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Obomanu v. Warren

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

June 18, 2018

LORAIN OBOMANU, as Personal Representative of the Estate of SABRIE L. ALEXANDER, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
MILLICENT WARREN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         This is a prisoner civil rights case involving a death. Plaintiff Lorain Obomanu, as personal representative of the estate of Sabrie L. Alexander, is suing eleven (11) defendants Claire Pei, Robert Lacy, Mohammad Irfan, Mary Closser, Patricia Robinson, Chaviers, Audley Mamby, Angel Izua, Cartessa Brown, Bernard Goss, and Denise Bertoni. Plaintiff asserts a federal claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs and an Eighth Amendment claim. In broad terms, plaintiff says that defendants failed to provide proper care for Alexander's medical conditions which ultimately resulted in her death.

         This is the second lawsuit filed by plaintiff regarding Alexander's death. In the earlier case, plaintiff has sued thirty-seven individuals, two health services companies, and ten unnamed defendants, for a total of forty-one (41) defendants. Obomanu v. Warren, et al, 17-11435. Defendants Corizon, Valitas and Claire Pei, Aryan Taymour, Robert Lacy, Pu Qin, and Mohammad Azimi filed a motion to dismiss. See Doc. 45 in No. 17-11435. Mohammad Irfan and Mary Closser joined in the motion. The Court granted in part and denied in part the motion. Specifically, the Court ordered:

1. Plaintiff's gross negligence claims (Counts VI, VII, VIII) were DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE as the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them.
2. Count IV [alleging 8th Amendment violation] was DISMISSED as duplicative of Counts I, II, and III.
3. Pei, Lacy, Irfan, and Closser were DISMISSED for failure to state a claim. See Doc. 66 in No. 17-11435.

         As noted above, plaintiff has named Pei, Lacy, Irfan, and Closser as defendants in the new case.

         The Court has consolidated the two cases. See Doc. 44.

         Before the Court is Pei, Lacy, and new defendant Mamby's motion to dismiss. (Doc. 32). Closser and Irfan have joined in the motion. (Doc. 35). Defendants contend that plaintiff's claims against them in the new case are barred by res judicata and still fail to state a claim. Following a hearing on the motion, the Court directed plaintiff to file a consolidated amended complaint under the lead case, No. 17-11435. Plaintiff has done so. (Doc. 116). The Court also directed plaintiff to complete a chart outlining the following (1) name of defendant, (2) position of defendant, (3) time period of defendant's involvement, and (4) role of defendant in care/custody of decedent. Plaintiff lodged the chart with the Court. The matter is now ready for decision.

         For the reasons that follow, the motion will be DENIED. As will be explained, the complaint contains sufficient allegations of wrongdoing against each defendant to survive dismissal. Discovery may reveal otherwise.

         II. Background

         This case involves the death of Alexander, a 27 year old woman, while she confined at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Center. Alexander was incarcerated from April 17, 2014 until November 17, 2014, the date of her death. Alexander suffered from a variety of medical conditions including a seizure disorder and mental health issues (bi-polar, anxiety, borderline personality). Alexander also had a bladder condition and asthma. Plaintiff alleges that during Alexander's seven month period of incarceration, her pleas for medical attention were ignored and she was punished for seeking attention by being placed in segregation and solitary confinement. While plaintiff alleges several instances of improper medical care, the most significant allegations pertain to the treatment of Alexander's seizures. The complaint alleges that Alexander was not given her seizure medication for the first eight days she was in custody and missed dosages of the medication over 80 times thereafter.

         III. Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of a plaintiff's pleading. The Rule requires that a complaint "contain something more . . . than . . . a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (internal citation omitted). 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." Id. "[T]hat a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of all the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662; 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation."

         "In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), th[e] Court may only consider 'the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the pleadings, and matters of which the [Court] may take judicial notice.'" Murray v. Geithner, 624 F.Supp.2d 667, 671 (E.D. Mich. 2009) (citing 2 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice 12.342 (3d ed. 2000)); see also Weiner v. Klais & Co., 108 F.3d 86, 89 (6th Cir. 1997) (holding that a document incorporated by reference in a complaint can be introduced by a defendant if it is not attached by plaintiff).

         IV. Analysis

         A. Res Judicata

         Defendants contend that they should be dismissed from this case because the Court's dismissal order in the earlier case operates as res judicata. Specifically, defendants say that claim preclusion prohibits plaintiff's allegations against Lacy, Pei, Irfan, and Closser. Similarly, defendants say issue preclusion prohibits plaintiff's allegations against new defendant, Mamby.

         Claim preclusion . . . refers to [the] effect of a prior judgment in foreclosing a subsequent claim that has never been litigated, because of a determination that it should have been advanced in an earlier action. Issue preclusion, on the other hand, refers to the foreclosure of an issue previously litigated. Mitchell v. Chapman, 343 F.3d 811, 818 ...


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