United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, Judith Tompson, has filed a complaint (doc. no.
1), which is before the court for preliminary review. See, 28
U.S.C. Â§ 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(2).
magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of complaints
filed in forma pauperis. The magistrate judge may recommend
to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed
if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a
defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See
28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(2). In conducting its
preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints
liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain
"sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a
claim to relief.'" See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).
has a chronic, disabling health condition, and she is
proceeding in this action in forma pauperis. Plaintiff
receives Social Security Disability Income ("SSDI")
in the amount of $1, 276.00 per month. She applied for
Medicaid in August 2014. On August 26, 2014, the New
Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
("DHHS") notified plaintiff that her Medicaid
coverage was subject to a deductible or "spend down,
" of $672.00 per month, or $4, 032.00 in a six month
period, effective September 1, 2014. Plaintiff appealed that
decision to the DHHS Administrative Appeals Unit.
administrative appeal, plaintiff contended that her elevated
Medicaid deductible discriminates against her on the basis of
her disability, in violation of Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); that it is based on
an outdated, unreasonable formula; and that it denies her
meaningful access to medical benefits and services. The
hearing officer rejected her claims, concluding that the DHHS
used the amount of plaintiff's income to determine her
deductible, not the source of that income, and that the
agency's actions were consistent with the
federally-approved state Medicaid plan.
appealed that agency decision to the New Hampshire Supreme
Court ("NHSC"), raising the same arguments that she
had raised before the agency. Plaintiff specifically asserted
that DHHS relied on outdated guidelines and failed to give
her meaningful access to medical benefits and services, when
it set her spend-down amount so high. The NHSC affirmed the
agency's decision, concluding that the agency had not
committed reversible error. See In re Tompson, No. 2015-0327
(N.H. Mar. 30, 2016).
filed this action on April 27, 2016, captioning it both as a
"Notice of Appeal" and as a "Complaint."
See Doc. No. 1, at 1 ("Complaint"); Doc. No. 1-1
("Notice of Appeal"). Plaintiff asserts essentially
the same claims here that she raised in the NHSC and before
the DHHS. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief,
specifically, review and remand of her case to the DHHS to
reconsider her Medicaid application. Plaintiff has not
asserted a claim for damages.
court decisions have the same preclusive effect in federal
cases that they would have under state law. See Miller v.
Nichols, 586 F.3d 53, 60 (1st Cir. 2009).
In New Hampshire, "the essence of the doctrine of res
judicata is that a final judgment by a court of competent
jurisdiction is conclusive upon the parties in a subsequent
litigation involving the same cause of action." The
doctrine precludes litigation in a later case of matters
actually litigated, and matters that could have been
litigated, in the earlier action. For res judicata to apply,
three elements must be satisfied: (1) the parties must be the
same or in privity with one another; (2) the same cause of
action must be before the court in both instances; and (3) a
final judgment on the merits must have been rendered in the
Torromeo v. Town of Fremont, 438 F.3d 113, 116 (1st
Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). New Hampshire law broadly
defines a "cause of action' as all theories on which
relief could be claimed on the basis of the factual
transaction in question.'" Brooks v. Trs. of
Dartmouth Coll., 161 N.H. 685, 694, 20 A.3d 890, 897
(2011). The parties in the state proceeding and here are the
same, both cases arose from the same facts, and a final
judgment issued ...