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Lee v. Fairview Health Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 4, 2018

Claire Jean Lee, Plaintiff,
Fairview Health Services and Fairview Southdale Hospital, Defendants.

          Claire Jean Lee, plaintiff pro se.

          Jennifer M. Waterworth, Esq. Gislason & Hunter, LLP, counsel for defendants.


          David S. Doty, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendants Fairview Health Services and Fairview Southdale Hospital. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court denies the motion.


         On January 10, 2017, pro se plaintiff Claire Jean Lee filed suit against defendants for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, and the Rehabilitation Act, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. On January 31, the court granted Lee's application to proceed in forma pauperis and ordered the United States Marshal to serve a copy of the complaint and summons on the defendants as directed by Lee. Lee failed to properly serve defendants within 90 days because she believed that she had 120 days to complete service. She moved the court for a 30-day extension to amend her complaint and complete service. See ECF No. 9. On May 11, the court granted a 30-day extension and ordered Lee to file an amended complaint by June 1. See ECF No. 11. Lee was not able to file her amended complaint until June 6 because of an alleged series of events beyond her control.[1] See Pl.'s Opp'n Mem. at 4; ECF No. 12. On June 5, the U.S. Marshal served Fairview Southdale Hospital with the original complaint.[2] See ECF Nos. 13, 20. The U.S. Marshal attempted to serve Fairview Health Services on July 14, but was unable to do so because of a wrong address.[3]See ECF Nos. 22, 25. Because defendants were served with the original, rather than the amended complaint, the court ordered that Lee submit completed Marshal Service Forms for each of the defendants and, once she did so, a summons would be issued and the U.S. Marshal would serve defendants with the amended complaint. See ECF No. 20. It appears that Lee complied with the order, because the clerk's office issued a summons for each defendant on August 1. See ECF No. 32. The U.S. Marshal successfully served the summons and amended complaint on both defendants on September 6.[4] See ECF No. 36.

         Defendants now move to dismiss arguing that the court lacks personal jurisdiction because of insufficient service of process.


         I. Standard of Review

         Without service or waiver of process, the court lacks jurisdiction over a defendant. See Printed Media Servs., Inc. v. Solna Web, Inc., 11 F.3d 838, 843 (8th Cir. 1993). A plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. See Digi-Tel Holdings, Inc. v. Proteq Telecomms. (PTE), Ltd., 89 F.3d 519, 522 (8th Cir. 1996). When considering whether personal jurisdiction exists, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and may consider matters outside the pleadings. Id.; see Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1073 (8th Cir. 2004).

         Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must serve all defendants with a copy of the summons and complaint within ninety days of the filing of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). But the court must extend the time for service if the plaintiff shows good cause for failure to timely serve the defendants. Id.; see also Kurka v. Iowa Cty., Iowa, 628 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 2010); Colsante v. Wells Fargo Corp., 81 Fed. App'x 611, 612-613 (8th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). Even if the plaintiff fails to show good cause, the court has discretion to grant an extension if the plaintiff demonstrates excusable neglect. Kurka, 628 F.3d at 957; Colsante, 81 Fed. App'x at 613.

         “[G]ood cause is likely (but not always) to be found when [1] the plaintiff's failure to complete service in timely fashion is a result of the conduct of a third person, typically the process server, [2] the defendant has evaded service of process or engaged in misleading conduct, [3] the plaintiff has acted diligently in trying to effect service or there are understandable mitigating circumstances, or [4] the plaintiff is proceeding pro se or in forma pauperis.” Kurka, 628 F.3d at 957 (alteration in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Service of ...

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