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Gladu v. Correct Care Solutions

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 13, 2020

NICHOLAS A. GLADU, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         A prisoner in Maine custody seeks to vacate a judgment against him more than a year after it entered based on newly discovered information related to his medical diagnoses. Because he did not file his motion within one year of judgment entering and because he has not demonstrated extraordinary circumstances entitling him to relief under the catch-all provision of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6), the Court denies his motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 27, 2016, Nicholas Gladu filed an amended complaint against Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O., Wendy Riebe, R.N., the Maine Department of Corrections, and Susan Carr. First Am. Compl. (ECF No. 251).[1]On January 3, 2017, the Maine Department of Corrections and Susan Carr moved for summary judgment. Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 261). On January 4, 2017, Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O., and Wendy Riebe, R.N. (collectively CCS) moved for summary judgment. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 266). Mr. Gladu responded to both motions for summary judgment on March 22, 2017. Pl.'s Br. in Resp. to Defs.' Mots. For Summ. J. (ECF No. 341).[2] On December 18, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a report and recommended decision recommending a grant of summary judgment for all Defendants and against Mr. Gladu. Recommended Decision on Defs.' Mots. for Summ. J. and Order on Pl.'s Record-Related Mots. (ECF No. 512).

         On December 28, 2017, Mr. Gladu objected to the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision. Pl.'s Obj. to Report and Recommended Decision (ECF No. 520). On January 16, 2018, CCS responded to Mr. Gladu's objection. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Resp. to Pl.'s Obj. to Report and Recommended Decision (ECF No. 525). On February 14, 2018, this Court affirmed the recommended decision of the Magistrate Judge and issued a judgment granting both motions for summary judgment. Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 541) (Order). On February 15, 2018, the Clerk of Court entered judgment in favor of all the Defendants and against the Plaintiff's Complaint. J. (ECF No. 542). On February 18, 2018, Mr. Gladu appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 545), and on February 23, 2018, he filed a second notice of appeal to the First Circuit. Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 549).

         On August 9, 2019, Mr. Gladu filed a motion to vacate judgment in this Court. Mot. to Vacate J. (ECF No. 563) (Pl.'s Mot.). On August 30, 2019, the First Circuit issued its judgment, affirming the Court's grant of summary judgment to the Defendants. J. of Ct. of Appeals for the First Circuit (ECF No. 566). On September 20, 2019, the First Circuit issued its mandate, returning jurisdiction to this Court. Mandate (ECF No. 568); Mandate (ECF No. 569). On November 5, 2019, CCS responded to Mr. Gladu's motion to vacate judgment. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Obj. to Pl.'s Mot. to Vacate J. (ECF No. 571) (Defs.' Obj.).

         II. PARTIES' POSITIONS

         A. Nicholas Gladu's Motion to Vacate Judgment

         Mr. Gladu moves the Court to vacate judgment against him under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(2), (3), and (6). Pl.'s Mot. at 1. Mr. Gladu states that “[t]hroughout the course of litigation in [this] matter, [he] sought various diagnostic medical testing and consultation with medical specialists, for what [he] contended to be a[n] undiagnosed underlying serious medical condition, ” though CCS argued such testing was unnecessary. Id. He states that “[s]hortly after final judgment in this matter, the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine began an inquest into [his] medical care and treatment by Defendant Dr. Clinton” which made clear that some of the diagnostic tests he sought “were in fact actually medically necessary.” Id. Because of this, “Dr. Clinton performed follow-up testing of [his] phosphorus and Vitamin D 25OH levels and made subsequent referrals to disease specialists based in part on those results.” Id. This “follow-up revealed continued hyperphosphatemia.” Id. at 2. Mr. Gladu notes that throughout this litigation, his “other lab results showed recurrent hematuria and proteinuria” which “herald chronic kidney disease collectively.” Id.

         Mr. Gladu states that “[o]n August 28, 2018, Defendant Dr. Clinton referred [him] to urology for consultation of recurrent hematuria.” Id. On “October 31, 2018, [Mr. Gladu] was seen by a urologist who[] was confused why [he] had been sent to urology at all and immediately recommended that [he] be evaluated by a nephrologist.” Id. Dr. Clinton approved Mr. Gladu's referral to a nephrologist days later, and on April 12, 2019, Mr. Gladu “was finally sent to nephrology for consultation.” Id. Mr. Gladu insinuates that this delay was the result of an effort to prevent him from presenting “new evidence to the Court for a motion such as this.” Id.

         Mr. Gladu states that on June 19, 2019, he underwent testing requested by his nephrologist, and on July 24, 2019, he was informed that his nephrologist had “diagnosed [him] with chronic kidney disease and intended to continue workup of [his] fluid imbalance issues (hypernatremia and hyper[osmolar]ity).” Id. Mr. Gladu asserts that “Chronic Kidney Disease is unquestionably a serious medical need as contemplated under the Eighth Amendment, ” as it can cause “bone miner[]alization disorders and/or secondary hyperparathyroidism[, b]oth of which cause protracted bone pain similar to those complaints by [Mr. Gladu] since the onset of this case.” Id. at 3.

         Mr. Gladu alleges “[u]pon information and belief” that CCS “intentionally delayed [his] nephrology consultation until after the 1 year deadline for [him] to introduce new evidence in this matter, as [it] knew or reasonably should have known, that [his] const[e]llation of symptoms and labwork abnormalities would result in a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease and other serious disorders . . ..” Id. He states that “Rule 60(b)(6) expressly authorizes the Court to vacate judgment for ‘any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment'” and that his “unique circumstances (as a prisoner who[] cannot otherwise seek necessary medical diagnostic testing or consultation by a specialist) need be strongly considered as to whether good cause exists for [him] to present new evidence following the 1 year mark from final judgment.” Id.

         B. CCS' Response

         CCS makes three arguments why the Court should deny Mr. Gladu's Motion to Vacate Judgment. First, CCS argues that the Court “lacks the authority to amend its judgment once i[t] has been affirmed on appeal.” Defs.' Obj. at 2 (citing Elias v. Ford Motor Co., 734 F.2d 463, 465 (1st Cir. 1984)). CCS says “[t]he mandate rule . . . does not divest the district court of the authority to address issues on which the appellate court has not expressly or implicitly ruled.” Id. at 3 (citing Diaz v. Jiten Hotel Mgmt., 741 F.3d 170, 175 (1st Cir. 2013)). However, “whatever was before the appellate court and disposed of by the decree is considered as finally settled and becomes the law of the case.” Id. (quoting McMahan Jets, LLC v. X-Air Flight Support, LLC, No. 2:10CV175KS-MTP, 2012 WL 5606635, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Nov. 15, 2012)). CCS argues “the First Circuit considered de novo the record on appeal and affirmed the entry of summary judgment.” Id. It states the First Circuit also “had before it Mr. Gladu's Motion to Vacate the judgment, and the medical ...


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