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Kinsella v. Indiana University Health Care Associates, Inc.

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

January 7, 2020

Sandra Kinsella, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
Indiana University Health Care Associates, Inc., d/b/a Indiana University Health Physicians, Defendant.

          ENTRY

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Sandra Kinsella, M.D. brought this action against Indiana University Health Care Associates, Inc. d/b/a Indiana University Health Physicians (“IU Health”) alleging gender discrimination, illegal retaliation, and wrongful discharge. [Filing No. 26 at 3-5.] The case was closed on December 4, 2017 by agreement of the parties following a settlement. [Filing No. 68.] The case was later reopened, and Dr. Kinsella sought leave to amend her Complaint to add new defendants and a claim for conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2). [Filing No. 79.] Magistrate Judge Matthew P. Brookman denied Dr. Kinsella's Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint, [Filing No. 106], and had the parties file proposed case management plans, [Filing No. 103]. Judge Brookman adopted IU Health's proposed case management plan and entered an Order on Second Amended Case Management Plan. [Filing No. 112.] Dr. Kinsella filed objections to Judge Brookman's Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and his Order on Second Amended Case Management Plan. [Filing No. 107; Filing No. 114.] For the reasons set forth below, the Court OVERRULES both of Dr. Kinsella's Objections.

         I. Background

         On August 9, 2016, Dr. Kinsella filed this lawsuit in state court against IU Health, and on August 24, 2016, IU Health removed the action to this Court. [Filing No. 1.] On December 22, 2016, Dr. Kinsella filed a Second Amended Complaint, asserting the following claims: (1) Gender Discrimination in Violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (2) Retaliation; and, (3) Wrongful Termination. [Filing No. 26 at 3-5.] However, in her Statement of Claims filed on November 10, 2017, Dr. Kinsella only listed her Title VII gender discrimination claim. [Filing No. 64.]

         The parties participated in a settlement conference on November 29, 2017 and they reached a resolution. [Filing No. 66.] The Settlement Agreement stated, in relevant part:

Dr. Kinsella may ask the Court to re-open the Action to allow the Action to proceed if Drs. Allison, Hardacher, Johnson, Kritzmire or Lathan do not receive a contract renewal during the relevant period, or Dr. Kinsella receives evidence of what she believes to be unlawful gender discrimination against female [IU Health] anesthesiologists by Dr. Presson on the [IU Health] Anesthesiology Division leaders.

[Filing No. 106 at 2.][1] Following settlement, the parties jointly moved for this action to be administratively closed, [Filing No. 67], which motion the Court granted on December 4, 2017, [Filing No. 68].

         On March 9, 2019, Dr. Kinsella filed her Notice of Reopening Case, [Filing No. 69], which IU Health opposed, [Filing No. 70]. Judge Brookman held a Status Conference with the parties on March 20, 2019 and ordered that, “[t]o the extent [Dr. Kinsella's] Notice of Reopening (Docket No. 69) could be construed as a motion, the Court DENIES the motion without prejudice and with leave to refile the motion requesting administrative reopening. . . .” [Filing No. 75.]

         Dr. Kinsella filed a Motion to Reopen Case on April 29, 2019, [Filing No. 79], and an Amended Motion to Reopen Case on May 20, 2017, [Filing No. 87], alleging that she learned the five female anesthesiologists she previously deposed in this case were retaliated against after they testified in this action. [Filing No. 87 at 2.] The case was reopened on July 19, 2019. [Filing No. 97.]

         Three days later, Dr. Kinsella filed a Motion for Leave to File Third Amended and Supplemental Complaint (“Motion for Leave to Amend”), seeking to add additional defendants- Robert G. Presson, M.D., Indiana University Medical School, and Senthil Sadhasivam, M.D.- and a claim for conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2). [Filing No. 99.] IU Health opposed the motion, [Filing No. 104], and Dr. Kinsella filed a Reply. [Filing No. 105].

         On September 27, 2019, Judge Brookman denied Dr. Kinsella's Motion for Leave to Amend, holding that Dr. Kinsella's allegations in her proposed Third Amended Complaint “do not support a claim of conspiracy as there is no coordination between the two proposed defendants, ” and fail to support the four elements of a conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. 1985(2). [Filing No. 106 at 5-6.]

         Judge Brookman further found that the “intra-corporate immunity doctrine” barred any conspiracy claim because the two proposed defendants are part of the same entity. [Filing No. 106 at 6.] Although Dr. Kinsella argued that the proposed defendants were employed by different entities, Judge Brookman pointed to the affidavit of one of the female anesthesiologists, Dr. Kritzmire, wherein she stated that her “direct supervisor is Dr. Senthil Sadhasivam, who then reports to Dr. Robert Presson of [IU Health], ” [Filing No. 87-4 at 1], and described “joint action by the two proposed defendants to reprimand [her], ” [Filing No. 106 at 6 (emphasis in original).] Judge Brookman reasoned that, “even accepting Dr. Kinsella's allegations of discrimination and retaliation as true, the intra-corporate immunity doctrine prevents managers of the same organization from becoming conspirators.” [Filing No. 106 at 6.]

         Finally, Judge Brookman found that, most significantly, an amendment adding a new claim and new defendants would cause undue delay and prejudice to IU Health and to the Court. [Filing No. 106 at 6.] Accordingly, Judge Brookman found that although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a)(2) provides that “[t]he Court should freely give leave when justice so requires, ” the undue delay and prejudice that would result from Dr. Kinsella's proposed amendments were valid reasons to depart from the usual freedom to amend provided in Rule 15(a)(2). [Filing No. 106 at 6-8 (citing Murphy v. White Hen Pantry Co., 691 F.2d 350, 353 (7th Cir. 1982) (affirming district court's denial of leave to amend because amendment would “inject[] an entirely new theory of liability into the lawsuit, . . . requir[ing] reopening discovery and further delay[ing] the trial.”)).] Judge Brookman reasoned that “though Dr. Kinsella was diligent in filing the amended complaint after the Court reopened the case, considerable delay to the litigation process would likely stem from adding this new claim and these new defendants.” [Filing No. 106 at 7.]

         On October 1, 2019, Dr. Kinsella filed her Objections to United States Magistrate Judge Brookman's Order Denying Her Motion for Leave to File Third Amended and Supplemental ...


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