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Mitchell v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 28, 2015

Kevin Mitchell, Plaintiff,
Corizon Health, Inc., et al., Defendants.


DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

On July 9, 2014, Plaintiff Kevin Mitchell, who is represented by counsel, filed a Complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court. On August 5, 2014, Defendants Corizon Health, Inc. (Corizon) and the State of Arizona removed the action to this Court. On August 13, 2014, Defendants Corizon and State of Arizona filed an Answer to the Complaint. In a November 3, 2014 Order, the Court dismissed the Complaint because Plaintiff had failed to state a claim. The Court gave Plaintiff 30 days to file an amended complaint that cured the deficiencies identified in the Order.

On December 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Doc. 7). The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's federal claim against Talboy, order Corizon to answer Plaintiff's federal claim against it, and order Corizon, the State, and Talboy to answer Plaintiff's state law claim.

I. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2).

A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) (emphasis added). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible "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. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 681.

II. First Amended Complaint

In his two-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues Corizon, Registered Nurse Patricia Talboy, and the State. Plaintiff demands a jury trial and seeks monetary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and his attorneys' fees and costs.

Plaintiff contends that the State has entered into contracts, first with one private health care provider and then with Corizon, to administer and provide health care to Arizona inmates. Plaintiff contends that the State and Corizon have been unwilling to appropriately staff Arizona prisons with sufficient and competent health care providers.

Plaintiff contends that the State's health care delivery system lacks an adequate tracking and management system to ensure that inmates with chronic conditions, such as Plaintiff, receive "competent and appropriate medication administrations." Plaintiff claims that the State is deliberately indifferent to inmates' health care needs because it has failed to hire, manage, supervise, control, maintain, operate and oversee health care at the prison where Plaintiff is confined. Plaintiff asserts that the State, to the detriment of inmates, has consciously and deliberately breached its duty of care by awarding health care contracts to the lowest bidder. Plaintiff contends that Corizon, to the detriment of inmates, has placed its own profits ahead of inmate safety by deliberately refusing to properly staff Arizona prisons and by hiring inexperienced nurses and other healthcare providers.

Plaintiff alleges that he is confined at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis (ASPC-Lewis), suffers from Type 1 diabetes, and requires insulin injections. He claims that in August 2012, a nurse (who was employed by Corizon's predecessor) contaminated ASPC-Lewis's insulin supply and exposed Plaintiff and other inmates to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He asserts that the State and Corizon were deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of inmates because they failed to take appropriate measure to ensure that future contamination would not occur.

Plaintiff alleges that on January 5, 2014, Defendant Talboy, who had less than six months' experience as a nurse, failed to follow proper, specific, well-established insulin delivery protocols and exposed Plaintiff and other inmates to bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV. Plaintiff asserts that Talboy used a needle to stick each patient's finger to check their blood sugar levels, cleaned the needle with alcohol, and then used the needle to draw insulin from a vial and administer insulin to the patient. Plaintiff states that this contaminated the insulin that remained in the vial and that Talboy repeated this process with five inmates. Plaintiff claims Corizon, with deliberate indifference to inmate healthcare, used the same contaminated insulin vials the following day, thereby contaminating more inmates. Plaintiff alleges that "Defendants" failed to inform Plaintiff of his exposure until January 7, 2014. At that point, Defendants provided Plaintiff with multiple preventative treatments and prescribed medications.

Plaintiff alleges that Talboy was deliberately indifferent when she chose to ignore specific, standard, and well-established nursing protocols. Plaintiff also alleges that the State and Corizon tasked Talboy with the responsibility of administering insulin without first ensuring that Talboy was properly trained to do so and that Corizon was deliberately indifferent because it placed profits ...

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