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Schwerdtfeger v. Alden Long Grove Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 12, 2014



THOMAS M. DURKIN, District Judge.

Theresa Schwerdtfeger alleges that Alden Long Grove Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, Inc., and its administrator, Lesley Hieras, impermissibly discharged Schwerdtfeger in violation of (1) the Nursing Home Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1395i-3, 1396r (the "NHRA"), see R. 1 ¶¶ 38-42 ("First Claim"); (2) the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45/1 et seq., see R. 1 ¶¶ 43-47 ("Second Claim"); and (3) the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq., see R. 1 ¶¶ 48-56 ("Third Claim"). Schwerdtfeger also alleges that Lamar Hasbrouck, in his official capacity as the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, failed to ensure that Schwerdtfeger received a proper administrative hearing upon her discharge from Alden in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See R. 1 ¶¶ 57-63 ("Fourth Claim"). Alden and Hieras have moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the NHRA does not provide Schwerdtfeger a private right of action. R. 19. Hasbrouck has also moved to dismiss, arguing that Schwerdtfeger failed to avail herself of the state process available for review of her discharge. R. 17. For the following reasons, both motions are granted, and the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Schwerdtfeger's state law claims.


Alden is a private nursing home (or "facility, " as the NHRA puts it, 42 U.S.C. § 1396r(a)) that participates in the Medicaid program. R. 1 ¶ 14. Schwerdtfeger became a resident at Alden in 2007. Id. ¶ 18. The State of Illinois made monthly payments to Alden through the Medicaid program for Schwerdtfeger's care. Id. ¶ 19. In August 2012, Schwerdtfeger had a verbal dispute with a nurse and a verbal dispute with another resident. Id. ¶¶ 20-22. On August 28, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., when Schwerdtfeger was already in bed, Alden staff told her she was required to leave Alden. Id. ¶ 23. The staff called an ambulance that took Schwerdtfeger to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. Id. ¶ 24. The next day, August 29, Schwerdtfeger was transferred to Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital where she stayed until September 12 when she was transferred to Grove North Nursing Home. Id. ¶¶ 24, 28.

On August 29, administrator Heiras prepared and signed an "Emergency Notice of Involuntary Transfer or Discharge, " or "IVD." Id. ¶ 25. The IVD stated that "the safety of individuals in this facility is endangered." Id. Schwerdtfeger was served with the IVD on August 29 while she was in the hospital. Id. ¶ 26.

After being served with the IVD, Schwerdtfeger requested an administrative hearing with the Illinois Department of Public Health. Id. ¶ 27. During the administrative process, Schwerdtfeger's attorneys disputed the validity of the discharge and requested a hearing. Id. ¶ 31. On November 15, 2012, Alden withdrew its IVD but did not allow Schwerdtfeger to return to Alden. Id. ¶ 32; R. 1-1 at 3. Schwerdtfeger's attorneys continued to seek a hearing, but on December 12, 2012, Administrative Law Judge Omayra Giachello issued a report and recommendation recommending dismissal of the case because Alden had withdrawn its IVD. R. 1 ¶ 33; R. 1-1 at 2. On December 5, 2012, Chief Administrative Law Judge John Abrell issued a final order dismissing the case. R. 1 ¶ 33; R. 1-1 at 6. Schwerdtfeger alleges that "[n]o hearing on the validity of Ms. Schwerdtfeger's discharge was ever held." R. 1 ¶ 33. Schwerdtfeger filed this action in response on November 19, 2013. See R. 1.

Schwerdtfeger alleges, in relevant part, that Alden and Hieras's discharge of Schwerdtfeger violated the NHRA in that "[1] there was no emergency; [2] [Schwerdtfeger] was not provided proper notice of her involuntary discharge; [3] the listed reason for discharge, that safety of individuals in the facility was endangered, was not supported by the facts; [4] the facts relied upon by Defendants were insufficiently documented; [5] Defendants did not offer [Schwerdtfeger] counseling services; and [6] Defendant did not readmit [Schwerdtfeger] after the alleged emergency had passed." R. 1 ¶ 40. Schwerdtfeger also alleges that Hasbrouck violated the Due Process Clause by "den[ying] [Schwerdtfeger] the right to reside at Alden nursing home without granting her the hearing guaranteed by state law[, ] 210 ILCS 45/3-411." Id. ¶ 62.

Alden and Hieras argue that (1) the NHRA does not create private rights for nursing facility residents, and (2) even if NHRA does create such rights, the NHRA does not provide a private remedy for violation of those rights by nursing facility residents against private nursing facilities. See R. 35 at 2. Hasbrouck argues that Schwerdtfeger cannot state a claim for a Due Process violation because she did not avail herself of the process available to her. See R. 17 at 2.

Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint. See, e.g., Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). A complaint must provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), sufficient to provide defendant with "fair notice" of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This standard "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Mann v. Vogel, 707 F.3d 872, 877 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Mann, 707 F.3d at 877.


I. Alden and Hieras

Not all federal statutes provide a basis for a private individual to maintain a legal action against another private individual. See Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 283 (2002) ("[I]t is only violations of rights, not laws, which give rise to [private] actions.") (emphasis in original). In order to provide a basis for a private right of action, a federal statute must create both a right in favor of the plaintiff, and a remedy for a violation of that right against the defendant. See Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 286 (2001) ("The judicial task is to interpret the statute Congress has passed to determine whether it displays an intent to create not just a private right but also a private remedy.").

"For a statute to create... private rights, its text must be phrased in terms of the persons benefited.'" Gonzaga, 536 U.S. at 284 (quoting Cannon v. Univ. of Chi., 441 U.S. 677, 692 n.13 (1979)). Only statutory "rights, " and "not the broader or vaguer benefits' or interests, '" are actionable. Gonzaga, 536 U.S. at 283. The statutory terms creating such rights must be "clear and unambiguous, " id. at 290, and not so "vague and ...

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