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Courson v. Cordis Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

June 20, 2018

OUIDA COURSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
CORDIS CORPORATION, et al., DEFENDANTS

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the Court on two motions: (1) Defendant Confluent Medical Technologies, Inc.'s (hereafter “Confluent”) motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2); and (2) Defendant Cordis Corporation's (hereafter “Cordis”) motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). However, in the event that Confluent's 12(b)(2) motion is denied by this Court, Confluent joins and adopts Cordis's 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss all claims asserted in Ouida Courson's (“Plaintiff”) complaint. Plaintiff has requested leave to amend the complaint if this Court finds any of the causes of action were insufficiently plead. After review of the relevant documents filed by both parties and the pertinent law, the Court finds that the 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) motions should be denied, and that Plaintiff should be given leave to amend her complaint.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is the surviving spouse and proposed administrator of the estate of Jack Wade Courson (“Decedent”). As an alleged Mississippi resident, Plaintiff filed suit against three nonresident corporate defendants; Cordis, Confluent, and Johnson & Johnson[1].

         On or about January 18, 2011, Plaintiff alleges that Decedent was implanted with a Cordis TrapEase™ inferior vena cava (“IVC”) filter for the treatment and prevention of Decedent's deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The Court presumes that Plaintiff knows when Decedent received the implant or died and it would be helpful if the parties would use dates certain when such knowledge is not in dispute. However, since the Plaintiff has used the term “on or about” throughout the pleadings, the Court will likewise wander with some uncertainty through the legal conundrums alleged and exposed herein. The surgical procedure to implant the IVC filter took place at Baptist Memorial Hospital located in Oxford, Mississippi. Plaintiff also alleges that Decedent suffered from a hemorrhage sometime in 2012; and, on or about August 5, 2014, Decedent ultimately passed away from respiratory failure and was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the time.

         On September 22, 2017, Plaintiff brought a complaint seeking damages alleging the IVC filter was defective, resulting in hemorrhaging, respiratory issues, and weakened overall health of the Decedent prior to his death. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that all the Defendants participated in the design, fabrication, and marketing of the IVC filter.

         Cordis seeks to dismiss this action in its entirety for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Cordis argues that Plaintiff's complaint fails to allege any sufficient causal allegations to present a plausible, non-speculative claim connecting Decedent's death to a specific defect in the design, manufacture, or warnings relating to the IVC filter. Confluent joined in and adopted Cordis' motion to dismiss for all purposes. Alternatively, Plaintiff requests leave to amend her complaint under Rule 15(a)(2) should the Court find it necessary to do so. Cordis asks the Court not to exercise its discretionary power under Rule 15(a)(2) and to deny Plaintiff's request to amend.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Rule 12(b)(2) Motion to Dismiss

         On a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case for the court's jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. See Ham v. La Cienega Music Co., 4 F.3d 413, 415 (5th Cir. 1993); Stuart v. Spademan, 772 F.2d 1185, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985). When the court rules on the motion without an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff may establish personal jurisdiction by presenting a prima facie case that personal jurisdiction is proper, id.; proof by a preponderance of the evidence is not required. International Truck and Engine Corp. v. Quintana, 259 F.Supp.2d 553, 556 (N.D.Tex.2003) (citing WNS, Inc. v. Farrow, 884 F.2d 200, 203 (5th Cir.1989)). The court may determine the jurisdictional issue by receiving affidavits, interrogatories, depositions, oral testimony, or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery. Stuart, 772 F.2d at 1192. Uncontroverted allegations in a plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between the facts must be resolved in favor of the plaintiff. Bullion v. Gillespie, 895 F.2d 213, 217 (5th Cir.1990). After a plaintiff makes his prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant to present "a compelling case that the presence of some other consideration would render jurisdiction unreasonable." Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d. 528 (1985).

         1. The Long-Arm Statute

         A federal court has jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant if the state long-arm statute confers personal jurisdiction over that defendant, and if the exercise of jurisdiction is consistent with due process under the United States Constitution. Ruston Gas Turbines, Inc. v. Donaldson Co., Inc., 9 F.3d 415, 418 (5th Cir.1993). However, "Mississippi's long arm-statute is not coextensive with due process." See Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., 234 F.3d 863, 869 n. 7 (5th Cir.2000). Mississippi's long-arm statute states in pertinent part:

[a]ny nonresident person, firm, general or limited partnership, or any foreign or other corporation not qualified under the Constitution and laws of this state as to doing business herein, who shall make a contract with a resident of this state to be performed in whole or in part by any party in this state, or who shall commit a tort in whole or in part in this state against a resident or nonresident of this state, or who shall do any business or perform any character of work or service in this state, shall by such act or acts be deemed to be doing business in Mississippi and shall thereby be subjected to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state.

Miss. Code Ann. § 13-3-57 (2002). This statute consists of three prongs: (i) the contract prong; (ii) the tort prong; and (iii) the doing-business prong. See Walker v. World Ins. Co., 289 F.Supp.2d 786, 788 (S.D.Miss.2003). The tort prong of the long-arm statute confers personal jurisdiction over "[a]ny nonresident person ... who shall commit a tort in whole or in part in this state against a resident or nonresident of this state ...." Miss.Code Ann. § 13-3-57. Under Mississippi law, a tort is not complete until an injury is suffered. Thompson v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 755 F.2d 1162, 1168 (5th Cir.1985) (quoting Smith v. Temco, Inc., 252 So.2d 212, 216 (Miss.1971). If the injury occurs in Mississippi, the tort is committed, at least in part, in the state, and the requirements of the long-arm statute are satisfied. ...


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