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Frank v. Good Samaritan Hospital of Cincinnati

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

December 9, 2019

Jahmir Christopher Frank, Plaintiff,
v.
The Good Samaritan Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Michael R Barrett Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss, or alternatively, for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation of Cincinnati, Inc. and The Good Samaritan Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio. (Doc. 17).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's class action complaint sets forth three causes of action: medical malpractice, respondeat superior, and negligence. (See Doc. 1). Its introductory first paragraph reads as follows:

This is an action for medical malpractice. By reason of the negligence of Defendants Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, Inc., Good Samaritan Hospital, and John Doe nurses and physicians (hereinafter “The Good Samaritan Defendants”) during the delivery of Plaintiff, Jahmir C. Frank, at Good Samaritan Hospital on July 30, 1998, Mr. Frank now suffers from periventricular leukomalacia, a permanent and debilitating brain injury. The birth records of Mr. Frank were destroyed in 2010, due to the negligence of Defendants Good Samaritan Hospital (hereinafter “GSH”) and its contractor, Cintas. It was not learned until June 22, 2017, that the birth records had been destroyed despite Defendants' actual knowledge of the destruction since 2012. Mr. Frank's family requested the records in 2014. It was not until a previous lawsuit, voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on June 8, 2018, was filed in Hamilton County, Ohio that Defendants finally admitted Mr. Frank's birth records had been destroyed due to the negligence of Cintas Corporation No. 2, a third party hired by Defendants to store and, when lawful, destroy medical records.

(Id. at PageID 2 (¶ 1)). Defendants' Motion asks the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, contending that the parties are all citizens of Ohio and, therefore, not diverse. Alternatively, Defendants urge the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's third cause of action-negligence-because the statute of limitations has expired and because a cause of action for negligent destruction of medical records does not exist in Ohio. Additionally, Defendants maintain that all claims against Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation should be dismissed, again asserting a statute of limitations defense.

         Defendants filed their Motion on October 3, 2018. Since then, Plaintiff produced a Florida driver's license and voter registration card, prompting Defendants to concede their challenge to subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 37 at PageID 717). Accordingly, on May 10, 2019, the Court denied Defendants' Motion to this extent and reserved ruling on the alternative grounds. (Doc. 40). Plaintiff's submission of “the required affidavit of merit” was to prompt the undersigned to consider the balance of Defendants' arguments. Then, on November 7, 2019, the Sixth Circuit ruled that Ohio Civ. R. 10(D)(2)-which requires that an affidavit of merit accompany a complaint for medical malpractice-does not apply to such claims filed in federal court. Gallivan v. United States, No. 18-3874, 2019 WL 5793013, -- F.3d -- (6th Cir. Nov. 7, 2019). With that trigger removed, the Court then set a status conference to discuss steps forward. During said conference, Plaintiff's counsel advised that this case will proceed only against the Hospital, and not against the Hospital Foundation. (See Minute Entry dated 11/14/2019). Thus, the single issue left for decision with respect to the pending Motion concerns Plaintiff's third cause of action for negligence against the only remaining named Defendant, The Good Samaritan Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio.[1] To this end, the Court will consider, in addition to the original memorandum in support, Plaintiff's memorandum in opposition (Doc. 28), Defendants' reply (Doc. 29), and Defendants' supplemental reply (Doc. 37).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Before proceeding, the Court must decide the appropriate legal standard by which to evaluate the balance of the Hospital's Motion. Reference is made to both Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding Plaintiff's negligence cause of action. The caption of the Motion is styled in the alternative (“Motion to Dismiss or, alternatively, for Partial Summary Judgment”), and the phrases “failure to state a claim, ” “dismiss with prejudice, ” and “partial summary judgment” are used interchangeably throughout the briefing.[2] Upon review, the Court concludes that a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis is the correct measure.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To withstand a dismissal motion, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions [or] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Courts do not require “heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570 (emphasis added). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A district court examining the sufficiency of a complaint must accept the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true. Id.; DiGeronimo Aggregates, LLC v. Zemla, 763 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2014).

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court “may consider exhibits attached [to the complaint], public records, items appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to defendant's motion to dismiss so long as they are referred to in the complaint and are central to the claims contained therein, without converting the motion to one for summary judgment.” Rondigo, L.L.C. v. Twp. of Richmond, 641 F.3d 673, 681 (6th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation and citation omitted). The ability of the court to consider supplementary documentation has limits, however, in that it must be “clear that there exist no material disputed issues of fact concerning the relevance of the document.” Mediacom Se. LLC v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., 672 F.3d 396, 400 (6th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation and citation omitted).

         As earlier recited, Plaintiff's class action complaint refers to “a previous lawsuit, voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on June 8, 2018, [ ] filed in Hamilton County, Ohio” in which the Hospital “finally admitted Mr. Frank's birth records had been destroyed due to the negligence of Cintas Corporation No. 2, a third party hired by Defendants to store and, when lawful, destroy medical records.” (See Doc. 1 at PageID 2 (¶1)). The filings in the state court lawsuit certainly qualify as public records and they are plainly “central” to the questions presented here. Thus, the undersigned may consider them in the Rule 12(b)(6) context.

         III. ANALYSIS

         For purposes of deciding the outstanding issue before the Court, the ...


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