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Gray v. Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

October 1, 2019

DEBORAH GRAY, as Guardian ad litem of R.B., a minor child, Plaintiff,
v.
ACADIA HEALTHCARE COMPANY, INC. and ROLLING HILLS HOSPITAL, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT ROLLING HILLS'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE

          WILLIAM P. JOHNSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Rolling Hills's Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, Motion to Transfer Venue [Doc. 8], filed May 9, 2019. Defendant Rolling Hills is an Oklahoma entity facing a lawsuit in New Mexico for an alleged rape at its Oklahoma hospital. Defendant's motion raises the threshold question of whether New Mexico is the proper venue.

         On March 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants in the First Judicial District Court of Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. Doc. 1 at 6-66. Plaintiff alleged that a Rolling Hills Hospital staff member raped R.B. while she was a resident at the hospital. Id. at 15. On May 2, 2019, Defendants removed the case on diversity grounds to this Court. Id. at 1-5. A week later, Defendant Rolling Hills filed the subject motion requesting the Court dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and venue or, in the alternative, transfer the case to the Eastern District of Oklahoma. Doc. 8. Defendant Acadia Healthcare has a registered agent in New Mexico and, therefore, did not join the motion contesting personal jurisdiction or venue. Doc. 1 at 6.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Personal Jurisdiction

         The plaintiff has the burden of making a prima facie showing that “jurisdiction is legitimate under the laws of the forum state and that the exercise of jurisdiction does not offend the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” C5 Med. Werks, LLC v. CeramTec GMBH, No. 17-1173, 2019 WL 4282099, at *2 (10th Cir. Sept. 11, 2019) (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 of Norwich, Connecticut, 132 N.M. 312, 316 (2002); Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Thyssen Min. Const. of Canada, Ltd., 703 F.3d 488, 492-93 (10th Cir. 2012). The personal jurisdiction analysis, therefore, concerns only whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction offends due process.

         Due process requires that the defendant “purposefully established minimum contacts within the forum State” and that the “assertion of personal jurisdiction would comport with ‘fair play and substantial justice.'” Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Cont'l Motors, Inc., 877 F.3d 895, 903 (10th Cir. 2017) (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 476 (1985)). The defendant's contacts with the forum state can result in either general or specific jurisdiction.

         A. General Jurisdiction

         General jurisdiction exists when the defendant's contacts with the forum state “are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Id. at 904 (quoting Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 919 (2011)).

         Plaintiff argues general jurisdiction exists because Defendant Rolling Hills targets New Mexico adolescents and maintains a website New Mexico residents can use to contact and place New Mexico adolescents at Rolling Hills Hospital. Doc. 17 at 7. Plaintiff's arguments, however, do not withstand scrutiny when considering Defendant Rolling Hills's Chief Executive Officer's affidavit [Doc. 8-1], which Plaintiff does not refute:

Rolling Hills Hospital, LLC, (RHH) [is] an Oklahoma limited liability company, with its principle place of business in Ada, Oklahoma. . . . RHH does not have an office nor any physical presence in New Mexico, nor does RHH own property in New Mexico. RHH does not conduct any business activities in New Mexico. RHH is not registered to do business in New Mexico. . . . RHH does not have any officer or director in New Mexico. RHH does not employ anyone in New Mexico. RHH does not hold any bank account in New Mexico. RHH does not file tax returns in New Mexico. RHH does not use any website, advertising or telephone listing in New Mexico to directly target citizens of New Mexico.

See Wenz v. Memery Crystal, 55 F.3d 1503, 1505 (10th Cir. 1995) (“The allegations in the complaint must be taken as true to the extent they are uncontroverted by the defendant's affidavits.”). Also, “maintenance of a web site does not in and of itself subject the owner or operator to personal jurisdiction . . . simply because it can be accessed by residents of the forum state.” Shrader v. Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235, 1241 (10th Cir. 2011).

         The Court finds that Plaintiff has not met her burden to show that Defendant Rolling Hills is subject to general jurisdiction in New Mexico.

         B. ...


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