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Lewis v. Kennebec County

United States District Court, D. Maine

April 23, 2018

KENNEBEC COUNTY, et al., Defendants


          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In this matter, Plaintiff Brandee Lewis alleges that Defendants violated her civil rights while she was an inmate at the Kennebec County Jail in December 2015. The matter is before the Court on Defendant Physician Health Partners, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 108) and Plaintiff's Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery (ECF No. 116/118).

         Through its motion, Defendant Physician Health Partners (PHP), one of twenty-five named defendants, contends the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over PHP. Plaintiff argues the record establishes the Court's personal jurisdiction over PHP; alternatively, Plaintiff requests the opportunity to conduct jurisdictional discovery.

         Following a review of the record and after consideration of the parties' arguments, I recommend the Court grant the motion to dismiss and deny the request for jurisdictional discovery.[1]

         I. Motion to Dismiss

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a defendant may move for dismissal based on the lack of personal jurisdiction, i.e., a lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant. The burden is on the plaintiff to make a “prima facie showing” that personal jurisdiction exists, based on “evidence of specific facts” that meet all of the requirements of the forum state's long-arm statute and the Due Process Clause. United Elec., Radio & Mach. Workers v. 163 Pleasant St. Corp, 960 F.2d 1080, 1089 (1st Cir. 1992) (“Pleasant St.”); Boit v. Gar-Tec Prods., Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 675 (1st Cir. 1992). In other words, the “plaintiff must go beyond the pleadings and make affirmative proof.” Boit, 967 F.2d at 675 (quoting Chlebda v. H.E. Fortna & Bro. Inc., 609 F.2d 1022, 1024 (1st Cir. 1979)). When reviewing the plaintiff's prima facie showing, the court does not act as a fact finder, but instead “accepts properly supported proffers of evidence by plaintiff as true.” Id.; Snell v. Bob Fisher Enter., Inc., 115 F.Supp.2d 17, 20 (D. Me. 2000). In addition, the court may credit facts asserted by the defendant that are not contradicted by the plaintiff's showing. Cossaboon v. Maine Med. Ctr., 600 F.3d 25, 31 (1st Cir. 2010).[2]

         A. Jurisdictional Facts

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kimberly Vigue, a nurse employed by Defendant Correctional Health Partners (CHP), an entity that provides contract medical services at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility, forcefully and without Plaintiff's consent, administered certain medication to Plaintiff when Plaintiff was an inmate at the Kennebec County Jail. (Amended Complaint ¶¶ 33, 73 - 78, ECF No. 97.) The other individual defendants were employed by either CHP or Kennebec County. Plaintiff alleges the other individual defendants assisted Defendant Vigue, failed to train Defendant Vigue, inadequately supervised Defendant Vigue, or engaged in independent acts in violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. (E.g., id. ¶¶ 71, 84, 85, 90 - 98.) Plaintiff also alleges that CHP and PHP “failed to properly train, retain and supervise … employees and ensure … employees had the proper licenses and credentials to work as health care providers in the State of Maine.” (Id. ¶ 141.)

         PHP is a Colorado-based healthcare management company. (Affidavit of Ken Nielsen ¶¶ 2, 11, ECF No. 108-1.)[3] CHP is a subsidiary of PHP. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 7.) PHP first operated CHP as a division of PHP, beginning in 2005, and incorporated CHP in 2010. (Nielsen Aff. ¶¶ 3 - 4.) PHP owns 97% of CHP. (Notice of Interested Parties, ECF No. 25.)

         CHP provides correctional healthcare and third party administration services for state and county correctional facilities. (Id. ¶ 6.) CHP is party to a contract through which CHP provides healthcare services at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility. PHP is not a party to the contract. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         PHP and CHP have different boards of directors, different managers, and maintain separate bank accounts. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10.) PHP has never conducted business in the State of Maine, has never advertised or solicited business in Maine, has never been subject to suit in Maine, and has never had any contracts for services with Maine based clients. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) No employee of PHP has ever traveled to Maine on behalf of PHP. (Id. ¶ 12.) During the relevant time period, PHP did not hire, fire, train, or supervise any employees of CHP. (Id. ¶ 16.) PHP does not operate CHP and does not dictate CHP's business activities. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         The Employee Handbook for PHP and CHP (Response Exs. 1 - 4, ECF Nos. 116-1, 116-2, 116-3, 116-4), begins with a welcome to new employees, signed by both the PHP President and the CHP President, which welcome refers to PHP and CHP collectively, as “our company” and “the company, ” and references employees as “our employees.” (Id. at 5, PageID # 753.) In a section titled “Maine Specific Policies, ” the Handbook references PHP/CHP as the “covered employer” and instructs employees to apply for family medical leave through “Insperity's Leave and Disability Group.” (Id. at 65, PageID # 754.) Eligibility requirements for Maine family medical leave include employment with “PHP/CHP for at least twelve (12) consecutive months.” (Id.)

         A provision titled “Maine Weapons” in the Handbook uses “the company” as a generic reference to both PHP and CHP. (Id. at 69, PageID # 758.) The Handbook's conflict of interest, at will employment, equal employment opportunity, and other sections similarly refer to PHP/CHP as the employer or the company. (Id. at 10, 11, 15, 18, 19, 30, 42, 43, 46, PageID # 759 - 67.) The Handbook specifies that “the PHP Sr. Human Resource Generalist or an Insperity Human Resource Specialist” oversees the final step (“step three”) of the company's “Complaint Resolution Procedure.” (Ex. 4, ECF No. 116-4.)

         PHP and CHP corporate reports submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State subsequent to the separate incorporation of CHP identify the same individual as the person who filed the reports, but identify different registered agents for each corporate entity. The reports also reflect that the registered agents have offices in the same building in Denver. (Response Exs. 8 & 9, ECF No. 116-8, 116-9.) PHP's online web assets include a ...

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