United States District Court, D. Connecticut
Keyonna Davis, et al. Plaintiffs
Yale New Haven Hospital, et al. Defendants
ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT AND TO
PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Keyonna Davis, Jerome Davis, James Davis, and Karen Davis
(“Plaintiffs”) bring claims against Defendants
United States, Yale New Haven Hospital, Yale School of
Medicine, Yale New Haven Health System, Yale Medical Group,
Governor Daniel Malloy, Dr. Susan Williams, Husky Health
Care, Dr. Michael Imevbore, Daniel Heacock, Dr. Jonathan
Puchaiski, William Cushing, Dr. Erin Debiasi, Dr. Shailesh
Pinto, Dr. Aldo Peixoto, Dr. Mohsin Chowdhury, Dr. Alicia
Howard, Dr. Randy Luciano, Warren Perry, Dashevsky Meir, Dr.
Alyssa French, and Dr. Warren Perry
(“Defendants”) alleging injuries resulting from their
father's treatment at Yale New Haven Hospital leading up
to his death. [3:16-cv-1578, Dkt. No. 19.] Plaintiffs have
filed a Motion to Reconsider the Court's denial of their
Motions to Appoint Counsel and to Proceed in Forma Pauperis,
and have also filed a proposed Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 36.]
For the reasons set forth below, the proposed Amended
Complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice and the Motion for
Reconsideration is DENIED.
Keyonna Davis first brought her complaint on August 3, 2016
on behalf of her deceased father, James Lester. [3:16-cv-1318
at Dkt. 1.] The complaint alleged violations of Mr.
Lester's civil rights under 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983 and
1985, medical malpractice, and personal injury. Id.
Contemporaneous with her complaint, Ms. Davis also moved to
proceed in forma pauperis and for appointment of counsel.
[3:16-cv-1318 at Dkts. 2, 3.] The court referred the motions
to Magistrate Judge Richardson on August 5, 2016.
[3:16-cv-1318 at Dkt. 7.]
September 2, 2016, Magistrate Judge Richardson issued a
recommended ruling recommending dismissal of the complaint
without prejudice. [3:16-cv-1318 at Dkt. 8.] The recommended
ruling found that the complaint alleged no factual
allegations that would support a claim personal to Ms. Davis,
and that all claims were instead brought on behalf of the
estate of Mr. Lester. Id. The recommended ruling
explained that Ms. Davis is not a licensed attorney, and may
not bring claims on behalf of another party. Id.
(citing Pridgen v. Andresen, 113 F.3d 391, 393 (2d
Cir. 1997). Consistent with that principle, Judge Richardson
explained that Ms. Davis may only bring claims on behalf of
her father's estate if she establishes that she has been
appointed as administratrix or executrix of the estate, is
the sole beneficiary of the estate, and the estate has no
creditors. Id. (citing Pridgen, 113 F.3d at
393). Since the complaint made no such allegations, and in
fact mentioned other children of Mr. Lester who may also have
an interest in Mr. Lester's estate, Judge Richardson
concluded that Ms. Davis could not proceed with her complaint
pro se. Id.
addition, the recommended ruling noted that Ms. Davis
supplied an affidavit relaying her own financial information
in support of her motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
Id. Judge Richardson explained that, since the
claims were brought on behalf of Mr. Lester's estate, the
relevant finances were the estate's, not Ms. Davis'.
Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. 1915(a)). Accordingly, the
court did not have the financial information necessary to
grant the in forma pauperis motion, and for those reasons
Judge Richardson recommended denial of the motion and
dismissal of the complaint without prejudice. Id.
Finally, the decision informed Mr. Davis of the time period
in which she could object to the recommended ruling.
than amending her complaint or objecting to the recommended
ruling, Ms. Davis filed a new case on September 16, 2016.
[3:16-cv-1578 at Dkt. 1.] This second case names as
plaintiffs James Davis, Karen Davis, Jerome Davis, Keyonna
Davis, and James A. Lester (deceased), and was signed by Ms.
Davis alone. The second case was assigned to this court
pursuant to the district's related case policy. Ms. Davis
also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a motion
to appoint counsel contemporaneously in what appears to be
her individual capacity. [3:16-cv-1578 at Dkts. 2, 3.] Both
complaints were substantially similar, and the court
construed the complaint initiating the second case as an
effort to address the recommended ruling. [3:16-cv-1578 at
Dkt. 9.] Accordingly, on October 5, 2016, the court
consolidated the two cases under the latter case number and
deemed the latter complaint an amended complaint.
[3:16-cv-1578 at Dkt. 9.] The court also ordered Ms. Davis to
file for the court's review the probate order appointing
her administrator of her father's estate. [3:16-cv-1578
at Dkts. 8, 9.] In addition, the court referred the renewed
motions and amended complaint to Magistrate Judge Richardson.
[Dkt. 3:16-cv-1578 at Dkt. 9.]
amended complaint alleged violations of Mr. Lester's
civil rights under 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983 and 1985, medical
malpractice, personal injury, discrimination, intentional
infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the
Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). [3:16-cv-1578
at Dkt. 1.]
to the court, on October 5, 2016, the same day the court
deemed Ms. Davis to have filed an amended complaint in
response to the recommended ruling, Ms. Davis filed an
untimely objection to the Recommended Ruling in the original
case. [3:16-cv-1318 at Dkt. 9.] Her objection did not state
any specific findings in the recommended ruling which she
disputed, nor did it articulate a sound reason why the
recommended ruling should not be accepted and the case
dismissed without prejudice. Id.
October 14, 2016, in the consolidated action, Ms. Davis filed
the probate order confirming that she was appointed
administratrix of her father's estate. [3:16-cv-1578 at
Dkt. 14.] The probate form includes no further information
about Mr. Lester's estate, including its assets,
liabilities, creditors or beneficiaries. Ms. Davis also
failed to file a financial affidavit on behalf of the estate.
Id. To this date, no financial affidavit has been
filed on behalf of Mr. Lester's estate.
December 20, 2016, Magistrate Judge Richardson issued a
recommended ruling finding that, despite including additional
allegations, the amended complaint still failed to make any
allegations relating to claims personal to Ms. Davis. [Dkt.
3:16-cv-1578 at 15.] The second recommended ruling explained
that, contrary to the instructions provided in the original
recommended ruling, the amended complaint raised only claims
personal to Mr. Lester. Id. The second recommended
ruling went on to advise that while the amended complaint
indicated that Ms. Davis was appointed administrator of Mr.
Lester's estate, it did not affirmatively assert that the
estate had no creditors. In addition, not only did the
amended complaint not affirmatively state that the estate had
no other beneficiaries, it suggested that there were other
beneficiaries by mentioning Ms. Davis' multiple siblings
and surviving mother. Id. For those reasons, Judge
Richardson concluded the amended complaint failed to remedy
the deficiencies in the complaint, Ms. Davis could not
properly pursue the amended complaint pro se, and the amended
complaint should be denied without prejudice. Id.
Richardson also recommended that the motion to proceed in
forma pauperis be denied for two reasons. Id. First,
Ms. Davis again failed to submit a financial affidavit
regarding her father's estate as required under 28 U.S.C.
1915(a). Id. Second, Judge Richardson noted that,
even if Ms. Davis had submitted the required affidavit, an
estate is not eligible to proceed in forma pauperis.
Id. (citing Rowland v. Cal. Men's Colony,
Unit II Men's Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 200
(1993) (stating 28 U.S.C. 1915(a) allows a natural person to
proceed in forma pauperis, not an artificial entity); In
re Estate of Van Putten, 553 F. App'x 328
(3d Cir. 2009) (affirming that an estate is not eligible to
proceed in forma pauperis)).
Davis did not object to the recommended ruling, and the court
adopted it absent objection on January 9, 2017. [3:16-cv-1578
at Dkt.16.] In accordance with Judge Richardson's
findings, the court dismissed the consolidated action without
prejudice to filing a second amended complaint by January 30,
2017 remedying the deficiencies described in the December 20
2016 recommended ruling. Id. The court also found as
moot the September 2, 2016 recommended ruling in light of Ms.
Davis' amended complaint and the superseding December 20,
2016 recommended ruling. Id.
January 30, 2017, Ms. Davis filed a second amended complaint
(“SAC”) in the consolidated action. [3:16-cv-1578
at Dkt. 19.] The SAC listed Ms. Davis, Mr. Lester's
estate, and three of Ms. Davis' siblings as Plaintiffs.
Id. Each of the four siblings filed motions to
proceed in forma pauperis contemporaneous with the SAC, and
all siblings except Ms. Keyonna Davis filed motions to
appoint counsel. [3:16-cv-1578 at Dkts. 20-26.] The court
reopened the case and referred the SAC and attendant motion
to Magistrate Judge Richardson that same day. [3:16-cv-1578
at Dkt. 27.]
February 13, 2017, Ms. Keyonna Davis filed a duplicate motion
to proceed in forma pauperis, a motion for appointment of
counsel, and a Motion for Clarification and to Reopen Case
Number 3:16-cv-1318. [3:16-cv-1578 at Dkts. 28-30.] The
Motion for Clarification and to Reopen Case summarized the
filings in the original and consolidated cases and suggested
that the court and Magistrate Judge Richardson
“misunderstood or made a mistake” in their prior
rulings. [3:16-cv-1578 at Dkt. 30.] In support, Plaintiffs
made various factual assertions including, for example, that
Ms. Keyonna Davis only submitted a financial affidavit
regarding her own finances because her father, Mr. Lester, is
deceased. Id. at 3. The motion for clarification did
not address the recommended ruling's explanation of why
Ms. Keyonna Davis' financial affidavit was insufficient
to support her motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
Id. The ...