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Ray v. Heritage Care

July 24, 2006

WILLIAM RAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HERITAGE CARE, INC., AND BENJAMIN ADEWALE DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 6

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff seeks monetary damages from defendants Heritage Care, Inc. and Benjamin Adewale, for allegedly removing him from defendant Heritage Care's nursing home facility without his consent and for failing to readmit him to that same facility. Currently before the court is defendant Heritage's motion to dismiss or transfer.*fn1 Because the District of Columbia is not a proper venue for the plaintiff's lawsuit, the court grants the defendant's motion to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

II. BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, William Ray, suffers from complete paralysis, has complete C-4 tetraplegia (a paralysis of the arms, legs and trunk of the body), and has muscle spasticity (spasms and involuntary movement). Compl. ¶ 3. Accordingly, the plaintiff is completely dependent on others for all life-sustaining care. Id. Defendant Heritage Care, a Maryland corporation, owns and operates the St. Thomas More Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, located in Maryland. On August 24, 2000, St. Thomas More Nursing & Rehabilitation Center accepted the plaintiff for residential nursing care. Id. ¶¶ 2, 5. The plaintiff alleges that on February 1, 2004, he was "forcibly removed from his bed, against his will and consent[,] was involuntarily discharged from [the] facility[, and] was transported to Prince George's Hospital Center, located in Prince George's County Maryland. Id. ¶ 6. Later that day, he was allegedly discharged from the hospital and returned to the St. Thomas More facility. Id. ¶ 10. Apparently, St. Thomas More refused to readmit the plaintiff, and he was transported back to the hospital. Id. ¶ 11. Again on February 2, 2004, the plaintiff claims, Prince George's Hospital staff attempted to relocate the plaintiff back to the St. Thomas More facility, but the defendant refused to readmit him and, accordingly, he was returned to the hospital. According to the plaintiff, he remained at the hospital until February 3, 2004, at which time he was admitted into another nursing home. Id. ¶ 12.

The plaintiff claims that the defendant breached a contract to provide ongoing health treatment services to the plaintiff. He also claims wrongful abandonment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and with regard to defendant Adewale, a psychiatrist at St. Thomas More, psychiatric and medical malpractice. Id. ¶¶ 13-35. The plaintiff seeks a total of $3.5 million dollars in compensatory damages and eight million dollars in punitive damages, plus interest, costs, and attorneys' fees.

On February 28, 2006, defendant Heritage filed a motion to dismiss or to transfer. The defendant argues that because none of the alleged tortious actions took place in the District of Columbia and because neither of the defendants are residents or otherwise have contacts with the District of Columbia, the court should either dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction or transfer this case to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.*fn2 Def.'s Mot. at 9. In opposition, the plaintiff argues that because he is a lifelong resident of D.C., venue is appropriate under the District of Columbia's Long-Arm Statute, D.C. Code § 13-423(a)(1). Pl.'s Opp'n at 5. The court turns now to the defendant's motion.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) and Transfer to Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)

Rule 12(b)(3) instructs the court to dismiss or transfer a case if venue is improper or inconvenient in the plaintiff's chosen forum. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(3). When federal jurisdiction is premised on diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) controls venue, establishing the following three places where venue is proper:

(1) a judicial district where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated, or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction at the ...


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