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Obi v. Exeter Health Resources, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

October 29, 2018

Loretta Azuka Obi
v.
Exeter Health Resources, Inc.; Core Physicians LLC; and Barton Assocs., Inc.

          Loretta Azuka Obi, pro se, Timothy Benjamin Sweetland, Esq., Julie K. Connolly, Esq.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the court is plaintiff Dr. Loretta Azuka Obi's “Motion to Amend the Complaint” (Doc. No. 15), filed in response to this court's October 2, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 13) (“October 2 Order”). The court construes the allegations in the instant filing as intending to add new claims and allegations to the claims in the underlying operative complaint and complaint addendum (Doc. Nos. 2, 9).

         Standard

         In general, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), leave to amend is to be “freely given.” Id. One ground for denying a proposed amendment is futility. See Todisco v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 497 F.3d 95, 98 (1st Cir. 2007). To assess whether the proposed amendment is futile, this court applies the standard for preliminary review of claims set forth in the October 2, 2018 Report and Recommendation (“October 2 R&R”) (Doc. No. 14), which the district judge approved in its October 27, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 22). To the extent a proposed amendment would add new parties, the court also considers whether those new parties are properly joined as defendants pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a) and 21.

         Background

         Dr. Obi was a hospitalist who worked at Exeter Hospital under contracts between her and defendants Exeter Health Resources, Inc.; Core Physicians LLC; and Barton Associates, Inc. She began the job at Exeter Hospital on December 22, 2017, and she continued working there until she was fired on January 3, 2018, based on what she characterizes as false staff reports and “coerced” patient complaints. Dr. Obi asserts that Exeter Hospital's true motives were to retaliate against her for failing to engage in what she considered to be unethical or illegal patient management decisions and fraudulent billing practices.

         After terminating her contract, Exeter Hospital withdrew Dr. Obi's clinical privileges and reported that action, and its reasons for the action, to the National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”), a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data base which collects reports of adverse actions affecting health care providers nationwide.[1] The New Hampshire Board of Medicine and Dr. Obi's past employers, including Weatherby Healthcare, received notice of her inclusion in the NPDB. The New Hampshire Board of Medicine's subsequent investigation and proceedings culminated in the revocation of Dr. Obi's license to practice medicine in New Hampshire.[2]

         The October 2 R&R identified the claims asserted by Dr. Obi as Claims 1-5, and recommended that Claim 2(c) and 4 be dismissed, and that Claim 5 be dismissed without prejudice. The October 2 Order granted Dr. Obi an opportunity to move to amend her pleadings, to state sufficient facts to allow her claims of fraud and defamation to proceed against the defendants named in Document Nos. 2 and 9. Dr. Obi filed the instant motion to amend (Doc. No. 15) in response to the October 2 Order.

         Discussion

         I. Facts Relating to Claims Identified in the October 2 R&R

         A. Claims 2(c) and 4

         In her Motion to Amend, Dr. Obi alleges new facts relating to tort and contract claims this court has previously identified as Claims 1-5. In her motion to amend, Dr. Obi specifically accepts the magistrate judge's recommendation that the district judge dismiss Claims 2(c) and 4, and her defamation claims against Barton Associates and Core Physicians. The new facts asserted in the motion to amend do not alter the recommendations in the October 2 R&R (Doc. No. 14), which the district judge approved, see ...


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