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Endencia v. American Psychiatric Association

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

October 7, 2019



          Mary M. Rowland United States District Judge

         Frances Endencia owned the Pampered Pet Veterinary Service, which she says experienced multiple break-ins between 1999 and 2007. According to Endencia's complaint, after one such break-in in 2005, she contacted the police. At the police department's recommendation, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”) required her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The result of the evaluation was that IDFPR suspended Endencia's veterinary license.

         Endencia brings this suit against Defendants for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act (Count I) and for negligent misrepresentation (Count II). Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). After the motions were fully briefed, Endencia filed motions to amend her complaint and add defendants. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss [10] and [15], and denies Endencia's motions for leave to amend and add defendants [28] and [29].

         I. Background

         Pro se Plaintiff Frances Endencia (“Endencia”) brings suit against the American Psychiatric Association (“APA”), Dr. Stafford Henry, “representing” the APA, and the IDFPR (collectively, “Defendants”) for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58 and for negligent misrepresentation. (Dkt. 1, Compl.).[1]Endencia worked as a veterinarian until the IDFPR suspended her license in August 2008. (See Id. ¶ 5.).[2] Endencia alleges that the basis for that suspension was a psychiatric diagnosis based on APA procedures. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 7-10.)[3]

         As Endencia states in her complaint, her claims focus on the “diagnostic procedures of Psychiatry.” (Id. ¶ 1). She alleges that the diagnostic tests are not “transparent to the public”, are “distorted” and “not based on medical science.” (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) She further alleges that psychiatrists (none specifically named) negligently fail to inform the public that their treatments cause harm. (Id. ¶ 11.)

         The APA argues that dismissal is appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) because the FTCA does not provide a private right of action, Endencia fails to state a claim for negligent misrepresentation, and her negligent misrepresentation claim in any event is time-barred. (Dkt. 11.) The APA also argues that she fails to allege facts that show an agency relationship between the APA and Dr. Henry, such that the APA could be liable for his actions. (Id.) IDFPR argues that dismissal is warranted under Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1) because Endencia fails to state a claim and because the IDFPR is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. (Dkt. 15-1.) Both Defendants seek dismissal with prejudice.

         The motions to dismiss were fully briefed on August 5, 2019. Endencia sought leave to file an amended complaint on August 27, 2019.

         II. Standard

         A motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint, not the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). “To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must provide enough factual information to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face and raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Haywood v. Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, 887 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 2018) (quotations and citation omitted). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) (requiring a complaint to contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”). A court deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion accepts plaintiff's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all permissible inferences in plaintiff's favor. Fortres Grand Corp., 763 F.3d at 700. A plaintiff need not plead “detailed factual allegations”, but “still must provide more than mere labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action for her complaint to be considered adequate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.” Bell v. City of Chi., 835 F.3d 736, 738 (7th Cir. 2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper “when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1966 (2007).

         Deciding the plausibility of the claim is “‘a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.'” McCauley v. City of Chi., 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009)). In addition, the Court construes the pro se complaint liberally, holding it to a less stringent standard than lawyer-drafted pleadings. Cesal v. Moats, 851 F.3d 714, 720 (7th Cir. 2017).[4]

         “A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) tests the jurisdictional sufficiency of the complaint, accepting as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and drawing reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs.” Bultasa Buddhist Temple of Chi. v. Nielsen, 878 F.3d 570, 573 (7th Cir. 2017). A court may look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and “view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists.” Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “[T]he party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating its existence.” Boutte v. Nw. Med. Faculty Found., 276 Fed.Appx. 490, 491 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation and quotations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         A. ...

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