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Hernandez v. Siemens Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

November 27, 2017




         The Court has before it the following motions and all responses and replies thereto:

• Newton B. Schwartz, Sr. and Law Offices of Newton B. Schartz's Unopposed Renewed Motion to Withdraw as Additional Counsel of Record ("Motion to Withdraw"). (ECF #42).
• Plaintiff s Motion for a New Trial (FRCVP 59 (a) (1)(B)) [sic] ("Motion for a New Trial"). (ECF #45).
• Defendants' Motion for Sanctions ("Motion for Sanctions").

(ECF #46).

         For the reasons given in this Memorandum Opinion, the Court will DENY the Motion to Withdraw, DENY the Motion for a New Trial, and DENY the Motion for Sanctions.


         I. Factual Background

         The merits of plaintiff Adam Hernandez's factual allegations are not at issue in the present motions. For that reason, the Court will provide only a brief summary of his claims for the purpose of providing context for the much more relevant (to the present motions) procedural history of this case.

         Mr. Hernandez alleged that in February 2014 he was in Metropolitan Hospital in San Antonio "for medical treatment of his recorded injuries." (ECF #21 at 3). He claimed that as part of his treatment he received an MRI from a machine "designed, manufactured and/or marketed by one or more of the Siemens Defendants." (Id. at 17). This machine, he alleged, was "defectively designed, manufactured and/or marketed" and gave him "severe burns, permanent, painful, and disabling personal injuries. (Id.). He brought a personal injury / product liability suit against the defendants on the basis of these allegations. (ECF # 1; ECF #9; ECF #21).

          II. Procedural Background

         The Court finds it helpful to divide the procedural background of this case into three phases. The first consists of all actions taken from the initial filing of this lawsuit until the dismissal of Mr. Hernandez's original and first proposed amended complaint. The second consists of all actions taken from Mr. Hernandez's refiling of his complaint until this Court's order dismissing the case with prejudice. The third consists of all actions taken since that time.

         A. Phase One

         Mr. Hernandez filed his original complaint in the 225th Judicial District Court of Bexar County on February 8, 2016. (ECF #1). Defendant Siemens removed the action to this court on June 13, 2016, and filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF #1; ECF #4). In response to the motion to dismiss, Mr. Hernandez filed several motions for leave to file an amended complaint and a proposed amended complaint. (ECF #9; ECF #14; ECF #15).

         Judge Xavier Rodriguez dismissed both the original and the proposed amended complaint on October 17, 2016. (ECF #20). Concerning the original complaint, Judge Rodriguez found that "the only material factual allegations in the complaint are that Hernandez was burned by a defective MRI machine manufactured by Siemens." (ECF #20 at 4). He also found that the proposed amended complaint merely "recites statements of law interspersed with conclusory references to Siemens." (Id.). He found these conclusory allegations, which did not include "an explanation of the defect or how it caused [Mr. Hernandez's] injury, " to be insufficient under federal pleading standards to sustain a claim. (Id. at 6). But Judge Rodriguez did not dismiss the case. Instead, he granted leave for Mr. Hernandez to file a new amended complaint within 14 days that addressed the concerns raised over the sufficiency of the allegations. (Id. at 7).

         B. Phase Two

         Mr. Hernandez timely filed a new complaint per Judge Rodriguez's instructions on October 31, 2016. (ECF #21). That same day, he also filed a "supplemental petition" with additional factual allegations. (ECF #22). Three weeks later, the defendants moved to strike the supplemental petition pursuant to Rules 12(f) and 15 and to dismiss the new amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

         Mr. Hernandez never filed a response to these motions. He never amended his complaint again, either. On December 9, 2016, the defendants requested that the Court treat their motions to strike the supplemental petition and to dismiss the new amended complaint as unopposed and to dismiss all claims with prejudice. (ECF #25). For six more months Mr. Hernandez did nothing about these motions.

         Finally, on June 1, 2017, Mr. Hernandez filed a "Motion for a Continuance of Hearing and Ruling to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss." (ECF #34). The Court interpreted this motion, which was largely incomprehensible, as a request for an extension of time either to amend Mr. Hernandez's complaint or to respond to the motion to dismiss in light of "a very recent settlement offer." (ECF #34 at 1; ECF #40). The defendants filed their response to this motion, denying that they had made any settlement offer; accusing plaintiffs counsel of filing the motion for a dilatory purpose; and asserting that Benton Musslewhite, one of Mr. Hernandez's attorneys, was not admitted to practice law before the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. (ECF #36; ECF #36-1; ECF #36-2). True to form, neither Mr. Hernandez nor his counsel responded to any of these allegations.

         Around that same time, Mr. Hernandez also filed a motion to compel the Metropolitan Hospital to produce documents related to the MRI machine: (ECF #39). Mr. Newton'B. Schwartz, one of Mr. Hernandez's attorneys, also filed his first motion to withdraw as Mr. Hernandez's counsel, which would "leave[] Benton Musslewhite, Sr. as attorney in charge." (ECF #33 at 4).

         After providing ample opportunity for Mr. Hernandez to respond to any of the motions pending against him, this Court finally ruled on all pending motions on June 23, 2017. (ECF #40). In ...

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