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Higgs v. Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC

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

April 26, 2018

DEBBIE HIGGS, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARVIS HIGGS, DECEASED PLAINTIFF
v.
GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL SENIOR CARE, LLC D/B/A GOLDEN LIVING; ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge

         I. Introduction

         This case is before the court on a partial motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by defendants Golden Gate National Senior Care, LLC d/b/a Golden Living, GGNSC Louisville Hillcreek, LLC d/b/a Golden Living Center - Hillcreek, GGNSC Administrative Services, LLC d/b/a Golden Ventures, GGNSC Holdings, LLC d/b/a Golden Horizons, GGNSC Equity Holdings, LLC, GGNSC Equity Holdings II, LLC, Golden Gate Ancillary, LLC, GGNSC Clinical Services, LLC, and GPH Louisville Hillcreek, LLC (collectively “Defendants”). ECF No. 21. Plaintiff Debbie Higgs responded. ECF No. 22. Defendants replied. ECF No. 23. This matter is now ripe for review. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion will be granted.

         II. Factual Background

         Marvis Higgs was a resident at Golden Living Center - Hillcreek in Louisville, Kentucky from January 26, 2016 until February 4, 2016. Pl. Complaint, ECF No. 1, ¶ 3. Golden Living Center - Hillcreek “is engaged in the for-profit custodial care of elderly individuals who are chronically infirm, mentally impaired and/or in need of nursing care and treatment.” Id. at ¶ 6. During the relevant time period, Marvis Higgs was “of an unsound mind” and “looking to [Golden Living Center - Hillcreek] for treatment of his total needs for custodial, nursing, and medical care . . .” Id. at ¶¶ 4, 22.

         Golden Living Center - Hillcreek allegedly “failed to discharge [its] obligations of care to Marvis Higgs.” Id. at ¶ 25. This allegedly caused Marvis Higgs to suffer “accelerated deterioration of his health and physical condition beyond that caused by the normal aging process.” Id. at ¶ 26. Specifically, Higgs suffered from “[o]pen blisters; [s]ores; [s]kin injuries; [i]nfections; and [d]eath.” Id.

         On March 6, 2017, Debbie Higgs, as Administratrix of Marvis Higgs' estate, filed suit against Defendants in Jefferson Circuit Court. ECF No. 1-1, p. 2. Then, on March 30, 2017, the case was removed to this court. ECF No. 1. Defendants now seek judgment on the pleadings as to Higgs' claims for violation of residents' rights under KRS 216.515(26) and negligence per se.

         III. Legal Standard

         The Court analyzes a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Fritz v. Charter Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010). Therefore, to survive a Rule 12(c) motion, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell v. Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d. 868 (2009). While “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' it demands “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. The factual allegations in the complaint must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombley, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court may examine the complaint and its exhibits, public records, items appearing in the record of the case, and documents incorporated by reference into the complaint and central to the claims. Barany-Snyder v. Weiner, 539 F.3d 327, 332 (6th Cir. 2008); Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008). The court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accepting as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and drawing all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor. Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v. Ill. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007). However, the court need not accept as true the nonmoving party's legal conclusions or unwarranted factual allegations. Id. The motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.

         IV. Discussion

         Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment on the pleadings as to Higgs' claims for violation of residents' rights under KRS 216.515(26) and negligence per se. These arguments will be considered in further detail below.

         A. Violation of Residents' Rights Under KRS 216.515(26)

         Defendants first argue that Higgs does not have standing to state a direct claim for violation of residents' rights under KRS 216.515(26) because such claims must be brought by a resident or his guardian during the resident's lifetime. Higgs fails to respond to this argument in the response motion. To the extent that ...


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