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Martinez v. Brookmont Health Care Ctr.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 8, 2019


          Mariani Judge



         I. Introduction.

         In this negligence case, the defendant, Brookmont Health Care Center (“Brookmont”), has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. Because we find that the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case, we recommend that the court grant the motion.

         II. Background and Procedural History.

         This case began when the plaintiff, Guaironex Martinez (“Martinez”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Doc. 2. That court transferred the case to this court on August 2, 2018, based on its finding that venue was proper in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Doc. 4.

         In the complaint, Martinez alleges that he was receiving medical care at Brookmont on an unspecified date. Doc. 2 at 5. Martinez alleges that while he was at Brookmont, he informed members of the staff that he was a candidate for a liver transplant and that he accordingly needed to be closely monitored. Id. The staff, however, failed to monitor him, resulting in swelling in his stomach and a buildup of fluids in his lungs. Id. Martinez was forced to call an ambulance, which transported him to St. Luke's Hospital, where he then received treatment for his condition. Id. The complaint states that Martinez lives in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and that Brookmont is located in Effort, Pennsylvania. Id. at 3.

         On February 25, 2019, Brookmont filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, followed by a brief in support of that motion on March 5, 2019. Docs. 17-18. Brookmont argues that the complaint should be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 18 at 5-6. In the alternative, Brookmont argues that the case should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) because Martinez failed to file a certificate of merit as required in medical malpractice cases under Pennsylvania law. Id. at 6.

         On March 7, 2019, Martinez filed an untitled document in which he urges the court to “reconsider how Brookmont refuse[d] to call an ambulance” and otherwise failed to provide medical care. Doc. 20 at 1. Martinez also states that he wants to “put a notice of appeal on [his] situation against Brookmont.” Id. Thus, it appears that Martinez misconstrues Brookmont's motion to dismiss his complaint as a court order dismissing the complaint. Nevertheless, Martinez does not allege any additional facts in his March 7, 2019 filing that would change the analysis of whether the court has subject matter jurisdiction or whether the complaint states a claim upon which relief may be granted. On March 28, 2019, Brookmont filed a reply brief in which it reiterates its arguments that the complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id.

         III. Discussion.

         A. The Court Does Not Have Subject Matter Jurisdiction.

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Delalla v. Hanover Ins., 660 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Accordingly, a party may assert that a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction through a motion to dismiss. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction attacks a court's “very power to hear the case.” Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977).

         Federal district courts can only exercise subject matter jurisdiction through two means-federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331-32 (2018). A federal district court has federal question jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (2018). A district court has diversity jurisdiction where (a) the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and (b) diversity of citizenship exists between the parties. Id. § 1332(a). 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires “complete diversity between all plaintiffs and all defendants.” Lincoln Benefit Life Co. v. AEI Life, LLC, 800 F.3d 99, 104 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Lincoln Property Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005)). “This means that, unless there is some other basis for jurisdiction, ‘no plaintiff may be a citizen of the same state as any defendant.” Id. (quoting Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 419 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         Challenges to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) must be either “facial” or “factual.” Constitution Party of Pennsylvania v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 357 (3d Cir. 2014). “A facial attack, as the adjective indicates, is an argument that considers a claim on its face and asserts that it is insufficient to invoke the subject matter jurisdiction of the court because, for example, it does not present a question of federal law, or because there is no indication of a diversity of citizenship among the parties, or because some other jurisdictional defect is present.” Id. at 357 (citing Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 889-92). “A factual ...

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