Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Experience Infusion Centers, LLC v. Lusby

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

July 31, 2017

Experience Infusion Centers, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Randall H. Lusby, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Gray D Miller United States District Judge.

         Pending before the court is (1) plaintiff Experience Infusion Centers, LLC's (“EIC”) motion to remand (Dkt. 17), and (2) defendants Anthem, Inc., Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc., and Health Care Service Corporation's[1] (collectively, “Insurance Defendants”) partial motions to dismiss (Dkts. 8, 27, 33). Having considered the motions, responses, replies, oral arguments at the hearing, and applicable law, the court is of the opinion that (1) EIC's motion to remand should be GRANTED (Dkt. 17), and (2) the Insurance Defendants' partial motions to dismiss should be DENIED AS MOOT (Dkts. 8, 27, 33).

         I. Background

         EIC is seeking payment for medical expenses for infusion treatments incurred by defendants Randall Lusby and Kristin Lusby. Dkt. 1-10 (Randall Lusby); Case No. 4:17-cv-1169, Dkt. 1-8 (Kristin Lusby).[2] EIC is suing the Lusbys under Texas state law for breach of contract and quantum meruit. Id. EIC is suing the Insurance Defendants under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) and also various state law causes of action. Id. (citing 29 U.S.C. § 1132).

         As part of their treatments, EIC alleges that the Lusbys each signed an assignment of benefits, consent, and release form allowing EIC to seek payment from their insurer. Id. Further, EIC alleges that the Lusbys agreed they would be responsible to any costs not covered by insurance. Id. EIC is seeking to recover $484, 773.31 in actual damages for Kristin Lusby's treatment and $2, 119, 474.66 in actual damages for Randall Lusby's treatment, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees, and court costs. Id.

         On September 23, 2015, EIC filed its original complaint against Randall Lusby in the 125th Judicial District Court of Harris County. Dkt. 1-2. On September 24, 2015, EIC filed its original complaint against Kristin Lusby in the 190th Judicial District Court of Harris County. Case No. 4:17-cv-1169, Dkt. 1-2. On March 12, 2017, EIC amended each of the complaints to add the Insurance Defendants. Dkt. 1-10; Case No. 4:17-cv-1169, Dkt. 1-8. On April 14, 2017, the Insurance Defendants removed both cases to federal court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Dkt. 1; Case No. 4:17-cv-1169, Dkt. 1. The Lusbys did not join in the removal, nor did they file a separate consent to the removal. Dkt. 17 at 1; Dkt. 20 at 6. On June 20, 2017, the court consolidated the cases. Dkt. 25; see also Dkt. 25, Ex. A (demonstrating the minor differences between the two complaints).

         On May 12, 2017, EIC filed a motion to remand. Dkt. 17. The Insurance Defendants responded, and EIC replied. Dkts. 20, 22. On April 21, 2017, the Insurance Defendants filed a partial motion to dismiss. Dkts. 8, 27.[3] EIC responded, and the Insurance Defendants replied. Dkts. 16, 18. On July 13, 2017, the court held a hearing on both motions. Dkt. 28. On July 14, 2017, EIC filed a second amended complaint. Dkt. 29. On July 28, 2017, the Insurance Defendants filed a second amended motion to dismiss. Dkt. 33.

         II. Legal Standard

         A party may remove to federal court “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (2012). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Willy v. Coastal Corp., 855 F.2d 1160, 1164 (5th Cir. 1988). This statutory right to removal is strictly construed because “removal jurisdiction . . . raises significant federalism concerns.” Id. (citations omitted). Therefore, “any doubt about the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of remand.” Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281-82 (5th Cir. 2007).

         III. Analysis

         EIC argues that the Insurance Defendants' removal was procedurally defective because they failed to procure the Lusbys' consent to removal. Dkt. 17 at 1 (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1446, 1447). “When a civil action is removed solely under section 1441(a), all defendants who have been properly joined and served must join in or consent to the removal of the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A); see also Getty Oil Corp. v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 841 F.2d 1254, 1262 (5th Cir. 1988). Section 1441(a) governs removal based on the federal question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). As an initial matter, both parties agree that EIC's claims against the Insurance Defendants arise under ERISA, which invokes the district court's federal question jurisdiction. Dkt. 17 at 3; Dkt. 20 at 5-7. Likewise, the parties agree that EIC's breach of contract and quantum meruit claims against the Lusbys arise under Texas state law. Id.

         EIC argues that the basis for the court's jurisdiction over EIC's claims against the Lusbys is supplemental jurisdiction and, therefore, the Lusbys' consent to removal is required. Dkt. 17 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367). However, the Insurance Defendants argue that because EIC's claims against the Lusbys are joined under section 1441(c), that the Lusbys' consent is not required. Dkt. 20 at 5 (citing 28 U.S.C. 1441 (c)). The court will address each of the parties' arguments regarding jurisdiction in turn.

         A. Supplemental Jurisdiction

         First, the court will consider whether it has supplemental jurisdiction over EIC's claims against the Lusbys. “[In] any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367. State and federal claims form part of the same case or controversy when they derive from a “common nucleus of operative fact.” City of Chi. v. Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 164-66, 118 S.Ct. 523 (1997); Mendoza v. Murphy, 532 F.3d 342, 346 (5th Cir. 2008). “[A] federal court has jurisdiction over an entire action, including state-law claims, whenever the federal-law claims and state-law claims in the case derive from a common nucleus of operative fact and are such that [a plaintiff] would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding.” Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 349, 108 S.Ct. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.