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Hall v. The Evangelical Lutheran Good Sumaritan Society, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

August 28, 2017



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on a motion by Defendant to dismiss [DN 9] and on a motion by Defendant to stay these proceedings and compel the parties to arbitrate this matter. [DN 11]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Jackie Hall (hereinafter “Jackie”) was a resident of Defendant, The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Inc., d/b/a Good Samaritan Society-Jeffersontown (hereinafter “Good Samaritan”), from August 4, 2013, until June 4, 2016. On August 11, 2011, well before Jackie was a resident at Good Samaritan, she executed a “Durable General Power of Attorney” in which she named her children, Ronald and Mary Hall, as her attorney-in-fact. [DN 11-2]. This power of attorney (“POA”) granted Ronald and Mary Hall the power to individually or jointly “do and perform all acts, deeds, matters and things whatsoever concerning my property and personal affairs necessary and advisable in the judgment of my said attorney in fact as fully and effectually to all intents and purposes as I could do if personally present and acting.” (Id.) In addition to this grant of authority, Ronald and Mary were given the power to perform a number of acts in Jackie's stead, including the ability to “ask, demand, sue for and recover, collect and receive all money, checks, deposits, accounts, interest, dividends, payments or benefits from any government or governmental agency, and any other credits of whatsoever kind or nature as are now or hereafter shall become due, owing or payable to me and to make, execute and deliver acquittances, receipts, releases, or other discharges therefore.” (Id.) The POA also gave Ronald or Mary Hall authority to “[s]ettle, adjust or compromise any and all claims accounts or debts, owing to or by me.” (Durable General Power of Attorney [DN 11-2] ¶¶ 1-3) (subdivisions omitted).

         With this POA, Ronald Hall (hereinafter “Ronald”) executed the paperwork for Jackie upon her admission to Good Samaritan on August 4, 2013. Included with Jackie's admission paperwork was a form titled “Resolution of Legal Disputes.” [DN 11-3]. As part of the Resolution document, Ronald agreed, on behalf of Jackie, that “[a]ny legal controversy, dispute, disagreement or claim arising between the parties . . . in which Resident, or person acting on his or her behalf, alleges a violation of any right granted Resident under law shall be settled exclusively by binding arbitration” and that “any legal controversy, dispute, disagreement or claim of any kind . . . related to the care of stay at the Facility, shall be settled exclusively by binding arbitration.” (Id.) The agreement also stated that “[t]his arbitration clause is meant to apply to all controversies, disputes, disagreements or claims including, but not limited to, all breach of contract claims, all negligence and malpractice claims, all tort claims and all allegations of fraud concerning entering into or canceling this Admission Agreement.” (Id.)

         On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff, Ronald Hall, as administrator of the estate of Jackie Hall, filed an action in Jefferson Circuit Court asserting negligence, medical negligence, and wrongful death claims against Defendants, Good Samaritan, Claude Mapp, in his capacity as administrator of Good Samaritan, and John Does 1 through 3. Plaintiff alleges that on August 4, 2013, Jackie was admitted to Good Samaritan where she resided until June 4, 2016. Plaintiff claims that Jackie suffered personal injuries and ultimately death as a result of Defendants' failure to properly care for her. On March 30, 2017, Good Samaritan removed the action to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff subsequently moved to remand the action to the Jefferson Circuit Court, and the Court denied the motion to remand. Good Samaritan has now filed two motions: a motion to dismiss and a motion to stay the proceedings and compel the parties to arbitrate this matter.


         Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that it does not adequately plead sufficient facts to meet the plausibility standard set forth in Twombly and Iqbal. Defendant maintains that the complaint fails to provide it with any notice of any conduct on its behalf which could have caused injury to Jackie.

         A. Standard of Review

         Upon a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a court “must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to plaintiff, ” League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), “accept all well-pled factual allegations as true[, ]” id., and determine whether the “complaint states a plausible claim for relief[, ]” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Under this standard, the plaintiff must provide the grounds for his or her entitlement to relief which “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff satisfies this standard only when he or she “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint falls short if it pleads facts “merely consistent with a defendant's liability” or if the alleged facts do not “permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 678, 679. Instead, the allegations must “‘show[ ] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         B. Discussion

         In relevant part, the complaint alleges that Jackie looked to Defendant for treatment of her total needs for custodial, nursing, and medical care, and those needs were not met by the facility. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Good Samaritan negligently failed to deliver care, services, and supervision to Jackie, including failure to maintain all records on Jackie and failure to monitor or increase the number of nursing personnel. Plaintiff alleges that Good Samaritan failed to ensure that Jackie received, among other things, timely and accurate care assessments, prescribed treatment and medication in accordance with physician's orders, appropriate diet and nutrition, appropriate infection control measures and hygiene, timely and appropriate turning and repositioning, and warm and palatable meals. Additionally, Plaintiff contends that the Defendant failed to inform the physician and the family of significant changes in her condition and failed to discharge its other legal obligations. The complaint alleges that as a result of this wrongful conduct, Jackie suffered accelerated deterioration of her health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process, including infections, falls, fracture, skin impairments, and ultimately death. Plaintiff also alleges that Jackie suffered unnecessary loss of personal dignity and extreme pain and suffering. Based on these facts, Plaintiff asserts negligence, medical negligence, corporate negligence, and wrongful death claims against Good Samaritan.

         Construing the complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds the complaint sufficiently pleads “'factual content that allows the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the Defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Frierson v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Soc'y, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161412. *2 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 13, 2013)(citation omitted). Contrary to Defendant's argument, the complaint is sufficient to put Defendant on notice that Plaintiff claims that Good Samaritan breached its duty with respect to the care and treatment of Jackie and the breach resulted in the injuries and death of Jackie. In short, the Court finds that the allegations contained in Plaintiff's complaint are sufficient to meet the standard set forth in Iqbal and Twombly. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss is denied.

         III. MOTION TO STAY AND ...

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