United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court are the Motions to Dismiss filed by corporate
Defendants CoreCivic, Transcor America, and CorVel
Corporation (Docs. 2 and 19). Having reviewed the Complaint,
the Motions, and applicable law, the Court will dismiss
Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against the corporate
Defendants and dismiss CorVel from this lawsuit.
case arises from a transport van accident involving inmate
Christopher Aguirre (Plaintiff) and two correctional
officers. Officers Issacs and Fuentas were transporting
Plaintiff from Estancia to Las Cruces on July 18, 2016.
Plaintiff was sitting on a bench without a seatbelt. He was
fully restrained by belly chains, wrist restraints, and leg
shackles. At some point Officer Issacs saw an animal near the
side road and stated: “Don't do it. Don't you
do it.” The animal crossed, causing a collision.
Plaintiff was thrown from his seat and sustained a large
laceration to his head. Plaintiff asked Officers Issacs and
Fuentes to free his hands so he could stop the bleeding, but
they refused and instead retrieved the antlers from the
van's grill. Plaintiff continued to lie on the floor
bleeding until another officer could respond. He remembers
feeling like he was going to die.
officers transported Plaintiff to Presbyterian Hospital in
Albuquerque, where doctors sutured the laceration and treated
him for neck pain, dizziness, vomiting, and loosened front
teeth. Plaintiff scheduled a follow-up visit for July 21,
2016 and returned to the Torrance County Detention Facility
(TCDF) in Estancia. On July 20, 2016, prison officials again
attempted to transport Plaintiff from Estancia to Las Cruces.
However, he refused to board the van because it did not have
seatbelts. Captain Arbagast urged Plaintiff to “get
over it” because “it was just an accident.”
(Doc. 1-1 at 6). Plaintiff again refused, and Warden Miller
placed him in segregation.
Plaintiff complained of dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and
anxiety. He requested a mental health assessment and was seen
by Nurse Lombardi on July 22, 2016. Nurse Lombardi indicated
she would refer Plaintiff to a psychologist due to the
accident's “lasting effects [on] his mental
state.” (Doc. 1-1 at 6). Prison officials did not take
Plaintiff to his follow-up appointment at Presbyterian
Hospital, and it is unclear whether he ever saw a
filed the Complaint, through counsel, on November 3, 2017 in
New Mexico's Second Judicial District Court. He asserts a
claim for negligence under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act
(NMTCA) (Count I) and an Eighth Amendment
claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs
(Count II) against:
Officer Issacs, who drove the transport van;
Officer Fuentes, who sat in the passenger seat of the van;
Warden Miller, who placed Plaintiff in segregation;
CoreCivic and Transcor America (Transcor), the private prison
administrators that employ Miller, Fuentes, and Issacs; and
CorVel Corporation, the third-party claims administrator for
CoreCivic's automobile insurer.
January 2018, CoreCivic and Transcor removed the case to
federal court and moved for dismissal of the Complaint under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). They argue private entities are not
liable under Bivens, and, in any event, the alleged
constitutional violations do not stem from an official policy
or custom under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They further contend
the NMTCA only imposes liability on public employers, rather
than private entities providing public services. CorVel filed
a separate motion to dismiss in March 2018, arguing it is not
a proper party to this case.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for
dismissal of a case for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. Rule 8(a)(2), in turn, requires a
complaint to contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Thus, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss,
a complaint 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Although a court must accept all
factual allegations as true, the same is not true of legal
conclusions. Id. Mere “labels and
conclusions” or “formulaic recitation[s] of the
elements of a cause of action” will not suffice.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court will therefore
disregard all ...