United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Daniel D. Sheets, Plaintiff
Doe, M.D., et al., Defendants
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
JEFFREY J. HELMICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se Plaintiff Daniel Sheets has filed this civil action
against John Doe, M.D., the director or chief executive of
St. Luke's Hospital (St. Luke's) in Maumee, Ohio;
Jane or John Doe, M.D., a surgeon at St. Luke's; and John
Doe, the manufacturer or distributor of the pacemaker at
issue in this suit. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that
the physician Defendant committed medical malpractice in the
treatment of his mother for heart disease, including the
implantation of a defective pacemaker, which he claims
resulted in her death. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also has moved to
proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 2); that motion is
granted. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's complaint
to the complaint, Plaintiff's 85-year-old mother, Shirley
Ann Sheets, underwent emergency surgery in June 2016 at St.
Luke's. (Doc. 1 at 2.) The surgeon implanted a pacemaker
to treat her heart disease. (Id.) Although Mrs.
Sheets initially showed signs of recovery after the surgery,
her health rapidly declined over the next few months.
(Id. at 2-3.) She experienced severe head and chest
pain and fainted several times. (Id.) Each time, she
returned to St. Luke's for treatment. (Id.) In
October 2016, she underwent surgery to relieve pressure in
her brain from the build-up of blood and other fluids, and
the following month received a hip replacement after she
broke a hip from a fall. (Id. at 3.) Mrs. Sheets
died in January 2017. (Id. at 4.)
Mrs. Sheets' son, has now filed this complaint against
the unidentified “director or chief
executive/owner” of St. Luke's who is
“legally responsible for the overall operation”
of the hospital; the unidentified St. Luke's
“medical doctor” who performed Mrs. Sheets'
surgeries and “diagnostics”; and the “chief
manufacturer/distributor” of the allegedly defective
pacemaker Mrs. Sheets received. (Id. at 2.) The
complaint alleges the St. Luke's “medical staff . .
. deliberately disregarded serious medical treatment and ill
performed surgery rending such performance to be malpractice
overall, which caused the demise of Mrs. Sheets at 85.”
(Id. at 4.) It further alleges the pacemaker Mrs.
Sheets received was defective, also contributing to Mrs.
Sheets' death. (Id.) Plaintiff claims he
“and his family are suffering from great mental stress,
and mental disability by the loss of Mrs. Sheets at this
se pleadings are held to “less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers” and must be
liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972) (per curiam). Nevertheless, district courts are
required to screen all in forma pauperis actions and
dismiss before service any action the court determines is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d
468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010).
state a claim, a complaint must set forth “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Hill, 630 F.3d
at 471 (applying the dismissal standard articulated in
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), to
dismissals for failure to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)). The “allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . .
.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. And they must be
sufficient to give defendants “fair notice of what [the
plaintiff's] claims are and the grounds upon which they
rest.” Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S.
506, 514 (2002).
complaint must be dismissed. A threshold question in every
federal case is “determining the power of the court to
entertain the suit.” Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S.
490, 498 (1975). One issue courts must consider in this
inquiry is the plaintiff's standing, or “whether
the plaintiff has alleged such a personal stake in the
outcome of the controversy as to warrant his invocation of
federal-court jurisdiction and to justify exercise of the
court's remedial powers on his behalf.”
Id. at 498-99 (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). The fact that the plaintiff may collaterally
benefit from the court's judgment is not enough to invoke
standing; “the plaintiff himself [must have] suffered
some threatened or actual injury” resulting from the
alleged violation of law. Id. at 499 (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
federal law allows parties to “plead and conduct their
own cases personally or by counsel.” 28 U.S.C. §
1654. But “plaintiffs may not appear pro se
where interests other than their own are at stake.”
Shepherd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970 (6th Cir.
2002). To the extent Plaintiff asserts claims on his
mother's behalf or on behalf of his “family,
” therefore, he lacks standing.
Plaintiff bring claims on behalf of his mother's estate.
A pro se litigant can represent an estate only where
he or she is the sole beneficiary of the estate and the
estate has no creditors. Bass v. Leatherwood, 788
F.3d 228, 230 (6th Cir. 2015). Plaintiff does not claim to be
the executor or administrator of his mother's estate. And
he does not allege that he is the sole beneficiary of his
mother's estate or that the estate has no creditors.
Plaintiff, therefore, also lacks standing to bring these
claims on behalf of his mother's estate.
to the extent that Plaintiff raises claims based on his own
“mental stress” and “mental
disability” caused by his mother's death, his
complaint fails to state a plausible claim upon which relief
may be granted. Plaintiff does not specify any viable legal
theory or allege any facts supporting this claim for damages.
See Lillard v. Shelby Cty. Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d
716, 726 (6th Cir. 1996) (a court is not ...