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United for Missouri v. St. Charles County

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

December 5, 2017

UNITED FOR MISSOURI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is an action for declaratory judgment and permanent injunctive relief concerning the St. Charles County Narcotics Control Act (the “Act”), a county ordinance. The case was originally filed in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County, Missouri. The defendants removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441, as Count I of plaintiffs' complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the Act is in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Doc. 1 at 2. Defendants' Notice of Removal does not address plaintiffs' state law claims in Counts II and III, but the Court has supplemental jurisdiction over those claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         The case is before the Court on plaintiffs United for Missouri, Dan Rakers, John Doe, and Carl Bearden's (collectively “plaintiffs”) Motion to Remand Counts II and III and Stay Count I of the First Amended Complaint. Defendants St. Charles County and Hope Woodson, Director of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health, in her official capacity (collectively “defendants”) oppose the motion to remand and stay, and it is fully briefed. For the following reasons, plaintiffs' motion will be granted. The Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims in Counts II and III pursuant to the abstention doctrine established in Railroad Commission of Texas v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496 (1941), and will remand those claims to state court for decision. The Court will stay plaintiffs' federal constitutional claim in Count I pending decision on the state law claims by the Missouri courts.

         I. Background

         On September 26, 2016, the St. Charles County Council passed Bill No. 4381, establishing the St. Charles County Narcotics Control Act. The bill is codified at Chapter 280.010-280.110 of the St. Charles County Code. The main provision of the Act is the “Establishment of a monitoring program” by the St. Charles County Department of Public Health (hereinafter “the County Health Department”). See Bill No. 4381, Section 3.

         Section 3(2) of the Act requires that within seven (7) business days of having dispensed a Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance, [1] a dispenser shall electronically submit the following to the County Health Department:

(1) The pharmacy's Drug Enforcement (DEA) number;
(2) The date of dispensation;
(3) If dispensed via prescription, (a) the prescription number or other unique identifier; (b) whether the prescription is new or a re-fill; and (c) the prescriber's DEA or National Provider Identifier (NPI) number:
(4) The National Drug Code (NDC) of the drug dispensed;
(5) The patient's name, address and date of birth; and
(6) An identifier for the patient to whom the drug was dispensed, including but not limited to any one of the following: (a) driver's license number; (b) the patient's government-issued identification number; or (c) the patient's insurance cardholder identification number. (The information listed n paragraphs (1)-(6) above will be referred to collectively as “dispensing information”.)

         Section 6 of the Act requires the Director of the County Health Department (hereinafter “the Director”) to “review” the information transmitted. If the Director develops a “reasonable belief that a breach of professional standards has occurred” the Director shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency, or licensing, certification, or regulatory agency, and is permitted to provide “any dispensing information requested [by such agencies] when advised that such information is required for conduct of an official investigation.”

         Section 7 of the Act authorizes dispensing information to be provided to the following persons or entities “upon a duly made request”:

(a) Persons who are authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances, when the request is made for the purpose of providing medical or pharmaceutical care to a ...

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