United States District Court, D. New Mexico
JAMES S. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
NEW MEXICO CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT N.M.C.D., CENTURION INCORPORATED, and OTERO COUNTY PRISON FACILITY O.C.P.F. MEDICAL SCHEDULING COORDINATOR-NURSE HERNANDEZ, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING FEDERAL
CLAIMS AND REMANDING CASE
MATTER is before the Court under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the Complaint (Tort)
filed by Plaintiff James S. Martin in New Mexico state court
on May 24, 2017, and removed to this Court by Defendant
Centurion, Inc., on July 26, 2017. (Doc. 1, 1-1). Also before
the Court is Defendant Centurion's Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 4), Plaintiff Martin's Motion to Certify Cause as a
Class Action Case (Doc. 6) and Motion to Sever and Remand
(Doc. 7), and Defendants' Motion to Amend to Correct
Plaintiff's Address (Doc. 33). The Court will grant the
Motion to Dismiss, in part, and dismiss all federal claims.
The Court also declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
and remands any state law claims to New Mexico state court.
time he filed his Complaint, Plaintiff James S. Martin was an
inmate incarcerated at the Otero County Prison Facility
(“OCPF”) in Chaparral, New Mexico. (Doc.1-1 at
4). Plaintiff Martin filed his Complaint (Tort) in the State
of New Mexico, County of Santa Fe, First Judicial District
Court on May 24, 2017 (“Complaint”). (Doc. 1-1).
In his Complaint, Martin states that “[t]his is a tort
suit authorized by the New Mexico Tort Claims Act” and
asserts jurisdiction under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act,
Chapter 41 N.M.S.A. (Doc. 1-1 at 1-2). Martin's Complaint
alleges violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment of
the United States Constitution and Article Two Section
Thirteen and Article Eight of the New Mexico Constitution.
(Doc. 1-1 at 2). Martin also sets out a claim that he is
being denied hygiene items that the New Mexico Corrections
Department (“NMCD”) is contractually obligated to
provide. (Doc. 1-1 at 9-10). Martin names, as Defendants,
NMCD, Centurion, Inc., and OCPF Medical Scheduling
Coordinator, Nurse Hernandez. (Doc. 1-1 at 1-2).
Centurion removed the case to this Court on July 26, 2017,
asserting federal question jurisdiction based on Martin's
allegations of violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights. (Doc. 1-1 at 2). Centurion then filed a
Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on August 2,
2017. (Doc. 4). Centurion seeks dismissal on the grounds that
the Complaint fails to state an Eighth or Fourteenth
Amendment claim against it. (Doc. 6 at 1). Although Plaintiff
Martin received an extension of time to file a response to
the Motion to Dismiss, Martin did not file any response to
the Motion. (Doc. 28).
Plaintiff Martin filed two motions. First, Martin filed a
Motion to Certify Cause as a Class Action Case. (Doc. 6).
Defendant Centurion responded in opposition to the Motion to
Certify on August 22, 2017. (Doc. 16). Defendant Hernandez
joined in Centurion's Response on August 25, 2017. (Doc.
21). Second, Martin filed a Motion to Sever and Remand. (Doc.
7). In his Motion to Sever and Remand, Martin argues that he
is asserting claims under the New Mexico Constitution and
laws, and that his New Mexico state law claims should be
severed and remanded back to the First Judicial District
Court. (Doc. 7). Defendant Centurion opposes the Motion to
Sever and Remand (Doc. 16) and Defendant Hernandez joins in
that opposition. (Doc. 21).
New Mexico Corrections Department has also filed a Motion
seeking to correct Plaintiff's address of record to
reflect that Martin is currently incarcerated at the Roswell
Correctional Center in Hagerman, New Mexico. (Doc. 33). On
December 29, 2017, Plaintiff Martin filed a Notice of Change
of Address, changing his address of record to the Roswell
Correctional Center in Hagerman, mooting Defendant's
Motion. (Doc. 37).
OF CLASS CERTIFICATION
Martin has filed a pro se Motion to Certify Cause as a Class
Action Case (Doc. 6). A court may not certify a class unless
it determines the representative party will fairly and
adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed.R.Civ.P.
23(a)(4). When a court reviews the adequacy of the
representation under Rule 23(a)(4), it is required to
consider not only the character and quality of the named
representative party, but also the quality and experience of
the attorneys for the class. 7A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur
R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and
Procedure: Civil § 1769.1 (3d ed.2005).
Fymbo v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 213 F.3d
1320 (10th Cir.2000), the Tenth Circuit concluded that a
litigant may bring his own claims to federal court without
counsel, but not the claims of others because “the
competence of a layman is ‘clearly too limited to allow
him to risk the rights of others.' ” Id.
at 1321 (quoting Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d
1405, 1407 (4th Cir.1975)); see also 7A Wright &
Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil § 1769.1
(citing cases for the rule that class representatives cannot
appear pro se).
rule against pro se representation of a putative class is
particularly important because class litigation must comply
with the complex requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. Rule 23(g) mandates appointment of class
counsel, unless otherwise provided by statute. See
also Rule 23(c)(1)(B) (requiring appointment of class
counsel when district court certifies class). Importantly, a
judgment in a class action may foreclose other class members
from later bringing the same claims. See Rule
23(c)(3). The Tenth Circuit has stated that this Court may
not entrust the claims of other class members to a
non-lawyer. Ransom v. U.S. Postal Serv., 170
Fed.Appx. 525, 528-29 (10th Cir. 2006); see Pilots
Against Illegal Dues v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, 938
F.2d 1123, 1134 (10th Cir.1991); Beierle v. Colorado
Dep't of Corr., 79 Fed.Appx. 373, 375 (10th Cir.
2003). Plaintiff may not, acting pro se, maintain claims on
behalf of a class. The Court will deny Martin's Motion to
Certify Cause as a Class Action Case.
FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM
Martin is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.
The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted under either Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A claim should be
dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to
state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) the Court must accept all well-pled
factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported
allegations, and may not consider matters outside the
pleading. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Dunn v.
White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989).
The court may dismiss a complaint under rule 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently
obvious' that the plaintiff could not prevail on the
facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d
1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Oklahoma
Dep't of Human Services, 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th
Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) the court may dismiss the complaint at
any time if the court determines the action fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(2). The authority granted by § 1915
permits the court the unusual power to pierce the veil of the
complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). See also Hall
v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir.1991). The
authority to “pierce the veil of the complaint's
factual allegations” means that a court is not bound,
as it usually is when making a determination based solely on
the pleadings, to accept without question the truth of the
plaintiff's allegations. Denton v. Hernandez,
504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992). The court is not required to
accept the truth of the plaintiff's allegations but,
instead, may go beyond the pleadings and consider any other
materials filed by the parties, as well as court proceedings
subject to judicial notice. Denton, 504 U.S. at
Court liberally construes the factual allegations in
reviewing a pro se complaint. See Northington v.
Jackson, 973 F.2d 1518, 1520-21 (10th Cir. 1992).
However, a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are judged by the
same legal standards that apply to all litigants and a pro se
plaintiff must abide by the applicable rules of court.
Ogden v. San Juan County,32 F.3d 452, 455
(10thCir. 1994). The court is not obligated to
craft legal theories for the plaintiff or to supply factual
allegations to ...