. Civ. P. 8, 12(b)(6), and 12(b)(2). (Doc. # 17). With briefing on the motion complete, the Court now turns to an examination of the issues contained therein.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Defendants' first basis for dismissal is Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). That rule requires a complaint to set forth a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and a demand for judgment for the relief sought. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pleadings must provide "fair notice of what the [party's] claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957).

Within that context, the Court notes that Williams is proceeding pro se. As such, the Court must afford his Amended Complaint a measure of leniency. However, the Sixth Circuit has held that pro se complaints must satisfy basic pleading requirements. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989). And, despite receiving a measure of leniency, pro se plaintiffs still must "conduct enough investigation to draft pleadings that meet the requirements of the federal rules." Burnett v. Grattan, 468 U.S. 42, 50 (1984).

Secondly, Defendants contend that dismissal is warranted under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), which enables a defendant to raise by motion the defense of "lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter." In considering such a motion:

the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings to resolve factual disputes concerning jurisdiction, and both parties are free to supplement the record by affidavits. However, where a defendant argues that the plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts in her complaint to create subject matter jurisdiction, the trial court takes the allegations in the complaint as true.

Nichols v. Muskingum College, 318 F.3d 674, 677 (6th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). A plaintiff bears the burden of proving jurisdiction. Id.; Moir v. Greater Cleveland Reg'l Transit Auth., 895 F.2d 266, 269 (6th Cir. 1990).

Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction generally take one of two forms. Ohio Nat'l Life v. Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990). A facial attack on the subject matter jurisdiction alleged by the complaint merely questions the sufficiency of the pleading. Id.In reviewing such a facial attack, a trial court takes the allegations in the complaint as true, which is a similar safeguard employed under 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Id. On the other hand, when a court reviews a complaint under a factual attack, no presumptive truthfulness applies to the factual allegations. Id. Such a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction commonly has been referred to as a "speaking motion." See generally C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1364, at 662-64 (West 1969). When facts presented to the district court give rise to a factual controversy, the district court must therefore weigh the conflicting evidence to arrive at the factual predicate that subject matter jurisdiction exists or does not exist. Madison-Hughes v. Shalala, 80 F.3d 1121, 1130 (6th Cir. 1996). In reviewing these speaking motions, a trial court has wide discretion to allow affidavits, documents and even a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts. See RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996); Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981); Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3rd Cir. 1977).

Alternatively, Defendants move to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal is warranted under that rule " 'only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.' " Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996) (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1251 (1997). The focus is therefore not on whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but rather on whether the claimant has offered "either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory." Rippy ex rel. Rippy v. Hattaway, 270 F.3d 416, 419 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Scheid v. Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 436 (6th Cir. 1988)). In making such a determination, a court must " 'construe the complaint liberally in the plaintiff's favor and accept as true all factual allegations and permissible inferences therein.' " Sistrunk, 99 F.3d at 197(quoting Gazette v. City of Pontiac, 41 F.3d 1061, 1064 (6th Cir. 1994)). A court need not, however, accept conclusions of law or unwarranted inferences of fact. Perry v. American Tobacco Co., Inc., 324 F.3d 845, 848 (6th Cir. 2003).

DISCUSSION

I. RULE 8(a)

The Defendants assert that Williams' Amended Complaint fails to comport with Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). (Doc. # 17 at 26-30). Williams asserts that his Amended Complaint satisfies the Rule's ...


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