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Miller v. Christus St. Michael Health Systems

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

May 23, 2017

RONITA MILLER, next friend of Rashaad Miller, a minor, PLAINTIFF
v.
CHRISTUS ST. MICHAEL HEALTH SYSTEMS [1] and SMITHS MEDICAL, a subsidiary of Smiths Medical ASD, Inc., DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Defendant CHRISTUS St. Michael Health Systems' (“CHRISTUS”) Motion to Dismiss Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Improper Venue, or to Transfer Venue. (ECF No. 14). Plaintiff Ronita Miller has not responded to the motion, and the time to do so has passed.[2] The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 8, 2013, Plaintiff took her son, Rashad Miller, from their home in Texarkana, Arkansas, to CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, Texas. Rashad Miller suffered from bronchial-related issues, which required the insertion of an intravenous (“IV”) catheter into his arm. Plaintiff alleges that when a CHRISTUS employee subsequently attempted to remove the IV from Rashad Miller's arm, the catheter tip separated, leaving a portion of the IV in his arm. Plaintiff alleges that, after a delay, Rashad Miller underwent an x-ray to determine that the catheter tip had moved through the bloodstream toward his heart.

         Rashad Miller was airlifted by helicopter to Arkansas Children's Hospital (“ACH”) in Little Rock, Arkansas. After several rounds of testing, ACH determined that the catheter tip traveled through Rashad Miller's heart and ultimately became imbedded in his lower right lung, where it remained at the time this case was filed.

         On June 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the circuit court of Miller County, Arkansas. In her complaint, Plaintiff set out a negligence claim against CHRISTUS, asserting that it breached its duty to provide medical treatment by failing to provide appropriate nursing care and by failing to take necessary steps to prevent the catheter tip from traveling through Rashad Miller's bloodstream. Plaintiff also set out a products-liability claim against Smiths, the manufacturer of the IV used by CHRISTUS on Rashad Miller, asserting that, either in its manufacture or design, the IV catheter did not meet the standards required of specialty hospital treatment devices.

         On August 5, 2016, Smiths removed the case to this Court. On October 10, 2016, CHRISTUS filed the instant motion, arguing that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction or improper venue, or in the alternative, that the Court should transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

         II. DISCUSSION

         CHRISTUS seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over CHRISTUS. CHRISTUS also argues that the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) because venue is improper in this district. CHRISTUS argues in the alternative that the Court should transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The Court will take up CHRISTUS's arguments in reverse order, and will first examine CHRISTUS's venue arguments. If necessary, the Court will then address CHRISTUS's personal jurisdiction argument.

         A. Venue

         CHRISTUS seeks dismissal of the case on the basis that venue is improper in the Western District of Arkansas, or in the alternative, that the case should be transferred to the Eastern District of Texas. CHRISTUS argues that it is a resident of the State of Texas, and that all of the facts giving rise to this lawsuit occurred in Texas, thus making venue proper in the Eastern District of Texas.

         As an initial matter, the Court must first determine whether Plaintiffs could have brought this action in the Eastern District of Texas. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Under the general venue statute, a civil action founded only on diversity of citizenship, like this case, may be brought only in: (1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events occurred, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). Under the statute, a corporation is deemed to reside in any district in which it is subject to personal jurisdiction at the time the action is commenced. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c)(2). The medical care that gave rise to this lawsuit occurred at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana, Texas, which is within the Eastern District of Texas. Moreover, CHRISTUS is headquartered in Texas and is, thus, subject to personal jurisdiction there. Accordingly, Plaintiff could have filed this case in the Eastern District of Texas.

         “For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). In analyzing a motion to transfer under section 1404(a), the Court employs a three-factor balancing test, considering “(1) the convenience of the parties, (2) the convenience of the witnesses, and (3) the interests of justice.” Terra Int'l., Inc. v. Miss. Chem. Corp., 119 F.3d 688, 691 (8th Cir. 1997). However, the Court is not limited to only these three factors in determining whether a transfer is proper; instead, the Court must “weigh in the balance a number of case-specific factors.” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 28 (1988). It must consider the convenience of the parties, the convenience of the witnesses, the interests of justice, and all other relevant factors regarding the transfer. Terra Int'l., 119 F.3d at 696. Ultimately, the Court enjoys “much discretion” when deciding whether to grant such a motion. Id. at 697.

         1. ...


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