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Guillermina Partida v. Christopher D. Page et al

March 2, 2012

GUILLERMINA PARTIDA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER D. PAGE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

This is a federal question action alleging a claim for violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. It also includes supplemental state law claims for violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, medical malpractice, battery, and negligence. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), and the action was subsequently referred to the undersigned for all further proceedings and entry of final judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 6, 7, 11.)

Pending before the court is defendants Christopher D. Page, M.D. ("Dr. Page") and North Valley Orthopaedic and Hand Surgery's ("North Valley") motion to dismiss plaintiff Guillermina Partida's complaint, presently scheduled for hearing on March 14, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 5, 11.) Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion (dkt. no. 9), and defendants filed a reply brief.

(Dkt. No. 10.) Having reviewed the parties' briefing, the court concludes that oral argument would not be of material assistance in resolving the pending motion. Accordingly, the March 14, 2012 hearing on defendants' motion to dismiss will be vacated.

After reviewing the papers in support of and in opposition to defendants' motion to dismiss, the court's record in this matter, and the applicable law, the court now issues the following order.

BACKGROUND

The background facts are taken from plaintiff's complaint filed on November 30, 2011. (See Complaint, Dkt. No. 1 ["Compl."].) Defendant Dr. Page is a podiatric surgeon and a staff member of defendant North Valley. (Compl. ¶¶ 5-6.) Plaintiff was a patient of Dr. Page and North Valley from approximately December, 2009 until November, 2010. (Compl. ¶ 1.) According to the complaint, defendants accepted payment for services rendered to plaintiff via the federal Medicare system and the California Medi-Cal system. (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 20.) Plaintiff initially sought treatment for a bunion and broken toe on her left foot, and subsequently underwent multiple procedures and office visits over the course of her treatment with defendants, during which time her condition worsened dramatically. (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3.) Plaintiff asserts that, due to defendants' mistreatment and mistakes, which allegedly fell below the standard of care for competent medical professionals, she currently faces the likelihood of a partial or total amputation of her foot. (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 29-31.)

Furthermore, plaintiff alleges that she was born in Mexico and is a non-native, low proficiency speaker of the English language. (Compl. ¶ 12.) She allegedly has a limited ability to comprehend spoken and written English, particularly the complex English involved in sensitive medical communications. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to provide a translator to ensure effective communication regarding her medical treatment and that she "did not understand the reasons for any of Defendants' medical decisions or the justifications for, or the risks or benefits of, the procedures she underwent, or the procedures Defendants withheld" during treatment. (Compl. ¶¶ 14-15.) Plaintiff contends that if she had been provided with a trained medical translator, she "could have participated in a manner similar to native English speakers; that is, she could have participated more meaningfully in, and made decisions about, her medical care prior to her foot becoming irreconcilably infected." (Compl. ¶ 16.) She claims that the failure to provide a translator caused her to "misapprehend the full risks or benefits of the procedures to which Defendants subjected her, and those from which they refrained from subjecting her to, resulting in her permanent injury." (Compl. ¶ 17.) As such, defendants failed to obtain informed consent from plaintiff with respect to her treatment. (Compl. ¶ 34.)

Additionally, plaintiff alleges, based on information and belief, that Dr. Page has previously been sued for medical malpractice, but that he failed to seek additional training, supervision, or assistance with his practice of podiatric medicine. (Compl. ¶¶ 38, 40.) Plaintiff further alleges, on information and belief, that North Valley was aware of previous incidents of malpractice by Dr. Page, but failed to provide him with additional training or closely supervise his work. (Compl. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff asserts that these failures were a direct and proximate cause of her injuries. (Compl. ¶ 41.)

Based on these allegations, as discussed above, plaintiff asserts five causes of action for: (1) violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.; (2) violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act; (3) medical malpractice; (4) battery; and (5) negligence. The instant motion to dismiss followed.

DISCUSSION

In considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions," "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

First Cause of Action for Violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Plaintiff alleges that defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her national origin in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to provide a translator to ensure effective communication during plaintiff's medical treatment. 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000d provides that "[n]o person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be ...


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