United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. TITUS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 16, 2015, Plaintiff Monica Jeffries, proceeding
pro se, filed this product liability action,
alleging that she had been harmed by a Greenfield Inferior
Vena Cava (“IVC”) Filter “designed,
manufactured, prepared, compounded, assembling [sic],
processed, labeled, marketed, distributed, and sold by”
the Defendants Boston Scientific et al. and Boston
Scientific/Ray Elliott CEO (collectively, “BSC”).
ECF No. 1. On December 2, 2015, this Court granted Plaintiff
leave to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 3. On
August 10, 2016, this Court granted Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss, but allowed Jeffries thirty days in which to file an
Amended Complaint addressing the numerous deficiencies
outlined by the Court in its memorandum opinion. ECF Nos. 21,
September 8, 2016, Jeffries filed an Amended Complaint and
requested an emergency hearing. ECF No. 23. On September 26,
2016, BSC filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 25. Jeffries
filed a Response in Opposition to BSC's Motion to Dismiss
on October 5, 2016, ECF No. 27, and filed an additional
supporting memorandum on October 11, 2016, ECF No. 28. On
October 25, 2016, Jeffries filed a “Motion for Leave to
File an Amended Complaint Adding Southern Maryland Hospital
A.K.A. Medstar Request [sic] for Emergency Hearing to Remove
Greenfield IVC Filter At Defendant Boston Scientifics
Exspence [sic] As Soon As Possible Time [sic] Is of the
Essence.” ECF No. 32. On November 16, 2016, Jeffries
filed another Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint
[ECF Nos. 36, 37], attaching medical records that for the
first time indicated that she may have been implanted with a
Greenfield IVC filter manufactured by BSC [ECF No. 37 Ex. A].
In the interest of fairness to a pro se litigant, on
December 21, 2016, this Court granted Jeffries leave to file
a Second Amended Complaint, along with all medical records
and attachments previously submitted as well as a redline
version identifying any additions or deletions in accordance
with Local Rule 103.6(c). ECF No. 39. On January 17, 2017,
because Jeffries had not yet filed a Second Amended
Complaint, BSC filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint with Prejudice [ECF No. 40] for reasons
stated in its previously submitted Motion to Dismiss [ECF No.
25]. On February 2, 2017, Jeffries filed an Objection to
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 42] and another
Motion to Amend Complaint and Request to Shield Plaintiffs
[sic] Medical Records from Public Eye [ECF No. 43], attaching
a redline version of her Second Amended Complaint and
supporting medical records. On February 15, 2017, Defendant
filed a Response in Opposition to Jeffries' Motion for
Leave to File Amended Complaint [ECF No. 44], arguing that
her proposed Second Amended Complaint did not address the
deficiencies previously identified by the Court and did not
allege plausible causes of action, so amendment would be
futile. The issues have been briefed, and no hearing is
necessary. Local Rule 105.6.
this Court has already granted Jeffries leave to file a
Second Amended Complaint, her Motion to Amend Complaint and
Request to Shield Plaintiffs Medical Records from Public Eye
[ECF No. 43] will be granted, and Defendant's pending
motions to dismiss [ECF Nos. 25, 40] will be denied as moot.
However, Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis,
see ECF No. 3, and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(ii), in cases in which the plaintiff is proceeding
in forma pauperis, the court “shall dismiss
the case at any time if the court determines that. . .the
action or appeal. . .fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted.” Because this Court determines that
Jeffries' Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 43-2] fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted, her Second
Amended Complaint will be dismissed.
facts underlying Jeffries' claims are laid out in this
Court's August 10, 2016, Memorandum Opinion. ECF No. 21.
In that opinion, this Court identified a number of problems
with Jeffries' original Complaint.
Jeffries' Complaint failed to provide a colorable,
factual basis for the claim that BSC manufactured the IVC
Filter that she alleged had been implanted in her.
Id. at 4. This alone was sufficient to dismiss her
Complaint. Id. at 5.
Jeffries' claim for punitive damages did nothing more
than recite the “actual malice” standard, without
providing any factual allegations that would demonstrate
actual malice. Id. at 6.
while the statute of limitations for products liability
claims in Maryland is three years, Jeffries waited roughly
twenty years after implementation of her device to
file a Complaint. Id. at 6-7. She claimed that the
statute of limitations should be tolled until September 2015,
when she first discovered that her IVC filter had migrated
and perforated her vena cava, but also asserted that BSC
publicized a recall of its Greenfield IVC Filter in 2005.
Id. at 7. She did not provide any reason why she
should not have known about the dangers of the filter in 2005
when BSC publicized its recall, and thus had not adequately
alleged that her claim was timely. Id.
“interest of fairness to a pro se litigant,
” this Court granted Jeffries leave to file an Amended
Complaint. The Court directed Jeffries to ensure that the
Amended Complaint complied with the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and included only “‘short and plain
statements of jurisdiction' and facts asserted in
good-faith.” ECF No. 21 at 8 (quoting Fed R. Civ. P. 8,
11). After Jeffries submitted documentation indicating that
her filter may have been manufactured by BSC, this Court
again granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, and
directed that the Second Amended Complaint
“specifically address the deficiencies outlined by
the Court in its previous Memorandum Opinion, and adequately
allege a plausible claim that the IVC filter is, in fact,
the cause of the injuries alleged by her.” ECF No. 39
federal district court is charged with liberally construing a
complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the
development of a potentially meritorious case. Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). Nonetheless, liberal
construction does not mean that a court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a
claim cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
1990). A district court may not rewrite a complaint in order
for it to survive a motion to dismiss. See Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint. Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In
considering a motion to dismiss, the Court considers whether
the “complaint . . . contain[s] 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) (internal citation and quotation marks
omitted). “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. A court must
construe factual allegations in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. See Lambeth v. Bd. of Comm'rs of
Davidson Cnty., 407 F.3d 266, 268 (4th Cir. 2005).
Nevertheless, a court is not required to accept as true
“a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation,
” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986),
or “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted
deductions of fact or unreasonable inferences.”
Veney v. Wyche, 293 F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Put simply, a complaint
must “raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007).
Jeffries Stated a Plausible Claim that Her IVC Filter ...