United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JOHNSON COLEMAN JUDGE.
Isabella Nartey (the “Plaintiff”) filed a
twenty-five count Corrected Amended Complaint against
Franciscan Health alleging various claims related to the
medical care and treatment of her mother, Millicent Nartey
(“Nartey”). Franciscan moves to dismiss
Nartey's Corrected Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court held oral
argument on June 5, 2019. For the reasons outlined below,
Franciscan's Motion to Dismiss  is granted.
August 3, 2016, Nartey was transported via ambulance to the
emergency department at Franciscan after experiencing
weakness and an elevated blood pressure. Plaintiff and her
other family members informed Franciscan that Nartey had a
history of high blood pressure and opted not to control it
with prescribed medications due to adverse side effects.
Franciscan's emergency medical team screened Nartey and
initiated treatment upon her arrival in the emergency room.
The emergency medical team identified that Nartey's
potassium levels were low, her heart displayed evident
damage, and her current condition mandated additional
diagnostic tests. Nartey was subsequently admitted to the
intensive care unit at Franciscan for further tests and
overnight observation due to concern for Nartey's cardiac
condition and potential stroke. Nartey's native language
was the West African language TWI. Plaintiff informed a nurse
in the Franciscan intensive care unit that although English
was not her native language, Nartey “understood and
could converse in English, but … the Franciscan
medical team may need to speak more slowly and calmly.”
(Dkt. 33-1 at ¶ 28(e).) Indeed, Nartey at one point
requested to leave Franciscan in English. Plaintiff also
indicated that she and other family members were available to
translate as the need arose.
a CT scan and several other exams did not show any signs of
stroke, Nartey's medical providers were concerned that
she may be “trending towards a stroke” based on
neurological exams. (Dkt. 33-1 at ¶ 35.) Plaintiff and
Nartey's other family members declined certain other
medical care, such as the placement of a “trach tube,
” and inquired about discharging Nartey. (Id.
at ¶¶ 40-41.) Plaintiff was informed that due to
the possibility of Nartey suffering a stroke Nartey could not
be discharged before additional testing was completed,
including a swallow test, additional CT scan, and MRI.
Nartey's husband was contacted as power of attorney for
Nartey prior to performing additional tests and the MRI.
being informed that the MRI showed signs of severe ischemic
stroke, Plaintiff inquired about transferring her mother to
another facility. Plaintiff alleges that the Franciscan
neurologist told her that there was no need to inconvenience
Nartey with a hospital transfer. Another Franciscan
representative told Plaintiff that a transfer was unlikely
due to Nartey's care plan. Plaintiff subsequently
provided paperwork seeking to transfer Nartey to the
University of Chicago, Loyola University, and other
hospitals, but the requests to transfer were denied by the
other facilities due to financial and insurance reasons.
Although an apnea test was delayed following Plaintiff's
request (so that Nartey's husband could be present when
the results were known), Nartey was found to be clinically
brain dead on August 17, 2016, and subsequently passed away.
Plaintiff requested in writing and received Nartey's
medical records. In January 2019, Plaintiff discovered that
Franciscan omitted or excluded various “key
documents” from Nartey's medical records.
alleges claims pursuant to Emergency Medical Treatment and
Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), Title VI of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, and fraudulent concealment of
medical negligence allegedly arising from the medical
treatment provided to Nartey in August 2016 at Franciscan.
Franciscan now moves to dismiss the Corrected Amended
Complaint for failure to state a claim.
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court accepts all of
the plaintiff's allegations as true and views them
“in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632
(7th Cir. 2013). A complaint must contain allegations that
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678,
129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Pro se motions,
particularly, should be construed liberally. Otis v.
Demarasse, 886 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2018). However,
“even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil
procedure.” Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057,
1061 (7th Cir. 2006). The plaintiff does not need to plead
particularized facts, but the allegations in the complaint
must be sufficient to “raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d
first contends that Nartey fails to state a claim for
violations of EMTALA because the purpose of EMTALA is to
protect patients from being denied emergency treatment due to
an inability to pay and Plaintiff alleges that Nartey was
examined and screened in compliance with the Act. Plaintiff
responds that Franciscan violated its EMTALA duties to
screen, treat, stabilize, and transfer Nartey by failing to
comply with national and community standards of care. Where
an emergency condition exists, “the patient may not be
transferred to another hospital or discharged until he or she
has received stabilizing treatment.” Curry v.
Advocate Bethany Hosp., 204 Fed.Appx. 553, 556 (7th Cir.
2006) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd).
plaintiff can plead herself out of court by pleading facts
that undermine the allegations in her complaint.
Curry, 204 Fed.Appx. at 556. Plaintiff has done that
with respect to her EMTALA claims. She alleges that
Franciscan screened Nartey and initiated treatment upon her
arrival at the emergency room. Specifically, after an hour in
the emergency room, the Franciscan emergency medical team
identified Nartey's low potassium levels and existing
damage on her heart and determined additional diagnostic
tests that it would perform. Due to concern for Nartey's
cardiac condition and potential stroke, Franciscan
subsequently admitted Nartey to its intensive care unit for
further tests and overnight observation. Thus, by pleading
that Franciscan determined that Nartey had an emergency
medical condition, Plaintiff necessarily asserts that Nartey
received screening as required by EMTALA. See Woessner v.
Freeport Mem'l Hosp., No. 91 C 20005, 1992 WL 88302,
at *3 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 24, 1992) (Reinhard, J.); 42 U.S.C.
further alleges that Franciscan failed to stabilize or
transfer Nartey as required by EMTALA. Here, too, Plaintiff
has alleged facts that undermine these allegations. Plaintiff
alleges that Nartey's medical providers conducted
neurological exams that indicated she may be “trending
towards a stroke” and recommended placing a
“trach tube, ” which Plaintiff declined on behalf
of Nartey. Due to the possibility of Nartey suffering a
stroke, Franciscan informed Plaintiff that Nartey could not
be discharged before additional testing was completed,
including a swallow test, CT scan, and MRI. Franciscan also
informed Plaintiff that transferring Nartey to another
hospital likely would not be possible due to Nartey's
care plan. Still, Plaintiff requested that Franciscan
transfer Nartey to another medical facility. Franciscan could
not transfer Nartey because the requests were denied by the
other facilities due financial and insurance reasons. A
hospital cannot legally transfer a patient to a facility that
had not agreed to accept her transfer. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 13955dd(c)(2). Following the denials, Franciscan
continued to provide care to Nartey.
does not require that the treatment satisfy any national or
community standard of care, and Franciscan's actions
demonstrate that it continued to treat Nartey. See Smith
v. St. James Hosp. & Health Centers, No. 02 C 2953,
2003 WL 174195, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 27, 2003) (Andersen,
J.). “EMTALA is not a federal malpractice statute,
” so even if Franciscan may have misdiagnosed Nartey,
EMTALA does not provide an avenue to recover for her
unsuccessful treatment. Curry, 204 Fed.Appx. at 556.
Thus, Plaintiff's allegations for failure to ...