Henson v. Capital Seniorcare Ventures, LLC et al

Filing 54

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER that plaintiff's 38 Motion to remand is granted and denying as moot plaintiff's request for a hearing on her motion to remand; further denying plaintiff's request for attorney fees and costs and separate defendant Column Guaranteed, LLC's 7 Motion to dismss remains pending for the State Court to resolve; further case shall be remanded forthwith to the Circuit Court of Crawford County, Arkansas. Signed by Honorable Robert T. Dawson on May 2, 2013. (rw)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS FORT SMITH DIVISION LAURA E. HENSON, as Power of Attorney for and on behalf of BARBARA J. SIMON v. PLAINTIFF Case No. 2:13-CV-2018 CAPITAL SENIORCARE VENTURES, LLC; COLUMN GUARANTEED, LLC; SLC PROPERTIES, LLC; SLC PROPERTY HOLDINGS, LLC; SLC PROPERTY INVESTORS, LLC; EOR-ARK, LLC; VAJ, LLC; SLC OPERATIONS MASTER TENANT, LLC; SLC OPERATIONS HOLDINGS, LLC; SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITIES OF ARKANSAS, LLC; SLC PROFESSIONAL HOLDINGS, LLC; SLC PROFESSIONALS, LLC; SENIOR VANTAGE POINT, LLC; ADDIT, LLC; QUALITY REVIEW, LLC; JOHN W. DWYER; CAPITAL FUNDING GROUP, INC.; CAPITAL FUNDING, LLC; CSCV HOLDINGS, LLC; ARKANSAS SNF OPERATIONS ACQUISITION, LLC; ARKANSAS NURSING HOME ACQUISITION, LLC; CAPITAL FINANCE, LLC; LANA ROGERS, in her capacity as Administrator of Pointer Trail Health and Rehabilitation, LLC; JOHN DOES 1-5; UNKNOWN DEFENDANTS; POINTER TRAIL HEALTH AND REHABILITATION; POINTER TRAIL HOLDINGS, LLC DEFENDANTS MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Currently before the Court are Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. 38) and supporting Memorandum Brief (Doc. 39), Defendants’ (except Column Response (Doc. Notice of Guaranteed 45), LLC, Plaintiff’s Supplemental Authority hereinafter Reply (Doc. (Doc. 50), “Defendants”) 47), Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ Response to Notice of Supplemental Authority (Doc. 53). For the reasons reflected herein, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. 38) Page 1 of 5 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and this case is remanded to the Circuit Court of Crawford County, Arkansas. I. Background On November 29, 2012, Plaintiff filed her complaint in the Circuit Court of Crawford County, Arkansas, alleging negligence, medical malpractice, common law civil conspiracy, violations of certain Arkansas statutes protecting the rights of nursing home residents, and individual Defendants, facilities. separate claims who of were negligence the against Administrators of the the (See Doc. 5 ¶¶ 57-143). On January 18, 2013, Defendants jointly filed a Notice of Removal (Doc. 1) claiming entitlement to removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and conspiracy argued 1441(b) claim alleging raised Plaintiff’s civil a Plaintiff’s stated federal conspiracy claim state issue. alleged conspired to defraud HUD, Medicare, and Medicaid. law civil Defendants Defendants Defendants argued that because Plaintiff must prove an underlying wrongful act to establish a civil conspiracy, she must prove that the Defendants violated Federal laws and regulations regarding HUD financing, Medicare, and/or Medicaid and therefore her claim for civil conspiracy necessarily raised a stated federal issue. On February 6, 2013, Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court arguing jurisdiction is lacking under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because no federal question is presented in Plaintiff’s Page 2 of 5 properly-pleaded civil conspiracy claim, jurisdiction is not created merely programs or agencies in a pleading. and federal question by mentioning Federal Should the Court find a federal question, Plaintiff alternatively moved for the Court to sever and remand all other claims. Plaintiff also moved for an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and a hearing on her motion to remand. II. Discussion “[F]ederal-question jurisdiction will lie over state-law claims that implicate significant federal issues.” Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc. v. Darue Engineering & Manufacturing, 545 U.S. 308, 312 (2005). The exercise of subject-matter jurisdiction over state law claims “demands not only a contested federal issue, but federal interest a in substantial claiming inherent in a federal forum.” one, the indicating advantages a thought serious to be Id. at 313. Defendants specifically argued that their alleged wrongful conduct under Federal statutes and regulations constitutes an essential claim. element of Plaintiff’s state law civil conspiracy Defendants contend that in order for Plaintiff to prove her civil conspiracy claim she is required to prove violations of certain federal statute and regulations. that the referenced paragraphs, two out of Plaintiff argued the nearly 150 paragraphs comprising her complaint, merely outline the manner Page 3 of 5 in which the Defendants funded the purchase and operation of their facilities, not that the funding itself was a violation of federal statutes and regulations. (Doc. 39 at 6). Plaintiff argues the references to HUD, Medicare, and Medicaid cannot be fairly read to raise a question regarding compliance with federal law. The Court finds that the plain language of the civil conspiracy claim does not allege any improper obtaining of funds from HUD, Medicaid, and Medicare programs. wrongful conduct intentional in conspiracy the to civil Instead, the alleged conspiracy structure and claim funnel is the proceeds for operations and patient care into lease and fee arrangements with various leave affiliated entities, with insufficient operating funds, substantive measure injuries. wrongful “The conduct will turn on knowledge that foreseeably what of this resulting Defendants’ Defendants federal money and why, not how they got it.” would in allegedly did with the Slater v. Capital SeniorCare Ventures, LLC, et al., No. 5:12-cv-00447-DPM (E.D. Ark. April 4, 2013) (citing Compare Gaming Corp. of America v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 551 (8th Cir. 1996). The fact that Defendants obtained federal funding is incidental to the civil conspiracy claim; no contested issue arises from the same. Page 4 of 5 or substantial federal Resolving all doubts in favor of remand to preserve the congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities, any federal issues present are not disputed enough or substantial jurisdiction. Iowa Power enough to support federal question Slater, 5:12-cv-00447-DPM, at 2. (citing Central Co-op. v. Midwest Independent Transmission Cooperative, 561 F3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009). III. Conclusion Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Doc. 38) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Plaintiff’s request to have this case remanded is GRANTED, Plaintiff’s request for a hearing on her motion to remand is DENIED as moot, and Plaintiff’s request for attorney fees and costs in pursuit of this motion is DENIED. Separate Defendant Column Guaranteed, LLC’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 7) remains pending for the State court to resolve. case shall be remanded forthwith to the Circuit Court This of Crawford County, Arkansas. IT IS SO ORDERED this 2nd day of May, 2013. /s/ Robert T. Dawson Honorable Robert T. Dawson United States District Judge Page 5 of 5

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