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RUTZ v. BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL

June 3, 2005.

LUCILLE RUTZ, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL and BJC HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL J. REAGAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant's, BJC Health System's, Special and Limited Entry of Appearance of Defendant BJC Health System for the Purpose of Contesting Personal Jurisdiction over BJC Health System and Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 9), filed October 26, 2004. Defendant moves the Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint as it pertains to Defendant BJC Health System for lack of personal jurisdiction. This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

Background

  On August 6, 2003, Plaintiff, Lucille Rutz ("Rutz"), filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and to Adjudicate Liens against United Healthcare,*fn1 Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the Circuit Court of Madison County, State of Illinois. The basis for the Petition was to adjudicate various liens in relation to injuries suffered in an automobile accident on September 21, 2001. On January 29, 2004, Rutz was granted leave to file First Amended Complaint, which added allegations against Defendant Barnes-Jewish Hospital and asserted class action claims for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505-1, et seq., and for unjust enrichment.

  On August 12, 2004, Rutz was granted leave to file Second Amended Complaint. In Count I, Rutz seeks declaratory judgment to adjudicate liens against all Defendants. Count II is an unjust enrichment claims against Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In Count III, Rutz asserts a claim against Defendant Barnes-Jewish Hospital for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. In Count IV, Rutz asserts a claim against Defendant BJC Health Systems ("BJC") for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Count V is an unjust enrichment claim against BJC.

  Defendant BJC moves the Court to dismiss Rutz's Second Amended Petition as to BJC for lack of personal jurisdiction. In support of said Motion, BJC states that 1) Rutz has failed to allege sufficient facts which would subject BJC to the jurisdiction of the Illinois courts; 2) Rutz's Second Amended Complaint does not contain legally sufficient factual allegations that BJC is "doing business" in the State of Illinois to subject itself to the Illinois courts; 3) the exercise of personal jurisdiction over BJC offends federal and state guarantees of due process; and 4) the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over the federal question issues.

  Rutz responds as follows: 1) there is no requirement that she allege jurisdictional facts under either federal or Illinois law; 2) BJC is "doing business" in Illinois; and 3) if the Court determines that evidence that BJC is subject to this Court's jurisdiction is insufficient, Rutz requests limited discovery on jurisdictional issues. Rutz submits pictures of Alton Memorial Hospital in Madison County, Illinois, with the BJC logo beneath the Hospital name. Rutz seeks to proceed under this Court's "general" rather than "specific" jurisdiction, stating that, because BJC is doing significant business in Illinois, it is subject to this Court's general jurisdiction.

  BJC replies that Rutz's references to signage are insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over BJC. BJC again argues that Rutz has failed to plead sufficient facts to establish personal jurisdiction. Specifically, BJC asserts that Alton Memorial Hospital is separately incorporated and that using the activities of a subsidiary corporation as a basis for personal jurisdiction over the parent corporation violates due process. In the alternative, BJC seeks limited discovery on the jurisdictional issues and an evidentiary hearing where Rutz would be required to establish jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.

  Analysis

  FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(2) authorizes dismissal based on lack of personal jurisdiction. Rutz's October, 2004, Second Amended Complaint does not include facts alleging personal jurisdiction, nor is that required in a Complaint. Steel Warehouse of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Leach, 154 F.3d 712, 715 (7thp> Cir. 1998). Once a defendant moves to dismiss a Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, however, plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the existence of personal jurisdiction. Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A. , 338 F.3d 773, 787 (7thp> Cir. 2003) (citing Central States, S.E. & S.W. Areas Pension Fund v. Reimer Express World Corp., 230 F.3d 934, 939 (7thp> Cir. 2000).

  Assuming no evidentiary hearing is held on this issue, (i.e., if the district court resolves the dismissal motion based on the parties' written submissions), the plaintiff need only "[make] out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction" to avoid Rule 12(b)(2) dismissal. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 783 (citing Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7thp> Cir. 2002); see also Nelson by Carson v. Park Industries, Inc., 717 F.2d 1120, 1123 (7thp> Cir. 1983); Celozzi v. Boot, ___ F.3d ___, 2000 WL 1141568, *2 (7thp> Cir. 2000). In evaluating whether the Plaintiff has made this prima facie showing, the Court resolves in the plaintiff's favor all disputes concerning relevant facts presented in the record. Purdue, 338 F.3d at 782 (citing Nelson, 717 F.2d at 1123 and RAR, Inc., v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1275 (7thp> Cir. 1997) (Plaintiff "is entitled to have any conflicts in the affidavits resolved in [her] favor."). The Court may consider affidavits submitted by both parties, but the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts and resolve in favor of Plaintiff Rutz all factual disputes in the pleadings and affidavits.

  Personal jurisdiction involves a multi-layered, sometimes complex, analysis. Clearly, where a federal district court exercises diversity jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction lies "only if a court of the state in which it sits would have such jurisdiction." RAR, 107 F.3d at 1275. Because the Court denied Rutz's motion to remand based on federal question jurisdiction and did not resolve the question of whether the Court also enjoys diversity jurisdiction, the Court will consider this matter under the federal question statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

  Simply stated, to exert personal jurisdiction over Defendant BJC in this matter, the Court must find two propositions to be true: 1) that BJC is amenable to service of process and 2) that haling BJC into court in Illinois accords with due process principles, i.e., does not offend "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice" embodied in the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945).

  Having carefully examined the record before it, and resolving in Rutz's favor "all disputes concerning relevant facts presented in the record," the Court answers both of these questions in the affirmative. First, BJC is amenable to service of process here. BJC is a Missouri corporation with its principal place of business in that state. Whether a non-resident defendant is amenable to process depends on whether it "could be subjected to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state in which the district is located." FED. R. CIV. P. 4(k)(1)(A). An Illinois trial court may exercise jurisdiction over such non-resident defendants based upon (a) the fact that the corporation has been found ...


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