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Williams v. Cargill

United States District Court, D. South Dakota

March 23, 2015

CASEY WILLIAMS, TIMOTHY UPTON, JOSHUA HANSEN, RONNIE OAKIE, STEVEN MITCHELL and DAVID BUJARSKI, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN A. CARGILL, Defendant.

ORDER

JEFFREY L. VIKEN, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the court is defendant's motion to dismiss. (Docket 8). The court referred defendant's motion to Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy for resolution pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. (Docket 13). On August 5, 2014, Magistrate Judge Duffy filed a report recommending the court grant defendant's motion to dismiss. (Docket 19 at p. 22). Plaintiffs timely filed objections to the report and recommendation. (Docket 20).

The court reviews de novo those portions of the report and recommendation which are the subject of objections. Thompson v. Nix, 897 F.2d 356, 357-58 (8th Cir. 1990); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court may then "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). For the reasons stated below, plaintiffs' objections are overruled. The court adopts in full the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs' complaint alleges they were injured in a one-vehicle rollover on March 18, 2013, in which defendant John Cargill was the driver. (Docket 1). Plaintiffs assert diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, alleging they are citizens of the State of South Dakota, Mr. Cargill is a resident of the State of New York and the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id . ¶ 1. Mr. Cargill filed a motion to dismiss claiming plaintiffs do not satisfy the controversy requirement of exceeding $75, 000 as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Docket 8).

The undisputed facts are as follows. On March 18, 2013, Mr. Cargill was an employee of the South Dakota Department of Corrections ("DOC"). (Dockets 9 ¶ 2 & 11 at p. 3). At that time, the plaintiffs were all inmates on trustee status with the DOC. (Docket 9 ¶ 3). On March 18, 2013, Mr. Cargill was operating a motor vehicle owned by the State of South Dakota and used by DOC. Id . ¶ 5. Plaintiffs were among the passengers in the vehicle when it was involved in a single vehicle accident. Id . ¶¶ 5-6. Each of the plaintiffs received medical care for their injuries by various medical care providers, all of which expenses were paid for by DOC. (Dockets 9 ¶¶ 9-10 & 11 at p. 3). DOC is statutorily and legally required to provide reasonable and necessary medical care for plaintiffs while they are under the control of DOC. (Docket 9 ¶ 8). Neither plaintiffs nor any third-party insurance policy paid for any medical expenses. Id . ¶ 10. Mr. Cargill is no longer a DOC employee. Id . ¶ 2. Mr. Cargill is a resident of the State of New York. (Docket 19 at p. 2 n.2).

Following referral of defendant's motion, Magistrate Judge Duffy entered an order directing plaintiffs "to submit additional pleadings or evidence, including medical records and affidavits if they wish, to demonstrate that the amount in controversy element is met as to each plaintiff. Plaintiffs may, in the alternative, elect to have a live evidentiary hearing to adduce the evidence required." (Docket 14 at p. 9). Plaintiffs' submissions were due by July 10, 2014, but that date could be extended for good cause. Id. at pp. 9-10.

On July 10, 2014, plaintiffs filed a supplement to the record. (Docket 15). On July 22, 2014, plaintiffs filed an addendum to supplement the record.[1] (Docket 17). Attached to the addendum were eleven exhibits relating to plaintiffs Oakie and Mitchell. (Dockets 17-1 through 17-11).

Magistrate Judge Duffy found that as of July 18, 2014, plaintiffs incurred the following medical expenses:

Casey Williams $ 59, 911.04 Timothy Upton $ 5, 460.46 Joshua Hansen $ 5, 354.98 Ronnie Oakie $ 15, 298.85 Steven Mitchell $ 23, 234.58 David Bujarski $ 429.85

(Docket 19 at pp. 2-3). Id. at p. 3. All of plaintiffs' medical expenses were paid by DOC. Id. at p. 3. The magistrate judge also found that two of the plaintiffs, Mr. Oakie and Mr. Hansen, are expected to undergo future surgeries with anticipated costs of $42, 426[2] and $74, 246, [3] respectively. Id.

A. MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiffs' objections to the magistrate judge's findings of fact are summarized as follows:

1. Plaintiffs object to the finding they have not suffered permanent physical impairment. (Docket 20 ¶ 11).
2. Plaintiffs object to the finding they have only demonstrated intangible damages for pain, ...

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