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Leah Castro, Individually and v. Leroy Melchor

September 14, 2012

LEAH CASTRO, INDIVIDUALLY AND
AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF BRIANDALYNNE CASTRO, DECEASED MINOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEROY MELCHOR, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; WANNA BHALANG, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; TOMI BRADLEY, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; ROBERTA MARKS, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; KAY BAUMAN, M.D., IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; KEITH WAKABAYASHI, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE REMAINING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING THE REMAINING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR STAY OF ACTION

On June 8, 2012, Defendants Leroy Melchor, Wanna Bhalang, Tomi Bradley, Roberta Marks, and Keith Wakabayashi, all in their individual capacities (collectively "the Remaining Defendants") filed their Motion for Summary Judgment and their Motion for Stay of Action ("Stay Motion"). [Dkt. nos. 405, 404.] Plaintiff Leah Castro, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Briandalynne Castro, deceased minor ("Plaintiff"), filed a memorandum in opposition to each motion on August 20, 2012.

[Dkt. nos. 415, 414.] The Remaining Defendants filed a reply in support of each motion on August 27, 2012. [Dkt. nos. 418, 417.] These matters came on for hearing on September 10, 2012. Appearing on behalf of the Remaining Defendants were Marie Gavigan, Esq., and Henry Kim, Esq. Also present were Defendants Wakabayashi, Marks, and Bhalang. Appearing on behalf of Plaintiff was Sue Hansen, Esq. After careful consideration of the motions, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, the Remaining Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is HEREBY GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and the Remaining Defendants' Stay Motion is HEREBY GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff originally filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 8, 2007. Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint on October 27, 2008, and her Second Amended Complaint on April 30, 2009. [Dkt. nos. 76, 132.] The Second Amended Complaint alleged claims against the Remaining Defendants, as well as Defendants Amy Yasunaga, Kenneth Zienkiewicz, M.D., and Kay Bauman, M.D., all in their individual capacities (all collectively "Defendants").

The Second Amended Complaint alleges the following claims: a § 1983 claim for the violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process; intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"); negligence; and punitive damages. Plaintiff's claims include, inter alia, allegations that Defendants Marks, Zienkiewicz, Bauman, and Wakabayashi: negligently hired, trained, supervised, and retained Defendants Melchor, Bhalang, Bradley, and Yasunaga, who negligently failed to provide Plaintiff with necessary medical and prenatal care; negligently failed to reprimand Defendants Melchor, Bhalang, Bradley, and Yasunaga regarding the denial of medical care to Plaintiff; and negligently managed Oahu Community Correctional Center's ("OCCC") medical services and procedures, including the failure to adequately document Plaintiff's medical complaints. [Second Amended Complaint at ¶ 42.]

This Court incorporates the summary of the relevant factual background set forth in this Court's Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("2010 Summary Judgment Order"). Castro v. Melchor, 760 F. Supp. 2d 970, 974-75 (D. Hawai`i 2010) (footnote omitted).*fn1 The 2010 Summary Judgment Order granted summary judgment to Defendants Yasunaga and Zienkiewicz as to all claims against them. The Court also granted summary judgment to Defendant Bauman as to several claims but denied summary judgment to Defendant Bauman as to other claims. Defendant Bauman filed a Notice of Appeal on December 14, 2010. [Dkt. no. 291.] This Court issued the Stay Order on January 7, 2011. 760 F. Supp. 2d at 1000-05. The Ninth Circuit later granted the parties' Stipulated Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Appeal. [Order, filed 4/9/12 (dkt. no. 395).] This Court subsequently approved the parties' Stipulation for Partial Dismissal with Prejudice as to All Claims Against Defendant Kay Bauman, M.D. [Filed 5/16/12 (dkt. no. 399).]

I. State Action

While Defendant Bauman's appeal was pending, Plaintiff proceeded to trial before the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawai`i ("state court") in Leah Castro, et al. v. Leroy Melchor, et al., Civil No. 08-1-0901-05 KTN ("State Action"). [Defs.' Concise Statement of Facts in Supp. of Their Motion for Summary Judgment, filed 6/8/12 (dkt. no. 406) ("Defs.' CSOF"), Decl. of Marie Manuele Gavigan ("Gavigan Decl."), Exh. E (Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law & Order ("State Action FOF&COL")) at 1-2.]

The defendants that Plaintiff named in the First Amended Complaint in the State Action ("State Action Complaint") were: Leroy Melchor, Wanna Bhalang, Tomi Bradley, Amy Yasunaga, Roberta Marks, Kenneth Zienkiewicz, M.D., and Keith Wakabayashi, all in their official capacities; the State of Hawaii ("State"); and the Hawaii Department of Public Safety ("DPS", all collectively "State Action Defendants"). The State Action Complaint is based on the same factual allegations as the Second Amended Complaint in the instant case. It alleges negligence and gross negligence against the State Action Defendants ("State Count I"), as well as an IIED and negligent infliction of emotional distress ("NIED") claim against all of the defendants except the State and DPS ("State Count II"). [Gavigan Decl., Exh. B (State Action Complaint).]

State Count I alleges, in pertinent part:

17. Defendants MELCHOR, BHALANG, BRADLEY, and YASUNAGA were negligent and/or grossly negligent for failure to provide Plaintiff CASTRO and her unborn daughter with proper or timely medical care. . . 18. Defendants ZIENKIEWICZ, WAKABAYASHI and MARKS were negligent for failure to properly train, supervise and/or retain Defendants MELCHOR, BHALANG, BRADLEY, and YASUNAGA. . . . [Id. at pgs. 5-6 (emphases in original).]

On March 24, 2011, the State Action Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for a Stay of This Civil Action ("State Action Motion for Summary Judgment"). [Pltf.'s Concise Statement of Facts in Supp. of Mem. in Opp. to Remaining Defs.' Motion for Summary Judgment, Filed June 8, 2012, filed 8/20/12 (dkt. no. 416) ("Pltf.'s CSOF"), Decl. of Sue Vo Hansen ("Hansen Decl."), Exh. 6 (State Action Motion for Summary Judgment).] On May 13, 2011, the state court issued an order granting the State Action Motion for Summary Judgment in part and denying it part. [Gavigan Decl., Exh. D.] The order stated, in pertinent part: "The motion is granted as to all claims against Defendants Yasunaga, Marks, Zienkiewicz and Wakabayashi . . . ."*fn2 [Id. at 2.]

In the State Action Motion for Summary Judgment, the State Action Defendants, inter alia, sought summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims for negligent training, supervision, and/or retention. [Mem. in Supp. of State Action Motion for Summary Judgment at 10-15.] Specifically as to Defendants Zienkiewicz, Wakabayashi, and Marks, in their official capacities, the State Action Defendants argued that: 1) Plaintiff had not sufficiently pled those claims against Defendants Zienkiewicz, Wakabayashi, and Marks; and 2) even if Plaintiff had properly pled those claims, Defendants Zienkiewicz, Wakabayashi, and Marks were immune from liability because they were "engaged in discretionary functions as supervisors[.]" [Id. at 13-15.]

The state court held a jury-waived trial from February 27, 2012 through March 8, 2012. [State Action FOF&COL at 1-2.] The state court found, in pertinent part:

46. Defendant State breached the applicable standards of care by (1) failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate and timely prenatal care, including failure to provide Plaintiff with an OBGYN evaluation and ultrasound as ordered by the nurse practitioner and OCCC physician, (2) failing to provide Plaintiff with medical care in response to Plaintiff's repeated vaginal bleeding complaints and requests for medical attention, and (3) failing to properly monitor, observe, and question Plaintiff about her health condition while she was locked up in segregation, pursuant to the clear and unambiguous DPS and OCCC policies and procedures mandating such level of health care for segregated inmates.

47. Therefore, Defendant State was negligent. [Id. at pg. 10.] The state court's references to "State" or "Defendant State" include State Action Defendants Melchor, Bhalang, and Bradley, in their official capacities ("Nurse Defendants"), because the suit against them in their official capacities "is essentially a suit against Defendant State." [Id. at pg. 10 n.5.]

The state court also concluded, inter alia, that "the evidence established that the conduct of Nurse Defendants with respect to Plaintiff's bleeding complaints, was not intentional or reckless, but negligent. Therefore, as to IIED, the court rules in favor of Nurse Defendants." [Id. at ¶ 76.] Ultimately, the state court concluded:

81. Based on all the facts and circumstances, an award of damages against Defendant State, in the amount of $350,000.00 to Plaintiff individually ($250,000.00 for NIED and $100,000.00 for loss of filial consortium), is fair and appropriate, for the State's share of Plaintiff's total damages.

82. The Estate's claim, under HRS § 663-7, is the cause of action and recovery that Baby Castro would have been entitled to at death for the injuries caused by Defendant State's negligence. Ozaki v. Assn of Apt. Owners, 87 Hawai`i 273, 288, 954 P.2d 652, 667 (App. 1998), aff'd in part and reversed in part on other grounds, 87 Hawai`i 265, 954 P.2d 644 (1998). The Estate's damages include damages for the loss of enjoyment of life, or for the value of life itself, measured separately from the economic productive value that the deceased would have had. Montalvo v. Lapez, 77 Hawai`i 282, 284 n.2, 884

P.2d 345, 347 n.2 (1994).

83. The Estate's damages include the value for the loss of life itself and for all of the damages that Baby Castro would have been entitled to had she been alive, such as loss of enjoyment of life. The evidence established that the baby was normal, with no congenital or development abnormalities. Despite the incarcerated status of her mother, Baby Castro's life and her loss of enjoyment of life, are of the nature and kind of any other infant. An award of damages against Defendant State, in the amount of $250,000.00 to the Estate of Briandalynne Castro, is fair and appropriate, for the State's share of the Estate's total damages. [Id. at pg. 17.]

On July 31, 2012, the state court entered its judgment pursuant to the State Action FOF&COL and the order and amended order granting the State Action Motion for Summary Judgment ("State Action Judgment"). [Hansen Decl., Exh. 1 (State Action Judgment).] On August 29, 2012, the State Action Defendants filed their notice of appeal from the State Action Judgment and the State Action FOF&COL. [Pltf.'s Suppl. Exh. in Supp. of Mem.

in Opp. to the Remaining Defs.' Motion for Summary Judgment, Filed June 8, 2012, filed 8/30/12 (dkt. no. 419), Decl. of Sue Vo Hansen ("Suppl. Hansen Decl."), Exh. 7 (notice of appeal).] Plaintiff represents that the deadline to file appeals from the State Action Judgment was August 31, 2012. [Mem. in Opp. to Stay Motion at 4.]

II. Motion for Summary Judgment

In the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, the Remaining Defendants first emphasize that Plaintiff initially filed the instant action against two OCCC Adult Corrections Officers ("ACOs") and the wardens of OCCC and the Women's Community Correctional Center ("WCCC") based upon an incident which resulted in a "take down" of Plaintiff. Plaintiff also named the State and DPS as defendants, but Plaintiff stipulated to dismiss those entities and other defendants in their official capacities based upon the State's immunity from suit in federal court. According to the Remaining Defendants, Plaintiff did not raise her theory of the case based upon the failure to treat her vaginal bleeding complaints until she filed her First Amended Complaint in October 2008. [Mem. in Supp. of Motion for Summary Judgment at 1-2.]

When Plaintiff initially filed the State Action in May 2008, she sued the ACOs who she initially named in the instant case, the State, and DPS as the defendants, and she based her claims upon the "take down" incident. Plaintiff, however, later dismissed her claims against the ACOs and amended her complaint to name Defendants Melchor, Bhalang, Bradley, Yasunaga, Marks, Zienkiewicz, and Wakabayashi, all in their official capacities, as well as the State and DPS, based on the stillbirth of her daughter. [Id. at 3.] The Remaining Defendants assert that "[t]he allegations in the Second Amended Complaint in the Federal lawsuit with regard to the claims of negligence and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress are the same or substantially similar to the claims in the First Amended Complaint in the State lawsuit." [Id. at 4.]

The Remaining Defendants argue that "because all of Plaintiff's claims have been fully litigated and adjudicated in the State lawsuit, the State Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law based on the application of res judicata." [Id. at 9.] They seek summary judgment in their favor on all claims in the instant case. [Id. at 10.]

First, the Remaining Defendants argue that there is an identity of claims in the two actions because all of Plaintiff's claims in the instant case and all of her claims in the State Action arise from the same transactional nucleus of facts - the alleged lack of appropriate medical care, which resulted in the stillbirth of Plaintiff's daughter. [Id. at 13.] Second, the Remaining Defendants argue that the parties in the instant case are identical to the parties in the State Action, except that the State and DPS were also defendants in the State Action. The Remaining Defendants argue that the individual defendants are in privity with the State and DPS because the individual defendants are closely aligned with those entities and because those entities act through their employees. The Remaining Defendants acknowledge that Defendant Bauman was not a defendant in the State Action, but they argue that this is irrelevant to the res judicata analysis because, in the instant case, Plaintiff dismissed her claims against Defendant Bauman. [Id. at 13-14 & n.2.] Third, as to the requirement of a final judgment on the merits, the Remaining Defendants argue that the summary judgment rulings and the State Action FOF&COL are adjudications of the merits. The Remaining ...


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