MICHAEL A. DURLACHER, DAVID L. DURLACHER, BARBARA BRODSKY, and RICHARD DURLACHER, Plaintiffs,
ROCKY WAYNE HOFFSCHNEIDER, DR. MARK B. DOUTHIT, THE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION d.b.a. BOULDER COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, and JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MARK DOUTHIT'S AND BOULDER COMMUNITY HOSPITAL'S MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION
ALAN B. JOHNSON, District Judge.
At a hospital in Boulder, Colorado, operated by Boulder Community Hospital, Dr. Mark Douthit performed surgery on Lindsey Durlacher to repair a broken sternum. But the surgery went horribly wrong and Mr. Durlacher died as a result. Members of Mr. Durlacher's family sued Dr. Douthit and the Hospital for wrongful death in this Court. Dr. Douthit and the Hospital have now moved the Court to dismiss them for lack of personal jurisdiction. Because the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Dr. Douthit and the Hospital, the Court GRANTS their motions.
Lindsey Durlacher was injured while snowmobiling near Ryan Park, Wyoming, when Defendant Rocky Hoffschneider allegedly crashed his snowmobile into Mr. Durlacher's snowmobile. Mr. Durlacher suffered serious injuries in the collision, including a fractured sternum.
Almost four months later, Defendant Dr. Mark Douthit performed surgery on Mr. Durlacher to repair the fractured sternum. Dr. Douthit is a cardiothoracic surgeon licensed to practice medicine in Colorado. The surgery took place in Boulder, Colorado, at a hospital operated by Defendant Boulder Community Hospital (the Hospital).
Dr. Douthit attempted to repair the sternum using a Synthes plate, which is held in place by screws. But the screws Dr. Douthit used were too long. As a result, x-rays taken immediately after the surgery showed Mr. Durlacher's lungs were "minimally hypoventilated resulting in bronchovascular crowding, " and that the screws "extended beyond the posterior cortex by.325mm, more than (6) six times the maximum limit warned against by the manufacturer." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23-24, ECF No. 43. The day after surgery, x-rays showed "hypoventilation and worsening bilateral atelectasis." Id. ¶ 25. Not surprisingly, Mr. Durlacher complained of extensive pain after the surgery despite being medicated.
As time went on, the fluid in Mr. Durlacher's lungs got worse and his vital signs began to deteriorate. But the Hospital staff failed to check Mr. Durlacher's vital signs and discharged him the day after his surgery. About thirty-six hours later, Mr. Durlacher's mom, Plaintiff Barbara Brodsky, found her son dead in his apartment.
Plaintiffs Michael and David Durlacher are Mr. Durlacher's brothers. After Mr. Durlacher died, a Wyoming state district court appointed them as co-personal representatives for the purpose of prosecuting wrongful-death claims on behalf of Mr. Durlacher's beneficiaries. After the appointment, the brothers brought suit against Mr. Hoffschneider in this Court, asserting a wrongful-death claim and a survival action.
Later, the brothers amended their complaint, adding Ms. Brodsky and Richard Durlacher, Mr. Durlacher's dad, as plaintiffs. The amended complaint also named Dr. Douthit and the Hospital as defendants, asserting wrongful-death claims against them under Colorado's Wrongful Death Act.
Both Dr. Douthit and the Hospital have now filed motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), claiming that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them. Plaintiffs argue in response that whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over Dr. Douthit and the Hospital is irrelevant because the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims against them under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. In the alternative, and in the event of an adverse ruling on personal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs argue that the Court should transfer this action to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado under 28 U.S.C. § 1631.
The Court first will discuss the law governing personal jurisdiction. It will then apply that law to the facts here. After that, the Court will discuss whether this action should be transferred under § 1631. A brief conclusion follows.
I. The Law of Personal Jurisdiction
Generally, there are two limits on a federal court's ability to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in a diversity action. United States v. Botefuhr, 309 F.3d 1263, 1271 (10th Cir. 2002). "First, a federal district court may only exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant who could be subjected to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state in which the district court sits." Id. Second, assuming the first requirement is met, the district court's exercise of personal jurisdiction must comport with constitutional due process demands. Id. This Court sits in Wyoming so it applies Wyoming law, which confers the maximum jurisdiction permissible consistent with the Due Process Clause. Markby v. St. Anthony Hosp. Sys., 647 P.2d 1068, 1070 (Wyo. 1982). Thus, whether this Court may exercise personal ...