Slater v. Capital SeniorCare Ventures LLC et al
ORDER granting 30 Motion to Remand to State Court. Slater's request for attorney's fees is denied. Column's motion to dismiss remains pending for the state court to decide. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 4/4/13. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
PENNY SLATER, as Personal Representative
of the Estate of Gloria Slater, deceased,
and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries
of Gloria Slater
Penny Slater claims that a consortium of nursing homes and their
holding companies were negligent in caring for Gloria Slater, a former
resident of one of the homes. She also alleges the Defendants conspired to
misuse federal money meant to fund care for the homes' residents. The
Defendants removed the case. They contend the conspiracy claim hinges on
federal questions. Slater moves to remand, saying, among other things, that
no substantial federal issues justify removal. The Court passes over the
alleged procedural defect in removal to the main issue: this Court's
Subject-matter jurisdiction where federal law is embedded in state-law
claims is reserved for those cases where the federal question is "not only a
contested ... issue, but a substantial one[.]" Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc.
v. Darue Engineering & Manufacturing, 545 U.S. 308, 313 (2005). This is a
narrow gate. Central Iowa Power Coop. v. Midwest Independent Transmission
System Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904,912 (8th Cir. 2009). The complaint here is
a basket of state-law issues: negligence, medical malpractice, and civil
conspiracy. The alleged state-law tort beneath the civil-conspiracy claim is a
bit murky. It does not appear Slater is alleging that HUD and Medicare funds
were obtained improperly; Slater has not alleged fraud. Document No. 41, at
Instead, she alleges that the Defendants conspired to intentionally
underfund the nursing homes, leading to foreseeable injuries. Ibid. The
substantive measure of Defendants' allegedly wrongful conduct will turn on
what Defendants did with the federal money and why, not how they got it.
Compare Gaming Corp. ofAmerica v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536,551 (8th Cir.
1996). That HUD or Medicare provided those funds is incidental. No big
federal-law dispute exists about that predicate fact. And Defendants' belated
argument about the negligence claim is, as Slater notes, more about a defense
than a claim. Resolving all doubts in favor of remand to preserve the
congressionally approved balance between state and federal judicial
responsibilities, Central Iowa Power Coop., 561 F.3d at 912, any federal issues
present are not disputed enough or substantial enough to support federalquestion jurisdiction.
* * *
Motion to remand, Document No. 30, granted. Slater's request for
attorney's fees is denied. No basis exists for this relief: this was a good-faith
jurisdictional skirmish. Column's motion to dismiss remains pending for the
State court to resolve.
D.P. Marshall Jr. I/
United States District Judge
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