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Gardner v. Proassurance Indemnity Co. Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

October 4, 2016

FANNORA GARDNER, PLAINTIFF
v.
PROASSURANCE INDEMNITY COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge

         Before the Court is defendant ProAssurance Indemnity Company's (“ProAssurance”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Fannora Gardner's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (Dkt. No. 3). Ms. Gardner has responded in opposition to the motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 9), and ProAssurance has replied (Dkt. No. 10). For the following reasons, the Court grants ProAssurance's motion to dismiss.

         I. Background

         Ms. Gardner brings this medical malpractice action directly against ProAssurance, the insurer of St. Bernards Hospital, d/b/a St. Bernards Medical Center (“St. Bernards”) (Dkt. No. 1). Ms. Gardner alleges that she sustained injuries during a 10-day period of admission to St. Bernards in January 2014 (Dkt. No. 1, ¶¶ 22-25). During that time, Ms. Gardner contends that the St. Bernards' nursing staff negligently failed to examine her skin, re-position her in the bed, and care for her heels despite signs of pressure ulcers (Id., ¶¶ 24, 26). Ms. Gardner states that she developed severe pressure ulcers as a result of this negligent failure to monitor properly and treat her skin (Id., ¶¶ 45-46). Ms. Gardner represents that these ulcers have caused severe physical and emotional harm (Id., ¶¶ 46-47).

         Ms. Gardner invokes this Court's diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) (Id., ¶ 6). Ms. Gardner is a citizen of Jonesboro, Arkansas; ProAssurance Indemnity Company is an Alabama corporation with its principle place of business in Alabama (Id., ¶¶ 2-3). ProAssurance is the insurer of St. Bernards, an Arkansas corporation with its principle place of business in Arkansas (Dkt. No. 3, ¶ 4). Ms. Gardner initially filed suit in this matter against St. Bernards in the Craighead County, Arkansas, Circuit Court (Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 4). In circuit court, St. Bernards moved to dismiss by asserting charitable immunity from any liability to Ms. Gardner and, on February 19, 2016, received a favorable ruling on its motion (Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 4).

         Ms. Gardner thereafter voluntarily dismissed her claim and filed the instant suit pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 23-79-210, a state statute authorizing direct actions against the insurers of entities not subject to tort liability (Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 3). ProAssurance now moves to dismiss the action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 3). ProAssurance argues that § 1332(c)(1)(A), under which a liability insurer is a citizen of every state of which its insured is a citizen, makes ProAssurance an Arkansas citizen and precludes diversity of citizenship among the parties (Dkt No. 4, at 1).

         II. Analysis

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)

         If, at any time, it appears that the federal court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction, “the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety.Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 503, 514 (2006). 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) grants the district courts original jurisdiction to hear state law claims between citizens of different states. Subsection (c)(1) of the statute addresses in pertinent part the citizenship of corporations:

For the purpose of this section and section 1441 of this title-a corporation shall be deemed a citizen of any State and foreign state by which it has been incorporated and of the state or foreign state where it has its principal place of business, except that in any direct action against the insurer of a policy or contract of liability insurance, whether incorporated or unincorporated, to which action the insured is not joined as a party-defendant, such insurer shall be deemed a citizen of-
(A) every State and foreign state of which the insured is a citizen;
(B) every State and foreign state by which the insurer has been incorporated; and
(C) the State or foreign state where the insurer has its principal place ...

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