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Dejesus v. Mohammad

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 29, 2015

RICHARDO DEJESUS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. SHAKIL MOHAMMAD, M.D., et al., Defendants.

Conrad J. Benedetto, Esquire Law Offices of Conrad J. Benedetto Cherry Hill, New Jersey Attorney for Plaintiff Ricardo DeJesus

Dominic A. DeLaurentis, Jr., Esquire Stahl & DeLaurentis, P.C. Runnemede, New Jersey Attorney for Defendant Dr. Shakil Mohammad, M.D.

Frank Orbach, Esquire Law Offices of Charles Peter Hopkins Red Bank, New Jersey Attorney for Defendant Westfield Medical Center, L.P.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are two motions to dismiss the fourth amended complaint, filed respectively by Defendants Shakil Mohammad, M.D. (hereafter, "Mohammad") and Westfield Medical Center, L.P. (hereafter, "Westfield"), for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). Also before the Court is a motion to dismiss by Defendant Mohammad pursuant Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff, Ricardo DeJesus, filed opposition to the motion seeking dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) but has not opposed the motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.[1] The Court has considered the parties' submissions and decides this matter pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78.

For the reasons that follow, the motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction are granted, and Defendant Mohammad's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is denied as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

This action arises out of personal injuries purportedly sustained by Plaintiff in connection with spinal fusion surgery performed by Defendant Mohammad on August 10, 2010. Plaintiff originally filed an action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, but the claims were dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction in November 2012.

Plaintiff attempted to reassert his claims in this Court, allegedly based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, but his complaint failed to demonstrate a basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction. Pursuant to a number of court orders, Plaintiff amended the complaint several times in an effort to demonstrate that the Court could exercise subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.[2] Plaintiff's fourth amended complaint contained sufficient averments concerning the citizenship of the parties so as to satisfy the Court that complete diversity of citizenship exists and that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, this case proceeds based on the allegations contained in the fourth amended complaint.

Plaintiff contends in this case that he injured his back at work and "failed conservative therapy." (Fourth Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) He was unable to work and was referred to an orthopedic surgeon, Defendant Mohammad, of Shakil Orthopedic Associates.[3] (Id.) An MRI showed stenosis and degenerative disc disease in Plaintiff's lumbar spine at L5-S1. (Id.) Plaintiff underwent spinal fusion surgery on August 10, 2010. (Id. ¶ 13.) Although not specifically alleged, it appears that Defendant Mohammad performed the surgery. Plaintiff contends that there were surgical errors that should not have occurred, or which should have been diagnosed, corrected, or treated. (Id.)

Following surgery, Plaintiff experienced severe pain, numbness in his leg, an inability to void, and difficulty passing urine. (Fourth Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 15.) Defendants allegedly disregarded Plaintiff's complaints, prescribed an antidepressant, and discharged Plaintiff from the hospital. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff avers that he continues to have a neurogenic bladder, severe damage to his left side L5 nerve root, permanent disabling sensory loss, and pain in his left leg with a complete inability to pass urine. (Id. ¶ 16.) Based on these allegations, the fourth amended complaint purports to assert causes of action for, inter alia, negligence and professional negligence, recklessness, and breach of contract.

Defendants Mohammad and Westfield now move to dismiss the fourth amended complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendant Westfield submits an affidavit from its chief executive officer, Yasin Khan, M.D., in which Dr. Khan represents that Westfield was located in Allentown, Pennsylvania from 2007 until its closure in 2013 and had no other place of business. (Aff. of Yasin Khan, M.D. ¶ 3.) According to Dr. Khan, Westfield is a limited partnership with a registered office in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and it never maintained or operated facilities, offices, or hospitals, or conducted business in New Jersey. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.) In addition, Dr. Khan states that Westfield never advertised in New Jersey by television, radio or print media. (Id. ¶ 7.)

Defendant Mohammad argues in his brief that he is a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a licensed physician in Pennsylvania, has not practiced medicine in New Jersey, and is not professionally affiliated with any hospital, healthcare institute or physician in New Jersey. (Def. Mohammad's Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Fourth Am. Compl. For Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, at 5.) Defendant Mohammad further contends that he has not conducted business in New Jersey, maintained offices in New Jersey, or solicited, consulted or treated patients in New Jersey. (Id.) Furthermore, ...


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