ESTATE OF VERA CUMMINGS, by and through personal representative Elicia Montoya, Plaintiff - Appellee,
COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant-Appellant, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; LAS CRUCES MEDICAL CENTER, d/b/a MOUNTAIN VIEW REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.
from the United States District Court for the District of New
Mexico (D.C. No. 1:12-CV-00081-WJ-GBW)
Michael J. Dekleva (William C. Madison and M. Eliza Stewart,
with him on the briefs), Madison, Mroz, Steinman &
Dekleva, P.A., Albuquerque, New Mexico, for
K. Curtis, Curtis & Lucero, Albuquerque, New Mexico
(Amalia S. Lucero, Curtis & Lucero, Albuquerque, New
Mexico, and Steven L. Tucker, Tucker Law Firm, P.C., Santa
Fe, New Mexico, with her on the brief) for
HARTZ, HOLMES, and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.
the second appeal in this litigation to come before this
court. The first appeal involved claims by the estate of Vera
Cummings (the Estate) against Community Health Systems, Inc.
(CHSI) under state law, against the United States under the
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and against Mountain View
Regional Medical Center (Mountain View) under state law. We
disposed of the appeal by (1) entering an order approving the
stipulated dismissal with prejudice of the appeal of the
district court's dismissal for lack of personal
jurisdiction of the claims against CHSI, (2) affirming the
district court's dismissal of the claims under the FTCA
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and (3) directing
the district court to vacate its judgment in favor of
Mountain View and to remand the claims against Mountain
View-but not the claims against CHSI- to state court for lack
of subject-matter jurisdiction.
remand to the district court, however, it went beyond our
mandate by vacating its dismissal of the claims against CHSI
and remanding those claims to state court. CHSI appealed. We
reverse the order vacating the dismissal of the claims
against CHSI and remanding those claims to state court. We
also reject the Estate's motion to dismiss this appeal
for lack of jurisdiction.
January 28, 2008, Mountain View admitted Vera Cummings, who
complained of dizziness and confusion. See Estate of
Cummings v. United States, 651 Fed.Appx. 822, 824 (10th
Cir. 2016) (Estate of Cummings I). After doctors at
Mountain View treated her for about 10 days, she was released
to another health-care facility and died four days later.
See id. In January 2011 the Estate filed suit in New
Mexico state court against three physicians, Mountain View,
and CHSI. The Estate alleged that negligent care by Mountain
View and the physicians caused Cummings's death, and that
CHSI "controlled and operated" Mountain View and
was "vicariously liable" for the negligence of the
other defendants. Aplt. App. at 37-38.
January 2012 the United States certified that the physicians
were acting in the scope of their employment with the United
States Public Health Service (PHS) and removed the action to
the United States District Court for the District of New
Mexico, with the United States substituted for the physicians
as a defendant. See 42 U.S.C. § 233(c)
(authorizing such removal and substitution). After removal and
substitution, the sole remedy for the conduct of the
physicians is under the FTCA. See id. at §
233(a). In September 2012 the district court dismissed the
claims against CHSI for lack of personal jurisdiction. The
court held that exercising jurisdiction over CHSI would
violate its constitutional right to due process because
"CHSI is a nonresident holding company with no minimum
contacts with New Mexico . . . ." Aplt. App. at 58. In
2014 the district court granted Mountain View summary
judgment because of the Estate's failure to disclose an
expert report on an essential element of its claims against
Mountain View. And in February 2015 the court entered final
judgment, disposing of the only remaining claims-those
against the government-for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction because the Estate had not exhausted
administrative remedies as required by the FTCA.
The First Appeal
Estate appealed the district court's judgment in March
2015. Its docketing statement listed five issues for appeal,
including whether the district court had erred by dismissing
CHSI for lack of personal jurisdiction. The next month, this
court scheduled a mediation conference, see 10th
Cir. Loc. R. 33.1, which was a partial success. The parties
filed a "Stipulation to Dismiss" stating that
"[p]ursuant to discussions held under Tenth Circuit Rule
33.1 . . . and the agreement of the parties, [the Estate and
CHSI] hereby stipulate that the above appeal be dismissed
with prejudice as to [CHSI] only." Aplt. App. at 96.
This court then entered an order stating that "[u]pon
consideration of the stipulation this appeal is dismissed
with respect to [CHSI] only." Id. at 99.
7, 2016, we entered an order and judgment disposing of the
remaining issues on appeal (the First 2016 Order). The
caption included the Estate as the plaintiff and the United
States and Mountain View (but not CHSI) as the defendants. We
affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the government
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, agreeing that (1)
the doctors had been federal actors, (2) the Estate had not
exhausted administrative remedies before suing, and (3)
exhaustion is a statutory jurisdictional requirement under
the FTCA. See First 2016 Order at 12. As for the
claims against Mountain View, the Estate had contended that
"[s]hould this court affirm the district court's
dismissal of the case for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, . . . it must extinguish all rulings in the
case and remand the case against Mountain View to New Mexico
state district court." Aplt.'s Opening Br. at 27,
Estate of Cummings I (10th Cir. July 15, 2015). We
agreed. Our opinion concluded with the following
The dismissal of the federal claims is AFFIRMED. The district
court's rulings on the supplemental claims are
VACATED with instructions to the district court to remand to
New Mexico state court.
First 2016 Order at 13 (emphasis added).
weeks later, Mountain View asked this court "to clarify
and confirm that the claims against [CHSI] have not been
remanded to New Mexico state court." Aplt. App. at 105.
It asserted that because the Estate voluntarily dismissed
with prejudice its appeal as to CHSI, "the Court lacked
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to hear an appeal of
the district court's order dismissing CHSI for lack of
personal jurisdiction" and "could not have remanded
the claims against CHSI to state court." Id. at
107. On June 24 this court entered an order granting this
request by changing the dispositional language to read:
The dismissal of the federal claims is AFFIRMED. The district
court's rulings on the supplemental claims against
Mountain View are VACATED with instructions to the
district court to remand to New Mexico state court.
Estate of Cummings, 651 Fed.Appx. at 828 (emphasis
added). Mandate issued on August 30, 2016.
District-Court Proceedings on Remand
with the mandate, the district court entered an order on
August 31, 2016, stating that "the Clerk of Court shall
REMAND [the Estate's] claims against [Mountain
View]" to New Mexico state court "as directed by
the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals." Aplt. App.
at 70. But that did not end the district court's
involvement with the case. More than four months later, on
January 19, 2017, Mountain View asked the district court for
a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction.
It represented that the Estate was pursuing its claims
against CHSI in state court and requested an injunction
barring the Estate from "prosecuting [the remanded case]
against [CHSI]" or "filing further suits or
prosecuting further litigation against CHSI in the State of
New Mexico." Id. at 71. Injunctive relief was
allegedly needed "to prevent the Estate from
relitigating the personal jurisdiction issue that [the
district court had] already decided." Id.;
see 28 U.S.C. § 2283 (permitting a federal
court to enjoin state-court proceedings "where necessary
in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its
judgments"); Chick Kam Choo v. Exxon Corp., 486
U.S. 140, 150-51 (1988) (federal district court could enjoin
state court from considering state-law claim whose validity
had already been adjudicated by the federal court); Ute
Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation v.
Utah, 790 F.3d 1000, 1007-09 (10th Cir. 2015) (remanding
to district court with instructions to enjoin state
prosecution being pursued contrary to prior federal-court
decision that certain lands are Indian country).
January 25, 2017, the district court denied Mountain
View's request, explaining that it lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction to consider the merits of the motion. It then
entered the order that is the subject of this appeal. It sua
sponte decided to vacate its earlier dismissal of the claims
against CHSI and remanded those claims to state court. It
said that "[u]nder its inherent jurisdiction" it
needed to "attend to a piece of this case" that had
been "left behind and inadvertently overlooked."
Aplt. App. at 135. Because "[i]t ha[d] been definitively
decided that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over this entire case, including all supplemental
state law claims, " the court stated that "in
addition to vacating its ruling on the Mountain View claims,
the Court should have also vacated its rulings on the CHSI
claim[s] and remanded them" to state court. Id.
at 134. The order declared that the court's "prior
rulings on the supplemental claims asserted against CHSI . .
. are hereby VACATED, " and it directed the clerk to
send the ...