United States District Court, D. New Mexico
JOHN FAURE, as Personal Representative for the Wrongful Death Estate of GLORIA QUIMBEY, Deceased, Plaintiff,
COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CORPORATION, LAS CRUCES MEDICAL CENTER, LLC, doing business as Mountain View Regional Medical Center, ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE STAFFING, INC., ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE HOLDINGS CORPORATION, MEDASSETS WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS, RONALD LALONDE, AFFILION, LLC, and JOEL MICHAEL JONES, Dr., Defendants, and LAS CRUCES MEDICAL CENTER, LLC, Cross Claimant,
ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE HOLDINGS CORPORATION, ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE STAFFING, INC., and MEDASSETS WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS, Cross Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant CHSPSC,
LLC's (“Defendant CHSPSC”), f/k/a Community
Health Systems Professional Services Corporation, Motion for
Summary Judgment, filed October 28, 2016. (Doc. 246).
Plaintiff John Faure (“Plaintiff”), as personal
representative for the estate of Gloria Quimbey, filed a
response on November 14, 2016, and Defendant CHSPSC filed a
reply on December 1, 2016. (Doc. 266, 283). Defendant CHSPSC
also submitted a Notice of Supplemental Authority Regarding
CHSPSC, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment on April 25,
2017, to which Plaintiff responded on May 2, 2017. (Docs.
381, 388). Having read the motions, the accompanying briefs,
and relevant law, the Court GRANTS Defendant CHSPSC's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
a wrongful death lawsuit concerning the death of Gloria
Quimbey (“Ms. Quimbey”). Plaintiff originally
filed his Complaint for Wrongful Death, Negligence,
Misrepresentation, and Punitive Damages
(“Complaint”) on May 9, 2014, in the First
Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico. (Doc.
1-1). Defendant Las Cruces Medical Center, LLC, d/b/a
Mountain View Regional Medical Center (“MVRMC”),
removed the case to this Court on June 17, 2014. (Doc. 1).
Complaint alleges six counts. Count I is a wrongful death
claim against all defendants under the New Mexico Wrongful
Death Act, NMSA 1978, § 41-2-1 (Rep. Pamp. 1996). (Doc.
1-1) at 14. Count II is a negligence claim against Community
Health Systems Professional Services Corporation and MVRMC
Defendants (together, “CHS Defendants”).
Id. at 14-20. Count III is a negligence claim
against Accountable Healthcare Staffing, Inc., Accountable
Healthcare Holdings Corporation, MedAssets Workforce
Solutions, and Ronald Lalonde (“AHS Defendants”).
Id. at 20-22. Count IV is a negligence claim against
Affilion, LLC and Dr. Joel Michael Jones (“Affilion
Defendants”). Id. at 22-24. Count V is a claim
for negligent or intentional misrepresentation against CHS
Defendants. Id. at 24-26. Finally, Count VI is a
claim for punitive damages against all defendants.
Id. at 26. Defendant CHSPSC now moves for summary
judgment on all claims against it.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if the moving party shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the moving party meets
its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving
party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Schneider v. City of Grand
Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir.
2013). A dispute over a material fact is
“genuine” only if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving
party's favor. Tabor v. Hilti, Inc., 703 F.3d
1206, 1215 (10th Cir. 2013).
Facts and Reasonable Inferences Viewed in the Light Most
Favorable to Plaintiff
CHSPSC and MVRMC are parties to a Management Agreement,
through which Defendant CHSPSC provides consulting services
to MVRMC. (Doc. 246-1) at 2, ¶ 6. The
Management Agreement states that it creates a relationship of
a principal (MVRMC) and agent (Defendant CHSPSC).
Id. at 4. Defendant CHSPSC and MVRMC
“expressly disclaim any intent to jointly form a
partnership or to become joint venturers in the operation of
[MVRMC] by virtue of the execution of [the Management]
Agreement.” Id. For its consulting work,
Defendant CHSPSC receives a monthly management fee.
Id. at 13.
to the Management Agreement, Defendant CHSPSC agreed to (1)
draft guidelines, policies, procedures, and other form
documents; (2) help ensure that MVRMC is operated in
accordance with compliance programs; (3) provide assistance
in the identification, recruitment, and evaluation of
management personnel; and (4) administer through an affiliate
of a cash management program. Id. at 5-6. Defendant
CHSPSC also makes several additional services available to
MVRMC, including: (1) accounting; (2) acquisitions and
development; (3) ancillary services; (4) clinical services;
(5) tax services; (6) finance and treasury policies and
procedures; (7) division operations; (8) health information
management; (9) human resources; (10) information services;
(11) legal services; (12) management care; (13) marketing;
(14) materials management; (15) medical staff development;
(16) operations and operations support; (17) patient finance
services; (18) physician practice support; (19) quality and
resource management; (20) revenue management; and (21) risk
management, insurance, and employee safety. Id. at
Management Agreement specifically states that “[u]nder
no circumstance's shall [Defendant CHSPSC] be responsible
for any medical, clinical or professional matters. [Defendant
CHSPSC] may, however, consult with [MVRMC], at [MVRMC]'s
request, and make recommendations concerning such
matters.” Id. at 5. With regard to the case at
bar, Defendant CHSPSC did not “make any clinical
decisions” and was not involved in providing medical
care to Ms. Quimbey. (Doc. 246-2) at 342:19-343:7; (Doc.
246-3) at 125:11-15. Defendant CHSPSC does not employ any of
the MVRMC staff that treated Ms. Quimbey, including Dr. Joel
Michael Jones (“Dr. Jones”) and Nurse Ronald
Lalonde (“Mr. Lalonde”).(Doc. 246-1) at 8, ¶
2.15; (Doc. 246-3) at 124:9-12; (Doc. 246-8) at 91:10-21. Per
the Management Agreement, Defendant CHSPSC offered its
services to help in the recruitment of physicians, but
“the responsibility for verifying the credentials and
the determination of what privileges, if any, to be granted
to any physician . . . rest[ed] solely with [MVRMC's]
medical staff and board of trustees.” (Doc. 246-1) at
8, ¶ 2.15.
CHSPSC moves for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's
claims against it. Although Plaintiff brings several counts
against Defendant CHSPSC in the Complaint, in his response to
the Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff alleges that he
“need not demonstrate joint venture, an employment
relationship, or negligent and intentional misrepresentation
in order to establish that [Defendant] CHSPSC owed a legal
duty to Mrs. Quimbey.” (Doc. 266) at 13. Instead,
Plaintiff alleges that “the duty owed here arises under
ordinary negligence principles.” Id. In the
alternative, Plaintiff asks the Court to defer consideration
of the Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(d). Id. at 2.
Duty Owed to Ms. Quimbey
prevail on a negligence claim under New Mexico law, a
plaintiff must show the existence of a duty, a breach of that
duty, which is based upon a standard of reasonable care, and
that the breach was the proximate cause of plaintiff's
injuries. Herrera v. Quality Pontiac, 2003-NMSC-018,
¶ 6, 134 N.M. 43. The existence of a duty is a question
of law for the court; whereas, proximate cause is generally a
question of fact for a jury. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8
(internal citations omitted). The determination of whether a
duty exists is based on policy considerations, including
“reference to legal precedent, statutes, and other
principles of ...