United States District Court, D. New Mexico
TANYA HALLUM, Personal Representative of the Estate of Charlie Hallum, TANYA HALLUM, Individually, and JESSE HALLUM, Individually, Plaintiffs
FOUR CORNERS OB-GYN, A PROFESSIONAL LLP, and DR. MARECA PALLISTER, Individually, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VÁZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Mareca Pallister,
M.D.'s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal
Jurisdiction Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2) [Doc. 20]. The
Court, having considered the motion and relevant law, finds
that the motion is well-taken and will be granted.
relevant facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows.
Plaintiffs Tanya Hallum, Charlie Hallum, and Jesse Hallum are
residents of San Juan County. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 3-5.
Tanya Hallum is the Personal Representative of Charlie
Hallum's estate. Id. at ¶ 4. On or about
September 1, 2014, Tanya Hallum learned she was pregnant with
Charlie Hallum and became a patient of Defendants Four
Corners OB/GYN (“Four Corners”) and Dr. Mareca
Pallister. Id. at ¶ 16. Dr. Pallister
classified Tanya Hallum's pregnancy as high risk.
Id. at ¶ 18. Tanya Hallum followed her
gynecologist's recommendations and consistently went in
for pre-natal examinations. Id. at ¶ 17.
about January 6, 2015, Tanya Hallum went in to Four
Corners's Aztec, New Mexico office for an unscheduled
examination due to pain in her reproductive system and was
seen by Nancy Rhein. Doc. 1 at ¶ 20-21. Ms. Rhien checked
Tanya Hallum's vital signs but did not examine her to
determine the cause of her pain, nor did she refer to a
doctor for further investigation of the pain. Id. at
¶¶ 21-23. Instead, Ms. Rhien informed Tanya Hallum
that everything was fine. Id. at ¶ 24.
Hallum's symptoms continued and she visited Four
Corners's Durango, Colorado office on January 8, 2015.
Id. at ¶ 26. Ms. Rhien again checked Tanya
Hallum's vital signs but did not examine her or refer her
to a doctor for further care. Id. at ¶¶
27-29. Tanya Hallum was again told everything was fine with
her pregnancy, and was not instructed to take any
precautions. Id. at ¶ 30.
about January 11, 2015, Tanya Hallum gave birth to Charlie
Hallum, who was born approximately four months premature and
only lived a short period. Id. at ¶ 32.
point thereafter, Dr. Pallister advised Tanya Hallum to
receive an Essure birth control device. Id. at
¶ 33. Tanya Hallum consented and did undergo a
procedure, on or about March 19, 2015, to implant the Essure
birth device. Id. at ¶¶ 34-36. However, on
or about May 6, 2015, Tanya Hallum was informed Dr. Pallister
had implanted three Essure birth devices, and they had to be
removed. Id. at ¶ 37. As a result of the
implantation of the three devices, Tanya Hallum underwent an
unwanted hysterectomy. Id.
on these allegations, on January 5, 2017, Plaintiffs
commenced the instant action in New Mexico federal court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a), which gives diversity
jurisdiction to district courts for any civil action
involving a complete diversity of citizenship between the
parties and an amount in controversy of over $75, 000. Doc 1.
Plaintiffs are, and at all time relevant were, resides of San
Juan County, in the State of New Mexico. Id. at
¶¶ 3-5. Dr. Pallister is a resident of La Plata
County, in the State of Colorado and was a member and
employed as a gynecologist at Four Corners, which has its
principal place of business in Durango, Colorado.
Id. at ¶¶ 7-9. The Complaint alleges
medical malpractice (Counts I); negligent failure to publish
safety protocols (Count II); wrongful death/loss of chance of
life (Count III); loss of consortium (Count IV); unfair trade
practices (Count V); medical negligence (Count VI); physician
battery (Count VII); negligent infliction of emotional
distress (Count VIII); negligent hiring, retention, and
training/supervision of Dr. Pallister (Count IX); and
negligent hiring, retention, and training/supervision of
Nancy Rhien (Count X). Plaintiffs seek punitive damages
(Count XI). Except for Count VII directed towards Dr.
Pallister specifically, and Counts VII, IX, and X referring
only to a singular defendant, each count appears to be
alleged against both Dr. Pallister and Four Corners.
March 17, 2017, Dr. Pallister filed the instant motion to
dismiss, under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, for lack of personal jurisdiction. Doc. 20. On
June 26, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to
Dr. Pallister's motion. Doc. 71. Dr. Pallister filed a
reply on July 10, 2017. Doc. 81.
to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure test a plaintiff's theory of personal
jurisdiction as well as the facts supporting personal
jurisdiction. The Rule 12(b)(2) standard governing a motion
to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is well
established. When a defendant challenges the court's
jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating
that jurisdiction exists. See McNutt v. Gen. Motors
Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936); Wenz v.
Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995)
(citations omitted). In the preliminary stages of litigation,
this burden is “light, ” and prior to trial a
“plaintiff is only required to establish a prima facie
showing of [personal] jurisdiction. Doe v. Nat'l Med.
Serv., 974 F.2d 143, 145 (10th Cir. 1992). The plaintiff
may make the required prima facie showing by coming forward
with facts, via affidavit or written materials, that would
support jurisdiction over the defendant if true. See OMI
Holdings v. Royal Ins. Co., 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th
Cir. 1998). Only the well-pled facts of a plaintiff's
complaint, however, as opposed to mere conclusory allegations
in pleadings or other materials, must be accepted as true.
See Ten Mile Indus. Park v. W. Plains Serv. Corp.,
810 F.2d 1518, 1524 (10th Cir. 1987); Dudnikov v. Chalk
& Vermilion Fine Arts, Inc., 514 F.3d 1063, 1070
(10th Cir. 2008). Moreover, a plaintiff's jurisdictional
allegations are not automatically accepted as true when
contradicted by affidavit, although if the parties present
conflicting affidavits, all factual disputes must be resolved
in the plaintiff's favor. See Wenz, 55 F.3d at
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a
defendant from being judged by a court that does not have
jurisdiction over the defendant. Int'l Shoe Co. v.
Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 311 (1945). A judgment may
only be rendered against a defendant if the court has
personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Id. at
315. “To obtain personal jurisdiction over a
nonresident defendant in a diversity action, ” the
court must comply with the forum state's long-arm statute
and “the exercise of jurisdiction [must] not offend the
due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Far West Capital, Inc. v. Towne, 46 F.3d 1071, 1074
(10th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). New Mexico's
long-arm statute “extends the jurisdictional reach of
New Mexico courts as far as constitutionally
permissible.” Tercero v. Roman Catholic
Diocese, 48 P.3d 50, 54 (N.M. 2002). Thus, as long
as the jurisdictional reach is constitutional, New
Mexico's long-arm statute will be satisfied and the
federal court will have personal jurisdiction over the
exercise personal jurisdiction that does not violate due
process, the defendant must “have certain minimum
contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of
the suit does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair
play and substantial justice.'” Int'l Shoe
Co., 326 U.S. at 316. The Due Process clause ensures
that potential defendants have some assurance of where their
conduct will render them liable to suit. World-Wide
Volkswagen v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). The
“defendant's conduct and connection with the forum
State [must be] such that [the defendant] should reasonably
anticipate being hauled into court there.” Id.
Accordingly, a nonresident defendant is subject to New