Aviation West Charters, LLC v. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company

Filing 46

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 8/23/2017 ORDERING 31 that non-party Dina Miller's Motion to Intervene as plaintiff be, and the same hereby is GRANTED. (Reader, L) Modified on 8/24/2017 (Reader, L).

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ----oo0oo---- 11 12 13 AVIATION WEST CHARTERS, LLC d/b/a ANGEL MEDFLIGHT, Plaintiff, 14 15 16 17 CIV. NO. 2:16-436 WBS AC MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO INTERVENE v. UNITEDHEALTHCARE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant. 18 19 20 ----oo0oo---While on vacation in Mexico, minor M.M. sustained a 21 fractured right leg and was transported to a Mexican hospital. 22 M.M. is a beneficiary of a healthcare plan (“Plan”) administered 23 and insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company (“United”). 24 Plaintiff Aviation West Charters, LLC, used air ambulatory 25 services to transport M.M. from Mexico to Seattle for treatment 26 at a Seattle Children’s Hospital. 27 for reimbursement, which United denied. 28 several internal appeals, Aviation West filed this action against 1 Aviation West filed a claim After United denied 1 United for recovery of benefits due under the Plan and ERISA, 29 2 U.S.C. § 1132(a). 3 guardian for her daughter M.M., now moves to intervene as a party 4 plaintiff under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b). 5 No. 31.) 6 Non-party Dina Miller, acting as legal (Docket Under Rule 24(b), the court may permit anyone to 7 intervene who “has a claim or defense that shares with the main 8 action a common question of law or fact.” 9 24(b)(1). Fed. R. Civ. P. The court has discretion to permit a party to 10 intervene and, in exercising this discretion, the court considers 11 “whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the 12 adjudication of the original parties’ rights.” 13 24(b)(3). 14 ground for jurisdiction; (2) a timely motion; and (3) a common 15 question of law and fact between the movant’s claim or defense 16 and the main action.” 17 Geithner, 644 F.3d 836, 843 (9th Cir. 2011). 18 for intervention are to be broadly interpreted in favor of 19 intervention.” 20 853 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v. Alisal Water Corp., 21 370 F.3d 915, 919 (9th Cir. 2004)). 22 Fed. R. Civ. P. Permissive intervention “requires (1) an independent Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. The “requirements Smith v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist., 830 F.3d 843, The first and third factors are clearly met. First, 23 there is an independent basis for jurisdiction over the 24 applicant’s claim based on federal question jurisdiction because 25 the applicant’s claim arises under ERISA. 26 question of law and fact because Ms. Miller’s claim arises from 27 the same set of facts as Aviation West’s claim--United’s denial 28 of benefits for M.M.’s transportation from Mexico to Seattle. 2 There is also a common 1 Second, the Motion is timely. While a significant 2 amount of litigation has occurred in this case, Miller brought 3 this Motion just over one month after defendant first objected to 4 the assignment of claims from Miller to plaintiff. 5 also argues the Motion is not timely because it would prejudice 6 United by requiring the reopening of discovery. 7 appeal from a denial of benefits, and the court’s review is 8 generally limited to the administrative record, see Burke v. 9 Pitney Bowes Inc. Long-Term Disability Plan, 544 F.3d 1016, 1027- Defendant Since this is an 10 28 (9th Cir. 2008), any necessary discovery would be limited in 11 both time and scope. 12 counsel for United stated that it would not need additional 13 discovery prior to another summary judgment motion. 14 also moved to intervene just over a month after United first 15 argued the proper plaintiff was not before the court. 16 therefore finds that this Motion is timely, and all three factors 17 for permissive intervention are met. 18 Moreover, at the hearing on this motion Ms. Miller The court Further, Ms. Miller--acting as M.M.’s guardian--is the 19 real party in interest in this action. 20 court’s Order re: Motion for summary judgment, Aviation West did 21 not have standing to bring this action due to an invalid 22 assignment of M.M.’s claims. 23 As discussed in this Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 24 requires that an action “be prosecuted in the name of the real 25 party in interest.” 26 party other than the real party in interest, Rule 17 provides 27 that a court “may not dismiss an action for failure to prosecute 28 in the name of the real party in interest until, after an Where the action is originally brought by a 3 1 objection, a reasonable time has been allowed for the real party 2 in interest to ratify, join, or be substituted into the action.” 3 Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(a)(3). 4 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that non-party Dina Miller’s 5 Motion to intervene as a plaintiff (Docket No. 31) be, and the 6 same hereby is, GRANTED. 7 Dated: August 23, 2017 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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