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Green v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 26, 2016

NATHANIEL GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, TIMOTHY ADESANYA, MIKE VARNUM, NURSE GOLDSTEIN, and DR. JACK R. OAK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          NANCY J. ROSENSTENGEL, United States District Judge.

         Now pending before the Court is the Motion for Reconsideration and Alternative Motion for Leave to File Interlocutory Appeal filed by Defendant Jack R. Oak, M.D. (“Defendant Oak”) (Doc. 81). On June 29, 2016, the undersigned sua sponte reconsidered its ruling on the Motion for Leave to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery (Docs. 62 and 76) filed by Plaintiff Nathaniel Green (“Green”) and granted Green leave to propound five interrogatories under Rule 33 and five requests to produce under Rule 34 upon Defendant Oak relating to personal jurisdiction (See Doc. 91). In light of those discovery responses, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court grants Defendant Oak's Motion for Reconsideration.

         Introduction

         On February 3, 2014, Green initiated this action pro se, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), alleging that healthcare providers at Greenville Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI Greenville”) failed to adequately treat his peripheral artery disease, causing him to undergo an above-the-knee leg amputation. On August 13, 2014, the Court appointed attorney Catherine E. Goldhaber to represent Green in this matter. The Court granted Green leave to file an amended complaint and, on July 2, 2015, Green filed his Second Amended Complaint (see Doc. 42), which is the operative complaint in this matter. Currently, Green is proceeding against the United States of America on two negligence claims, a deliberate indifference claim against Defendants Timothy Adesanya, Nurse Goldstein, and Mike Varnum, and a medical malpractice claim against Defendant Oak.

         On October 20, 2015, Defendant Oak filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 60), which this Court denied (see Doc. 76). Following the Court's Order, Defendant Oak filed the Motion for Reconsideration now before the Court (Doc. 81). In his motion, Defendant Oak asks the Court to reconsider its ruling on his Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure asserting that the Court's reasoning was not in accord with binding Supreme Court precedent. In the alternative, Defendant Oak asks the Court for leave to file an interlocutory appeal to resolve the issue. Green timely responded to Defendant Oak's motion (Doc. 89).

         On June 29, 2016, the undersigned, recognizing that discovery may be necessary to ascertain additional information on the circumstances surrounding Defendant Oak's treatment of Green, sua sponte reconsidered its ruling on Green's Motion for Leave to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery (Docs. 62 and 76) and granted Green leave to propound five interrogatories under Rule 33 and five requests to produce under Rule 34 upon Defendant Oak relating to personal jurisdiction (See Doc. 91). This discovery was limited to the following topics initially suggested by Green: how Defendant Oak was located, who at FCI Greenville spoke with Defendant Oak, whether Defendant Oak entered into a contract or agreement with FCI Greenville to treat Green and/or other prisoners, and how and by whom Defendant Oak was compensated for his treatment of Green and/or other FCI Greenville prisoners.

         After engaging in discovery, on August 23, 2016, Defendant Oak filed a “Supplemental Memorandum Re Motion to Reconsider” (Doc. 96). On August 26, 2016, Green filed a Supplemental Response in Opposition to Defendant Oak's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 97). On September 9, 2016, Defendant Oak filed a Reply to Green's Supplemental Response in Opposition to Defendant Oak's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 98). The reply brief properly set forth exceptional circumstances that justify the filing of a reply brief in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(c). Accordingly, Defendant Oak's reply brief will be considered by the Court.

         Legal Standard

         Although Defendant Oak brings his motion for reconsideration citing to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), the motion is governed by Rule 54(b) because the order denying the motion to dismiss did not adjudicate all claims and final judgment has not been entered. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) (Non-final orders “may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.”); see also Encap, LLC v. Scotts Co., LLC, No. 11-C-685, 2014 WL 6386910, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 14, 2014) (“Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) is not applicable here since no final judgment has been entered.”). Regardless, “motions to reconsider an order under Rule 54(b) are judged by largely the same standard as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e).” Woods v. Resnick, 725 F.Supp.2d 809, 828 (W.D. Wisc. 2010).

         A motion to reconsider is proper where the Court has misunderstood a party, where the Court has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, where the Court has made an error of apprehension (not of reasoning), where a significant change in the law has occurred, or where significant new facts have been discovered. Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990). The Court has the inherent power to reconsider non-final orders, as justice requires. Akzo Coatings, Inc. v. Aigner Corp., 909 F.Supp. 1154, 1160 (N.D. Ind. 1995) (“[A] motion to reconsider an interlocutory order may be entertained and granted as justice requires”). A motion to reconsider “essentially enables a district court to correct its own errors, sparing the parties and the appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings.” Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of Gen. Motors Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995). “Disposition of a motion for reconsideration is entrusted to the district court's discretion.” Hamzah v. Woodman's Food Market, Inc., No. 13-cv-491-wmc, 2016 WL 3248608, at *2 (W.D. Wisc. Jun. 13, 2016) (citing Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996)).

         Discussion

         In conducting a specific personal jurisdiction analysis, the Court initially found that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant Oak because it appeared that “Defendant Oak accepted [Green] as a patient and treated [Green] knowing that [Green] was a federal inmate housed at FCI Greenville, located in Illinois.” (Doc. 76, p. 6). The Court also emphasized that it appeared that Defendant Oak “effectively entered into an agreement with FCI Greenville, a facility located in Illinois, to treat an Illinois resident.” (Id.).

         Discovery has since revealed, however, that Defendant Oak first became aware of Green “when the office staff [at St. Louis Surgical Consultants] set up an appointment.” (Doc. 96-1, pp. 1). Defendant Oak elaborated that he “had no direct contact with anyone at the prison at anytime prior to seeing the patient.” (Id.). After Defendant Oak met with Green, he cannot recall whom he spoke with or whether he had any communication with anyone at FCI Greenville, however, he states that it is generally his “practice to call back the referring entity/person and likely to send the referring entity/person a copy of his office note.” (Doc. 96-1, p. 2). Additionally, Defendant Oak has no knowledge of how this specific treatment was paid for, but he believes that a bill would have been sent to the prison facility and it would have been paid by the facility or its insurer (Id.).

         Defendant Oak also indicated that he never personally entered into a verbal agreement or written contract with anyone at FCI Greenville or the Bureau of Prisons to treat inmates at the FCI Greenville facility (Id.). Defendant Oak was unable to provide any items responsive to Green's Request for Production, indicating that he is unaware of any written agreements or contracts concerning the treatment of Green or inmates at FCI Greenville (Doc. 96-2, p. 1). Defendant Oak is no longer employed with St. Louis Surgical ...


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