Bennett et al v. Pratt Regional Medical Center Corporation et al

Filing 102

ORDER that the 65 Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Pratt Regional Medical Center Corporation, Pratt Internal Medicine Group, P.A., United Radiology Group, Chartered, Daniel J. Suiter, M.D., and William R. Allen, Jr., M.D., is GRANTED, and those parties are dismissed. Signed by Judge G Murray Snow on 11/15/2013. (LFIG)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 10 Bradley W. Bennett, individually and as husband; Donna Bennett, individually and as wife, No. CV-13-00380-PHX-GMS ORDER Plaintiffs, 11 12 v. 13 Pratt Regional Medical Center Corporation, a Kansas corporation; Banner Health, an Arizona corporation; et al., 14 Defendants. 15 16 17 Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Pratt Regional 18 Medical Center Corporation, Pratt Internal Medicine Group, P.A., United Radiology 19 Group, Chartered, Daniel J. Suiter, M.D., and William R. Allen, Jr., M.D., collectively 20 the “Kansas Defendants.” (Doc. 65.) For the following reasons, the Court grants the 21 motion. 22 BACKGROUND 23 Bradley W. Bennett and his wife Donna, collectively “Plaintiffs,” who are 24 residents of Minnesota, bring this medical malpractice claim against health care providers 25 from both Arizona and Kansas. (Doc. 11 (Am.Compl.) ¶ 3.) 26 “presented to the emergency department at Defendant Pratt Regional Medical Center, [in 27 Pratt, Kansas] following an automobile collision.” (Doc. 11 ¶ 80(A).) 28 treated by Defendant Randy J. Suiter, M.D. (Doc. 11 ¶ 80(A)), while William R. Allen, Mr. Bennett was Mr. Bennett was 1 M.D. read radiology reports regarding his case (Doc. 11 ¶ 80(B)). Mr. Bennett later 2 sought and was given treatment in Arizona. (Doc. 11 ¶ 80(C).) Plaintiffs allege that as a 3 result of the negligence of Defendants that “Plaintiff Bradley W. Bennett sustained 4 permanent injuries, which resulted in permanent paralysis.” (Id. at ¶ 82.) Plaintiffs filed 5 suit in Arizona against his health care providers from both Kansas and Arizona seeking 6 damages relating to the alleged negligent medical treatment and subsequent injuries. 7 (Doc. 11.) The Kansas Defendants move to be dismissed from the case for lack of 8 personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 65.) DISCUSSION 9 10 I. Legal Standard 11 “The party seeking to invoke the court's jurisdiction bears the burden of 12 establishing that jurisdiction exists.” Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 13 1986) (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Systems Tech. Assocs., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 14 1977)); Cubbage v. Merchent, 744 F.2d 665, 667 (9th Cir.1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 15 1005 (1985). “When a defendant moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the 16 plaintiff is ‘obligated to come forward with facts, by affidavit or otherwise, 17 supporting personal jurisdiction.’” Id. (quoting Amba Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Jobar Int'l, 18 Inc., 551 F.2d 784, 787 (9th Cir. 1977)). “The mere allegations of a complaint, when 19 contradicted by affidavits, are not enough to confer personal jurisdiction over a 20 nonresident defendant.” Chem Lab Products, Inc. v. Stepanek, 554 F.2d 371, 372 (9th 21 Cir. 1977) (citing Taylor v. Portland Paramount Corp., 383 F.2d 634, 639 (9th Cir. 22 1967)); Data Disc, 557 F.2d at 1284 (citing Taylor, 383 F.2d at 639). 23 To establish a prima facie case for personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff has the 24 burden of showing that: (1) the forum state's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction over 25 the nonresident defendant; and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with principles of 26 due process. Omeluk v. Langsten Slip & Batbyggeri A/S, 52 F.3d 267, 269 (9th 27 Cir.1995). 28 allowed by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Ariz. R. Civ. P. Arizona's long-arm statute confers jurisdiction to the maximum extent -2- 1 4.2(a); Doe v. American Nat'l Red Cross, 112 F.3d 1048, 1050 (9th Cir.1997). Due 2 process requires a nonresident defendant to have “certain minimum contacts with [the 3 forum] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair 4 play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 5 (1945) (internal citation omitted). There are two types of personal jurisdiction, general 6 and specific. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 473 n. 5, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 7 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). Plaintiffs only argue that this Court has specific jurisdiction over 8 the Kansas Defendants. (Doc. 74 at 2.) 9 Specific jurisdiction is analyzed under a three-pronged test: “(1) [t]he non-resident 10 defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with 11 the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails 12 himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the 13 benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or 14 relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must 15 comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.” Mavrix Photo, 16 Inc. v. Brand Tech., Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1227–28 (9th Cir. 2011) cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 17 1101 (2012)(emphasis in original). 18 II. Analysis 19 The Kansas Defendants have produced affidavits attesting to their complete lack 20 of contacts, general or specific, with Arizona. According to its affidavit, Pratt Regional 21 Medical Center (“PRMC”) is a not-for-profit facility owned by the citizens of Pratt 22 County, Kansas. 23 exclusively in the State of Kansas. (Id.) PRMC avows that it has never engaged in direct 24 advertising or marketing in Arizona, had any employees or agents in Arizona, or 25 maintained any office, branch, facility, or clinic in Arizona. (Doc. 65-1 at 1-2.) Prior to 26 this suit, PRMC claims that it has never been sued in or sued in Arizona. (Doc. 65-1 at 2.) 27 Similarly, Pratt Internal Medicine Group, P.A. is a Kansas Professional Association that, 28 according to its own affidavit, has the same complete lack of connection to Arizona. (Doc. 65-1 at 1.) It treats its patients and performs its business -3- 1 (Doc. 65-2.) United Radiology Group, Chartered is a Kansas Professional Association 2 that also claims the same lack of connection to Arizona. (Doc. 75-1.) 3 Likewise, the individual Kansas Defendants, Daniel J. Suiter, M.D. and William 4 R. Allen, Jr., M.D., attest that they are both medical doctors and licensed physicians, but 5 have no meaningful connection to Arizona. (Doc 65-3; Doc. 75-2.) Both submitted 6 affidavits that they have never resided in Arizona, leased or owned property there, owned 7 any interest in an Arizona business or enterprise, contracted with an Arizona enterprise, 8 advertised in Arizona, or sued or been sued in Arizona. (Doc 65-3; Doc. 75-2.) They 9 both attest that to their knowledge they have “no contacts or ties to Arizona whatsoever.” 10 (Doc 65-3 ¶ 16; Doc. 75-2 ¶ 15.) 11 Plaintiffs have not challenged these facts. Instead Plaintiffs have put forth a 12 theory that the Kansas Defendants’ negligent treatment of Mr. Bennett in Kansas “caused 13 Bradley Bennett to suffer medical malpractice, not just damages, in Arizona as well as 14 Kansas.” (Doc. 74, at 4.) Plaintiffs fail to explain how Defendants would have been 15 aware of any connection between Mr. Bennett and Arizona, especially when Mr. Bennett 16 is a citizen of Minnesota. But, even accepting the complaint’s allegation as true, which 17 in the presence of controverting affidavits the Court cannot, it does not follow that the 18 Kansas Defendants’ actions in treating Mr. Bennett in Kansas were in any way 19 “purposefully directed” at Arizona. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Tech., Inc., 647 F.3d 20 1218. 21 Several Ninth Circuit cases have affirmed dismissals for lack of personal 22 jurisdiction over a treating physician in a forum to which the physician’s only substantial 23 connection was the occurrence of some or all of the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, in 24 Wright v. Yackley 459 F.2d 287 (9th Cir. 1972) the Ninth Circuit upheld a finding of no 25 personal jurisdiction when a treating physician’s only contact with the forum state was a 26 phone call follow-up on services rendered in the physician’s own state. The court 27 reasoned that “[m]edical services in particular should not be proscribed by the doctor's 28 concerns as to where the patient may carry the consequences of his treatment and in what -4- 1 distant lands he may be called upon to defend it.” (Id. at 290.) See also, Harrison v. 2 Butler, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 33662 (9th Cir. Ariz. Nov. 24, 1997) (finding insufficient 3 contacts between the treating physician and the forum state to create specific personal 4 jurisdiction when only contact with state was a phone call to arrange an appointment). 5 That Plaintiffs later suffered injury in Arizona as result of the negligent treatment in 6 Kansas is legally insufficient to allow Plaintiffs to make the Kansas Defendants defend 7 themselves in Arizona. The fact that later injury occurred in Arizona is precisely the type 8 of “random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts” with Arizona that cannot provide the basis 9 for personal jurisdiction. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475 (1985). 10 Plaintiffs have not presented any cases that have interpreted specific personal 11 jurisdiction as broadly as they would like this court to, and instead have only pointed out 12 differences between the cases striking down personal jurisdiction and the present case. 13 (Doc. 74 at 4-5.) However, none of those differences point to any substantial contacts in 14 the present case between the Kansas Defendants and the forum state of Arizona. 15 Plaintiffs do not cite persuasively to any case that suggests that personal jurisdiction over 16 a health care defendant extends as broadly as they suggest. 17 CONCLUSION 18 Personal jurisdiction must have some outward limits in order to “allow[] potential 19 defendants to structure their primary conduct with some minimum assurance as to where 20 that conduct will and will not render them liable to suit.” Burger King Corp. v. 21 Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985). The baseline limit for personal jurisdiction is 22 meaningful “contacts, ties or relations” between the forum state and the defendants. Int’l 23 Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319 (1945). There are no meaningful contacts in 24 this case between the forum state, Arizona, and the Kansas Defendants sufficient to 25 confer personal jurisdiction over the Kansas Defendants. 26 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss of Defendants Pratt 27 Regional Medical Center Corporation (“PRMC”), Pratt Internal Medicine Group, P.A. 28 -5- 1 (“PIMG”), United Radiology Group, Chartered (“URG”), Daniel J. Suiter, M.D., and 2 William R. Allen, Jr., M.D., (Doc. 65) is GRANTED, and those parties are dismissed. 3 Dated this 15th day of November, 2013. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -6-

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