United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
JAN RUHE, individually, and PAUL B. FERRARA, III, as personal representative of the Estate of CLAYTON MAC WHITE, deceased, Plaintiffs,
BRUCE K. BOWEN, individually, and SOPRIS MEDICAL PRACTICE, P.C., Defendants.
C. NORTON DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on plaintiffs Paul B. Ferrara, III
(“Ferrara”), personal representative of the
Estate of Clayton Mac White (“White”), and Jan
Ruhe's (“Ruhe”) (collectively,
“plaintiffs”) motion for default judgment, ECF
No. 11, as well as defendants Bruce K. Bowen, MD (“Dr.
Bowen”) and Sopris Medical Practice, P.C.'s
(“Sopris Medical”) (collectively,
“defendants”) motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction and venue, ECF No. 20. For the reasons
set forth below, the court grants defendants' motion to
dismiss and finds plaintiffs' motion for default judgment
to be moot.
instant dispute arises out of a medical malpractice and
wrongful death action that plaintiffs filed against
defendants on September 22, 2015 regarding Dr. Bowen's
allegedly negligent treatment of White. Am. Compl. ¶ 28.
Ruhe is a citizen and resident of Florida, id.
¶ 1, and Ferrara is the personal representative of
White's estate which is located in South Carolina.
Id. ¶ 2. Sopris Medical is a business organized
and existing under the laws of Colorado, with its principal
place of business in Eagle, Colorado. Id. ¶ 3l;
Bowen Aff ¶ 2. Dr. Bowen, a physician at Sopris Medical,
is a citizen and resident of Colorado, which is the only
state where he is licensed to practice medicine. Am. Compl.
¶ 4; Bowen Aff. ¶ 1.
allege that Dr. Bowen began treating White on or about June
1, 2011, for chronic back pain, and that despite his
knowledge of White's addiction and misuse of opioids, Dr.
Bowen continued to overprescribe White opioids that
ultimately led to White's fatal overdose from opioid and
benzodiazepine intoxication on September 22, 2013. Am. Compl.
¶ 10-23. When Dr. Bowen cared for White, White lived
primarily in Basalt, Colorado. Bowen Aff. ¶ 4.
September 22, 2015, plaintiffs filed the present action
against Dr. Bowen and Sopris Medical, bringing the following
two causes of action: (1) negligence and medical malpractice
against Dr. Bowen; and (2) vicarious liability for Dr.
Bowen's negligence against Sopris Medical. Am. Compl.
¶ 25-40. Plaintiffs seek actual, consequential,
incidental, economic and non-economic damages, including
conscious pain and suffering, emotional distress and punitive
damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. Id.
¶ 31, 40. Plaintiffs contend that the court has general
and specific personal jurisdiction over Dr. Bowen and Sopris
Medical under South Carolina's long arm statute, SC Code
§ 36-2-803. Id. ¶ 6.
filed the present motion for default judgment against Sopris
Medical Practice, P.C. on December 2, 2015. Defendants filed
a response on January 19, 2016. Defendants filed the present
motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and venue
on January 18, 2016. Plaintiffs filed a response on February
18, 2016. Defendants filed a reply on February 26, 2016. The
motions have been fully briefed and are now ripe for the
Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and
the defendant challenges personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff
has the burden of showing that jurisdiction exists. See
In re Celotex Corp., 124 F.3d 619, 628 (4th Cir. 1997).
When the court decides a personal jurisdiction challenge
without an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff must prove a
prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. See
Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Akzo, N.V., 2 F.3d 56, 60
(4th Cir. 1993). “In considering the challenge on such
a record, the court must construe all relevant pleading
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
assume credibility, and draw the most favorable inferences
for the existence of jurisdiction.” In re Celotex
Corp., 234 F.3d at 628 (quoting Combs v.
Bakker, 886 F.2d 673, 676 (4th Cir. 1989)). However, the
court need not “credit conclusory allegations or draw
farfetched inferences.” Masselli & Lane, PC v.
Miller & Schuh, PA, 215 F.3d 1320 (4th Cir.
Motion for Default Judgment
judgments are governed by Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, which provides for entry of a default
“[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative
relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend as
provided by these rules.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Entry of
a default judgment is left to the discretion of the court.
CT & TEV Sales, Inc. v. 2AM Grp., LLC, No.
7:11-1532, 2012 WL 1576761, at *2 (D.S.C. May 2, 2012). A
court must “exercise sound judicial discretion”
in deciding whether to enter default judgment, and “the
moving party is not entitled to default judgment as a matter
of right.” Id. A party, however, may oppose
entry of a default judgment and “[f]or good cause shown
the court may set aside an entry of default.”
move to dismiss plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), arguing the court lacks
personal jurisdiction over them and that venue is improper.
Def.'s Mot. 1. Plaintiffs assert that jurisdiction is
proper under South Carolina's long-arm statute and that
the court should grant limited discovery on the
jurisdictional issue. Pl.'s Resp. 1. The court finds that
it lacks personal jurisdiction over this case and that venue
is improper. As a result, plaintiffs' motion for default
judgment is moot.
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to FRCP 12(b)(2) for Lack of