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M.J. v. Georgetown University Medical Center

United States District Court, District Circuit

August 22, 2013

M.J., a minor, by and through Bianca Jarvis, his parent and natural guardian, Plaintiffs,
v.
Georgetown University Medical Center, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

Plaintiff Bianca Jarvis ("Jarvis" or "Plaintiff") brings this medical malpractice action, on behalf of her minor son, M.J., against the Georgetown University Medical Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Lori A. Picco, M.D., and Phyllis M. Rattey, R.N. (collectively, the "Georgetown Defendants"), and the United States of America (the "Government").

This matter is before the Court on the Government's Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 5]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition [Dkt. No. 12], and Reply [Dkt. No. 16], the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, the Government's Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

A. Factual Background

On November 1, 1998, Jarvis was admitted to the Georgetown University Hospital twenty-five weeks pregnant with complaints of "abdominal spasms and spontaneous rupture of membranes." Compl. ¶ 16. Over the next several days, she was monitored so that her baby could be "timely delivered in the event of infection and/or fetal distress." Compl. ¶¶ 17-68. On November 6, 1998, Jarvis went into labor. Compl.¶ 69-74. The attending physicians determined that her fetus should be delivered via cesarean section, but after administering an epidural, they found that she was completely dilated and "decided to forego the cesarean section and proceed with a vaginal delivery." Compl. ¶¶ 95, 99-101. During the delivery, a sonogram of the fetus indicated "terminal fetal bradycardia." Compl. ¶ 103.[2] Forceps and traction were then used to extract the fetus. Cornel, ¶ 105.

M.J. was born on November 7, 1998, at 12:27 a.m. Upon delivery, he "was blue, with no respiratory effort or heart rate[, ]" and had "extensive bruising on his head, neck and chest." Compl. ¶¶ 106-07. Following delivery, M.J. was diagnosed with "perinatal asphyxia, respiratory distress syndrome, and extreme prematurity, " and was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, where he remained for sixteen weeks. Compl. ¶¶ 108-110.[3] M.J. now suffers from permanent brain damage, orthopedic injuries, global developmental delay, and other complications, which Plaintiff attributes to the timing and method of M.J.'s delivery, specifically Defendants' decision to deliver M.J. vaginally rather than by cesarean section. See Compl. ¶¶ 112, 117, 119.

B. Procedural Background

On January 2, 2013, more than 14 years after M.J.'s birth, Jarvis filed this medical malpractice action in District of Columbia Superior Court. The case was initially brought against the Georgetown Defendants and Dr. Christian Macedonia, one of the doctors involved in M.J.'s delivery. On March 4, 2013, the Government substituted itself as a party defendant on behalf of Dr. Macedonia, and removed the case to this Court pursuant to the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988 (the "Westfall Act"), 28 U.S.C. § 2679. According to the removal papers, at the time of M.J.'s delivery, Dr. Macedonia was a federal employee, serving as a Major in the United States Army and completing a fellowship at Georgetown University Hospital. Plaintiff's claim against Dr. Macedonia is therefore deemed to be an action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). See 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d). Dr. Macedonia was dismissed as a defendant on April 10, 2013.

On March 20, 2013, the Government moved to dismiss Plaintiff's FTCA claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction [Dkt. No. 5]. On April 3, 2013, Plaintiff filed her Opposition [Dkt. No. 12], and on May 15, 2013, the Government filed a Reply [Dkt. No. 16].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 12(b) (1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Shuler v. United States, 531 F.3d 930, 932 (D.C. Cir. 2008). In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, the court must "accept all of the factual allegations in [the] complaint as true[.]" Jerome Stevens Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (citing United States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S. 315, 327 (1991)) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may also consider matters outside the pleadings, and it may rest its decision on its own resolution of disputed facts. See Herbert v. Nat'l Acad, of Sciences, 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992).[4]

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Federal Tort Claims Act


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