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Kendall v. Washington County Memorial Hospital

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 17, 2015

PEGGY JEAN KENDALL, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON COUNTY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL; MERCY HOSPITAL JEFFERSON d/b/a/JEFFERSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SHIRLEY PADMORE MENSAH, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Mercy Hospital Jefferson. (Doc. 10). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). (Doc. 20). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny Defendant Mercy Hospital Jefferson's motion.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff is a deaf individual who communicates primarily in American Sign Language. From November 27 through December 3, 2012, she was admitted to a hospital and underwent surgery on her knees. Plaintiff alleges that the hospital discriminated against her on the basis of her disability by, inter alia, failing to provide her with on-site qualified sign language interpreters before and after her surgical procedure.

At the time of Plaintiff's treatment in late 2012, the hospital where she was treated was known as Jefferson Regional Medical Center, which was the registered fictitious name of The Jefferson Memorial Hospital Association. Pl.'s Ex. A, Doc. 22-1. On February 15, 2013, The Jefferson Memorial Hospital Association amended its articles of incorporation to change its name to Mercy Hospital Jefferson. Pl.'s Ex. B, Doc. 22-2. On April 30, 2013, the fictitious name of "Jefferson Regional Medical Center" was cancelled. Pl.'s Ex. C, Doc. 22-3.

On May 16, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights ("MCHR"), alleging disability discrimination and naming "Jefferson County Memorial Hospital" as the respondent. Pl.'s Ex. D, Doc. 22-4. On November 20, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant action, naming as a defendant "Mercy Hospital Jefferson d/b/a Jefferson Memorial Hospital."[2] Plaintiff alleges that MHJ discriminated against her on the basis of her disability in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794; and the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"), Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 213.010 et seq.

II. DISCUSSION

MHJ brings its motion to dismiss on two grounds. First, MHJ contends that all of Plaintiff's claims against it should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2). Second, MHJ argues that Plaintiff's MHRA claim against it should be dismissed for the additional reason that Plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies due to her failure to name MHJ as a respondent in her MCHR complaint.

A. Motion to Dismiss All Claims Against MHJ for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

MHJ first moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it under Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. MHJ argues that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction over it because it was formed in 2013, it did not yet exist at the time of Plaintiff's allegations, and it cannot be the proper party to sue. MHJ also points out that Plaintiff incorrectly indicated in her Complaint that MHJ's "d/b/a" designation was "Jefferson Memorial Hospital."

Due process requires that before a court exercises personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant must have "certain minimum contacts with [the forum state] such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (internal quotation marks omitted). For jurisdiction to be proper, the defendant's conduct and connection with the forum state must be such that it "should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there." World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 297 (1980). Personal jurisdiction may be either general (existing as to all causes of action involving a defendant) or specific (existing only as to a cause of action arising from or related to a defendant's actions within the forum state). See Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Pabst St. Georgen GmbH & Co., KG, 646 F.3d 589, 593-595 (8th Cir. 2011). A court may assert general jurisdiction over a corporation in a forum "in which the corporation is fairly regarded as home." Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 760 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). "With respect to a corporation, the place of incorporation and principal place of business are paradigm bases for general jurisdiction." Id.

MHJ offers no argument or authority to suggest that the above personal jurisdiction requirements are not satisfied. MHJ is a corporation incorporated in Missouri with its principal place of business in Missouri. Thus, it is clear that this Court has general personal jurisdiction over MHJ. See Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 760.

The issue of whether MHJ can be held liable for Plaintiff's allegations despite the fact that it was not formed until 2013 is a question for another day. That issue is not the proper subject of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2). Moreover, MHJ has not presented the Court with the information that would be necessary to resolve that issue, such as evidence regarding MHJ's relationship to the hospital where Plaintiff was treated and legal argument regarding the relevance of that evidence to MHJ's current legal liabilities under Missouri corporate law.

For all of the above reasons, MHJ's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction ...


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