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HUTCHINSON v. U.S.

February 20, 2004.

ANTOINETTE HUTCHINSON, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of FREDA T. LEWIS, Plaintiff, -against- THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BROWNSVILLE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION d/b/a/ BROWNSVILLE MULTI-SERVICE FAMILY HEALTH CENTER, SANDRA GUMBS, R.P.A., FANNEL ALERTE, M.D., ANN MARIE LEDLEY-LEWIS, D.O., JACQEES DUPERVAL, M.D., and ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL of BROOKLYN, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: I. LEO GLASSER, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Defendants Brownsville Community Development Corporation and Sandra Gumbs, R.P.A. ("Brownsville," "Gumbs" or "Defendants") bring this motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking dismissal of Plaintiff Antoinette Hutchinson's ("Plaintiff or "Hutchinson") claims asserted in her Amended Complaint concerning Defendants' conduct prior to October 1, 1996. Defendants argue that this Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because "exceptional circumstances" present "compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction" and alternatively, because the claims in the Amended Complaint asserting Defendants' liability for their conduct between October 7, 1994 and May 22, 1996 are improperly pleaded and barred by the applicable statutes Page 2 of limitations.

  For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is denied.

  FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  For the purposes of this motion to dismiss, the following factual allegations drawn from Plaintiffs Amended Complaint are considered true. From October 7, 1994 through May 12, 1999, Freda Lewis ("Lewis" or "decedent") sought and received professional care for "certain medical conditions and complaints from which she suffered, including gynecological complaints," from a Brooklyn clinic operated and managed by Brownsville known as the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center, and the clinic's employees, including Gumbs and Fannel Alerte, M.D. ("Alerte"). Also during the time period of October 7, 1994 to May 12, 1999, Lewis received medical care from Defendant St. Mary's Hospital of Brooklyn ("St. Mary's"), and its employee, Defendant Ann Marie Ledley-Lewis, D.O. ("Ledley-Lewis"). From May 23, 1996 to May 12, 1999, decedent received medical care from Defendant Jacques Duperval, M.D. ("Duperval"), who is also an employee of St. Mary's.

  Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that:
• The care and services provided by all of the defendants were not rendered in accordance with accepted standards of medical care in the community. As a result, decedent's condition of ovarian cancer went undiagnosed, was permitted to worsen and metastacize, and ultimately caused her death;
• Brownsville and St. Mary's hired and supervised medical personnel who did not possess the requisite knowledge and skill of medical professionals in the community;
  • Defendants failed to inform decedent and/or her representative of the risks and Page 3 hazards of, and alternatives to, the treatments proposed and rendered, which resulted in Defendants' failure to obtain decedent's informed consent to treatment, that a reasonably prudent person would not have undergone the treatment rendered if she had been fully aware of the risks and hazards involved, and that this lack of informed consent was the proximate cause of decedent's injuries and death; and
 
• Plaintiff and other distributees of decedent's estate have suffered damages as result of Lewis's death.
PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
  On December 23, 1998, Freda Lewis filed an action for medical malpractice in the Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, against Brownsville, Gumbs, Alerte, St. Mary's, Duperval, Ledley-Lewis, and two other St. Mary's employees, Chien-Jen Huang, M.D. ("Huang") and Dr. Jenkins ("Lewis Complaint").*fn1 During the course of the litigation, Lewis learned that the Brownsville clinic became a federally-funded institution beginning October 1, 1996. Pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), any lawsuits against Brownsville concerning its conduct on or after that day may be pursued only in a United States District Court. On or about December 13, 1999, the United States filed a notice of removal in this Court, and was substituted as a party defendant for Brownsville and its employees with respect to any liability for events occurring on or after October 1, 1996.

  In the meantime, Lewis died on May 12, 1999. Plaintiff, who is decedent's daughter, became administratrix of decedent's estate upon issuance of Letters of Administration by the Surrogate of Kings County, New York on February 7, 2000. Despite Lewis's death, Plaintiff was Page 4 not substituted as a party in the state action before it was removed to this Court in December 1999.

  On or about June 29, 2000, the federal causes of action against the United States were dismissed without prejudice by this Court because Plaintiff failed to comply with the FTCA prerequisites for bringing an action. In addition to dismissing the federal causes of action, this Court remanded to Supreme Court, Kings County, the state claims against Brownsville, Gumbs and Alerte involving conduct prior to October 1, 1996 and the entirety of the claims against St. Mary's, Duperval, Huang, and Jenkins. Plaintiff thereafter complied with the FTCA requirements and filed a new complaint in this Court on February 28, 2001 against Brownsville, Gumbs and Alerte sounding in negligence, medical malpractice and wrongful death as a result of their conduct from May 23, 1996 to May 12, 1999.

  On March 6, 2001, Plaintiff filed a second complaint in the Supreme Court, Kings County, that largely mirrored the Lewis Complaint but also included a cause of action for wrongful death. The complaint alleged that the relevant conduct extended over a period of time from May 23, 1996 to May 12, 1999. The two state court actions were consolidated in March 2001, are currently viable and remain on that court's trial calendar.

  On July 22, 2003, Plaintiff amended the complaint filed in this Court asserting that this Court should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state court claims and defendants. The Amended Complaint also alters Plaintiff's claims by expanding the dates of Defendants' alleged wrongful conduct to include October 7, 1994 to May 22, 1996.

  ...


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