McBride v. Houston County Health Care Authority et al

Filing 375

OPINION AND ORDER: it is ORDERED that the court still has jurisdiction over the state-law claim against defendant Dinesh Karumanchi. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 7/8/2015.(kh, )

Download PDF
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, SOUTHERN DIVISION COURTNEY McBRIDE, ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Plaintiff, v. DINESH KARUMANCHI, Defendant. CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:12cv1047-MHT (WO) OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff Courtney McBride developed a rare skin disease after receiving treatment at a county hospital followed by her subsequent discharge to a local jail. She originally following brought defendants: Authority; Paladugu; Dr. Dr. this Houston Dinesh Rita lawsuit County Karumanchi; Fairclough; against the Health Dr. City the Care Rajendra of Dothan; Board of Commissioners of the City of Dothan; Mamie McCory; Stephanie Johnson; Robinson; and Greg Benton. the Health Care Authority Williams Banks; Belinda She asserted claims that and the doctors committed medical malpractice in violation of Alabama law and that the City of Dothan and its correctional officers were deliberately indifferent to her medical needs in violation of the United States Constitution and were negligent in violation of Alabama law. that the court jurisdiction had (28 both U.S.C. She asserted diversity-of-citizenship § 1332) as well as federal-question (28 U.S.C. § 1331) and supplemental jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1367). After opinion, the all court issued defendants its except summary-judgment the Health Care Authority, Dr. Karumanchi, Correctional Officers McCory and Johnson, and the City of Dothan either had been dismissed favor. 2015 or had summary judgment entered in their See McBride v. Houston Cnty. Health Care Auth., WL 3892715 However, correctional dismissal. on (M.D. Ala. 2015) officers In appealed response, the the J.). grounds, qualified-immunity (Thompson, the denial court of stayed their the litigation as to those two defendants as well as to the 2 City of Dothan. The Health Care Authority has also since been dismissed. The question remains whether the court should stay this litigation as to the remaining state-law claim against Dr. Karumanchi. As part of this issue, Karumanchi raised concerns that this court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to try the court claim has “a subject-matter against him continuing separately. obligation jurisdiction and to ... Because assess may the [its] consider subject matter jurisdiction claims at any time during litigation,” Belleri v. United States, 712 F.3d 543, 547 (11th Cir. 2013), the court asked for briefing on whether it had diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 or supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 to try the remaining state-law claim. After considering the parties’ briefing, and conducting a hearing on the question of diversity jurisdiction, the court holds it has jurisdiction. 3 I. DIVERSITY-OF-CITIZENSHIP JURISDICTION A. Legal Standard “There regarding are a number of basic diversity-of-citizenship legal principles jurisdiction: that § 1332 grants federal courts jurisdiction over cases between ‘citizens of different states’; that the party seeking diversity establishing evidence; jurisdiction jurisdiction ... that by a diversity is has the burden preponderance determined of of the when the suit is instituted, not when the cause of action arose; ... that, for diversity jurisdiction to exist, there must be ‘complete diversity,’ that is, each defendant must be a citizen of a state different from that of each plaintiff,” and that “the terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘domicile’ are synonymous.” McDonald v. Equitable Life Ins. Co. of Iowa, 13 F.Supp.2d 1279, 1280 & n. 1 (M.D. Ala. 1998) (Thompson, J.) (citing Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978); Smith v. Sperling, 354 U.S. 91, 93 n.1 (1957)); Yeldell v. Tutt, 913 F.2d 533, 537 (8th Cir. 1990); Blakemore v. 4 Missouri Pac. R.R. Co., 789 F.2d 616, 618 (8th Cir. 1986)). “The law is also well-established that a person is not necessarily a citizen of, or domiciled in, the state in which she resides at any given moment. ... Instead, ‘citizenship,’ or ‘domicile,’ is determined by two elements: (1) physical presence within a State; and (2) the mental indefinitely.” intent McDonald, to 13 make a F.Supp.2d home at there 1280-1281 (citing Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, 490 U.S. at 48; Texas v. Florida, 306 U.S. 398, 424 (1939); Scoggins v. Pollock, 727 F.2d 1025, 1026 (11th Cir. 1984); Jagiella v. Jagiella, 647 F.2d 561, 563 (5th Cir. June 1981)).1 “Intention permanently is not necessary. ... to remain there It is enough to have a ‘floating intention’ to stay indefinitely and 1. In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals adopted as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. 5 also have the general desire to return to one’s former domicile at some undetermined point of time.” McDonald, 13 F.Supp.2d at 1280 (citing Yeldell, 913 F.2d at 537 (8th Cir. 1990); Crowley v. Glaze, 710 F.2d 676, 678 (10th Cir. 1983)). In determining domicile, a court should consider both positive evidence and presumptions. Mitchell v. United States, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 350, 352 (1874). One such presumption is that the State in which a person resides at any domicile. given time is also that person’s District of Columbia v. Murphy, 314 U.S. 441, 455 (1941); Stine v. Moore, 213 F.2d 446, 448 (5th Cir. 1954); see generally 13B Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3612. But because changes in residence are so common in this country, courts also refer to another presumption: once an individual has established a domicile, satisfies she the remains mental a and citizen physical domicile in a new State. there until requirements she of Yeldell, 913 F.2d at 537; 6 McDougald v. Jenson, 786 F.2d 1465, 1483 (11th Cir. 1986). “However, these presumptions are merely aids for the court; they cannot override the actual facts of the case. entire The objective facts bearing on an individual’s course of conduct’ diversity-jurisdiction determine domicile McDonald, purposes.” for 13 F.Supp.2d at 1281 (citing Wasson v. Northrup Worldwide Aircraft Services, Inc., 443 F. Supp. 400, 404 (W.D. Tex. 1978) (Suttle, J.)). account include but “Facts frequently taken into are not limited to: current residence; residence of family and dependents; place of employment and name of business; voting registration and voting practices; property; location membership in organizations; registration; of location brokerage church, personal and clubs, driver’s and of license payment of taxes.” and real bank accounts; and business and automobile McDonald, 13 F.Supp.2d at 1281 (citing Garcia v. American Heritage Life Ins. Co., 773 F. Supp. 516, 520 (D.P.R. 1991) 7 (Pieras, J.); 13B Miller, Edward Charles H. Procedure § 3612.) instead, a Cooper, Wright, Federal Arthur Practice R. and “No single factor is conclusive; ‘totality necessary.” Alan McDonald, of 13 evidence’ approach F.Supp.2d at is 1280-1281 (citing National Artists Management Co. v. Weaving, 769 F. Supp. 1224, 1228 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) (Conboy, J.)). An individual’s considered subjective in statements determining expressions of of intent domicile. intent also However, conflict established facts, courts accord them less weight. are when with Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1986); Hendry v. Masonite Corp., 455 F.2d 955, 956 (5th Cir. 1972). “But when subjective expressions of intent accord with objective facts, the subjective testimony bolsters the objective evidence.” McDonald, 13 F.Supp.2d at 1281. B. Relevant Facts All parties agree that defendants were citizens of Alabama when this case was filed. The 8 all the issue is whether McBride was a citizen of Florida, in which case the court has diversity jurisdiction, or, of Alabama, in which case the court does not. The relevant timeline is as follows:  2001: McBride graduated from high school in Dothan, Alabama.  2001-2004: McBride served in the military in Florida. While there, she opened several bank accounts and obtained a credit card in Florida.  2004-2007: McBride attended and graduated from Florida A&M University. She paid in-state tuition.  2007: At some point in 2007, she renewed her Alabama license.  2007-2010: McBride appeared to have lived in Florida in a series of apartments, but there is also evidence she traveled back to Alabama frequently. She went to the doctor in Alabama in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The doctor’s office also always listed her Alabama number, although she said that the doctor relied on her driver’s license, which had her mother’s address.  Summer of 2010 or 2011 (right before her law school): McBride spent a summer at Troy State in Dothan taking classes. She was charged in-state tuition, but all she remembered is not having to pay any tuition.  2011: Although not entirely clear from testimony, McBride appeared to spend either a year or, at least, a semester at law school in Florida. 9  December 2011: McBride left law school and ended her lease at her Florida apartment.  December 2011-June 2011: McBride went back and forth between Florida, where she stayed with friends, and Dothan, Alabama.  Late June 2012 - Late July 2012: The incidents at issue in this lawsuit took place. McBride was jailed and hospitalized.  August 2012 - around September 2012: McBride was taken care of by her mother for some time after being released from the hospital. It is unclear how long.  Around September 2012 - November 2012: McBride visited from friends in Florida after recovering but returned to Dothan, Alabama.  November 29, 2012: This lawsuit was filed. In addition to these events, McBride also appears to have registered to vote in Alabama although it is unclear when. The court, though, credits her testimony that she has never voted. Finally, McBride repeatedly stated that she was a citizen of Florida and that it was her intent to return there. 10 C. Analysis Considering jurisdiction because McBride was a citizen McBride’s entire course of conduct, the court finds it has diversity of Florida when the case was filed. First, after examining the totality of the evidence, the court finds that McBride established her domicile in Florida by December 2011. Except for a brief summer in Alabama to take classes, McBride lived in Florida for graduation. a decade following her high-school She started in the Navy, where she spent three years. During that time she opened multiple bank accounts and had a credit card in Florida. Following her time in the Navy, she spent four years in college in Florida where she paid in-state tuition, after which she remained in Florida for another three years. Finally, after a summer taking classes in Alabama, she started law December period of school in 2011. These time McBride Florida before leaving factors--especially spent 11 in Florida the in long outside of school--reflect that she established domicile there. Put differently, McBride left Alabama after high school and spent ten years in another State, where she worked, went to school, and made a life. Admittedly, there are several factors that cut against McBride’s domicile in Florida by December 2011. First, McBride originally went to Florida as a student, and residing in a State merely as a university student raises legitimate questions about a person’s intent to remain in the State. Mitchell v. Mackey, 915 F. Supp. 388, 391 (M.D. Ga. 1996) (Owens, J.). However, that concern is not controlling in this case. As noted above, McBride worked in the Navy in Florida before attending school there undergraduate studies. who merely go to a and did not leave after her Unlike other college students State to attend school, she demonstrated an intent to remain there. Second, McBride received Alabama as well as Florida. in-state tuition in Neither side presented evidence on how a student can pay in-state tuition in 12 either State, but it appears that for a student to pay in-state intent tuition to each remain. State See generally Fla. Stat. requires Ann. an § 1009.21 (referencing Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.17, which includes an intent to remain requirement, in order to establish residency for § 16-64-3 (noting in-state in-state tuition tuition); residency that require 1975 requirements an address in Ala. Code for Alabama, an intent to remain, and possession of more substantial contacts to Alabama than other States); but see 1975 Ala. Code § 16-64-2(1)d have discretion also to retired or active duty within 90 miles of § 1009.21(10)(b) exception). Of (establishing allow in-state military course, Fla. establishing a school’s colleges tuition personnel campus); (also that who Stat. a for live Ann. military determination of domicile for tuition purposes, while relevant, does not bind a court’s jurisdiction, domicile determination because could the differ factors and 13 of used because domicile for to determine the school’s investigation may not be as thorough as a court’s. Cf. Alicea-Rivera v. SIMED, 12 F. Supp. 2d 243, 246 (D.P.R. 1998) (Fuste, J.) (noting that, although plaintiff qualified to pay in-state tuition in Ohio and could vote there, this was not determinative of domicile because he did not rent property there, pay utilities bills there, or abrogated on Santaella, 364 (stating have other that F.3d the post-graduate grounds 348, by 352 n.2 Alicea-Rivera plans Garcia (1st there), Perez Cir. court v. 2004) incorrectly required the plaintiff to prove jurisdiction by clear and convincing evidence rather than by a preponderance of the evidence). Indeed, the court is not convinced that McBride had domicile in Alabama when she likely certified as such when taking assuming summer McBride classes claimed there. domicile At in the least, Alabama for tuition purposes (and did not fall under a military exception), that one--undermines claim--whether her argument 14 or that not a paying legitimate in-state tuition in Florida established her domicile there and weighs against her general claim that she was a citizen of Florida as of December 2011. Nevertheless, considering that the summer classes in Alabama occurred after around a decade in Florida, and that McBride returned to Florida after this summer, her one summer of paying in-state tuition in Alabama during a ten-year period does not indicate she was an Alabama rather than a Florida citizen. Last, McBride renewed her Alabama license, went to the doctor Alabama. in Alabama, and visited her mother in These factors weigh against McBride’s claim of Florida domicile. However, despite McBride’s Florida totality of the the above citizenship evidence in shows weighing December the against 2011, McBride the was domiciled in Florida by December 2011, mainly because of her long residency in Florida over nearly ten years, including time in the Navy, renting several apartments, and attending two schools. 15 This established domicile gives McBride the presumption that Florida remained her domicile: “[O]nce an individual has established a domicile, he remains a citizen there until he satisfies the mental and physical requirements of domicile in a new state.” McDonald, 13 F. Supp. 2d at 1280-81. The more difficult question is whether McBride’s activity between December 2011 and November changed her citizenship from Florida to Alabama. are conflicting signals. Between December 2012 There 2011 and June 2011, McBride went back and forth between Florida, where she stayed with friends, and Alabama, where she stayed with her mother. Nothing in that time, however, indicates that she changed her intent to wanting to live in Alabama. intended to return Indeed, McBride testified that she to Florida, and, given that she spent the vast majority of her adult life in Florida, the court McBride’s has time no reason spent to in doubt that Alabama testimony. during her hospitalization and the several months afterward also do not change the presumption. 16 Of course, when McBride was hospitalized and recovering during the summer of 2012, she had no choice on where to live. In the fall of 2012, the few months following her hospitalization, she spent time in both Florida and Alabama. In sum, on November 29, 2012, when this case was filed, McBride continued to be a citizen of Florida.2 The court therefore has diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction.3 II. SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION Even if jurisdiction the in court this did case, not it have still diversity would have supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claim. 2. Karumanchi presents a number of additional facts from 2014 indicating McBride’s citizenship in Alabama, including her application for housing, doctor appointments, and car registration in Alabama from that time. These facts from 2014, over a year after the case was filed, does not convince the court that McBride was a citizen of Alabama when the case was filed in 2012. 3. Karumanchi does not contest that this case also meets the $ 75,000 threshold. 17 “Section 1367(a)[, jurisdiction,] gives which federal governs courts supplemental the power to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over all claims that arise out of a common nucleus of operative fact with a substantial federal claim.” Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund, Inc. v. City of Atlanta, 701 F.3d 669, 678 (11th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). All parties agree that these two requirements are met. First, the court has jurisdiction over the federal § 1983 claim against the correctional officers, and, second, the injuries alleged in the federal- and state-law diagnosis claims of all derive Stevens-Johnson Epidermal Necrolysis. from McBride’s Syndrome alleged and Toxic Moreover, as all parties agree, an appeal of the denial of qualified immunity does not divest claim, the court because of the jurisdiction federal dismissed. 18 over claim the has state-law not been Therefore, even if the court did not have diversity jurisdiction, it would have supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claim against Karumanchi. *** Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the court still has jurisdiction over the state-law claim against defendant Dinesh Karumanchi. DONE, this the 8th day of July, 2015. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?