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Granville H. Marshall, Jr v. Hal Meadows

February 7, 2012

GRANVILLE H. MARSHALL, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
HAL MEADOWS, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This matter is before the court on defendant Banner Lassen Medical Center's motion to dismiss and defendant Hal Meadows' motions to strike and to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the court will recommend that defendants' motions to dismiss be granted in part.

PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Plaintiff, a medical doctor, alleges that beginning in 2008, defendant Banner Lassen Medical Center ("Banner Lassen") and defendant Hal Meadows, a medical doctor employed by Banner Lassen, began discriminating against plaintiff based on his race. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants refused to give him an application for "hospital privileges," treated plaintiff's patients with "intentional[] negligent treatment," and also refused to treat plaintiff's patients. (Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 37) at 4.)*fn2

Specifically, plaintiff alleges as follows. On August 31, 2009, his patient Dennis Stickney was taken by ambulance to Banner Lassen. When Mr. Stickney arrived, however, he was denied medical care because he was plaintiff's patient. On September 3, 2009, plaintiff's patient John Moore Jr, arrived at the Banner Lassen Emergency Room and was also denied care because he was plaintiff's patient. (Id. at 5.) Moreover, sometime in January of 2010, defendant Meadows in the course and scope of his employment with defendant Banner Lassen attempted to injure plaintiff's reputation and ability to practice medicine by altering the medical records of a patient and by providing false information about plaintiff to the patient and the patient's family. Defendant Dr. Meadows contacted the wife of one of plaintiff's patients and told her that plaintiff was unstable, incompetent, was poisoning her husband and referred to plaintiff as "the pot doctor." Dr. Meadows telephoned plaintiff, asserting that he was unstable, incompetent, was overdosing his patient on methadone, and was the "pot doctor." Plaintiff disagreed and Dr. Meadows then called plaintiff a "stupid nigger" and hung up the phone. (Id. at 4-5.)

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that the defendants violated his rights under Title VII. (Id. at 4.) On February 25, 2010, the EEOC issued plaintiff a "Right to Sue" letter. (Id.) PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff commenced this action on May 25, 2010, by filing his original complaint. (Doc. No. 1.) On June 24, 2010, counsel for defendant Banner Lassen filed a motion to dismiss that complaint. (Doc. No. 11.) On June 28, 2010, counsel for defendant Meadows also filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's original complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) The undersigned granted defendants' motions to dismiss and granted plaintiff thirty days to file an amended complaint by order filed March 16, 2011. (Doc. No. 36.)

Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on April 20, 2011, alleging claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, as well as several state law claims. (Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 37.)) On May 19, 2011, counsel for defendant Banner Lassen filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ("Def. Banner Lassen's Mot. to Dismiss" (Doc. No. 38.)) On May 20, 2011, counsel for defendant Meadows filed a motion to strike ("Def. Meadows' Mot. to Strike" (Doc. No. 43)), as well as a motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to rule 12(b)(6). ("Def. Meadows' Mot. to Dismiss" (Doc. No. 45.)) Plaintiff finally filed an opposition to defendants' motions on July 5, 2011. ("Pl.'s Opp'n." (Doc. No. 50.)) Defendant Banner Lassen filed a reply on July 12, 2011, ("Def. Banner Lassen's Reply" (Doc. No. 51)), and defendant Meadows filed a reply on July 15, 2011. ("Def. Meadows' Reply" (Doc. No. 54.))

LEGAL STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. North Star Int'l v. Arizona Corp. Comm'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). Dismissal of the complaint, or any claim within it, "can be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). See also Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984). Thus, the court may dismiss a complaint or any claim within it as frivolous where the claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). The critical inquiry is whether a claim, even if inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227 (9th Cir. 1984). As the Supreme Court has explained, in order to state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

In determining whether a complaint states a claim, the court accepts as true the material allegations in the complaint and construes those allegations, as well as the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court also resolves doubts in the plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969).

Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the court may disregard allegations in the complaint that are contradicted by facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987). In addition, the court need not accept as true conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).

ANALYSIS

I. Title VII

Plaintiff asserts a cause of action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. Specifically, he alleges that defendant Dr. Meadows, acting as an agent for defendant Banner Lassen, refused to provide plaintiff an application for hospital privileges because of plaintiff's race. (Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 37) at 12.) In addition, plaintiff alleges that the defendants discriminated against him by prohibiting plaintiff "from seeing his patients at Banner Lassen Medical Center," by "willfully refusing treatment of plaintiff's patients at Banner Lassen Medical Center," and by "[i]ntentionally delivering negligent treatment" to his patients. (Id.) Finally, plaintiff claims that the ...


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