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Bradshaw v. Armor Correctional Health Services Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

April 17, 2019

ANJI BRADSHAW, as Special Administrator for the Estate of Nathan Bradshaw, Plaintiff,
v.
ARMOR CORRECTIONAL HEALTH SERVICES, INC., Defendant,

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Terence C. Kern, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. (“Armor”). Doc. 18. Armor seeks dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Anji Bradshaw. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Doc. 30.

         I. Introduction

         This lawsuit arises from the March 13, 2016, death of Plaintiff's 19-year-old son, Nathan Bradshaw (“Bradshaw”), who committed suicide while incarcerated at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center (“DLM”)-also known as the Tulsa County Jail. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiff asserts federal claims of “conditions of confinement entity” and “conditions of confinement respondeat superior” against Armor based on the alleged deliberate indifference of Armor and its employees or agents. Doc. 16 at 16.[1] Plaintiff also asserts Oklahoma state law claims of negligence, wrongful death and “survival” against Armor, and she seeks actual and punitive damages. Id. at 18-19. Armor moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. P. 12(b)(6).[2]

         II. Applicable Law

         In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must determine whether the claimant has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted. A motion to dismiss is properly granted when a complaint provides no more than “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint must contain enough “facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its fact, ” and the factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. (citations omitted). “Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 562.

         While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (internal quotations omitted). For the purpose of making the dismissal determination, a court must accept as true all the well-pleaded allegations, even if doubtful in fact, and must construct the allegations in the light most favorable to the claimant. Id. at 555; Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 120, 1215 (10th Cir. 2007); Moffett v. Haliburton energy Servs., Inc., 291 F.3d 1227, 1231 (10th Cir. 2002).

         III. Allegations of the Complaint

         Pursuant to a Health Services Agreement (“HSA”), Armor, a Florida for-profit corporation, contracted with the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners to assume Tulsa County's state and federal law obligation to deliver mental and medical health care (“Healthcare Services”) at the DLM. Doc. 16, Second Amended Petition at 2. Plaintiff alleges that Armor is liable under state law for the actions of its agents and employees at DLM under a theory of respondeat superior consistent with common law principles set forth by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Baker v. Saint Francis Hosp., 126 P.3d 601 (Okla. 2005). Id. at 2-3. She contends that, as a private corporation, Armor is not entitled to any exemption from liability set forth in the Oklahoma Governmental Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”), 51 O.S. §151 et seq. Id. at 3.

         Armor has a business model that generates revenue through government contracts premised on “capitated financing, ” or “full-risk” contracts. Id. at 4. Under this approach, the contractor bears the full risk that the medical care costs may exceed the presumptive cost-per-prisoner estimate that dictates the agreed-upon contract price. Id. Assumptions regarding adequate staffing, costs for medication and other relevant variables are all factored into the medical-cost-per-prisoner amount that serves as the basis for the pricing of the contract, and the contractor agrees to receive a fixed sum of money, regardless of how much or how little care it ultimately must provide to prisoners in performing the contract. As a result, the contractor's profit margin directly depends upon the amount of care it provides. Id. To achieve net profits, Armor implements policies, procedures, customs, or practices to reduce the cost of healthcare services in a manner that will maintain or increase its profit margin. Id. at 5. There are no provisions in Armor's contract with Tulsa County creating or establishing any mandatory minimum expenditure for the provision of healthcare services. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that board members of Armor, in furtherance of its capitated financing contract, adopted written policies or unwritten practices dictating that care was provided based on medical cost and not medical need. Id. at 14. This practice, which “evinces deliberate indifference by displacing constitutional obligations in favor of corporate profits, ” includes:

• chronic reliance on lower-level providers e.g., practical nurses instead of nurses or physicians, to make threshold decisions regarding care or elevating care
• chronic reliance on temporary staff who lack training or experience in a correction setting, to fill medical vacancies;
• chronic understaffing that impairs the ability of existing staff to complete contracted tasks in a timely manner;
• chronic understaffing the prevents Armor from timely responding to inmate requests for mental health care;
• absence of accountability in the administration of physician prescribed medication;
• longstanding tolerance for routine lapses in continuity of care in the administration of medication;
• tolerance of physicians' use of alcohol withdrawal protocols (CIWA) for arrestees detoxing from opioid use instead of opioid withdrawal protocols (COWS); and
• chronic failure to correct known deficiencies in the delivery of adequate healthcare service which were previously identified to Armor by governmental partners ...

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