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Meier v. UHS of Delaware, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

December 2, 2019

BARBARA MEIER, et al.
v.
UHS OF DELAWARE, INC., et al.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are eleven motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint (Dkt. #202; Dkt. #204; Dkt. #206; Dkt. #207; Dkt. #208; Dkt. #209; Dkt. #210; Dkt. #211; Dkt. #212; Dkt. #213; Dkt. #214). Having considered the motions and the relevant pleadings, the Court finds that all eleven motions should be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 1, 2018, Plaintiff Meier filed her First Amended Petition in the 158th Judicial District Court of Denton County, Texas (Dkt. #1 ¶ 3). On August 27, 2018, Defendant UHS of Delaware, Inc. removed the case to this Court (Dkt. #1).

         On October 1, 2018, Plaintiff Meier filed her First Amended Complaint in this Court, adding Plaintiffs Madison Hough, Jason Hough, Govinda Hough, Crowell, Harvey, McPherson, Stokes, and Young (Dkt. #11 ¶ 1). Plaintiff Meier also added as Defendants: Universal Health Services, Inc.; Dr. Sabahat Faheem; Kenneth Chad Ellis; Millwood Hospital LP; Dr. Sejal Mehta; Dr. Gary Malone; Alan B. Miller; Universal Physicians, P.A.; Dr. Says LLC; MD Reliance, Inc.; Office Winsome, LLC; Dr. Yupo Jesse Chang; Yung Husan Yao; Dr. Quingguo Tao; Dr. Harmanpreet Buttar; Behavioral Health Management, LLC; Dr. Jamal Rafique; Hickory Trail Hospital, LP; Behavioral Health Connections, Inc.; Jan Arnett; and Wendell Quinn (Dkt. #11 ¶¶ 2-9).[1]

         On April 26, 2019, without receiving leave of court, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint, adding Plaintiffs Diane Creel, Lynn Creel, and Jalisa Green (Dkt. #130 ¶¶ 4, 5(j)-(k)).[2]Plaintiffs also added Defendant Dr. Timothy Tom (Dkt. #130 ¶¶ 4, 10(e)).

         On May 28, 2019, Plaintiffs requested leave to file their Third Amended Complaint (Dkt. #182). Plaintiffs maintained that the new complaint did not add new defendants or causes of action but simply accounted for new factual and procedural developments (Dkt. #182 at p. 1). Plaintiffs also attempted to address issues that were raised by Defendants' motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' prior complaints (Dkt. #182 at p. 1). The Court granted Plaintiffs leave to file their Third Amended Complaint, and it denied as moot Defendants' twenty-eight motions to dismiss and strike Plaintiffs' first and second amended complaints (Dkt. #197).

         Under the operative, Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) against all Defendants (Dkt. #183 at pp. 55-56). Plaintiffs' RICO claim is their primary claim, and it is based on Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendants “engaged in racketeering activities and conspired to fraudulently admit and detain patients in four hospitals” (Dkt. #183 ⁋ 4). Plaintiffs then allege as “counts in the alternative” violations of the Rehabilitation Act; violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”); violations of the Texas Health and Safety Code; violations of the Texas Mental Health Code; False Imprisonment; Civil Conspiracy; Negligence; Gross Negligence; and violations of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (Dkt. #183 at pp. 90-111).[3]

         After Plaintiffs filed their Third Amended Complaint, Defendants filed their motions to dismiss as follows:

- On June 26, 2019, Defendant Sabahat Faheem filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Dkt. #202). Plaintiffs responded on July 10, 2019 (Dkt. #218). Defendant Faheem filed a reply on July 17, 2019 (Dkt. #231).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Sejal Mehta filed Rule 12(b) Motions to Dismiss (Dkt. #204). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Mehta's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Mehta filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #240).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Gary Malone filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint (Dkt. #206). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Malone's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Malone filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #240).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendants Universal Health Services, Inc. (“UHS”), UHS of Delaware, Inc. (“UHSD”), Behavioral Health Connections, Inc. (“BHC”), Jan Arnett, and Wendell Quinn (collectively, “UHS Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) (Dkt. #207). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including the UHS Defendants' motion (Dkt. #236). The UHS Defendants filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #239).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Jamal Rafique filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Dkt. #208). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Rafique's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Rafique filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #249).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Harmanpreet Buttar filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Original Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. #209). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Buttar's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Buttar filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #244).
- On July 2, 2019, Yupo Jesse Chang, Universal Physicians, PA, Dr. Says, LLC, MD Reliance, Inc., and Office Winsome, LLC (collectively, “Chang Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Original Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. #210). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including the Chang Defendants' motion (Dkt. #236). The Chang Defendants filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #245).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Quingguo Tao filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Original Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. #211). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Tao's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Tao filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #246).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Timothy Tom filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Original Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. #212). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Tom's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Tom filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #247).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendant Yung Husan Yao filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Third Amended Original Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. #213). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including Defendant Yao's motion (Dkt. #236). Defendant Yao filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #248).
- On July 2, 2019, Defendants Mayhill Hospital, Millwood Hospital, Hickory Trail Hospital, Behavioral Hospital of Bellaire, and Kenneth Chad Ellis (collectively, “Hospital Defendants”) filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and/or 12 (b)(6) (Dkt. #214). On July 24, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an omnibus response to all Defendants' motions to dismiss, including the Hospital Defendants' motion (Dkt. #236). The Hospital Defendants filed a reply on August 8, 2019 (Dkt. #243).

         As Plaintiffs note in their omnibus response, each motion to dismiss makes similar arguments but with a few differences (Dkt. #236 at p. 3 n.8). All the motions to dismiss make the argument that: (1) Plaintiffs' RICO claim should be dismissed under either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) or 12(b)(6); and (2) Plaintiffs' Rehabilitation Act claim should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). Several of Defendants' motions to dismiss also argue that the Court should refuse to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state-law claims.

         In addition to the common grounds for dismissal listed above, Defendant Malone separately asserts that Plaintiffs' complaint should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(2), Rule 12(b)(3), Rule 12(b)(4), and Rule 12(b)(5).

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         The following legal standards are relevant to nearly all of the motions to dismiss except for the Rule 12(b)(5) standard, which is relevant only to Defendant Malone's motion to dismiss.

         I. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal of a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the district court lacks statutory and constitutional power to adjudicate the case. Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). If a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the Court will consider the jurisdictional attack under Rule 12(b)(1) before addressing any attack on the legal merits. Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001).

         In deciding the motion, the Court may consider “(1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint supplemented by the undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the [C]ourt's resolution of disputed facts.” Lane v. Halliburton, 529 F.3d 548, 557 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Barrera-Montenegro v. United States, 74 F.3d 657, 659 (5th Cir. 1996)). The Court will accept as true all well-pleaded allegations set forth in the complaint and construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Truman v. United States, 26 F.3d 592, 594 (5th Cir. 1994). Once a defendant files a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) and challenges jurisdiction, the party invoking jurisdiction has the burden to establish subject matter jurisdiction. See Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 613 F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980). The Court will grant a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction only if it appears certain that the claimant cannot prove a plausible set of facts to support a claim that would entitle it to relief. Lane, 529 F.3d at 557.

         II. Federal Rule of Civil ...


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