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Collymore v. Suffolk County Sheriff Dept.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 29, 2019

STEVEN “SHELBY” COLLYMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
SUFFOLK COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT., and DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL SERVICES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (#21.)

          M. Page Kelley United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction.

         Pro se plaintiff Steven “Shelby” Collymore alleges that defendants, Suffolk County Sheriff's Department (SCSD) and the Director of Medical Services (Medical Director) at the South Bay House of Correction (SBHOC), have discriminated against her by refusing to prescribe her the hormone estrogen. This matter is before the court on defendant Medical Director's motion to dismiss (#21) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. No opposition has been filed to the dispositive motion.

         Because plaintiff does not allege facts plausibly supporting a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the motion to dismiss (#21) is GRANTED.

         II. The Facts.

         The factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true and taken in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555- 56 (2007). Collymore is an inmate incarcerated at SBHOC since May 10, 2018, serving a one-year sentence. (#1 at 6.) Plaintiff claims to be suffering from a “major mental illness - gender identity disorder, ” Kosilek v. Maloney, 221 F.Supp.2d 156, 158 (D. Mass. 2002) (Kosilek I), a condition now known as “gender dysphoria.” Kosilek v. Spencer, 774 F.3d 63, 69 n.1 (1st Cir. 2014) (Kosilek III). Anatomically male, Collymore alleges she is transitioning “to that of a female” and has expressed her “made up mindset” and “desire” to be prescribed estrogen by SBHOC's medical department. (#1 at 6.) She has attended therapy sessions with a medical provider at SBHOC several times and is “beyond adamant about being a transgender female.” Id.

         According to Collymore, the Medical Director denied her request for estrogen because, unlike other transgender individuals in SBHOC custody who were given the hormone, plaintiff had not been prescribed estrogen by a primary care provider before her incarceration. Id. While in SBHOC, plaintiff has been prescribed a high blood pressure medication that she had not been prescribed prior to her incarceration. Id. at 7. In plaintiff's view, this differing treatment supports her claim that she is “being discriminated against, ” id. at 6, and her belief that her “civil rights are being violated.” Id. at 7.

         By way of relief, Collymore seeks “to have the present rules at [SBHOC] and other similar institutions” amended to allow transgender individuals to be “given the female hormone estrogen even if one wasn't prescribed the female hormone prior to their being incarcerated.” Id. at 4.[1] Plaintiff seeks a judgment in her favor mandating that defendants and similar institutions “amend the present way [they] treat transgender individuals from further transitioning.” Id. at 7.

         In the motion to dismiss, defendant Medical Director contends first, that plaintiff has not adequately pled that she has received constitutionally inadequate medical care and, second, that he is protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity. (#22.)

         III. Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges a party's complaint for failing to state a claim. In deciding such a motion, a court must “accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in the pleader's favor.” Keach v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. Co. (In re Montreal, Me. & Atl. Ry., Ltd.), 888 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2018); González v. Vélez, 864 F.3d 45, 50 (1st Cir. 2017). When considering a motion to dismiss, a court “may augment these facts and inferences with data points gleaned from documents incorporated by reference into the complaint, matters of public record, and facts susceptible to judicial notice.” Haley v. City of Bos., 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011) (citing Banco Santander de P.R. v. Lopez-Stubbe (In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp.), 324 F.3d 12, 15 (1st Cir. 2003)); In re Montreal, 888 F.3d at 7 n.2.

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The First Circuit recently explained:

The plausibility standard requires a court to choreograph a two-step pavane. See A.G. v. Elsevier, Inc., 732 F.3d 77, 80 (1st Cir. 2013). First, the court must “strip away and discard the complaint's conclusory legal allegations.” Shay v. Walters, 702 F.3d 76, 82 (1st Cir. 2012). Second, “the court must determine whether the remaining facts allow it ‘to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Doe v. Backpage.com, LLC, 817 F.3d 12, 24 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of P.R., 676 F.3d 220, 224 (1st Cir. 2012)).

In re Montreal, 888 F.3d at 6. After undertaking this exercise, “[d]ismissal is warranted when a complaint's factual averments are ‘too meager, vague, or conclusory to remove the possibility of relief from the realm of mere conjecture.'” Id. (quoting SEC ...


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