Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ruffin v. Methodist/IU Hospital

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 1, 2017

ILENE RUFFIN, Plaintiff,
v.
METHODIST/IU HOSPITAL, and METHODIST MEDICAL GROUP, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by Defendants Methodist/IU Hospital and Methodist Medical Group (collectively, “Methodist”) (Filing No. 17). After being diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C, pro se Plaintiff Ilene Ruffin (“Ms. Ruffin”) requested medical records from Methodist in hopes of supporting her claim that she contracted chronic Hepatitis C from two blood transfusions that she received at Methodist in 1996. In response to the records request, Methodist produced numerous medical records, but the records did not include laboratory reports from the time of Ms. Ruffin's blood transfusions. Ms. Ruffin filed this action, asserting that her right to due process was violated because Methodist spoliated evidence thereby depriving her of a fair trial in state court for medical malpractice. Methodist filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that Methodist is not a state actor thereby entitling it to summary judgment on Ms. Ruffin's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Methodist's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Ms. Ruffin as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         Ms. Ruffin has received medical care at Methodist since as early as the 1980s. She had been a “constant patient” of Methodist until 2008. In conjunction with medical procedures, Ms. Ruffin received two blood transfusions at Methodist in August and September 1996. Fourteen years later, Ms. Ruffin was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in September 2010. She surmises that she contracted the disease from the two blood transfusions received at Methodist in 1996 (Filing No. 12 at 2-3).

         After being diagnosed with Hepatitis C in September 2010, Ms. Ruffin requested her medical records from Methodist. Methodist produced numerous medical records, but the records did not include laboratory reports from the timeframe when Ms. Ruffin had received the blood transfusions in 1996.

         On June 6, 2011, Ms. Ruffin filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint against Methodist with the Indiana Department of Insurance pursuant to the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (“the Act”). In accordance with the Act, a medical review panel convened to consider Ms. Ruffin's claim. During discovery, Ms. Ruffin requested additional medical records related to her claim; however, Methodist did not produce additional records. Rather, Methodist sent a letter to Ms. Ruffin through its attorney, explaining that the medical records had been purged in accordance with Methodist's records retention policy and Indiana Code § 16-39-7-1. Methodist's attorney informed Ms. Ruffin that she could not seek records directly from Methodist and would have to seek records through the attorney. Later, Methodist's attorney produced to Ms. Ruffin four CDs, which contained all of Ms. Ruffin's medical records. The medical review panel proceeded to consider Ms. Ruffin's claim, and it was determined that her claim for medical malpractice was not viable.

         In July 2014, Ms. Ruffin determined that the medical records Methodist admitted to purging were the records relating to her laboratory reports from the timeframe of the 1996 blood transfusions. In a letter dated July 28, 2014 Mr. Ruffin contacted Methodist risk management department and demanded any and all laboratory reports that were directly related to her claims. While Methodist was not able to produce the laboratory reports from the time of her blood transfusions in 1996, it was able to produce other medical records dating back to the 1980s. Ms. Ruffin concluded that it was these laboratory reports that formed the basis of her medical malpractice claim against Methodist. On January 9, 2015 Ms. Ruffin contacted Methodist risk management again, to give them an update and to show that she had identified the precise laboratory reports, however, Methodist failed to respond. On February 23, 2015, Ms. Ruffin filed an amended proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, asserting allegations of spoliation of evidence. In response, Methodist filed a motion for a preliminary determination of law and a motion for summary judgment in state court, and Ms. Ruffin's claim was disposed of in favor of Methodist by the state court.

         On July 1, 2015, Ms. Ruffin filed her Complaint in this Court. She asserted a claim for spoliation of evidence. Because her claim was a state law claim between two citizens of the same state, the Court dismissed the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court granted leave to Ms. Ruffin to amend her Complaint to assert a federal claim (Filing No. 11 at 7).

         Ms. Ruffin filed her Amended Complaint on February 11, 2016. She used a “fill-in-the-blank” complaint form for “non-prisoner filers without lawyers.” (Filing No. 12.) She asserted a claim for violation of her due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the destruction of her medical records and the resulting alleged unfair state court proceedings. Methodist filed its responsive pleading, denying any liability, and on April 19, 2016, Methodist filed its Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that it is not a state actor and its actions are not otherwise attributable to the State of Indiana.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante, 555 F.3d at 584 (citation omitted). “However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).

         “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         The Court notes that “[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.