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Anderson v. State

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

April 27, 2018

CATHERINE YANG WANG ANDERSON, Individually and on behalf of X.C.W. as the "Next Friend" of X.C.W., a minor, Plaintiff,
THE STATE OF NEBRASKA, et al., Defendants.


          John M. Gerrard United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the motion to dismiss (filing 214) of defendants Susan Boyles and the Remuda Ranch Center for Anorexia and Bulimia and the motion to dismiss (filing 240) of Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Nancy E. Parke. The movants contend, in relevant part, that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them because they have insufficient contacts with the State of Nebraska. The Court agrees, and will dismiss the claims asserted against the movants.


         The plaintiff, Catherine Yang Wang Anderson (Wang Anderson) is the mother of two girls, X.C.W. and Y.C.W. Filing 154 at 2. Wang Anderson's husband, Bo Wang (Wang) is their father. Filing 154 at 2. X.C.W. was a minor when this case was filed, and Wang Anderson is suing both in her own capacity and as "next friend" of X.C.W. Filing 154 at 2. Very generally, Wang Anderson alleges that X.C.W. was unlawfully made a ward of the State of Nebraska and held by the State against her will. Filing 154 at 2.

         In October 2013, after Y.C.W. reported to school authorities that she didn't feel safe going home, both sisters were removed from Wang Anderson's home, and a juvenile proceeding was initiated in the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County, Nebraska. Filing 154 at 33, 36, 44. The petition alleged- Wang Anderson says wrongly-that X.C.W. and Y.C.W. had been subjected to inappropriate discipline, not provided with safe housing, deprived of proper parental care and support, and that Wang Anderson had been seen acting in a manner consistent with untreated mental health needs. Filing 154 at 44-45. An ex parte juvenile court order placed the girls in the temporary custody of DHHS, then after a hearing, the juvenile court continued DHHS's temporary custody. Filing 154 at 45-46.

         Both girls were diagnosed with mental health disorders. Filing 154 at 52. X.C.W. was sent to a program for treating eating disorders. Filing 154 at 54. She was partially hospitalized-her time was split between the hospital and her foster home. Filing 154 at 54-55. Her condition deteriorated and more intensive treatment was recommended. Filing 154 at 68. She was placed at Laureate, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Filing 154 at 73. Parke is a licensed professional counselor at Laureate. Filing 241-4 at 1.

         Laureate is not registered to do business in Nebraska, holds no property in Nebraska, and has no employees in Nebraska. Filing 241-1 at 1. Laureate admitted 144 patients in 2014, 3 of whom were from Nebraska (including X.C.W.). Filing 241-1 at 1-2. X.C.W.'s admission was initiated by Wang Anderson, who contacted Laureate and said she was interested in having X.C.W. placed there. Filing 241-2 at 1-2. X.C.W. was brought to Laureate by Sara Smith of the Nebraska Families Collaborative and an employee of Omaha's Children's Hospital. Filing 241-2. X.C.W.'s treatment was paid for through Wang's insurance. Filing 241-3 at 1. While X.C.W. was at Laureate, she had contact with her Nebraska family, including telephone calls, visits, and family therapy. Filing 324-1 at 2. And staff from Laureate- including Parke-communicated with people in Nebraska involved in X.C.W.'s case, including family, health care providers, and social workers. See filing 324-2 at 4-5, 61, 66-72.

         Eventually, X.C.W. was discharged from Laureate and put into a new foster placement, and she continued treatment for her eating disorder at Children's Hospital in Omaha. Filing 154 at 83-84, 86. But X.C.W.'s anorexia relapsed, and she was again hospitalized. Filing 154 at 91-92. In November 2014, she was placed at Remuda Ranch, a treatment facility in Arizona. Filing 154 at 94. Boyles is a licensed clinical social worker who was, at the time, employed by Remuda Ranch. Filing 215 at 5.

         X.C.W. was referred to Remuda Ranch by the director of the Children's Hospital eating disorders program. Filing 215 at 8; see filing 154 at 14. Payment arrangements for X.C.W.'s treatment were made by the Nebraska Families Collaborative, and payment was provided by Wang's insurance. Filing 215 at 8-9. No one from Remuda Ranch, including Boyles, visited Nebraska. Filing 215 at 5, 8. But Remuda Ranch staff did participate by telephone in meetings held in Nebraska related to the juvenile court proceedings, and X.C.W. had contact with her Nebraska family though telephone calls, visits, and family therapy. Filing 307 at 4-5. Remuda Ranch staff also communicated with people at the Nebraska Families Cooperative, X.C.W.'s guardian ad litem, and X.C.W.'s Nebraska health care providers. Filing 307 at 5-6.

         After discharge from Remuda Ranch, X.C.W. was returned to her previous foster placement. Filing 154 at 102. She moved to another foster home, then to an "independent living arrangement, " then to a dormitory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Filing 154 at 121. But in December 2016, she was returned to her foster home in Blair. Filing 154 at 123. After that, she was sent to another foster placement, where she remained when this complaint was filed. Filing 154 at 124.

         Wang Anderson asserts several federal and state-law claims against sixty-nine different defendants, on behalf of herself and X.C.W. Filing 154 at 1-2. She claims a number of federal constitutional violations, including violation of their rights to due process and familial association, unlawful seizure, a deliberately indifferent failure to protect, retaliation for constitutionally protected activity, violation of Wang Anderson's First Amendment rights, and discrimination against Wang and Wang Anderson because of their Chinese origin. Filing 154 at 124-30, 137-47. She also claims X.C.W. wasn't provided with accommodations required by § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Filing 154 at 147-48. And, she says, she and X.C.W. were denied statutory rights arising under 42 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. & 670 et seq. Filing 154 at 150-57. Finally, she asserts state-law claims including negligence, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 20-148. Filing 154 at 131-37, 148-50.


         When jurisdiction is challenged on a pretrial motion to dismiss, the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdiction. Pangaea, Inc. v. Flying Burrito LLC, 647 F.3d 741, 745 (8th Cir. 2011); Miller v. Nippon Carbon Co., 528 F.3d 1087, 1090 (8th Cir. 2008). The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Viasystems, Inc. v. EBM-Papst St. Georgen GmbH & Co., 646 F.3d 589, 592 (8th Cir. 2011). Nonetheless, if the defendant controverts or denies jurisdiction, the plaintiff still carries the burden of proof. See id.; Wells Dairy, Inc. v. Food Movers Int'l, Inc., 607 F.3d 515, 518 (8th Cir. 2010); Miller, 528 F.3d at 1090. The plaintiff's prima facie showing must be tested, not ...

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