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Federal court in Kentucky Refuses to Remand Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuit Back to Powell County

file000921513512 morguefile melodi2In Brandenburg v. Stanton Health Facilities, LP, a woman filed a negligence lawsuit in Powell County Circuit Court against the Kentucky nursing and rehabilitation facility where she previously resided. In her complaint, the woman accused the facility of neglect that allegedly resulted in pressure ulcers, malnourishment, dehydration, and other injuries. The woman also accused the facility of breach of contract, reckless infliction of emotional distress, and violating the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.

Soon afterward, the nursing home successfully removed the woman’s case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington based upon diversity of citizenship.

After the lawsuit was removed to federal court, the woman sought to amend her complaint to add the skilled nursing facility’s Administrator and Director of Nursing as co-defendants. Since both individuals are Kentucky residents, the woman also asked the U.S. District Court to remand her case back to Powell County Circuit Court.

In reviewing the woman’s motion to amend, the court stated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a plaintiff to amend her complaint within 21 days of a defendant’s answer. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky said that a federal court has discretion to deny such a request if it would join parties to the lawsuit who are in the same states as the plaintiff and adding them to the lawsuit would mean federal court no longer had jurisdiction over the case. According to the federal court, the factors to be weighed when considering such a request include whether a party was added solely to defeat jurisdiction, the amendment request was made too late, denying the requested amendment would injure the plaintiff, and other equitable factors. The federal court also stated the first factor would oftenbe determinate when considering whether to approve a plaintiff’s request to add other parties as defendants in a lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky examined the facts surrounding the woman’s request. Although she claimed a review of the record provided her with new information regarding the culpability of the nursing home Administrator and Director of Nursing, the federal court found that she was aware of both their existence and alleged negligence at the time she filed her initial complaint. In addition, the court stated the fact that the woman filed her motion to amend along with a motion for remand indicated that she sought to add the co-defendants in an effort to defeat federal jurisdiction. Because of this, the Kentucky federal court held the first factor weighed in favor of denying the woman’s request.

Next, the court addressed whether the woman was slow to  make her request to add other parties to the lawsuit. After examining the woman’s arguments, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky held that the second factor did not weigh heavily in favor of or against the woman’s request.

The next factor was what would happen if she didn’t add the two administrators to the lawsuit but wanted to bring action against them. That would mean she would be forced to bring a nearly identical case in both state and federal court if the two Kentucky residents were not joined as defendants in her initial complaint. The court said that factor was favorable to adding the administrators to the lawsuit.

Finally, the court held that potential local bias against the nursing home weighed against allowing the woman to amend her complaint.

Since the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky found that the majority of factors demonstrated the woman sought to amend her complaint solely to defeat federal jurisdiction, the federal court denied the woman’s motion to amend her complaint as well as her motion to remand the lawsuit back to state court.

If you or someone close to you was the victim of neglect while residing in a Kentucky nursing home, you should speak with a knowledgeable Bowling Green personal injury attorney. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a hardworking nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at (270) 781-6500 today or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Brandenburg v. Stanton Health Facilities, LP, Dist. Court, ED Kentucky 2014

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Photo Credit: Melodi2, MorgueFile