United States District Court, D. Vermont
PRINCESS C. MONTPELIER, Plaintiff,
GREEN MOUNTAIN CARE and CORY GUSTAFSON, Commissioner Department of Vermont Health Access, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
William K. Sessions, III District Court Judge.
Princess C. Montpelier, proceeding pro se, claims
the Defendants wrongfully denied her funding for
transportation to out-of-state medical providers. Defendants
now move to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's claims are
barred by res judicata, that the Complaint fails to
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and that Plaintiff
has not alleged personal involvement by Defendant Cory
Gustafson. The motion to dismiss is unopposed.
reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is
granted. Plaintiff may amend her Complaint
within 30 days. Failure to file a timely Amended Complaint
will result in the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims with
alleges that Green Mountain Care has repeatedly denied her
the funding she requires to travel to certain medical
providers. According to Defendants, Green Mountain Care is a
Division of the Department of Vermont Health Access
(“DVHA”). DVHA apparently reviews, and can either
grant or deny requests from Medicaid recipients for funding
to subsidize health care-related transportation.
case, Plaintiff cites denials of her requests for
transportation to two out-of-state providers. She first
claims that Defendants denied her funding for transportation
to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, which is located in
New Hampshire. DVHA has allegedly approved funds for
Plaintiff to receive care at the University of Vermont
Medical Center (“UVMC”) in Burlington, Vermont,
but Plaintiff claims the providers at UVMC have
“discriminated horrendously against [her] in the past,
” including a refusal to see her in 2009. ECF No. 3 at
similarly claims that she has been denied funding to travel
to New York City for care. The Complaint alleges that Dr.
Themistocles Phopsaltis was the primary surgeon on a team
that performed Plaintiff's surgery on December 14, 2018.
Defendants have allegedly denied Plaintiff's request for
transportation to a post-operative appointment with Dr.
Phopsaltis in New York.
Complaint asserts that this Court has jurisdiction because
“the Federal government contributes to Medicaid of each
state. And currently the State of Vermont is not
delivering.” Id. at 3. For relief, Plaintiff
asks the Court to (1) order Green Mountain Care to provide
her with the transportation needed to attend appointments at
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the office of Dr.
Phopsaltis, and (2) reimburse her for transportation and
hotel expenses as necessary.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When
interpreting a pro se plaintiff's complaint, a
court should construe the complaint liberally and interpret
it to raise the strongest arguments that it suggests. See
Weixel v. Bd. of Educ. of City of N.Y., 287 F.3d 138,
146 (2d Cir. 2002).
case, the pending motion to dismiss is unopposed. The lack of
opposition does not mean, however, that the motion must be
granted. See Haas v. Commerce Bank, 497 F.Supp.2d
563, 564 (S.D.N.Y. 2007). “In deciding an unopposed
motion to dismiss, a court is to ‘assume the truth of a
pleading's factual allegations and test only its legal
sufficiency. . . .'” Id. (quoting
McCall v. Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 322-23 (2d Cir.
first argument is that Plaintiff's claims are barred by
res judicata. This is not the first lawsuit in which
Plaintiff has alleged violation of a federal right to
Medicaid-funded transportation. In 2006, under her former
name Esther Avila, Plaintiff sued State of Vermont officials
and others claiming a right to Medicaid funding for
transportation to medical appointments. See Avila v.
Smith, No. 2:05-cv-309, 2006 WL 1519420, at *1 (D. Vt.
May 26, 2006). In that case, the Court granted
Defendants' motion to dismiss ...