United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAMES W. SHAUGHNESSY, Plaintiff,
EDWARD SOUTHERN, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
James W. Shaughnessy brings this suit against Defendants
Edward Southern, MD, Parkway Health, the Institute for
Western Surgery, and the Central Hospital of Foshan in
connection with Dr. Southern's alleged medical
malpractice in performing a March 2016 back surgery on
Shaughnessy in China. Shaughnessy brings claims against Southern
for lack of informed consent and medical malpractice arising
from the surgery and post-operative treatment. (ECF No. 1
(hereinafter “Compl.”).) Southern now moves to
dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction,
expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, and
operation of the prior pending action doctrine due to a
similar action in China. (ECF No. 12.) For the following
reasons, Southern's motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction is GRANTED.
facts below are drawn from the complaint and, where relevant,
documents incorporated therein or of which the Court may take
is a citizen of Connecticut with a residential address in
Sherman, Connecticut. (Compl. at 1, 3.) Southern is a citizen
of Minnesota. (Id. at 3.) Parkway Health is a
Chinese corporation with its principal place of business in
Shanghai, China. (Id.) The complaint does not allege
the citizenship of the other defendants, though it lists a
business address for The Institute for Western Surgery in
Shanghai, China and for the Central Hospital of Foshan in
Foshan City, China. (Id. at 2.)
works for Praxair, Inc., a company headquartered in
Connecticut. (Compl. at 4.) In April 2014, Praxair
transferred Shaughnessy to its Shanghai office.
(Id.) Shaughnessy began feeling pain in his back in
the winter of 2015, and so went to see Southern.
(Id.) Southern at the time worked for Parkway
Health, a medical care facility in Shanghai that advertises
itself as a Western-style medical facility, charges U.S.
prices, accepts U.S. insurance (including insurance from
Aetna, which the complaint asserts is a company based in
Hartford, Connecticut), and actively markets its services to
U.S. expatriates. (Id.)
ordered an MRI, which showed a herniation at ¶ 4 and L5
as well as severe spinal stenosis. (Id.) Southern
told Shaughnessy that the remedial laminotomy surgery was
simple and had a 1% complication rate, meaning that in only
one percent of cases would a dural tear occur, and that such
a tear could easily be repaired during surgery.
(Id.) Southern stated that he could tell from the
MRI that Shaughnessy's surgery would be a success.
(Id.) At no point did Southern mention that the
complications of the surgery included numbness, lack of
bowel, urinary or sexual function, or difficulty walking.
performed the laminotomy on Shaughnessy at the Central
Hospital of Foshan on March 17, 2016. (Id.) The
surgery resulted in what Southern described as a
one-centimeter dural tear, which was repaired with a porcine
patch. (Id.) About 12 hours after the surgery,
Shaughnessy began to experience numbness on his right side.
(Id.) Although Southern was puzzled, he declined to
order an MRI and told Shaughnessy that the only thing to
worry about was developing a headache. (Id.)
progressed, Shaughnessy's symptoms became worse.
(Id.) In the months after the surgery, Shaughnessy
experienced difficulty walking, urinating, and with bowel
movements, developed a limp, and could not feel anything on
the right side of his body. (Id.) During this time,
Southern repeatedly declined to order an MRI, saying that
Shaughnessy's symptoms were the result of the dural tear.
(Id.) Two months after the surgery, however,
Southern ordered an MRI and diagnosed Shaughnessy with
arachnoiditis. (Id.) Southern told Shaughnessy that
he would never recover fully and recommended that Shaughnessy
see Dr. Annand at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California.
traveled to Los Angeles and saw Dr. Annand. (Id.)
Annand disagreed with Southern's reading of the MRI and
believed that Shaughnessy should have been given an MRI
immediately upon feeling numbness and a revision surgery
within the first couple of weeks. (Id.) Annand and
another surgeon performed a revision surgery on Shaughnessy.
(Id.) They reported that the injury to
Shaughnessy's L4, L5, and sacral area was inconsistent
with Southern's report of a simple dural tear, and that
any tear had to be larger than one centimeter. (Id.)
Although the revision helped with Shaughnessy's walking,
he continues to have loss of bowel function, urination with
the assistance of a catheter, no sexual function, and no
feeling in the right half of his body from his waist to his
asserts two claims against Southern: one claim for lack of
informed consent for failing to tell him that the surgery
could result in difficulty walking, loss of bowel, bladder,
and sexual function, and numbness; and another claim of
malpractice for the “botched surgery, the reckless
failure to investigate Mr. Shaughnessy's post-operative
recovery symptoms[, ] which were inconsistent with a mere
dural tear[, ] and his failure to order an MRI in a timely
manner[, ] which would have allowed Mr. Shaughnessy to travel
to Cedar-Sinai immediately for a revision.”
(Id. at 5.) He seeks $1, 500, 000 for out-of-pocket
medical and travel expenses, $10, 000, 000 in damages for
pain and suffering, and $20, 000, 000 in punitive damages.
also asserts claims against the corporate defendants.
(Id.) In particular, he alleges that Parkway Health
employed Southern, and that all pre- operative,
post-operative, and diagnostic procedures took place in its
Shanghai office. (Id.) In addition, the complaint
alleges that Aetna paid Southern and Parkway Health, which in
turn actively markets its services to U.S. citizens covered
by health insurance provided by U.S. corporations.
(Id.) He also alleges that the Institute for Western
Surgery “actively facilitates and enables physicians
with U.S. licenses . . . to acquire practicing privileges in
China, ” and that it promoted Southern in its
advertising. (Id.) Lastly, he alleges that Southern
performed the March 17, 2016 surgery at the Central Hospital
of Foshan, which “ha[s] responsibility for damages that
result from surgeries that took place at their
institution.” (Id.) Shaughnessy asserts claims
against these three corporate defendants for lack of informed
consent, negligence during the March 17, 2016 operation and
during pre- and ...