Martin v. Humana Insurance Company et al (CONSENT)

Filing 27

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that: (1) Plaintiff's 9 Motion to Remand is GRANTED; (2) This case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Barbour County, Alabama; (3) Any other pending motions are left for resolution by the Circuit Court of Barbour County, Alabama; and (4) The Clerk is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to promptly effect the remand. Signed by Honorable Terry F. Moorer on 10/2/2008. Copy mailed to Clerk, Circuit Court of Barbour County, AL. (dmn)

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION M IN N IE MARTIN, P l a in tif f , v. H U M A N A INSURANCE CO., et al., D e f e n d a n ts . ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2:08-cv-252-TFM [w o] M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER T h is action is assigned to the undersigned magistrate judge to conduct all proceedings a n d order entry of judgment by consent of all the parties (Docs. 19, filed May 22, 2008) and 2 8 U.S.C. 636(c). P e n d in g before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and supporting brief (Docs. 9 -1 0 , filed April 15, 2008), Defendants' Brief in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to R e m a n d (Doc. 22, filed August 4, 2008), and Plaintiff's Reply to Defendants' Opposition to M o tio n to Remand (Doc. 23, filed August 11, 2008). For good cause, it is ORDERED that P la in t if f ' s Motion to Remand is GRANTED. I. PARTIES Plaintiff is Minnie Martin ("Martin" or "Plaintiff") a resident of Barbour County, A la b a m a , within the Middle District of Alabama. D e f e n d a n t Humana Insurance Company ("Humana") is a corporation which conducts Page 1 of 5 b u sine ss in Barbour County, Alabama through the enrollment of individuals in Medicare A d v a n ta g e Plans. Defendant Anthony Kenward ("Kenward") is an agent for Humana and c o n d u c ts business in Barbour County, Alabama. Collectively Humana and Kenward shall b e referred to as "Defendants." II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY O n March 6, 2008, Martin filed a Complaint against Defendants in the Circuit Court o f Barbour County, Alabama asserting claims relating to her enrollment in Humana's h ea lth ca re plan. See Doc. 2, Complaint. Prior to November 2006, Martin obtained h e a lth c a re services through Medicare. See id. at 10. In her complaint, Martin states that in November 2006, she was approached by Kenward for the purpose of seeking her a p p lic a tio n and enrollment in Humana's Gold Choice plan which is a Medicare Advantage p la n . See id. at 11. Based on the representations made by Kenward, Martin enrolled in the G o ld Choice plan. See id. at 15. However, by enrolling in the Gold Choice plan, Martin w a s now only covered for medical services provided by healthcare providers in the Humana n e tw o rk . See id. at 16-17. Martin asserts that the true nature of the Humana Gold Choice p la n was misrepresented to her and that she was misled to believe her benefits would not c h a n g e. Consequently, Martin filed this action asserting (1) fraud by misrepresentation, (2) f ra u d by suppression and concealment, (3) negligent, reckless or wanton hiring, training, m o n ito rin g , and supervision, (4) civil conspiracy, (5) negligence and wantonness, (6) breach o f fiduciary duties, and (7) violation of the Alabama Deceptive Practices Act. Martin also Page 2 of 5 s p e c if ic a lly states these claims arise solely from state law. See id. at p. 13. Further, Martin s p e c if ic a lly states she does not seek a coverage determination regarding benefits provided b y Humana or Medicare nor does she assert a claim for Medicare benefits. Id. On April 4, 2008, Humana removed the action to federal court. See Doc. 2, Notice o f Removal. Kenward consented to the removal. See Doc. 4, Consent to Removal. On April 1 5 , 2008, Martin filed the instant Motion to Remand the case back to state court. The motion h a s been fully briefed and is ripe for review. I I I. STANDARD OF REVIEW F e d e ra l courts have a strict duty to exercise jurisdiction conferred on them by C o n g re s s . Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716, 116 S.Ct. 1712, 1720, 135 L .E d .2 d 1 (1996). However, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possesses o n ly that power authorized by Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. o f Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). Humana, as the p a rty removing this action, has the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Leonard v . Enterprise Rent a Car, 279 F.3d 967, 972 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing Williams v. Best Buy C o ., 269 F.3d 1316, 1318 (11th Cir. 2001)). Further, the federal removal statutes must be c o n s t r u e d narrowly and doubts about removal must be resolved in favor of remand. Allen v . Christenberry, 327 F.3d 1290, 1293 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1 5 0 2 , 1505 (11th Cir. 1996)); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994) (citatio n s omitted). Page 3 of 5 IV . DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS S in c e this lawsuit began in state court, the court's jurisdiction depends on the p ro p rie ty of removal. Humana predicates federal-question jurisdiction on the doctrine of c o m p le te preemption. See Doc. 22 at p. 2. Humana argues that the Medicare Act expressly p re e m p t s state substantive law. See 42 U.S.C. 1395w-26(b)(3). The Eleventh Circuit s p e c if ic a lly addressed this precise issue in Dial v. Healthspring of Alabama, Inc., -- F.3d --, 2 0 0 8 WL 3896741 (11th Cir. 2008). The Eleventh Circuit explained that the Medicare Act " strip s federal courts of primary federal-question subject matter jurisdiction over claims that a r i s e under the Act." Id. at *2. Rather, any federal jurisdiction would only arise from the re v ie w of an administrative decision. See id. at *3 ("the district court would lack subjectm a tte r jurisdiction over their complaint because it is not against the Secretary of the D e p a rtm e n t of Health and Human Services for review of an administrative decision."). The in s ta n t suit is clearly not an appeal of an administrative decision and therefore the Court lacks s u b je c t matter jurisdiction. V . CONCLUSION F o r the reasons set forth above, it is hereby ORDERED that: (1 ) (2) (3 ) P la in tiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 9) is GRANTED; T h i s case is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Barbour County, Alabama; A n y other pending motions are left for resolution by the Circuit Court of B a rb o u r County, Alabama; and Page 4 of 5 (4) T h e Clerk is DIRECTED to take appropriate steps to promptly effect the re m a n d . DONE this 2nd day of October, 2008. /s / Terry F. Moorer T E R R Y F. MOORER U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE Page 5 of 5

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