Grant-Davis v. Felker

Decision Date15 July 2021
Docket NumberCivil Action 4:19-cv-3468-SAL-TER
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina



Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-3468-SAL-TER

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

July 15, 2021


Thomas E. Rogers, III, United States Magistrate Judge.


Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his equal protection and due process rights. He also alleges violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. and the Mental Health Bill of Righrs, 42 U.S.C. § 9501. Presently before the court are Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alternative, Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 48) and Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 69). Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, he was advised pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.3d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), that a failure to respond to Defendants' motion could result in dismissal of his Complaint. Plaintiff filed a Response (ECF No. 54). All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), DSC. This report and recommendation is entered for review by the district judge.


This action arises out of Plaintiff's denial of mental health treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina's (MUSC) Institute of Psychiatry (the Institute). Plaintiff began receiving mental health treatment in 1974 in New York State prisons, and has continued receiving treatment outside of the prison system from the 1980s to the present. Am. Compl. p. 6 (ECF No. 14). He has been diagnosed with affliction of major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems, and anti-social disorder. Am. Compl. p. 6. He began receiving mental health treatment in South Carolina when he moved here from New York in 2005. Am. Compl. p. 7. From 2005 until 2013, he was treated at the Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center. Am. Compl. p. 7. In 2013, he switched to the Institute at MUSC because it required less travel time and centralized all his health care services. Am. Compl. pp. 7-8. He received treatment from various individuals while at the Institute. Am. Compl. pp. 8-9. Plaintiff was discharged from treatment at the Institute on June 22, 2018, by Lauren Tucker, M.D. Am. Compl. p. 9.

Plaintiff renewed his treatment at the Institute on April 16, 2019, with Defendant Patricia Felkner. Am. Compl. p. 10. He and Felkner communicated well and agreed on a treatment plan on April 17, 2019, which was approved by Defendant Frampton McLeod Gwynette, the Outpatient Clinic Director, on April 26, 2019. Am. Compl. p. 10. Plaintiff missed an appointment on May 22, 2019, because of a court hearing. Am. Compl. p. 11. When Plaintiff arrived for his next appointment on June 18, 2019, Felkner came to the waiting room and told Plaintiff that his case with her was closed but she would see about finding him someone else to see. Am. Compl. p. 11.

Felkner later sent Plaintiff a letter stating that it was her understanding that Plaintiff was to receive treatment at the Charleston County Mental Health Clinic in West Ashley pursuant to a court order. Am. Compl. pp. 11-12. Plaintiff delivered to Felkner a portion of a court transcript showing that the court did not order Plaintiff to receive treatment at any specific facility. Am. Compl. p. 12.

On July 19, 2019, after not receiving any information regarding reassignment to another therapist, Plaintiff went to the Institute and told the security officer at the front desk that he wanted to visit the Outpatient Clinic to check on his status. Am. Compl. p. 12. The security officer escorted Plaintiff to the clinic but interrupted him as he tried to talk, directed inhumane ultimatums at Plaintiff and repeatedly shouted at him. Am. Compl. pp. 12-13. Plaintiff eventually spoke with Gwynette, who explained to Plaintiff that Felkner had concerns about the crimes for which Plaintiff was convicted and, thus, he would not be seen at the Institute any further. Am. Compl. pp. 13-14.

Plaintiff's probation officer wrote a letter to Gwynette requesting more information regarding Plaintiff's status at the Institute and asked that the Institute consider resuming Plaintiff's treatment. Am. Compl. p. 14. The probation officer received a telephone call from Gwynette in which he explained that Plaintiff's treatment was terminated because (1) Plaintiff is agitated, rude, and demanding, (2) Plaintiff missed several appointments and the Institute has a strict no-miss policy, and (3) Felkner did not want to see Plaintiff due to Plaintiff being a registered sex offender. Am. Compl. p. 14.

On August 29, 2019, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Defendants Steven Rublee and Thomas Uhde describing his history of mental illness and treatment and his experiences at the Institute and requested that they rescind their termination of his treatment there. Am. Compl. p. 14. Neither Defendant responded to Plaintiff's letters. Am. Compl. p. 15.

Plaintiff alleges in his amended complaint that his medical records reveal that Felkner entered a discharge summary in Plaintiff's case stating that the reason for his discharge was because he is a registered sex offender and the clinic treats children. Am. Compl. p. 15. Plaintiff also later learned that the Institute has liaisons between the patient and providers at the Institute to help manage complaints, but Plaintiff was never advised of the availability of such liaisons. Am. Compl. pp. 15-16.


Defendants move to dismiss this action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) and/or 12(b)(6). Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed. Thus, because Defendants filed the present motion after they filed their answers, Rule 12(c) is the proper standard for review. As a practical matter, however, the standard is almost identical to the standard employed in considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion “with the key difference being that on a 12(c) motion, the court is to consider the answer as well as the complaint.” Cont'l Cleaning Serv. v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 1999 WL 1939249, *1 (M.D. N.C. 1999) (internal quotations omitted); see also Burbach Broad. Co. v. Elkins Radio Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 405-06 (4th Cir.2002). In addition to the complaint, the factual allegations of the answer are taken as true, to the extent “they have not been denied or do not conflict with the complaint.” Pledger v. North Carolina Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 7 F.Supp.2d 705, 707 (E.D. N.C. 1998); Jadoff v. Gleason, 140 F.R.D. 330, 331 (M.D. N.C. 1991) (citing 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1368 (3d ed.2004)). Such a motion should be granted when, accepting the facts set forth in the pleadings, the case can be decided as a matter of law. Tollison v. B & J Machinery Co., Inc., 812 F.Supp. 618, 619 (D.S.C.1993). See also S & S Const., Inc. of Anderson v. Reliance Ins. Co., 42 F.Supp.2d 622, 623 (D.S.C.1998).

The United States Supreme Court has made clear that, under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

Expounding on its decision in Twombly, the United States Supreme Court stated in Iqbal:

[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” but it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.”
To 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.” A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged

Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 556, 557, 570) (citations omitted); see also Bass v. Dupont, 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir.2003).

The court may consider documents attached to a complaint or motion to dismiss “so long as they are integral to the complaint and authentic.” Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem. Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir.2009) (citing Blankenship v. Manchin, 471 F.3d 523, 526 n. 1 (4th Cir.2006)). If other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the court on a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 12(c) motion, the court in its discretion may determine whether to accept the materials and convert the motion to one for summary judgment under Rule 56 or simply not consider the materials. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Wells-Bey v. Kopp, No. ELH-12-2319, 2013 WL 1700927, at *5 (D.Md. Apr. 16, 2013) (quoting 5C Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1366, at 159 (3d ed. 2004)). The undersigned declines to consider the documents submitted by either party and will treat this motion as one for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c).[1]


A. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, which...

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