United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Hospital (“Plaintiff”), a hospital in Middletown,
Connecticut, filed a lawsuit seeking indemnification in
Connecticut Superior Court against Gary Hinds
(“Defendant”), a registered nurse who worked at
Middlesex Hospital through a contract with On Assignment,
Inc. (“On Assignment”). Mr. Hinds removed the
case to this Court on diversity grounds. Mr. Hinds now moves
to dismiss, claiming that the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction because Middlesex Hospital did not include a
proper “similar health care provider” letter as
required under Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-190a
when it filed the Complaint.
reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss is
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Hinds, a nurse licensed to practice in Connecticut, now lives
in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5.
Middlesex Hospital, located in Middletown, Connecticut, is
licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Id. ¶ 1.
Hinds worked for On Assignment Services, Inc. (“On
Assignment”), a corporation that “provided
personnel staffing services, ” including temporary
personnel, to Middlesex Hospital. Id. Middlesex
Hospital had a contract with On Assignment to provide the
hospital with staff. Id. On August 8, 2011, On
Assignment placed Mr. Hinds at Middlesex Hospital.
Id. ¶ 6.
October 11, 2011, Mr. Hinds worked in the Emergency
Department as the primary nurse for Gloria Hall, a Middlesex
Hospital patient. Id. ¶ 8. Mr. Hinds allegedly
had “to monitor and observe” Ms. Hall, “and
to provide her with appropriate nursing care and treatment in
accordance with the applicable standard of care.”
Id. During his shift, Mr. Hinds found Ms. Hall
unresponsive as a result of death by suicide. Id.
September 17, 2013, Patricia Hall-Jemison, the Administratrix
of Ms. Hall's estate, filed a civil action for monetary
damages against Middlesex Hospital and On Assignment,
alleging that negligence by On Assignment, Middlesex
Hospital, and their agents or employees, including Mr. Hinds,
caused Ms. Hall's suicide. Id. ¶ 10. Ms.
Hall allegedly had been admitted to the hospital after
“exhibiting unusual behavior and/or having been found
to be in an intoxicated state, ” and continued to
exhibit unusual behavior while at the hospital, behavior
noted by Mr. Hinds. Id. ¶ 11-13. Mr. Hinds
allegedly discovered that Ms. Hall had hanged herself with a
bed sheet at approximately 1:29 a.m. on October 12, 2011.
Id. ¶ 14. Mr. Hinds's negligence allegedly
caused Ms. Hall's death and damages. Id. ¶
November 25, 2013, Middlesex Hospital and Ms. Hall's
estate settled that lawsuit; Middlesex Hospital agreed to pay
the estate $500, 000 for release of liability and withdrawal
of the case. Id. ¶ 16. On December 6, 2013,
Middlesex Hospital paid the estate. Id. ¶ 17.
November 21, 2016, Middlesex Hospital filed a complaint in
the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Middletown,
seeking indemnification from Mr. Hinds for the costs of the
settlement. Not. of Removal ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. Middlesex
Hospital attached an opinion letter to the complaint,
allegedly written by a registered nurse and certified
emergency nurse who had reviewed the circumstances of Ms.
Hall's death and concluded that “there is evidence
of negligence by the Middlesex Hospital nursing staff.”
Not. of Removal at 16-17 (omitting signature).
December 15, 2016, Mr. Hinds removed the case to this Court,
claiming diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Id. ¶¶ 5-7. Mr. Hinds also filed an
Answer, which asserted that because “Plaintiff [failed]
to attach an expert opinion letter authorized by a similar
healthcare provider pursuant to Sections 52-190a and 52-184c
of the Connecticut General Statutes, ” the Court lacked
personal jurisdiction over Mr. Hinds. Answer at 4, ECF No.
March 15, 2017, Mr. Hinds moved to dismiss, arguing that the
expert opinion letter failed to “provide the requisite
information to determine whether the author is a
‘similar healthcare provider, '” and that the
letter failed to identify “any negligence by Gary Hinds
and thus does not meet the detailed basis requirement”
of Section 52-190a. First Mot. Dismiss at 4.
12, 2017, Middlesex Hospital filed a motion to amend, which
the Court granted on October 5, 2017. ECF Nos. 27, 36. The
Amended Complaint claimed that Ms. Hall's “death
was caused by the failure of Defendant Hinds to exercise that
degree of care and skill ordinarily and customarily used by
registered nurses working in the emergency department under
all the facts and circumstances then and there
existing.” Am. Compl. ¶ 19. Specifically, Mr.
Hinds allegedly failed to “properly monitor, observe,
and care for Gloria Hall in light of her behavior while a
patient in the emergency department, ” perform
necessary and timely safety checks, regularly and properly
observe Ms. Hall, provide “proper and accurate
documentation regarding his observation and care of the
patient, ” and “take proper action, in accordance
with the applicable standard of care, so as to prevent Gloria
Hall from committing suicide while a patient under his
observation and care in the emergency department.”
Id. Middlesex Hospital alleged that Mr. Hinds was
“in exclusive control” of monitoring Ms. Hinds,
that Middlesex Hospital “had no reason to anticipate
such negligence, ” and that it “is entitled to
indemnification from Defendant Hinds for all costs of defense
in the Hall Litigation and the amounts it was caused to pay
in settlement of the Hall Litigation.” Id.
Amended Complaint also included a revised version of the
opinion letter attached to the original Complaint. Mot.
Dismiss at 11-12. The amended letter included the
author's name, Joyce Foresman-Capuzzi, and more details
about her experience with nursing in the Emergency
Department. Id. The Court declared moot the first
motion to dismiss, in light of the Amended Complaint. Order,
ECF No. 36.
October 27, 2017, Mr. Hinds filed a motion to dismiss. Mot.
Dismiss, ECF No. 38. Mr. Hinds argued that
“Plaintiff's filing of an Amended Complaint with a
revised expert opinion letter subsequent to the expiration of
the statute of limitations does not establish jurisdiction
under Connecticut law.” Id. at 4. Middlesex
Hospital filed an objection to the motion to dismiss, ECF No.
43, and Mr. Hinds filed a reply. ECF No. 44.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), the
“plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the court
has jurisdiction over the defendant.” In re
Magnetic Audiotape Antitrust Litig., 334 F.3d 204, 206
(2d Cir. 2003). The plaintiff therefore must make a prima
facie showing that jurisdiction exists. Licci ex
rel. Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank, SAL, 673 F.3d 50,
59 (2d Cir. 2012). “The prima facie showing must
include an averment of facts that, if credited by the
ultimate trier of fact, would suffice to establish
jurisdiction over the defendant.” Id.; see
also Glenwood Sys., LLC v. Med-Pro Ideal Sols., Inc.,
No. 3:09-cv-956 (WWE), 2010 WL 11527383, at *2 (D. Conn. May
4, 2010) (“At this stage of the proceedings, if the
court relies upon pleadings and affidavits, the plaintiff
must make out only a prima facie showing of personal
jurisdiction, and the affidavits and pleadings should be
construed most favorably to the plaintiff.”),
aff'd, 438 Fed. App'x 27 (2d Cir. 2011),
as amended (Sept. 23, 2011) (citing CutCo