ENOBAKHARE et al v. ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL et al, No. 3:2016cv01457 - Document 25 (D.N.J. 2017)

Court Description: OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Anne E. Thompson on 2/1/2017. (mps)
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ENOBAKHARE et al v. ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL et al Doc. 25 I RECEIVBD NOT FOR PUBLICATION FEB 0 1 2017 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY I AT 8:30 WILLIAM T. WALSH I HELEN ENOBAKHARE and WILLIAM ENOBAKHARE, Plaintiffs, M I I Civ. No. 16-1457 v. OPJION ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, JOHN DOES 1-10 (FICTITIOUS NAMES REPRESENTING UNKNOWN INDIVIDUALS), JANE DOES 1-10 FICTICIOUS NAMES REPRESENTING UNKNOWN INDIVIDUALS), ABC CORPORATION (FICTITIOUS NAMES REPRESENTING UNKNOWN ENTITIES), THE YELLOW CAB COMPANY AND ADAM TYUS, Defendants. ·..:. ·. ..: - THOMPSON, U.S.aJ: · . ... - ... I . INTRODUCTION - . -. . I This matter has come before the Court on multiple . '.:.o - - - . I Defendant Robert Wood i .. - . - • I j I Johnson University Hospital ("Defendant") filed a moron to dismiss. l(ECF No. 14) ("First to While that motion was this Co,, .Defendant filed another motion to dtsrmss. (ECF No. 21) ("Second Motion to Dismiss"). Plaintiffs Helen Enobakhare and William Enobakhare ("Plaintiffs") oppose both mltions. (ECF NJs. 18, 22). the Court has decided the ••pursuant to ba11!}(J9n the written the parties For the reasons 1tated herein, without oral argument Complaint will be dismissed without pfejudiCe and Plaintiffs will be gi-Jed leave to file;an amended Complaint on or before February 17, 2017. Defendant's motions to 1smiss will be denied without prejudice. 1 Dockets.Justia.com If Plaintiffs properly file an amended complaint, Defendant may re-submit its motions to dismiss. ! I I BACKGROUND . This case is a wrongful death action brought b, Helen Enobkahare and William Enobakhare regarding the passing of their mother Patience Enobakhare. Plaintiffs make the following allegations. Patience Enobakhare was originally admitted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for hyperthyroidism. from December 10, 2011 15, 2014. (Fourth Am. Compl. if 1, ECF No. 6). Patience Enobakhare was agam admitted to Robert Wood Johnson . . . . . - - ! University Hospital in . January 2014, February 2014, I . . from March 5, 2014 to March 9, 2014. I . . (Id.,, 1, 4). Throughout.this timeperiod, Patience Enobakhare had chfollic swollen legs. (Id.·, 3). On March 5, 2014, Patience Enobakhare was admitted to Robert Wood Johnson University I . . . I Hospital to receive anx-ray and blood work on the ad"Vrice of her primary care (Id. _ , __ -: . I . ·. - - . . . . ·.. . i ' . - ot . 4). Patience Enobakhare was discharged on March 9, 2014, but no x-ray blood work.was · · ·_ > -" · _ ·· I · · ·. · - ·· · ' . ;, ·· · - ·. : . performed, aJ1d she was not provided any explanation for her chronic S;\Vollen legs. (Id._, 4). · . . <E)< .:. . . . Patience Enobakhare's legswere consistently swollen from DecemberJQ,·2Ql3,_to March..9, - :.:. . ·-.:· II . . • .. I ·.: :;.; : -- 2014, but her swoHert- legs were never examined, - or treated.: (Id. . . . 5). . . The· Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital staff knew or should have known that there was a medical res.son for her chronic swollen le,, had an obligation to examine her . swollen legs, and that the failure to diagnose or treat her for the cause of her chronic swollen legs : .. - ·. not related -· hi serious . . I - -· or.death. (Id. ,, 7, 8). Tlie staff at Robert Wood Johnson shOllid have realized tliat (Id. ° ._-_ s cirnlciC swoi1enlegs were 13). If the stf at Robert Wood Johnson University I . · Hospital had diagnosed and treated her swollen legs, s e would not have died. (Id. 2 9). On ! March 14, 2014, Patience Enobakhare passed away if 34). failure. (14. (fd. if 15, 17). because her chronic swollen legs were never treated. She passed away Also, after Patience Enobakhare passed, an autopsy was performed and it jas determined that she had passed due to her hyperthyroidism. (Id. if 19). Additionally, on March 14, 2014, Patience Enobakhare took a taxicab to her home from the local shopping mall. Her cab driver, Adam Tyus, lho was working for Defendant Yellow Cab Company, did not take the "regular" road used by cab drivers to drive between Patience Enobakhare' s neighborhood and the local shopping to become anxious, confused and to hyperventilate uncomfortable roadway in her town." (Id. refuSed. (Id. -- if 33). .- - -- (Id. ' b1 if 36). In so doing, he caused her taking her to an unfamiliar, dark, and She mad told the cab driver to stop, but he - - I-. - -.. -- - . . -- -. - - if 50). · ShebCcaine si:> nervoUs that shejTped out ofthe taxicab and into a stranger's car who had the police call an ambulance. ({d. if 40). Patience Enobakhare passed I . - "'· ,_.1,, .• :_.. · away that day. ·On August 9, 2016, Defendant filed an answer _: -.. - -- -.. ... r- -_,, Complaint. (ECF No. 8). ' - .- -- . . -. . - -- · .The Clerk of Court previously entered default against IDefeildants Yellow Cab Gornpany and ·- ..·. .· :· .. -'_,·:. . -< .. Adam (See ECF No. 12). Defend.antthen-fil¢,d)fs:tn:otioris todiSriliss.- Therefore;·· · < --: ' ·- . . ,_:. : . - .. . .· :: :<'l··. _. _·.. . .:...· .·.· Defendant's two motions to dismiss are presently before the Court· .- ·· · :... · I-···-- . DISCUSSION - · :_: _;, - -- I. Jurisdiction Before considering the merits ofDefendantJsmotions to dismiss, the Court must consider ·..· · • whether it has jurisdiction over this case. In order to l e subjeef of diversity of the parties, plaintiffs must affirmativeiy pleag the-citizenship. of parties. .·Lewis v. United Air Lines, Inc., 117 F. Supp. 2d 434; 442 (D.N.J: 2000). Faililre to properly and completely allege a basis for diversity jurisdiction dJveS a 3 basis .. court of juriSdiction. Chemical Leaman Tank Lines, Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & sJ. Co., 177 F.3d 210, 222 n.13 (3d Cir. 1999). Consistent with our "independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even when no party challenges it," we review the complaint. Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). In a complaint diversity of citizenship as the basis for I federal jurisdiction, the burden is on the plaintiff to affirmatively identify the citizenship of each party so that ''the existence of complete diversity can confirmed." Chemical Leaman, 177 I F.3d at 222 n.13 (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(l)). as to a party's "residency," as opposed to "citizenship" or "domicile," are "jurisdictidnally inadequate in [a] diversity of citizenship case." McNair v. Synapse Group Inc., 672 IF.3d 213, 219 n.4 (3d Cir. 2012) Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that Defendants Jobert Wood Johnson University Hospital, . ·.. Yellow Cab Companyiind Adam Tyus all were residJts ofoi- businesSes in New Jersey. I (Fourth Am. Compl. at,, 26, 30, 31, ECF No. 6). Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that Plaintiff William Enobakhare was at all times relevant a residjt of New York, and that Plaintiff Helen - ·. - a! .··- >·::. ;. <:> - 28, 29,-ECF I o_f : · ;.: : .; .· .-_ . - :-: ..c.- - -·:-:f .··... - 6).-,,Pfaintiffs! - - . (Fourth Arri.. CompL i . . ·· .. - - . .. . . deceased, Patience Was at ·all . --· - State· of New Jersey, County Middlesex. {Follrlh I < Am. Compl., 27,ECF-No. 6)>- Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. et seq. the basis for bringing its claims. None of the defendants before this Court are public entities, and as a result, it appears that the. New Jersey Torr Claims Act would lot govern here artd Plaintiffs have failed · to cite the relevant New Jersef ··:1:··-. ' ·.. deficiency, Plaintiffs'· Complaint is· titled,. ·'f.Ainended Cfomplaint for Wrongful - . . . ' . · :_ - :·. contains a single cause of action for wrongful death . . . .. this potelltia1 : ·. · -· , . and it . (Fourth Am. Comp!. atl-2, .· I ECF No. 6). Therefore, it appears-that New Jersey's Wrongful DeathAct, codified at N.J.S.A. § 4 2A:31-l et seq., which establishes a cauSe ofaction fo1 wrongful death, under certain circumstances, applies to Plaintiffs' claims. 1 The provides that only certain individuals may bring such an action: "Every action commenced uhder this Chapter shall be brought in the name of an administrator ad prosequendum of the decJcient for whose death damages are sought, except where decedent died testate and his will is problted, in which event the executor named in the will and qualifying, or the administrator with the annexed, as the case may be, shall bring the action." N.J.S.A. § 2A:31-2. Plaintiffs' Complaint is deficient. Plaintiffs only allege "residency'' of multiple parties as I , opposed to the parties' "citizenship" or "domicile." (Fpurth Am. Compl. ECF No. 6). I Additionally, Plaintiffs bring the instant wrongful death action in their individual capacities, .. . - . : --- . ... . . .. . . . . . . . .. . ·- . I . . : .- .... . . . . . _- .. . . - ·· · rather than as administrators adprosequendum of the tedent as required by the Wrongful ·.• Death Statute. If Plaintiffs-had properly brought the Complaint as required by the Wrongful be deemed. citiZenslof · . . . ·._ .•. • - r ·, .·<. . ·. . . . : .. ... . .. :• '=" c - .. allegations'contained-in theJJomplaint, · . .. . .: . . of the same . __ state as the decedent. See 1332(c)(2) (prov1dmg that "the legal representative of the. estate of a decedent ' be deem.edto be .. .. tlie . -: > •. . . . . . the decedent.'''). · Based on the· .t it appears that diversity.jJ,lrisdiction would then be destroyed because the Plaintiffs ·would be deemed citijens .Of the state of New Jersey, the same state as all of the named Plaintiffs claim in their briefs that the deceased may have been' a citizen of Nigeria, and · . as a· result, diversity jurisdietion_niay - ···:. ···• - • - -- . :':'·· - - < ......... . ..-:;; - : ,__ exist even if PlaiI1tiffs.had brought this suit as legal :.· . - . 1·rhe_statutereads:>'When the is otdefauit, would; if . -death had ilot'ensued,haveentitled the-person injilred for resulting the mjury, the person who would have been liablt{ iri damages for the injury if death iiad not ensued shall be liable in an action damages, notwithstanding thedeatlrofthe person injured and-although;the death was caused under circumstances amounting in law to a crime." . from 0 N.J.S.A. § 2A;31-1. . 5 . I ! representatives of the decedent. (ECF No. 22 at 10). However, these claims in Plaintiffs' briefs directly contradict the allegations in Plaintiffs' Compl1nt, where Plaintiffs' allege that the decedent was at all times relevant a resident of the Stje of New Jerse;, and the purported foreign citizenship of the decedent is not mentioned at lall. (See Fourth Am. Compl., ECF No. 6). Moreover, no documents relating to the decedent's Nigerian citizenship were attached I to the Complaint. Therefore, based on the face of the <Complaint, the Court cannot determine that it has subject matter jurisdiction to hear this mattJ. This runs afoul of the express language I . of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a}, which requires a "short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's · I jurisdiction." Plaintiffs will be granted leave to file an/ amended Complaint. If Plaintiffs do not cure the pleading deficiencies discussed herein, Plaintia-s' Complaint may be dismissed with . . II. Defendant's Motions. to Dismiss· - - .. . - ' . DefendanCs·motions will be denied rthout preju.dif pending any attempt by .1 ··. · · .· ··•Plaintiffs to file an amendedcomplaint. . > .. For the foregoing Defendant's motion to ·-CONCLUSION>--- ·. Plaintiffs' ComplJt will be dismissed without prejudice. be denied without Ludice. An appropriate order will ·follow. .. _ · Isl Anne E. Thompson :.. ..ANNE_.K THOMPSON, U.S.D.J. 6 · 1