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Cummings v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 9, 2018

ESTATE OF VERA CUMMINGS, by and through Personal Representative, Elicia Montoya, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., A foreign corporation, d/b/a LAS CRUCES MEDICAL CENTER L.L.C., and MOUNTAIN VIEW REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION FOLLOWING REVERSAL AND REMAND FROM TENTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, filed by Defendant Community Health Systems, Inc. (“CHSI” or “Defendant”) on March 2, 2018 (Doc. 226), and following the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal's reversal and remand of this case. See Estate of Cummings by & through Montoya v. Cmty. Health Sys., Inc., 881 F.3d 793, 806 (10th Cir. 2018). Having reviewed the parties' pleadings, the controlling law and in particular the Tenth Circuit's recent opinion in this case, and after hearing oral argument of counsel at the hearing on March 7, 2018, the Court finds Defendant's motion is well-taken and, therefore, is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case is a medical negligence case initiated by Elicia Montoya, as personal representative of the Estate of Vera Cummins (“Plaintiff” or “the Estate”). This case has been appealed to the Tenth Circuit twice, on matters having nothing to do with the actual merits of the case. In order to provide context to the discussion, the Court provides a succinct procedural chronology of the case:

. On January 28, 2011, the Estate filed this lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court, County of Santa Fe, State of New Mexico, alleging medical negligence resulting in wrongful death.
. The case was removed to federal court on January 25, 2012 on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 42 U.S.C. §§233(a).[1]
. September 6, 2012 (Doc. 60): This Court granted CHSI's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in New Mexico, thereby dissolving a previous state court order denying CHSI's motion to dismiss on the same grounds.[2]
. August 5, 2014 (Doc. 160): This Court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Mountain View Regional Medical Center (“Mountain View”), finding that Plaintiffs failure to disclose an expert report was “fatal” to Plaintiffs medical negligence and negligent hiring/credentialing claims.” Doc. 160 at 13.
. December 1, 2014 (Doc. 177): Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant United States of America for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and granted on February 10, 2015 (Doc. 196).
. March 9, 2015 (Doc. 198) - Notice of first appeal; Plaintiff argued that Court's rulings regarding Mountain View should be vacated if there was no subject matter jurisdiction over federal claim.
. August 30, 2016 (Doc. 203): Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms district court dismissal of federal claims, directing the district court to vacate rulings on the supplemental claims against Mountain View and to remand those claims to New Mexico state court. (“First 2016 Order”). The mandate was silent as to the disposition of claims against CHSI).
. August 20, 2016 (Doc. 204): district court remanded Plaintiffs claims against Defendant Mountain View to First Judicial District Court, as directed by Tenth Circuit mandate.
. January 19, 2017 (Doc. 207) - Mountain View files Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to bar Plaintiff from pursuing claims against CHSI in state court. The pleading mentioned that during the appeal process, the parties had stipulated the dismissal with prejudice of the appeal of the district court's dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of the claims against CHSI.[3]
. January 25, 2017 (Doc. 212): the district court amended its August 20, 2016 remand order, finding that because it had no subject matter jurisdiction over the case, its rulings regarding the claims against CHSI (including the dismissal based on lack of personal jurisdiction) should be vacated as well and remanded those claims to state court.
. February 24, 2017 (Doc. 215): CHSI appeals the district court's order vacating the order that dismissed the claims against CHSI.
. January 29, 2018: - the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's order that vacated the dismissal of the claims against CHSI and the district court's remanding of those claims to state court.[4] See Doc. 224. In this second mandate, the Court of Appeals found that it was “improper to vacate the dismissal of CHSI and to remand the claims against CHSI to the state court.” Estate of Cummings, 881 F.3d at 806 (“Second 2018 Order”). The case was remanded to district court “solely for the purpose of ruling on CHSI's request for injunctive relief with respect to the pending state proceedings.” Id.
. March 2, 2018, Doc. 226: CHSI filed a second Motion for TRO or Preliminary Injunction, which was essentially a re-filing of the previous request (Doc. 207) for injunctive relief.

         As noted above, this Court held a hearing on the matter on March 7, 2018. Notice was provided, as both parties briefed the issues raised in CHSI's motion and ...


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