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Krause v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

March 21, 2017

KACIE KRAUSE and MARCUS HARVEY, individually and on behalf of K.H., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's Motion to Dismiss or, alternatively, Summary Judgment [ECF No. 14], filed on December 13, 2016. Plaintiffs Kacie Krause and Marcus Harvey, individually and on behalf of K.H., a minor, filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] on June 7, 2016. The Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), asserting that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Alternatively, the Defendant moved for summary judgment on all of the Plaintiffs' claims. This matter is now ripe for the Court's review.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 28, 2010, Plaintiff Krause was admitted to “St. Catherine Hospital, in East Chicago, Indiana . . . for the birth of her child, K.H.” (Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff Harvey was the biological father of K.H. (Id. ¶ 10.) At the Hospital, Dr. Keith M. Ramsey “car[ed] for and treat[ed] Krause during the labor and delivery of . . . K.H., ” whom Plaintiff Krause “had never met with or been treated by before.” (Id. ¶¶ 3, 8.) Ramsey was allegedly an employee at “NorthShore Health Centers, Inc., . . . a federally supported health facility, ” and Plaintiff Krause “had never received medical treatment at . . . [or] been a patient of NorthShore Healthcare Centers, Inc.” (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Ramsey's delivery of K.H. allegedly resulted in numerous complications and injuries. (See Id. ¶ 8a-8e.)

         On September 9, 2011, the Plaintiffs “filed a Proposed Complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance . . . against Ramsey alleging negligent medical care.” (Id. ¶ 11.) During that lawsuit, Cause No. 45D01-1208-CT-178, [1] Ramsey allegedly “concealed and/or otherwise failed to disclose . . . that he was an employee and/or agent of a federally supported health facility and subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act until June 17, 2013.” (Id. ¶ 13.) “On March 5, 2015, the Lake County Superior Court . . . found that Ramsey was an employee of a federally funded healthcare facility.” (Id. ¶ 14.)

         Then, on April 3, 2015, the Plaintiffs submitted an administrative claim to the HHS regarding the events of June 28, 2010. (HHS Compl. 1-6, ECF No. 1-1.) On August 19, 2015, the HHS denied the Plaintiffs' administrative claim and its “denial letter was delivered on August 24, 2015.” (Recio Decl. ¶¶ 4-6, ECF No. 15-4.) The Plaintiffs filed this Complaint on June 7, 2016, which the Defendant moved to dismiss on December 13, 2016. On February 9, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed a Notice [ECF No. 18] that they would not respond to or seek a hearing on the Defendant's Motion.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint and not the merits of the suit. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). The court presumes all well-pleaded allegations to be true, views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accepts as true all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the allegations. Whirlpool Fin. Corp. v. GN Holdings, Inc., 67 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 1995).

         The Supreme Court has articulated the following standard regarding factual allegations that are required to survive dismissal:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the “grounds” of his “entitlement to relief” requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation marks, ellipsis, citations, and footnote omitted). A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content 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 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw all permissible inferences in the plaintiff's favor, it need not accept as true “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Id. at 678 (citing Twombly at 555). Legal conclusions can provide a complaint's framework, but unless well-pleaded factual allegations move the claims from conceivable to plausible, they are insufficient to state a claim. Id. at 680. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief requires a reviewing court to “draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679.

         Plaintiffs can also plead themselves out of court if the allegations clearly establish all the elements of an affirmative defense, including the defense that the action was filed after the statute of limitations period expired. Chi. Bldg. Design, P.C. v. Mongolian House, Inc., 770 F.3d 610, 613-14 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Logan v. Wilkins, 644 F.3d 577, 582 (7th Cir. 2011) (“[W]hen the allegations of the complaint reveal that relief is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim.”); United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005) (citing exception to the rule that complaints do not have to anticipate affirmative defenses to survive a motion to dismiss where “the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, such as when a complaint plainly reveals that an action is untimely under the governing statute of limitations”); Tregenza v. Great Am. Comm'ns Co., 12 F.3d 717, 718 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that even though a plaintiff is not required to negate a statute of limitations affirmative defense in his complaint, “if he pleads facts that show that his suit is time-barred or otherwise without merit, he has pleaded himself out of court”).

         Rule 12(b) requires that a court treat a motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment under Rule 56 when “matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). Despite the language of Rule 12(b), a court has the option to convert the motion to one for summary judgment and consider the documents, or to ignore the documents and confine its analysis to the motion to dismiss. Id. 12(d); Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 738 (7th Cir. 2002); Venture Ass'n Corp. v. Zenith Data Sys. Corp., 987 F.2d 429, 431 (7th Cir. 1993). Finally, a court may also take judicial notice of matters of public record without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment. Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing United States v. Wood, 925 F.2d 1580, 1582 (7th Cir. 1991)); see also Ennega v. Starns, 677 F.3d 766, 773-74 (7th Cir. 2012) (noting ...


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