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Milligan v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

June 15, 2018

FLETCHER HOSPITAL, INC. and MICHAEL J. ROSNER, M.D., Third Party Defendants.



         This cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:


         FILED: March 7, 2018

         THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as moot.

         I. Background

         A. Factual History

         This case stems from an automobile accident that occurred in July 2014 between Brandon Milligan and an uninsured/underinsured motorist. Doc. 2 at ¶ 2. Mr. Milligan suffered physical injuries as a result of the accident and, consequently, sought medical treatment following the accident. Docs. 2 at ¶ 3; 48 at ¶ 14.

         Specifically, Mr. Milligan began treating with Dr. Michael Rosner, a neurosurgeon licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina. Doc. 48 at ¶¶ 15-16. Dr. Rosner specialized in performing a “fairly controversial” decompression surgery used to treat Chiari malformations. Id. at ¶ 20.[1] Dr. Rosner applied for and was granted privileges to perform this surgery at a hospital owned and operated by Fletcher Hospital, Inc. d/b/a Park Ridge Hospital (Park Ridge), which is located and incorporated in North Carolina. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 20-21. Dr. Rosner's medical license was suspended several times before he treated Mr. Milligan. Id. at ¶¶ 26, 30, 34. The suspensions were imposed after Dr. Rosner was found to have performed unnecessary surgeries, including decompression surgeries. Id. Park Ridge was aware of each suspension and revoked Dr. Rosner's privileges while the suspensions were in effect. Id. at ¶¶ 27, 31, 35. Park Ridge, though, granted Dr. Rosner privileges to perform the decompression surgery at its facility after each suspension was lifted. Id. at ¶¶ 29, 33, 37.

         Dr. Rosner diagnosed Mr. Milligan with a Chiari malformation, which Dr. Rosner attributed to the subject accident. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18. In July 2015, Dr. Rosner performed a decompression surgery on Mr. Milligan at Park Ridge. Id. at ¶ 52. Mr. Milligan suffered several complications following the surgery. Id. at ¶ 63. These complications lead Mr. Milligan to undergo several additional surgeries in Florida to correct the issues caused by Dr. Rosner's surgery. Id. at ¶¶ 10, 64-66.

         B. Procedural History

         In August 2016, Mr. Milligan filed a complaint against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm) in state court. Doc. 2. Mr. Milligan alleged that at the time of the accident he was insured under an automotive insurance policy (the Policy) issued by State Farm. Id. at ¶ 6. Mr. Milligan seeks to recover under the Policy's uninsured/underinsured motorist provision. Id. at ¶ 7.

         In October 2016, State Farm removed the case to this Court. Doc. 1.

         In January 2018, State Farm filed a third party complaint against Dr. Rosner and Park Ridge. Doc. 48 (Third-Party Complaint). State Farm alleged that the surgery Dr. Rosner performed on Mr. Milligan was unnecessary and “amounted to medical negligence because his performance of the surgery was something that a reasonably careful physician would not do under like circumstances.” Id. at ¶¶ 60, 68. Further, State Farm alleged that in light of Dr. Rosner's prior suspensions stemming from the performance of unnecessary surgeries Park Ridge negligently “fail[ed] to adequately investigate the credentials of Dr. Rosner and/or [by] repeatedly granting him the credentials to perform surgery at Park Ridge Hospital.” Id. at ¶ 68. Thus, in the event State Farm is found liable for the damages stemming from the accident, including the damages State Farm alleges were caused by Dr. Rosner's and Park Ridge's negligence, State Farm asserted claims of common law indemnification and statutory contribution against Dr. Rosner and Park Ridge. Id. at 14-21.

         C. The Motion to Dismiss

         Park Ridge filed a timely motion to dismiss arguing that the Third-Party Complaint should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Doc. 62 (Motion). In support of the Motion, Park Ridge filed an affidavit from its Vice Present of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Carlo Mainardi. Doc. 62-1.

         State Farm filed a timely response in opposition arguing that the Court could exercise personal jurisdiction over Park Ridge and that it has not failed to state any claims against Park Ridge. Doc. 66 at 1-15. In support of its response, State Farm filed several publically available documents it claimed supported the Court's personal jurisdiction over Park Ridge. Id. at 16-66.

         II. Analysis

         The Court's ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over Park Ridge presents a threshold issue in this matter. See Madara v. Hall, 916 F.2d 1510, 1514 n.1 (11th Cir. 1990) (explaining that the district court should have ruled on jurisdictional issues before ruling on request to dismiss for failure to state a claim). Thus, the undersigned will begin by addressing whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over Park Ridge.

         A federal court sitting in diversity undertakes a two-step inquiry in determining whether it can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. Cable/Home Communication Corp. v. Network Productions, Inc., 902 F.2d 829, 855 (11th Cir. 1990). First, the Court must determine whether the forum state's long-arm statute (here, Florida's statute) provides a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction. Sculptchair, Inc. v. Century Arts, Ltd., 94 F.3d 623, 626 (11th Cir. 1996). Second, if the Court finds that personal jurisdiction exists under Florida's long-arm statute, the Court “must determine whether sufficient minimum contacts exist between the defendant[ ] and the forum state so as to satisfy traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Id. (internal quotation omitted).

         A plaintiff claiming that the Court has personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant bears the initial burden of alleging sufficient facts in the complaint to establish a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009). A prima facie case is established if plaintiff alleges enough facts to withstand a motion for directed verdict or judgment as a matter of law. Meier ex rel. Meier v. Sun Intern. Hotels, Ltd., 288 F.3d 1264, 1269 (11th Cir. 2002). If the defendant challenges jurisdiction by submitting affidavits containing specific averments contradicting the plaintiff's allegations in support of personal jurisdiction, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to produce evidence supporting the existence of personal jurisdiction. United Techs., 556 F.3d at 1274. “Where the plaintiff's complaint and supporting evidence conflict with the defendant's affidavits, the court must construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Meier, 288 F.3d at 1269.

         A. Florida's Long-Arm Jurisdiction

         State Farm argues that the Court has both specific and general jurisdiction over Park Ridge. Doc. 66 at 9. The reach of Florida's long-arm statute “is a question of Florida law, ” and, thus, the Court is required to apply the statute “as would the Florida Supreme Court.” United Techs., 556 F.3d at 1274. “Absent some indication that the Florida Supreme Court would hold otherwise, [federal courts] are bound to adhere to decisions of [Florida's] intermediate courts.” Id. “Florida's long-arm statute is to be strictly construed.” Sculptchair, 94 F.3d at 627

         1. Specific Jurisdiction

         State Farm argues that the Court has specific jurisdiction over Park Ridge pursuant to Florida Statute § 48.193(1)(a)(1) and (1)(a)(6)(a). Doc. 66 at 6-7, 10. The undersigned ...

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