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Davis v. Yale New Haven Hospital

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 11, 2017

Keyonna Davis, et al. Plaintiffs
v.
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.

         Plaintiffs 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”)[1] 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.

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff 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.]

         On 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.

         In 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. Id.

         Rather 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.]

         The 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.]

         Unbeknownst 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.

         On 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.

         On 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.

         Judge 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)).

         Ms. 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.

         On 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.]

         On 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 ...


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