Shaw v. Tampa Bay Adult Congenital Center et al
ORDERED: Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law 7 is GRANTED. Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed, as no private cause of action exists under 42 U.S.C. § 280g-13. Signed by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on 7/19/2021. (CSS)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
AARON LEVI SHAW,
Case No: 8:20-cv-2492-CEH-CPT
TAMPA BAY ADULT
CONGENITAL CENTER and JOEL
This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law [Doc. 7]. There,
Defendants argue that Plaintiff does not have a private cause of action, that the
allegations of the complaint are insufficient, that Plaintiff failed to serve the complaint
within 90 days, and failed to comply with the pre-suit notice and investigation
requirements of Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes. Id. The Court, having considered
the motion and being fully advised in the premises, will GRANT Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Incorporated Memorandum of Law.
The following statement of facts is derived from Plaintiff’s Complaint [Doc. 1], the
allegations of which the Court must accept as true in ruling on the instant Motion to Dismiss.
Linder v. Portocarrero, 963 F.2d 332, 334 (11th Cir. 1992); Quality Foods de Centro Am., S.A. v.
Latin Am. Agribusiness Dev. Corp. S.A., 711 F.2d 989, 994 (11th Cir. 1983).
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Plaintiff, Aaron Levi Shaw, is a congenital heart disease patient. [Doc. 1 at p.
4]. Because he has congenital heart diseases, he alleges that he is entitled to
comprehensive lifetime congenital heart disease treatment, caregiving, and insurance.
Id. He also alleges that on April 18, 2018, while at the Tampa Bay Adult Congenital
Center, Dr. Joel Hardin denied him access to insurance as a congenital heart disease
patient and denied him treatment and caregiving according to the Congenital Heart
Futures Reauthorization Act. Id. He is seeking access to congenital heart disease
caregiving and treatment, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and
transportation to doctor’s visits. Id.
Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint. [Doc. 7]. They argue that the
Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act does not create a private cause of
action and that the Complaint fails to include sufficient allegations that would establish
any viable cause of action against the Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 6, 7. They also argue that
Plaintiff failed to comply with the pre-suit requirements for a medical malpractice
action, failed to bring this action within the limitations period, and failed to serve the
complaint within ninety days as required by Rule 4(m), Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff has not filed a response. 2
On May 20, 2021, Defendants notified the Court that they served two (2) copies of their
Motion to Dismiss upon Plaintiff: one via electronic mail and one via certified mail, along
with the Order directing a response, and that Plaintiff responded to Defendants’ electronic
email correspondence, on May 18, 2021, thereby acknowledging receipt. [Doc. 14].
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On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court accepts as true all the
allegations in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 816 F.3d 686, 694 (11th Cir. 2016). However,
legal conclusions “are not entitled to the assumption of truth” and “conclusory
allegations, unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions masquerading as facts
will not prevent dismissal.” McArdle v. City of Ocala, 418 F. Supp. 3d 1004, 1006 (M.D.
Fla. 2019) (first quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009), then quoting Davila
v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003)). When considering a
motion to dismiss, the court ordinarily will not look beyond the four corners of the
complaint. Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009). “[T]he
. . . court may [also] consider an extrinsic document if it is (1) central to the plaintiff's
claim, and (2) its authenticity is not challenged.” Speaker v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Hum.
Servs. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 623 F.3d 1371, 1379 (11th Cir. 2010).
To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Simpson
v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., 744 F.3d 702, 708 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678). This standard is satisfied when the plaintiff pleads enough factual content to
allow the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). By contrast, dismissal is
appropriate when “no construction of the factual allegations will support the cause of
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action.” Glover v. Liggett Group, Inc., 459 F.3d 1305, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Marshall Cty. Bd. Of Educ. v. Marshall Cty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir.
A complaint may also be subject to dismissal for other reasons. Specifically,
“[w]hen a defendant is not served within 90 days of filing of the complaint, the district
court, on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff, must either dismiss the
action without prejudice or order that service be made by a specified time.” Townsend
v. Veterans Affs. Reg'l Off., No. 19-12838, 2021 WL 2769205, at *1 (11th Cir. July 1,
2021) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m)); Lepone-Dempsey v. Carroll Cty. Comm'rs, 476 F.3d
1277, 1280–81 (11th Cir. 2007) (“A plaintiff is responsible for serving the defendant
with a summons and the complaint within the time allowed under Rule 4(m).”).
“Under Rule 12, a defendant must raise any challenge to the sufficiency of service of
process in the first response to the plaintiff's complaint; i.e., the defendant must include
the defense in either its pre-answer motion to dismiss, or . . . in the defendant's
answer.” Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. v. Johannesburg Consol. Invs., 553 F.3d 1351, 1360
(11th Cir. 2008).
The Court will first address the failure to timely serve the complaint. The
complaint was filed on October 26, 2020. [Doc. 1]. However, there is no indication
Generally, a court “must give a plaintiff at least one opportunity to amend the complaint
before dismissing the action with prejudice.” Smith v. City of Fort Pierce, No. 2:18-CV-14147,
2018 WL 5787269, at *5 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 5, 2018).
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that it has been served on Defendants and Defendants have raised untimely service in
their motion to dismiss. Pursuant to Rule 4(m):
If a defendant is not served within 90 days after the
complaint is filed, the court--on motion or on its own after
notice to the plaintiff--must dismiss the action without
prejudice against that defendant or order that service be
made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good
cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for
service for an appropriate period.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). Because Plaintiff has not served the complaint on Defendants,
dismissal without prejudice is warranted.
The complaint is also subject to dismissal for other reasons. Upon review of 42
U.S.C. § 280g-13, titled “the National congenital heart disease research, surveillance,
and awareness,” the Court agrees with Defendants that no private cause of action
exists. “The question of the existence of a statutory cause of action is, of course, one
of statutory construction.” Alabama v. PCI Gaming Auth., 801 F.3d 1278, 1294 (11th
Cir. 2015). “Congressional intent to create a private right of action will not be
presumed. There must be clear evidence of Congress's intent to create a cause of
action.” Baggett v. First Nat. Bank of Gainesville, 117 F.3d 1342, 1345 (11th Cir. 1997).
In determining whether [an implied private right of action]
exists, th[e] court considers the following questions:
(1) is the plaintiff one of the class for whose especial benefit
the statute was enacted; (2) is there any indication of
legislative intent, explicit or implicit, either to create such a
remedy or to deny one; (3) is it consistent with the
underlying purposes of the legislative scheme to imply a
remedy for the plaintiff; and (4) is the cause of action one
traditionally relegated to state law, in an area basically the
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concern of the States, so that it would be inappropriate to
infer a cause of action based solely on federal law.
Miller v. Chase Home Fin., LLC, 677 F.3d 1113, 1116 (11th Cir. 2012). Hence,
“legislative intent to create a private right of action [i]s the touchstone of its analysis.”
Love v. Delta Air Lines, 310 F.3d 1347, 1352 (11th Cir. 2002).
The legislation sets forth various responsibilities imposed on the Secretary of
Health and Human Services as it relates to congenital heart diseases. Id. As Defendants
point out, the legislation directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human
Services, as appropriate, to enhance and expand research and data collection efforts
related to congenital heart disease. Id. While it appears that Plaintiff is an individual
the legislation was intended to benefit, the legislation does not contain any provision
with respect to a patient being entitled to comprehensive lifetime congenital heart
disease treatment. Instead, it states that the Secretary may award grants to entities to
undertake the activities described in this section, including care of individuals with
such disease, and that entitles may be eligible for grants. Id. Upon review of 42 U.S.C.
§ 280g-13, there is no discernible intent of the legislature to create a private right of
action. Because no private cause of action exists under 42 U.S.C. § 280g-13, Plaintiff’s
cause of action against Defendants fails as a matter of law. Thus, the complaint is
subject to dismissal. See McQueary v. Child Support Enf't, 812 F. App'x 911, 914–15 (11th
Cir. 2020) (finding that Child Support Recovery Act of 1992, the Deadbeat Parents
Punishment Act of 1998, and Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations did not
provide for a private right of action against the state of Florida or its child support
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enforcement agencies for failure to enforce a child support order or prosecute an
individual for failing to pay a child support order and court did not have jurisdiction
to entertain such claims by Plaintiff); Molina v. Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, 635 F. App'x
618, 628 (11th Cir. 2015) (dismissing under Troubled Asset Relief Program and Home
Affordable Modification Program claims as Congress did not provide for a
private right of action against non-governmental entities). 4
Because no private cause of action exists, allowing Plaintiff to amend his
complaint would be futile. Amendment is futile when the complaint as amended
would still be properly dismissed. Silberman v. Miami Dade Transit, 927 F.3d 1123, 1133
(11th Cir. 2019). “Leave to amend . . . need not be granted where amendment would
be futile.” Stevens v. Premier Cruises, Inc., 215 F.3d 1237, 1239(11th Cir. 2000).
Accordingly, it is
1. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and Incorporated
Memorandum of Law [Doc. 7] is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s complaint is
dismissed, as no private cause of action exists under 42 U.S.C. § 280g-13.
DONE AND ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on July 19, 2021.
The Court acknowledges the arguments as to the statute of limitations and lack of
compliance with pre-suit notice requirements for medical malpractice actions. However,
because Plaintiff does not have a right to assert a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 280g-13, the
Court need not address such issues.
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Counsel of Record and Unrepresented Parties, if any
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