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Henry v. The Queen's Medical Center

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

June 28, 2018

DAVID HENRY, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
THE QUEEN'S MEDICAL CENTER; KATHLEEN MAH, M.D.; LESLIE CHUN, M.D.; ROBERT HONG, M.D.; ROBERT OHTANI, M.D.; MIHAE YU, M.D.; JOHN DOES 1-50; JANE DOES 1-50; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-50; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-50; DOE ENTITIES 1-50; and DOE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES 1-50, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL OF FEDERAL CLAIMS AND FOR REMAND

          Susan Oki Mollway United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION.

         Plaintiff David Henry, M.D., filed a Complaint in state court against Defendants The Queen's Medical Center (“QMC”); Kathleen Mah, M.D.; Leslie Chun, M.D.; Robert Hong, M.D.; Robb Otani, M.D.;[1] Mihae Yu, M.D.; and several Doe parties, asserting federal and state-law claims relating to the suspension of Henry's medical privileges at QMC. See ECF No. 7-9. Defendants removed the case to federal court based on federal question jurisdiction. See ECF No. 1.

         Henry now seeks to voluntarily dismiss his federal due process claims pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Provided that the federal claims are dismissed, Henry also seeks remand of this case to state court. See ECF No. 36. Defendants do not oppose dismissal of the federal claims, but argue that they will suffer prejudice if the case is remanded to state court. See ECF No. 43, PageID #s 605-06.

         Opting to decide this motion without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), this court dismisses the federal claims asserted in the Complaint given the absence of any indication that Defendants will thereby suffer legal prejudice. The court further declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims. Accordingly, the court grants Henry's motion for voluntary dismissal and motion for remand.

         II. BACKGROUND.

         Henry alleges that he had privileges to practice at QMC from September 2015 until April 2016, when Mah informed Henry that his surgical privileges were suspended. See ECF No. 7-9, PageID #s 228, 231. The suspension is now in effect. See ECF No. 36-1, PageID # 455. Henry alleges that Defendants' true reason for the suspension is to drive him out of practice in Hawaii. See ECF No. 7-9, PageID # 232. Henry also alleges that, in suspending him, Defendants have violated QMC's medical staff bylaws, contravened Mah's representations to him, and violated section 480-2 of Hawaii Revised Statutes, as well as his rights to fairness and due process. See Id. at 231-33.

         Henry filed an initial complaint in state court in April 2017 and an amended complaint (“Complaint”) in July 2017. See ECF Nos. 7-3, 7-9. The Complaint asserted the following counts: “Breach of Contract/Promissory Estoppel” (Count I), “Denial of Common Law Fair Procedure Rights” (Count II), “Violations of Procedural and Substantive Due Process” (Count III), “Intentional Interference” (Count IV), “H.R.S. Chapter 480, Unfair Competition and Methods of Com[p]etition” (Count V), “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress” (Count VI), “Injunctive Relief” (Count VII), and “Declaratory Relief” (Count VIII). ECF No. 7-9, PageID #s 251-58.

         In August 2017, Defendants removed the case to federal court, arguing that there was federal question jurisdiction over Henry's due process claims and the alleged violations of the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act of 1986 (“HCQIA”) referenced in Counts II and III. See ECF No. 1, PageID #s 3-4; 42 U.S.C. § 11101 (1986).[2] Shortly thereafter, Defendants filed their answer to the Complaint. ECF No. 6. Over the next year, the parties participated in several settlement conferences. See ECF Nos. 20, 22, 33, and 35.

         On May 18, 2018, both parties filed dispositive motions. ECF Nos. 36, 37. Henry filed a motion for voluntary dismissal of the federal due process claims pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and for remand under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). ECF No. 36. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 37. On June 20, 2018, Defendants also filed a motion to dismiss Henry's demand for punitive damages. ECF No. 46.

         III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW.

         A. Rule 41(a)(2) Voluntary Dismissal.

         Rule 41(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a plaintiff to dismiss an action without a court order by filing a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment. When, as in the present case, an opposing party has served an answer, a plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss an action only by court order pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2). Rule 41(a)(2) states, “Except as provided in Rule 41(a)(1), an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper.”

         “A motion for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) is addressed to the district court's sound discretion.” Stevedoring Servs. of Am. v. Armilla Int'l B.V.,889 F.2d 919, 921 (9th Cir. 1989). “The purpose of the rule is to permit a plaintiff to dismiss an action without prejudice so long as the defendant will not be prejudiced, or unfairly affected by dismissal.” Id. (citation omitted). Therefore, “[a] district court should grant a motion for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) unless a defendant can ...


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