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Scott v. Ruston Louisiana Hospital Company, LLC

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

March 14, 2017

GREGORY SCOTT AND MICHELLE SCOTT, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THE MINOR J.S. AS THE PARENTS AND TUTORS OF J.S.
v.
RUSTON LOUISIANA HOSPITAL COMPANY, LLC

          HAYES, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR." UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are (1) Defendants Ruston Louisiana Hospital Company, LLC d/b/a Northern Louisiana Medical Center (“NLMC”) and Brady DuBois' (“DuBois”) (collectively “Defendants”) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 10); (2) Magistrate Judge Hayes' Report and Recommendation on the Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 27); and (3) significant briefing by the parties regarding the Report and Recommendation (Record Documents 28, 30, 35, 38, 44, 45, and 48). For the reasons assigned in the Report and Recommendation (Record Document 27), having thoroughly reviewed the record, including the written objections filed, and concurring with the findings of the Magistrate Judge under the applicable law, the Court hereby ADOPTS the recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. In the instant Memorandum Ruling, the Court specifically addresses (1) Plaintiffs Gregory Scott and Michelle Scott's (collectively “Plaintiffs”) arguments regarding the Report and Recommendation; (2) Plaintiffs' new evidence (Record Document 44-1); and (3) Plaintiffs' new authority (Record Document 44).

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         NLMC is a healthcare services company that owns and operates a hospital with an emergency department in Ruston, Louisiana. See Record Document 1 at 1-2. DuBois was the CEO at the time of the events relevant to the instant action. See id. at 5. Plaintiffs are residents of Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, and parents of the minor J.S. See id. at 1.

         In the early hours of August 19, 2014, J.S. presented to NLMC's emergency room with neurological deficiencies in both her upper and lower extremities. See id. at 2. By 9:07 AM, the attending emergency room physician, Dr. James Taylor (“Dr. Taylor”), wanted to order an MRI to evaluate J.S.'s condition. See id. However, no MRI was performed upon J.S. until after 3:00 PM. See id. Plaintiffs allege, based upon deposition testimony by Dr. Taylor, that the delay was the result of a policy at NLMC “that requires that emergency room requests for MRIs be summarily denied and delayed until reimbursement from the insurance company has been certified.” Id. Plaintiffs allege that if the MRI had been performed at the time Dr. Taylor originally sought to perform it, the hematoma on J.S.'s spinal cord would have been identified and treated in enough time to prevent the permanent paralysis she later developed or that the severity of her symptoms would have been reduced. See id. at 2-3.

         Plaintiffs first filed a state malpractice claim with the Louisiana Patient Compensation Fund, seeking review of the claim by a medical review panel as required by the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“LMMA”), La. R.S. 40:1231.1, et seq. See Record Document 15 at 1. Plaintiffs took Dr. Taylor's deposition in that case, and discovered that they might have a claim under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (“EMTALA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, et seq. See id. Plaintiffs subsequently filed the instant action in federal court on March 21, 2016, with the following causes of action: (1) EMTALA violations for inadequate medical screening, disparate screening, delay of appropriate medical screening, and delay of further medical examination and treatment; (2) violation of the Louisiana Anti-Dumping Statute (“LADS”), La. R.S. § 40:2113.4-6; (3) negligent administration under state tort law; (4) malfeasance under state tort law; and (5) “intentional action” by “sanitizing” medical records. Id. at 8-13. Plaintiffs also affirmatively alleged that any damages awarded for their EMTALA claims are not subject to the LMMA's damages caps. See id. at 9.

         On May 6, 2016, Defendants filed the instant Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss seeking (1) complete dismissal of all of Plaintiffs' claims, with prejudice, or (2) alternatively, a stay of all of Plaintiffs' claims pending a decision by the medical review panel in the separate state medical malpractice case in its Motion to Dismiss. See Record Document 10 at 1. Defendants also argued that “the plaintiffs' claims sounding in medical negligence, which defendants submit encompasses all complaints made herein, are premature.” Record Document 10-2 at 3. After extensive briefing on the Motion, Magistrate Judge Hayes issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the Motion be granted in part with the following disposition:

1) Dismissal of Plaintiffs' intentional tort claims with prejudice;
2) Dismissal of Plaintiffs' EMTALA claims against DuBois with prejudice;
3) Dismissal of Plaintiffs' claim that their EMTALA claims are not subject to the LMMA's damages caps with prejudice;
4) Dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims under LADS and for negligence and malfeasance without prejudice as premature because they fall under the LMMA's definition of medical malpractice and therefore must first be presented to a medical review panel.

See Record Document 27 at 26-27. It also recommended staying the instant action pending the outcome of the related medical review panel in the state malpractice case. See id. Finally, it recommended that the Motion be denied with respect to Plaintiffs' EMTALA claims against NLMC, leaving the EMTALA claims against NLMC as the only remaining claims in the instant action.[1] After the Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation, the parties have gone through several rounds of briefing regarding its recommendations, and the matter is ripe for a decision by this Court. See Record Documents 28, 30, 35, 38, 44, 45, and 48.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards

         A. Standard of Review for Magistrate Judge Hayes' Report and Recommendation

         When a District Court refers a dispositive matter like a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted to a Magistrate Judge, the Magistrate Judge is required to enter a recommended disposition of the matter into the record. See 26 U.S.C. § 636(b)(A) and (B); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Any party may then object to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations. See 26 U.S.C. § 636(b)(C). The District Court must then “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id.

         B. The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a "plausibility" standard found in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and its progeny. Under this standard, "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-556. If a pleading only contains "labels and conclusions" and "a formulaic ...


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