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Monke v. General Medicine

March 31, 2008

JAMIE MONKE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENERAL MEDICINE, P.C., A CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On February 13, 2007, Plaintiff Jamie Monke sued her employer, General Medicine, P.C. ("General Medicine"), and seven other Defendants for claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") and fraud arising from her employment with General Medicine. Plaintiff filed the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois. On March 21, 2007, General Medicine removed the action to this Court.(Doc. 2.) This Court has subject matter over the action because the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

In lieu of an Answer, Defendants Thomas Prose, Marilyn Morgan, Rebecca Coccia, Patricia Gottschalk, Scott Sonsovich, Tova Shaban, and Seyburn, Kahn, Ginn, Bess and Serline, P.C. ("Seyburn, Kahn") filed individual motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or alternatively, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (Docs. 11, 43-47.) Defendant Morgan filed an amended motion to dismiss. (Doc. 48.) Plaintiff did not object to Morgan filing an amended motion; therefore, the Court will withdraw Morgan's original motion to dismiss (Doc. 43) and consider only her amended motion (Doc. 48.) Plaintiff filed her opposing Responses (Docs. 58-63) to which Defendants filed their replies. (Docs. 72-77.) Although each of the Defendants separately filed motions to dismiss (except for Seyburn, Kahn and Tova Shaban who joined together in a motion to dismiss), the Court will consider the motions together for the purpose of general analysis, and then take up any specific facts or arguments that may weigh in on an individual motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

According to Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 3-2), Plaintiff Jamie Monke was employed as a medical doctor by Defendant General Medicine from October 1, 2004 until February 25, 2005. During her employment with General Medicine, Plaintiff provided medical services to General Medicine's clients at several nursing home facilities across the state of Illinois.

Plaintiff claims that General Medicine, and by incorporation all of the other named Defendants, forced Plaintiff to work an immense workload and failed to recruit a second physician to assist Plaintiff with her duties. Plaintiff alleges that she advised her supervisors of the exhaustion, sleep depravation, and stress she endured due to the workload. Despite this, Plaintiff contends that Defendants took several actions which were intended and/or were substantially certain to cause Plaintiff emotional distress. Among other allegations, these actions included: threatening to report Plaintiff to the Medical Board while Defendant General Medicine's lawyer was on a three-way call with Plaintiff and Co-Defendant Dr. Prose; threatening to have Plaintiff's medical license revoked if she resigned from General Medicine; ordering Plaintiff to falsify records by coding 5 minute appointments instead of 30 minutes; being on call for 450 hours straight without a break; and being on call for nursing homes over 300 miles away on weekend and holidays. (Doc. 3-2, Count I, ¶ 11.) Plaintiff maintains that this Defendants' conduct was extreme and outrageous and caused Plaintiff to suffer and continue to suffer mental anguish, depression, anxiety, panic, fear, worry, and loss of sleep. Due to these conditions, Plaintiff alleges that she has incurred extensive hospital, medical, and related expenses. In addition, Plaintiff insists that defendant, individually, and "by and through its agents, servants, and employees, was guilty of one or more of the following fraudulent acts or omissions: a) Fraudulently misrepresented to plaintiff that she would be assigned to 6 nursing homes; b) Fraudulently misrepresented to Plaintiff and the would be on call for only 12 nursing homes; c) Fraudulently misrepresented to plaintiff by failing to inform her she would be on call for 32 additional nursing homes in the Chicago/Rockford areas; and d) Fraudulently misrepresented to plaintiff, in October 2004, that another physician would be recruited to adjust the workload." (Doc. 3-2, Count VIII, ¶ 9.)

Other than a three-way telephone call that took place between Plaintiff, Thomas Prose, and Tova Shaban (counsel for General Medicine), Plaintiff's Complaint only makes general allegations and does not specify the extent of each Defendants involvement with each allegation.

III. MOTIONS TO DISMISS

A. Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

1. Legal Standard

Defendants first seek a dismissal of Plaintiff's suit upon the basis that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants. Once a defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(2), a plaintiff has the burden of establishing the existence of personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. Purdue Research Foundation v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003) (internal citations omitted). A plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence to establish at least a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. Turnock v. Cope, 816 F.2d 332, 333 (7th Cir.1987).

A federal court sitting in diversity must rely on the law of personal jurisdiction that governs the courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the court is sitting. Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002). Because this Court sits in Illinois and further, because this action is a diversity case, the Court will have personal jurisdiction over non-resident Defendants only if an Illinois court would have personal jurisdiction. FMC Corp. v. Varonos, 892 F.2d 1308, 1310 (7th Cir. 1990)(citing FED.R.CIV. P. 4(e)). The Illinois long-arm statute, 735 ILL. COMP.STAT. 5/2-209, lists the statutory grounds for which personal jurisdiction over a defendant may be exercised by an Illinois court. Personal jurisdiction can be either "general," as stated in 735 ILL.COMP.STAT. 5/2-209(b), "specific," as enumerated under 735 ILL.COMP.STAT. 5/2-209(a), or for "any other basis permitted by the Illinois and United States Constitutions," as stated in 735 ILL.COMP.STAT. 5/2- 209(c). Therefore, Plaintiff must demonstrate that personal jurisdiction over all Defendants in this case complies with (1) the Illinois long-arm statute, (2) Illinois constitutional law, and (3) federal constitutional law. RAR, Inc.v. Turner Diesel, Ltd., 107 F.3d 1272, 1276 (7th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff does not suggest that the Court has general jurisdiction over any of the Defendants. Accordingly, the Court will turn its attention to whether the Defendants had sufficient "minimum contacts" with the forum state, such that maintaining an action here comports with "traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). The defendants' conduct with respect to the forum state must be such that he would reasonably anticipate being haled into that state's court. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980).

To determine whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant satisfies federal due process guarantees, a court must consider the following factors: 1) whether the defendant had sufficient "minimum contacts" with the state of Illinois such that he had "fair warning" that he might be hailed into court, 2) whether the lawsuit arises out of these minimum contacts, and 3) whether it is perfectly reasonable to require the defendant to litigate in this forum. See Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462 (1985). If a defendant purposefully directed his activities toward the forum state or derived benefits from those activities, it would not be unreasonable for the court to ...


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