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Stein v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 22, 2018

SHARON STEIN, Plaintiff,
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on defendants the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”), Warden Anthony Stewart, and Nurse Lori Tatum's motion to dismiss [docket entry 17]. The motion is fully briefed. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall decide it without a hearing.


         Decedent John Stein was incarcerated in the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan through September 5, 2017. Compl. ¶ 19. While Stein was being discharged, he “began complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing.” Id. ¶ 20. He was taken to the medical unit, where defendants Tatum and Stokley-Hamdan examined him. Id. Although Tatum and Stokley-Hamdan “were acutely aware of Stein's condition and that he needed emergency medical attention, ” they did not get a doctor or send him to a hospital for evaluation. Id. ¶¶ 20- 21. Rather, they sent him back to his cell, where “he collapsed and died.” Id. ¶ 21.

         In October 2017, plaintiff-Stein's mother-filed the initial complaint and then amended it a few weeks later. The first amended complaint asserts three counts: Count I, an Eighth Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count II, a municipal-liability claim under § 1983; and Count III, a gross-negligence claim under the Government Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 691.1401, et seq. In December, defendants the MDOC, Stewart, and Tatum filed the instant motion to dismiss.


         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6) states that the Court may dismiss a complaint if it fails to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The Supreme Court has held that for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, it “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). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for misconduct alleged.” Id. And while Rule 12(b)(6) does not require “[d]etailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).


         I. Count III-Gross Negligence

         Plaintiff alleges that defendants were grossly negligent in “violat[ion of] MCLA 691.1407.” Compl. ¶ 56. Defendants argue that under Michigan law, gross negligence is not an independent cause of action.

         Defendants are correct. Michigan's GTLA does not create a “gross negligence” cause of action. Rather, it states that a governmental employee is qualifiedly immune from civil liability unless a plaintiff can sufficiently show that the employee was grossly negligent. See § 691.1407. The Michigan Court of Appeals[1], previous opinions issued by this Court[2], and the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan[3] agree. Count III is dismissed.

         II. Count II-Municipal and Supervisory Liability

         A municipality can be liable under § 1983 only for (1) an officially adopted or promulgated policy, Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978); (2) a custom or practice that is not formally adopted but is pervasive and long-standing, id.; (3) a failure to train, supervise, discipline, or adequately screen, City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 387 (1989); or (4) a particular decision or act made by a final policymaker, City of St. Louis v. Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 123 (1988).

         Here, plaintiff asserts that the MDOC is liable under (1), (2), and (3). However, the complaint is devoid of any facts showing such liability. First, regarding (1) and (2), plaintiff alleges nothing about the MDOC's customs and policies, only Corizon's.[4] Plaintiff appears to believe that because Corizon contracted with the MDOC, all of its customs and policies may be imputed to the MDOC. She cites no authority to support this proposition. Thus, plaintiff's allegations regarding Corizon are simply not relevant to this motion. Further, her scant references to the MDOC's customs and policies are wholly conclusory and precisely the kind of formulaic recitation that Twombly said will not do. Finally, plaintiff does not dispute defendants' argument that the ...

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