United States of America et al v. GE Healthcare, Inc. et al
ORDER: Relator Sunil Patel's construed Motion for an Extension of Time to secure counsel (Doc. # 111 ) is DENIED. The Court determines that the case should be DISMISSED. By July 30, 2018, the Government and GE shall file a Notice stating whether the action should be dismissed without prejudice to the rights of the Government and/or Patel. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 7/23/2018. (KAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL.,
GE HEALTHCARE, INC.,
This matter is before the Court pursuant to Relator Sunil
Patel’s construed Motion for a 90-day extension of time to
secure counsel (Doc. # 111), which was filed on July 20, 2018.
GE Healthcare, Inc. filed a response to the Motion (Doc. #
112) on July 23, 2018.
The Court denies the Motion.
Patel initiated this False Claims Act case on January 17,
2014. (Doc. # 1). He filed the First Amended Complaint (Doc.
# 11) on May 6, 2015, the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. # 17)
on March 9, 2016, the Third Amended Complaint (Doc. # 73) on
August 16, 2017, and the Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. # 84)
on October 26, 2017.
The stay of the case was lifted on March 27, 2017. (Doc.
The Court held a Case Management Hearing as well as a
Discovery Hearing on July 17, 2017, and the Court entered a
Case Management and Scheduling Order and a Discovery Order on
that date. (Doc. ## 62, 64).
Complaint, and on April 15, 2018, the Court entered an Order
setting a hearing on the Motion to Dismiss to occur on April
20, 2018. (Doc. # 99). Shortly thereafter, on April 16, 2018,
Relator’s counsel filed a Motion seeking to “immediately
withdraw as counsel for Relator.” (Doc. # 100).
terminated the legal representation on April 12, 2018. (Id. at
In addition, Relator’s counsel indicated: “continued
litigation of Relator Patel’s FCA claims could well expose
undersigned counsel to personal liability for GE’s attorneys’
fees, costs and expenses under 28 U.S.C. § 1927, as well as
expose Relator Patel to personal liability for GE’s attorneys’
fees and expenses under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(d)(4).” (Id.).
The United States responded:
solely to suggest, should the Court grant the
Motion, that its Order provide Relator a deadline
by which successor counsel must file a notice of
appearance herein, failing which this action will
be dismissed without prejudice to the United States
and the Relator.
The United States makes this
request because the Relator cannot proceed pro se.
See Timson v. Sampson, 518 F.3d 870, 873-74 (11th
Cir. 2008)(per curiam)(holding that a Relator
cannot proceed pro se in litigating a qui tam
action under the False Claims Act).
(Doc. # 102).
At the hearing held on April 20, 2018, the Court granted
the Motion to Withdraw. (Doc. # 107).
Patel argued that he
needed 90 days in order to secure a new attorney, and GE
argued that only two weeks should be granted for Patel to hire
(Doc. # 109 at 17, 28).
Court granted Relator the full 90-days requested, stating:
“I’ll give you 90 days to find a new lawyer.
give you more than 90 days.
(Id. at 29).
I’m not going to
I will give you up to 90 days.”
The Court further warned: “I am not extending
I’m telling you right now, Mr. Patel.
am I extending that deadline.
They said two weeks and I’m
giving you 90 days because I know the challenges.
do not ask for an extension.
to be no.”
(Id. at 31).
If you do, the answer is going
The Court made it clear: “If I don’t
have a notice of appearance filed by July 20th, on that
following Monday I will do an Order dismissing this case.”
The Court indicated that if the case were to be
dismissed, it would allow counsel to weigh in on whether that
dismissal would be without prejudice to the rights of the
United States. (Id. at 31).
On July 20, 2018, rather than supplying the Court with a
counsel, Patel filed an extension Motion. (Doc. # 111).
Court “must take an active role in managing cases on [its]
docket” and enjoys broad discretion “in deciding how best to
manage the cases before [it].”
Chudasama v. Mazda Motor
Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1366 (11th Cir. 1997).
The Court has
already provided an ample and finite opportunity for Patel to
secure counsel and he has not done so. Because the Court has
authorized, the Court denies the Motion.
As noted, the Court previously indicated that it would
allow counsel to weigh in on the matter of whether the
dismissal should be without prejudice. (Doc. # 109 at 31). At
this point, the Court requests that the United States and GE
file a Notice by July 30, 2018, stating whether the action
should be dismissed without prejudice to the rights of the
Government and/or Patel.
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED:
Relator Sunil Patel’s construed Motion for an Extension
of Time to secure counsel (Doc. # 111) is DENIED.
The Court determines that the case should be DISMISSED.
By July 30, 2018, the Government and GE shall file a
Notice stating whether the action should be dismissed
without prejudice to the rights of the Government and/or
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida, this 23rd
day of July, 2018.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?