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Hudson v. Calvillo

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 30, 2018

ROBERT C. HUDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
FNU CALVILLO, Nurse and Director of Medical, LCCF, FNU BRADSHAW, Nurse, LCCF, FNU HARVEY, Sergeant, LCCF, FNU MENDOZA, Lieutenant, LCCF, and ALBERT FUENTES, Defendants.

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          KEVIN R. SWEAZEA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on two motions seeking dismissal of inmate Robert Hudson's civil rights claims arising from his confinement at the Lea County, New Mexico Correctional Facility (“LCCF”). (Docs. 19 & 28). In both motions-one for summary judgment by Sergeant Harvey, Lieutenant Mendoza, and Albert Fuentes; and the other for dismissal by Nurses Bradshaw and Calvillo-Defendants urge the Court to apply the doctrines of claim and issue preclusion to prevent litigation in this forum. Defendants claim Hudson already got his bite at the apple in state court where he filed virtually the same case and lost on summary judgment. Sergeant Harvey, Lieutenant Mendoza, and Officer Fuentes alternatively assert they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Hudson did not exhaust available remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) and Section 33-2-11 of the New Mexico Statutes. Pursuant to an order of reference from United States District Judge Christina Armijo, see 28 U.S.C. § 636, the Court has considered the parties' submissions and now RECOMMENDS that Sergeant Harvey, Lieutenant Mendoza, and Officer Fuentes' motion for summary judgment be GRANTED on the issue of exhaustion and Nurses Bradshaw and Calvillo's motion to dismiss be GRANTED as to Nurse Bradshaw on the basis of claim preclusion and as to Nurse Calvillo on the basis of issue preclusion.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Underlying Facts

         On February 20, 2016, Hudson complained of a heart attack and asked Sergeant Harvey to take Hudson to “medical.” (Doc. 1, Compl., p. 2). Sergeant Harvey refused to help, call a nurse, or get superiors involved because it was breakfast time. (Id., pp. 2-4). Later that day, Hudson says he suffered another heart attack. (Id.). Although this time Hudson was taken to “medical, ” neither Nurse Bradshaw nor Nurse Calvillo, the on-duty healthcare providers, attended to him. (Id., p. 4). In fact, Nurse Bradshaw, the prison's medical director, instructed Mary Cox, a medical officer, to place Hudson in a segregation cell. (Id.) After four hours in the cell, Hudson began kicking to be let out and return to the housing unit. (Id.). By that time, however, correction-facility staff were busy with dinner responsibilities and a shift change. (Id.). Nurse Calvillo told Hudson that he would have to sign a “medical refusal” to be let out. (Id.). Hudson complied as his only other choice was to sit in confinement. (Id.)

         On February 26, 2016, Lieutenant Mendoza and an “unnamed” sergeant, later identified as Officer Albert Fuentes, transported Hudson from Hobbs to Roswell, New Mexico for a court hearing. (Id., p. 5). Once there, Hudson complained of another “series of heart attacks.” (Id., p. 3). Instead of getting Hudson the necessary medical attention, Lieutenant Mendoza and Officer Fuentes “kept pushing [Hudson] to go faster with [his] walker while at court and to stop holding them up that they wanted to get back to Hobbs ASAP to go home.” (Id., p. 5). Only when Hudson protested for a third time “then and only then did they get [Hudson] to a hospital.” (Id.). Hudson ended up with a stint and a further 45 days in “medical.” (Id., p. 3)

         At the time of the heart attacks, Hudson was incarcerated at the LCCF, which had in place an inmate grievance procedure. (Doc. 28-2, Valeriano Aff., ¶¶2-3). The grievance process includes three steps: first, the inmate must file an “Inmate Informal Complaint, ” which as its title suggests, requires the inmate to attempt to resolve an issue informally. (Id., ¶3). Second, should informal resolution fail, the inmate must file a formal “Inmate Grievance.” (Id.). Third, if dissatisfied with the disposition of the formal grievance, the inmate must appeal to the Office of the Secretary of Corrections. (Id.). Hudson submitted an informal grievance against Sergeant Harvey, but did not complete the rest of the steps. (Id., ¶¶5-7).

         Procedural History

         On June 13, 2016, Hudson sued “Sgt. Harvey, Lt Mendoza, et al., Nurse Bradshaw, Nurse Calvillo, et al., and unnamed Transport Sgt with Lt. Mendoza” in the Fifth Judicial District Court for Lea County, New Mexico seeking damages under the NMTCA for failure to render medical aid, delayed provision of medical care, and willful neglect. (Doc. 19, Compl., p. 12). In all material respects, the state-court complaint mirrors the recitation of the underlying facts above-that Hudson suffered several heart attacks and was either refused or delayed care. (Id.). Hudson clarified, however, that the delay in medical care cost him 20 percent of his heart function. (Id.) Hudson's pleading seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Sergeant Harvey in the amount of $40, 000 and $10, 000 respectively; against Lieutenant Mendoza and Officer Fuentes in the amount of $50, 000 and $10, 000 respectively; and against Nurses Bradshaw and Calvillo in the amount of $120, 000 and $30, 000 respectively. (Id.)

         On the same day he filed his complaint in state court, Hudson commenced this federal action. (Doc. 1, Compl.). In his three-count “prisoner civil rights complaint, ” Hudson alleged Sergeant Harvey violated Hudson's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act; acted with deliberate indifference, negligently denied medical care, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress (Count I); Nurses Bradshaw and Calvillo falsely imprisoned Hudson, negligently deprived him of medical care, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and violated his Fifth, Eighth, Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as the ADA (Count II); and Lieutenant Mendoza and Officer Fuentes intentionally inflicted emotional distress, were deliberately indifferent, negligently denied medical care, and violated the ADA and Hudson's Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id., pp. 1-6). Hudson's federal lawsuit seeks $302, 000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages. (Id., p. 6)

         The state case reached a disposition before its federal counterpart. (Doc. 19, pp. 57-60). On January 5, 2017, Sergeant Harvey and Lieutenant Mendoza moved for summary judgment on all claims against them. They asserted: (1) Hudson failed to exhaust administrative remedies against them; (2) these Defendants did not provide medical care to Hudson; (3) the undisputed facts fail to establish a claim under the Eighth Amendment or a violation of the New Mexico Constitution; and (4) these Defendants owed no contractual duties to Hudson. (Doc. 19, pp. 28-43). On February 7, 2017, Nurse Bradshaw joined in Sergeant Harvey and Lieutenant Mendoza's motion and, independently, moved for judgment as a matter of law on Hudson's failure to exhaust administrative remedies against Nurse Bradshaw. (Doc. 19, pp. 17-27). Hudson did not respond to the motions for summary judgment.

         On April 5, 2017, the state court entered an “Order Granting Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.” (Doc. 19, pp. 57-60). Although the order purported to dismiss with prejudice all claims against all Defendants, the title of order limits summary judgment to “Defendants Sgt. Harvey, Lt. Mendoza Nurse Calvillo.” (Doc. 19, p. 57-58). The limitation is handwritten and appears to be initialed by presiding state district judge Gary Clingman. (Id., p. 57). Judge Clingman entered summary judgment on several grounds: (1) Hudson did not exhaust administrative remedies; (2) Sergeant Harvey and Lieutenant Mendoza did not actually provide Hudson medical care; (3) Hudson did not establish a violation of the New Mexico Constitution or the Eighth Amendment or any other claim for that matter; and (4) neither Sergeant Harvey nor Lieutenant Mendoza owe Hudson a contractual duty. (Id., pp. 57-60). A separate judgment did not enter, and there is no record that “transportation sergeant” was identified and severed or Nurse Calvillo was served with the state lawsuit. (Id.).

         Thereafter, in the federal action, the Court screened Hudson's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2). In a memorandum opinion and order, Judge Armijo dismissed sua sponte Hudson's causes of action under the ADA, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. (Doc. 9) The Court, however, allowed Hudson's claims for deliberate indifference under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment and negligent denial of medical care under state law to proceed. (Id.). The Court directed Hudson to identify and the transportation sergeant within a reasonable period of time and file a supplement informing the Court of the sergeant's identity. (Id.). Hudson ultimately identified Officer Fuentes as the transportation sergeant, and the Court substituted the defendant accordingly. (Docs 11, 12, 13). Defendants' dispositive motions followed. (Docs. 19 & 28).

         STANDARDS ...


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