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Chiasson v. B. Braun Medical Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

February 1, 2017

BROOKE CHIASSON
v.
B. BRAUN MEDICAL INC., ET AL.

          DOHERTY JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Currently pending is the motion for extension of time to effect service and to stay proceedings (Rec. Doc. 9), which was filed by the plaintiff, Brooke Chiasson. The motion was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for ruling. (Rec. Doc. 13). The motion is opposed, and oral argument was heard on January 24, 2017. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         Background

         This lawsuit originated in the 15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, and it was removed to this forum by defendant B. Braun Medical Inc. In her petition for damages, the plaintiff alleged that Braun is the manufacturer and distributor of a Perifix FX Springwound Epidural Catheter that was marketed and distributed to Louisiana physicians for use in epidural anesthesia procedures. She further alleged that defendant John Doe was Braun's agent or representative responsible for properly instructing physician users regarding the use of the device and the dangers it posed. The plaintiff alleged that she was a patient at Lafayette General Medical Center on August 22, 2015 when Dr. Michel E. Heard, Jr. used the device on her in preparation for the vaginal delivery of her child. The plaintiff alleged that Dr. Heard attempted to withdraw the epidural catheter through the epidural needle when the catheter sheered, leaving a portion of the catheter fragment in the epidural space at the L4-5 level of her spine.

         The plaintiff asserted a claim against Braun, based on the contention that the catheter was unreasonably dangerous pursuant to Louisiana's products liability statute, La. R.S. 9:2800.51, et seq. The plaintiff also asserted a claim against defendant John Doe, contending that her injuries were caused, at least in part, by the negligence of that person, who allegedly failed to adequately or properly instruct physicians such as Dr. Heard in the use of the device and the risks associated with withdrawal of the epidural catheter through the epidural needle. The plaintiff contends that she was injured as a result of the failure of the product and the negligence of John Doe, particularly because she will have to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the catheter fragment from her spine.

         In support of the instant motion, the plaintiff explained that a separate medical malpractice action has been filed in Louisiana state court, and she requested that this federal-court action be stayed pending the resolution of the medical review panel procedure required by Louisiana law. In the motion, the plaintiff also sought additional time in which to identify and serve the John Doe defendant.

         Law and Analysis

         A. The Motion for Additional Time to Identify and Serve John Doe

         The incident sued upon occurred in August 2015, and the plaintiff's petition was filed in Louisiana state court August 2016. In September 2016, the action was removed to federal court. In November 2016, the court issued a notice of intent to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against the John Doe defendant under Local Rule 41.3 for failure to prosecute the claim and gave the plaintiff fourteen days to show good cause for her failure to do so. (Rec. Doc. 8). In response, the plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking additional time to identify and serve John Doe.

         In support of her argument that she needs additional time in which to identify and serve the John Doe defendant, the plaintiff did not list any efforts that she has undertaken over the past year and a half to determine John Doe's actual identity. Instead, she argued that coordinated discovery should simultaneously be undertaken in this lawsuit and in the state-court medical malpractice action. The plaintiff argues that not conducting discovery in both actions at the same time would lead to inefficiency and create the potential for inconsistent results. This Court interprets the plaintiff's argument as alleging that discovery is necessary in order for her to learn John Doe's actual identity.

         There is no evidence that the plaintiff has made any effort to identify the John Doe defendant since the incident on which this lawsuit is based. Consequently, this Court concludes that the plaintiff has not shown good cause for her failure to identify and serve that defendant and further concludes that no additional time should be afforded for such efforts. Therefore, with regard to the request for additional time in which to identify and serve the John Doe defendant, the motion is denied.

         B. The Motion for Stay

         The plaintiff's motion seeks to have this action stayed pending the formation of a medical review panel as required by Louisiana law and pending the medical review panel's adjudication of the medical malpractice claim initiated by the plaintiff against Dr. Heard in state court. The plaintiff explained that if Dr. Heard were to be named as a defendant in this action following review of the plaintiff's claim against him by the medical review panel, his citizenship would destroy diversity and mandate remand of this action to state court. By seeking ...


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