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Estate of Ostby v. Yellowstone County

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

April 30, 2019

ESTATE OF MICHAEL OSTBY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
YELLOWSTONE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION OF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          TIMOTHY J. CAVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiffs, the Estate of Michael Ostby, Nicole Hale, Joe Ostby, and Cassandra Ostby (collectively, the “Estate”), brought this action against Defendants Yellowstone County, Billings Clinic, and RiverStone Health for negligence and civil rights violations after the decedent, Michael Ostby, committed suicide while being held as a pretrial detainee at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility. (Doc. 6.) Yellowstone County filed crossclaims and third-party complaints against Billings Clinic (Doc. 3, 7), and RiverStone Health (Doc. 4, 7).

         On September 12, 2018, United States District Judge Susan P. Watters granted Billings Clinic's motion to dismiss the County's third-party complaint and granted RiverStone's motion for judgment on the pleadings on the County's third-party complaint. (Doc. 69.)

         Presently before the Court is Yellowstone County's Motion for Entry of Judgment under Rule 54(b) in favor of Billings Clinic and Riverstone Health. (Doc. 70.) The motion has been referred to the undersigned under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review.

         Having considered the parties' submissions, the Court RECOMMENDS the County's motion be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In June 2013, the County entered into a contract with RiverStone Health (“RiverStone”) to provide medical and dental care to inmates at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility (“YCDF”). (Docs. 4 at ¶ 4; 4-1.) In September 2014, the County entered into a contract with Billings Clinic to provide mental health counseling to inmates at YCDF. (Docs. 3 at ¶ 4; 3-1.)

         On May 7, 2015, Michael Ostby (“Ostby”) was arrested and detained at YCDF. (Docs. 3 at ¶ 6; 4 at ¶ 6.) Ostby committed suicide while incarcerated on July 1, 2015. (Docs. 3 at ¶ 9; 4 at ¶ 9.) The contracts between the County and RiverStone and the County and Billings Clinic were in effect during Ostby's incarceration at YCDF. (Docs. 3 at ¶ 6; 4 at ¶ 6.)

         On June 30, 2017, Ostby's Estate filed a complaint in state court alleging, inter alia, that the County, Billings Clinic, a former employee of Billings Clinic, and RiverStone were negligent in failing to provide adequate medical and psychiatric care for Ostby at YCDF. (Doc. 1-2.) The case was removed to this Court on September 21, 2017. (Doc. 1.)

         Prior to removal, the Estate settled with RiverStone and filed a Notice of Dismissal with prejudice on September 8, 2017. (Doc. 5-1 at 7.) The Estate also settled with Billings Clinic and its employee Terry Jesse and dismissed Billings Clinic and Terry Jesse with prejudice on September 26, 2017. (Doc. 10.)

         In the meantime, however, the County filed an Answer and Cross-Claims against Billings Clinic and RiverStone for breach of contract on September 15, 2017. (Doc. 7.) The County also filed third-party complaints against Billings Clinic and RiverStone for breach of contract on September 25, 2017. (Docs. 3, 4.) The County alleged Billings Clinic breached its contract by failing to adequately address Ostby's mental health concerns, and by failing to defend and indemnify the County against the Estate's claims under the indemnity clause in their contract. (Doc. 3 at ¶ 18-19.) The County similarly claimed RiverStone breached its contract by failing to adequately address Ostby's physical health concerns. (Doc. 4 at ¶ 15.)

         Billings Clinic moved to dismiss the County's third-party complaint and crossclaim. (Doc. 17.) Riverstone likewise filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on the County's third-party complaint. (Doc. 36.) On September 11, 2018, the Court granted Billings Clinic's and RiverStone's motions, and both parties were dismissed. (Doc. 69.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         The County wishes to pursue an interlocutory appeal of the Court's order dismissing Billings Clinic and RiverStone. Therefore, the County requests the Court enter judgment in favor of Billings Clinic and RiverStone under Fed.R.Civ.P. ...


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