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Lucero v. Carlsbad Medical Center, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 29, 2018

CHRIS LUCERO as Personal Representative of the Estate of Marco Antonio Sanchez, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLSBAD MEDICAL CENTER, LLC, COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., and JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Defendant Community Health Systems, Inc.'s (“CHSI's”) Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, filed February 21, 2018 (Doc. 7). Having reviewed the parties' pleadings and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendant's Motion is well-taken and, therefore, is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This is a medical negligence and wrongful death case. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Sanchez died after suffering tears to his esophagus during surgery, and Carlsbad Medical Center, LLC's (“CMC's”) failure to catch those tears during subsequent examinations. Employees of CMC are alleged to have committed the wrongful acts. Defendant CHSI wholly owns CMC, through a chain of five subsidiaries. Plaintiff brings claims of wrongful death and medical negligence against all Defendants, and respondeat superior claims against Defendants CMC and CHSI.

         Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Second Judicial District on December 28, 2017. A notice of removal was filed on February 14, 2018, based on diversity.

         Thereafter, Defendant CHSI filed this Motion to Dismiss, including an affidavit in support. The uncontroverted affidavit provides as follows. CHSI is a holding company with no employees, officers, or agents in New Mexico. It is incorporated in Delaware, with a principle place of business in Tennessee. It indirectly owns Carlsbad Medical Center, through a chain of five separate entities. CHSI does not operate any of the hospitals that its subsidiaries own or lease.

         CHSI does not control the day to day operations of the hospital, the diagnosis and treatment of patients, the hiring training or supervision of hospital employees, the credentialing of healthcare personnel, the adoption of policies, procedures or guidelines, or any other matters related to running the hospital. CHSI has not designated the Hospital as its agent. CHSI maintains separate accounting records from the accounting records of the hospital. The Hospital maintains its own banking relationships. See Generally Exhibit A; Doc. 7-1.

         CHSI did not hire, employ, train, or supervise any nurses, providers, physicians, or staff involved in treating or caring for Marco Antonio Sanchez. CHSI did not control the number of individuals on staff at the hospital or the manner in which, or the details of how, those individuals' work was to be performed.

         In his response, Plaintiff's sole evidence in support of personal jurisdiction is Defendant CHSI's Form 10-K filing with the SEC. Plaintiff alleges that certain statements therein constitute admissions that Defendant CHSI operates and actively controls CMC. For example, Plaintiff points to certain statements in the Form 10-K that CHSI “sets the standard” at all of the hospitals it owns, has standardized and centralized a number of initiatives related to procedures, billing, collection, and facilities management. The Form 10-K repeatedly uses the words “we”, “our”, and the “Company” to collectively refer to CHSI and its subsidiaries.

         DISCUSSION

         Federal courts sitting in diversity have personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants to the extent permitted by the law of the forum state. Benally v. Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 858 F.2d 618, 621 (10th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). The New Mexico long-arm statute extends personal jurisdiction to the extent permitted by due process. Tercero v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, 48 P.3d 50, 54 (N.M. 2002). Therefore, in this diversity case, the Court will limit its analysis to binding Tenth Circuit and United States Supreme Court precedent analyzing personal jurisdiction under the due-process clause. Federated Rural Electric Ins. Corp. v. Kootenai Electric Coop., 17 F.3d 1302, 1305 (10th Cir. 1994); Melea, Ltd. v. Jawer SA, 511 F.3d 1060, 1065 (10th Cir. 2007).

         I. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) standard

         Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over CHSI. See Kuenzle v. HTM Sport-Und Freizeitgeräte AG, 102 F.3d 453, 456 (10th Cir. 1996). Here, Plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction to defeat a motion to dismiss. See Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235, 1239 (10th Cir. 2011). “The allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits.” Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995). If the facts in the complaint are controverted, Plaintiff may make the required showing by coming forward with facts, via affidavit or other written materials, that would support jurisdiction. See OMI Holdings v. Royal Ins. Co., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th Cir. 1998). All factual disputes must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995). The Court need only accept as true well-pled facts, i.e. facts that are plausible, non-conclusory, non-speculative.

         II. Personal Jurisdiction and Due Process.

         To comport with due process, Plaintiff must establish that Defendant CHSI has “such minimum contacts with the forum state that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.” Emp'rs Mut. Cas. Co. v. Bartile Roofs, Inc.,618 F.3d 1153, 1159-60 (10th Cir. 2010) (quotations omitted). If Plaintiff does so, he must also establish that exercise of personal jurisdiction over CHSI does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. Id.; see also Niemi v. Lasshofer, 770 F.3d 1331, 1348 (10th Cir. 2014). “This minimum-contacts standard may be satisfied by showing general or specific jurisdiction.” Bartile Roofs, Inc, 618 F.3d at 1159-60; Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Thyssen Min. Const. of Canada, Ltd., 703 F.3d 488, 492-93 (10th Cir. 2012). Plaintiff has the burden of ...


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