FERRER et al v. CAREFIRST, INC. et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 16 Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration. See the attached Memorandum Opinion and Order for further details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 08/14/2017. (lcapm2)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
LINDSAY FERRER, et al.,
CAREFIRST, INC., et al.,
Case No. 16-cv-02162 (APM)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Defendants seek reconsideration of the court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order denying
their Motion to Dismiss (“Motion for Reconsideration”).
See Defs.’ Mot. for Recons., ECF No.
16, Mem in Supp., ECF No. 16-1 [hereinafter Defs.’ Mot.]; Mem. Op. & Order, ECF No. 15
[hereinafter Mem. Op. & Order].
The court ruled that Plaintiffs had standing to pursue their
claims under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), 42 U.S.C. § 18001 et. seq.
(2010), because their Complaint contains sufficient allegations of financial injury.
& Order at 4–5.
See Mem. Op.
In so ruling, the court, relying on Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902 (D.C. Cir.
1987), declined to consider an affidavit submitted by Wanda Lessner, an employee for Defendant
CareFirst, which purports to explain that CareFirst has reimbursed each Plaintiff to the full extent
of its obligations under the ACA and their insurance plans.
See Mem. Op. & Order at 2–4.
Defendants now assert that the court erred by not considering the Lessner Affidavit.
For the reasons that follow, the court denies Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration.
The court evaluates Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration under Rule 54(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs reconsideration of non-final decisions.
See Cobell v. Norton, 355 F. Supp. 2d 531, 538–39 (D.D.C. 2005).
Rule 54(b) provides that “any
order . . . that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the
parties . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims
and all the parties’ rights and liabilities.”
granted “as justice requires.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).
Relief under Rule 54(b) may
Cobell, 355 F. Supp. 2d at 539 (internal quotation marks omitted).
Courts in this district interpret that abstract phrase narrowly and will grant a motion to reconsider
“only when the movant demonstrates: (1) an intervening change in the law; (2) the discovery of
new evidence not previously available; or (3) a clear error in the first order.”
Zeigler v. Potter,
555 F. Supp. 2d 126, 129 (D.D.C. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
do not point to either a change in the law or any new evidence.
decide whether its prior ruling constituted “clear error.”
Accordingly, the court need only
Defendants argue that the court committed clear error because its refusal to consider the
Lessner Affidavit conflicts with D.C. Circuit precedent following Haase. Defs.’ Mot. at 3–5.
Defendants rely primarily on Coalition for Underground Expansion v. Mineta, which permits
district courts to consider, “where necessary,” evidence submitted by a defendant to resolve a
333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
To the extent that
this court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order can be read to interpret Haase as stating a categorical
rule barring defendants from putting forward evidence to challenge a plaintiff’s standing, Mineta
clearly states otherwise.
However, even under Mineta’s permissive rule, the court did not commit
The fundamental flaw in Defendants’ standing argument remains:
assertion that Plaintiffs lack standing is premised entirely on their legal position that their
interpretation of the ACA, and not Plaintiffs’, is the right one.
That approach, however,
fundamentally misconstrues the scope of standing challenges under Rule 12(b)(1).
“standing doctrine was not intended to provide a vehicle for resolution at the threshold of
fundamentally merit[s] issues.”
Saunders v. White, 191 F. Supp. 2d 95, 112 n.21 (D.D.C. 2002)
(quoting Wooden v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Ga., 247 F.3d 1262, 1280 (11th Cir. 2001)).
To the contrary, as the Supreme Court stated in Flast v. Cohen, “[t]he fundamental aspect of
standing is that it focuses on the party seeking to get his complaint before a federal court and not
on the issues he wishes to have adjudicated.”
392 U.S. 83, 99 (1968).
The standing inquiry
therefore focuses on the question of whether the party bringing suit has a sufficiently “personal
stake in the outcome” so as to ensure “concrete adverseness” between the parties, and not whether
the plaintiff has advanced a legally cognizable claim.
See id. at 99–100.
Here, the court already
has ruled that Plaintiffs have a sufficiently personal stake in the outcome of this case—i.e. the
financial losses alleged in their Complaint, see Mem. Op. at 4–5—to ensure concrete adverseness
Therefore, they have standing.
Defendants’ insistence that their interpretation of the
ACA, combined with the averments of the Lessner Affidavit, shows Plaintiffs lack standing
therefore lacks merit.
Accordingly, the court did not commit clear error in declining to consider the Lessner
Affidavit and denying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration
is therefore denied.
Amit P. Mehta
United States District Judge
Dated: August 14, 2017
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