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Hudson v. Volunteers of America of Carolinas

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

April 22, 2019

WANDA S. HUDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA OF CAROLINAS, VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA NATIONAL SERVICES SENIOR COMMUNITY CARE OF NORTH CAROLINA, THE DUKE HOSPITAL, and SOUTHEASTERN HEALTHCARE OF NORTH CAROLINA, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on defendants Volunteers of America of Carolinas (“VAC”) and Volunteers of America National Services Senior Community Care of North Carolina's (“VOANS”) (collectively “VOA defendants”) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (DE 36). Also before the court is Duke University Health System, Inc.'s (“DUHS”)[1]motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient process, and failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(4), and 12(b)(6), or in the alternative for more definite statement pursuant to Rule 12(e) (DE 31). Plaintiff did not respond to either of the motions, and the time to do so has expired. The issues raised are ripe for decision.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this case on May 1, 2018. Plaintiff alleges several violations of federal law, including the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Rehabilitation Act”), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et s e q . . Plaintiff also alleges violation of the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act of 1992 (“REDA”), N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-240 et seq..

         On frivolity review, the court dismissed plaintiff's claims on behalf of an unnamed patient under the third party standing doctrine, and allowed claims on plaintiff's behalf to proceed. Following plaintiff's efforts to serve defendants, VOA defendants and DUHS filed the instant motions.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

         The facts alleged in the complaint can be summarized as follows. Plaintiff worked for Volunteers of America Home Health Agency of North Carolina (“VOA Home Health”). (Compl. ¶ 13). During the course of her employment, plaintiff took care of an unnamed patient in that patient's home. (Id. ¶ 16). That patient was transferred by defendant Southeastern Healthcare of North Carolina (“Southeastern Healthcare”) to defendant “the Duke Hospital” after being injured due to an improper medication dosage. (Id.). Defendants Southeastern Healthcare and “the Duke Hospital” transferred the unnamed patient back and forth, until the patient was discharged on May 1, 2016 from “the Duke Hospital.” (Id. ¶¶ 8, 19). The patient had not recovered from her ailments and fell on plaintiff, causing injury to plaintiff on May 12, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 15, 17).

         Following her injury, plaintiff reported EMTALA violations to VOA defendants. She alleged the patient had been improperly discharged from the hospital and asked to be paid for the care provided to the unnamed patient. (Id. ¶ 19). VOA defendants allegedly retaliated against plaintiff by refusing to pay her, demoting her, discharging her, and refusing to rehire her. (Id.).

         COURT'S DISCUSSION

         The court first disposes of DUHS's motion to dismiss and then turns its attention below to VOA defendant's motion. Finally, the court addresses on its own initiative plaintiff's purported service of defendant Southeastern Healthcare.

         A. Duke University Health System's Motion to Dismiss (DE 31)

         1. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) allows for dismissal of a claim for lack of personal jurisdiction. “When a district court considers a question of personal jurisdiction based on the contents of a complaint and supporting affidavits, the plaintiff has the burden of making a prima facie showing in support of its assertion of jurisdiction.” Universal Leather, LLC v. Koro AR, S.A., 773 F.3d 553, 558 (4th Cir. 2014). At this stage, the court “must construe all relevant pleading allegations in the light most favorable to plaintiff, assume credibility, and draw the most favorable inferences for the existence of jurisdiction.” Combs v. Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir.1989); see Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 60 (4th Cir.1993)(“[T]he district court must draw all reasonable inferences arising from the proof, and resolve all factual disputes, in the plaintiff's favor.”).

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(4) challenges the sufficiency of process. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(4). “When the process gives the defendant actual notice of the pendency of the action, the rules . . . are entitled to a liberal construction” and “every technical violation of the rule or failure of strict compliance may not invalidate the service of process.” Armco, Inc. v. Penrod-Stauffer Bldg. Sys., Inc., 733 F.2d 1087, 1089 (4th Cir. 1984). Nevertheless, “the rules are there to be followed, and plain requirements for the means of effecting service of process may not be ignored.” Id. The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that process properly has been served. Dalenko v. ...


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