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Jones v. Arcadia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC

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

March 29, 2017

JENNIFER JONES
v.
ARCADIA NURSING AND REHABILITATION CENTER, LLC, d/b/a WILLOW RIDGE NURSING AND REHABILITATION CENTER, LLC, DTD HC, LLC, and D&N, LLC

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE HAYES

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH E. FOOTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, filed by Defendants DTD HC, LLC. ("DTD") and D&N, LLC. ("D&N") (collectively "Defendants"). [Record Document 6]. Plaintiff, Jennifer Jones ("Jones"), opposes the motion [Record Document 8], and Defendants have responded to Jones's opposition [Record Document 11]. Following a thorough review of the record and for the following reasons, the Defendants' motion to dismiss shall be DENIED.

         I. Background.

         Jones is the daughter of Jewel Walker ("Walker"), who was a patient at Arcadia Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC. ("Arcadia Nursing"). While at Arcadia Nursing, Walker allegedly suffered from "severe stage IV infected bed sores, " malnourishment, dehydration, insufficient wound treatment, and insufficient therapy. Record Document 8, pp. 6-7. Walker ultimately died of sepsis, allegedly from her infected wounds.

         Jones filed suit in state court in Bienville Parish against Arcadia Nursing, DTD, and D&N, contending that their failure to provide reasonable care to Walker while she was a patient at Arcadia Nursing caused Walker's death. The Defendants removed the case to federal court.

         DTD and D&N are the sole members of Arcadia Nursing, each having a fifty percent interest in the ownership of Arcadia Nursing. Both Defendants allege that they are New York citizens-- they are limited liability companies formed in New York and they maintain their principal places of business in Orchard Park, New York. Jones does not dispute these facts.

         DTD, a New York citizen, has two members- Donald Denz ("Denz"), a natural person who is a citizen of New York, and The Donald Denz Irrevocable Trust (the "Donald Denz Trust"). See Record Document 6-1, p. 10. The Donald Denz Trust has six beneficiaries (all natural persons), five of whom are New York citizens, while the sixth is a Florida citizen. See Id. The trustee of the Donald Denz Trust is also a citizen of New York. See id, at p. 11.

         D&N, a New York citizen, has three members- Norbert A. Bennett ("Bennett"), a natural person who is a citizen of New York; The Norbert A. Bennett Children's Trust (the "Children's Trust"); and The Norbert A. Bennett Grandchildren's Trust (the "Grandchildren's Trust"). See Record Document 6-1, p. 12. The Children's Trust has three beneficiaries, all natural persons who are New York citizens. See id The Grandchildren's Trust has eight beneficiaries, all natural persons who are New York citizens. See Id. The trustee of both the Children's Trust and the Grandchildren's trust is a citizen of New York. See id Again, Jones does not dispute any of these facts.

         DTD and D&N have filed the instant motion seeking to be dismissed from this suit, arguing that the Court lacks sufficient personal jurisdiction over them. They maintain they are only members of Arcadia Nursing, but aside from that they have no independent connection to or contacts with Louisiana. While not disputing the New York citizenship of DTD and D&N, Jones nonetheless avers that the Defendants have sufficient minimum contacts with Louisiana to sustain this Court's finding of personal jurisdiction. The Court agrees with Jones.

         II. Law and Analysis.

         When a defendant challenges the existence of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction does indeed exist. See Guidry v. U.S. Tobacco Co., 188 F.3d 619, 626 (5th Cir. 1999). On a pretrial motion such as this one where no evidentiary hearing is held, the uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiffs complaint must be taken as true and any conflicts between facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be resolved in the plaintiffs favor. See Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir. 1990). Those facts must create for the plaintiff only a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. See Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Calvert Fire Ins. Co., 798 F.2d 826, 831 (5th Cir. 1986). If the plaintiff satisfies that minimal standard, she must still prove the jurisdictional facts at trial or through a hearing by a preponderance of the evidence before she may obtain relief on the merits against the non-resident. See id.; Felch v. Transportes Lar-Mex, 92 F.3d 320, 326 (5th Cir. 1996).

         A federal court sitting in diversity, like this one, must satisfy both the statutory and Constitutional requirements of personal jurisdiction: the state long-arm statute must confer jurisdiction over the defendant, and the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction must be consistent with due process. See Marathon Oil Co. v. A.G. Ruhrgas, 182 F.3d 291, 294 (5th Cir. 1999). The Louisiana long-arm statute is coextensive with the limits of constitutional due process, merging the statutory and constitutional analyses into one. See La. R.S. § 13:3201(B); A&L Energy, Tnr. v. Peaasus Group, 791 So.2d 1266, 1270 (La. 2001).

         Due process requires both that a defendant have sufficient minimum contacts with the forum state and that the exercise of jurisdiction is consistent with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice. See Walk Haydel & Assoc., Inc. v. Coastal Power Prod. Co., 517 F.3d 235, 243 (5th Or. 2008). A defendant's contacts with the forum state can support either general or specific jurisdiction. Marathon Oil, 182 F.3d at 295. General jurisdiction exists when the defendant's contacts with the state are "continuous, systematic, and substantial, "id, a test that "is a difficult one to meet, requiring extensive contacts between a defendant and a forum, " Johnston v. Multidata Sys. Int'l Corp., 523 F.3d 602, 608 (5th Cir. 2008). ...


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