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Gelin v. Baltimore County

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 9, 2019

EDWARD GELIN, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          A. David Copperthite United States Magistrate Judge.

         The Court will address two pending motions in this Memorandum Opinion. First, Defendant/Third-Party Defendant, Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("CCS"), moves this Court to dismiss the Third-Party Complaint of Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs, Baltimore County, Maryland, Deborah Richardson, Michael Salisbury II, Michelle Rawlins, Nicholas Quisguard, Myesha White, Joseph Lux, Gregory Lightner, Carl Luckett, and John and Jane Does 1 to 8 (collectively, "County Defendants"), for Indemnification (Count I) and Contribution (Count II) (the "Motion to Dismiss") (ECF No. 75). Second, Plaintiffs Edward and Deborah Gelin filed a Motion for Relief, asking this Court to vacate its previous order dismissing Defendant Kyle Shuman, a CCS employee (ECF No. 85). After considering each of the motions and responses thereto, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will GRANT CCS's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 75) and DENY Plaintiffs' Motion for Relief (ECF No. 85).

         Factual Background

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss, this Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the challenged complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). This lawsuit arises out of the death of Ashleigh Gelin on November 14, 2013, when she was incarcerated in the Baltimore County Detention Center ("BCDC"). ECF No. 12 at 5, ¶¶ 1, 4. Ms. Gelin was admitted to BCDC on November 4, 2013. Id. at 12, ¶30. At the time, CCS provided all health care services to inmates incarcerated at BCDC. Id. at 7, ¶ 10. Upon admission, Ms. Gelin underwent a medical intake screening and initial health assessment conducted by CCS. Id. at 12-13, ¶¶ 31-38. CCS noted that Ms. Gelin had a history of mental illness and treatment for bipolar disorder and that she exhibited signs of opiate and benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal, bipolar disorder, depression, and psychosis. Id. ¶¶ 31-35. Nevertheless, BCDC and CCS failed to timely refer Ms. Gelin to mental health professionals for evaluation, place her on "special observation status" while awaiting evaluation, provide her with medications for her mental illnesses, and separate her from abusive fellow inmates. Id. at 13-15, ¶¶ 40-42, 44-46, 48, 50, 53-54. On November 14, 2013, Ms. Gelin took her own life. Id. at 15-16, ¶¶ 55, 58.

         Procedural Background

         On November 11, 2016, Ms. Gelin's parents, Plaintiffs Edward and Deborah Gelin, filed suit on behalf of themselves and as personal representatives of Ms. Gelin against Baltimore County, Maryland, Baltimore County Sheriff Jay R. Fisher, and BCDC employees Kyle Shuman, Roselor Saint Fleur, Victoria Titus, Jennifer Sevier, Diane Bahr, Michael Salisbury II, Michelle Rawlins, Nicholas Quisguard, Myesha White, Joseph Lux, Gregory Lightner, Carl Luckett, and John and Jane Does 1 to 10. ECF No. 1. The Complaint alleged the following counts: violations of Ms. Gelin's constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all individually named Defendants (Counts I-III); violations of Ms. Gelin's constitutional rights under § 1983 against Baltimore County and Sheriff Fisher (Count IV); violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights against all individually named Defendants (Counts V-VI); Negligence, Gross Negligence, and Wrongful Death against all individually named Defendants (Counts VII-IX); and Negligent Hiring, Retention,, and/or Supervision against Baltimore County, Sheriff Fisher, and Doe Defendants 1 to 10 (Count X). Id. at 19-40, ¶¶ 87-182.

         On February 8, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, in which they replaced Sheriff Fisher with BCDC Director Deborah Richardson, added CCS as a defendant, and amended to reflect that Defendants Shuman, Saint Fleur, Titus, Sevier, and Bahr were employees of CCS and acting as agents of CCS and BCDC at the time of Ms. Gelin's death. ECF No. 12 at 7-9, ¶¶ 10-17. Plaintiffs maintained the same ten counts as set forth in the initial Complaint but amended Count X to include CCS. Id. at 42-43, ¶¶ 180-85.

         On March 7, 2017, CCS filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 17. On March 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an opposition, ECF No. 21, and CCS filed a reply on March 28, 2017, ECF No. 22. In a memorandum opinion and order dated September 5, 2017, this Court granted CCS's Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim.[1] ECF Nos. 24, 25. Thereafter, the individual CCS employees, Defendants Shuman, Saint Fleur, Titus, Sevier, and Bahr, filed Motions to Dismiss on November 7, 2017 and November 20, 2017. ECF Nos. 42, 48. On December 8, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an opposition to the Motions, ECF No. 51, and the CCS employees filed a joint reply on December 22, 2017, ECF No. 54. On August 1, 2018, this Court issued a memorandum granting the individual CCS employees' Motions to Dismiss for insufficient service of process. ECF No. 55.[2]

         On October 1, 2018, Plaintiffs and the County Defendants filed a Consent Motion for Leave to File a Third-Party Complaint. ECF-No. 68. On the same day, the County Defendants filed the Third-Party Complaint against CCS alleging two counts: Indemnification (Count I) and Contribution (Count II). ECF No. 66. The Court granted the consent motion on October 2, 2018. ECF No.69.

         On December 14, 2018, CCS filed its Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaint. ECF No. 75. On January 11, 2019, the County Defendants filed an opposition, ECF No. 79, and CCS replied on February 22, 2019, ECF No. 84.

         On March 27, 2019, Plaintiffs filed the Motion for Relief, asking the Court to vacate its August 1, 2018 order dismissing Defendant Shuman for insufficient service of process. ECF No. 85. The Court need not wait for a response.

         These matters are now briefed, and the Court has reviewed CCS's Motion to Dismiss and Plaintiffs' Motion for Relief, as well as the responses thereto. For the following reasons, CCS's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 75) will be GRANTED and Plaintiffs' Motion for Relief (ECF No. 85) will be DENIED.

         Discussion

         A. CCS's Motion to Dismiss

         1. Standards of Review

         a. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction challenges a court's authority to hear the matter brought by a complaint. See Davis v. Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d 792, 799 (D.Md. 2005). The plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the existence of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). Demetres v. E. W, Constr., Inc., 776 F.3d 271, 272 (4th Cir. 2015); Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). A 12(b)(1) motion should only be granted if the "material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law." Ferdinand-Davenport v. Children's Guild, 742 F.Supp.2d 772, 777 (D.Md. 2010) (quoting Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         A challenge to jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed either as a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting "that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint are not true." Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). In a facial challenge, a court will grant a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction "where a claim fails to allege facts upon which the court may base jurisdiction." Davis, 367 F.Supp.2d at 799 (citation omitted). Where the challenge is factual, however, "the district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. The court, therefore, "may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Velasco v. Gov't oflndon., 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004).

         b. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

         The purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency of a complaint not to "resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999)). 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 All. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists "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. An inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As stated in Twombly, "[f] actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." 550 U.S. at 555. "A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertions' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations omitted). Although when considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         2. CCS's Motion to Dismiss

         In Counts I and II of the Third-Party Complaint, the County Defendants seek indemnification and contribution from CCS in the event that they are found liable to Plaintiffs "for the actions, inactions or omissions outlined in the Plaintiffs['] Complaint and Amended Complaint." ECF ...


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