Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Physicians Home Health Infusion, P.C. v. Unitedhealthcare of Midwest, Inc.

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

September 24, 2019

PHYSICIANS HOME HEALTH INFUSION, P.C., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITEDHEALTHCARE OF THE MIDWEST, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant UnitedHealthcare of the Midwest, Inc.’s (“UHC’s”) motion to stay discovery [ECF No. 66], Plaintiff Physicians Home Health Infusion, P.C.’s (“PHHI’s”) motion for leave to file corrected reply in support of its motion for sanctions [ECF No. 70], and PHHI’s motion to amend the scheduling order [ECF No. 79]. With the exception of PHHI’s motion for leave to file corrected reply in support of its motions for sanctions, the motions are opposed. The Court grants PHHI’s unopposed motion without further discussion.

         I. Background

         When PHHI’s original complaint was pending, the Court entered, after conferring with counsel for both parties, a Case Management Order (“CMO”) [ECF No. 26] establishing discovery, dispositive motion, and other deadlines for this case. In compliance with the CMO’s deadline for amending pleadings, PHHI timely filed a first amended complaint [ECF No. 38].

         In its first amended complaint, PHHI asserts several state law claims against UHC arising out of UHC’s alleged failure consistently to approve PHHI’s claims for reimbursement of spinal infusion services PHHI provides to patients suffering from chronic pain who have insurance through a Medicare Advantage Plan (a Medicare Part C plan) provided by UHC. Specifically, the reimbursement claims at issue are those PHHI submitted to UHC for services designated by codes S9325 and S9328. PHHI seeks monetary and injunctive relief from UHC based on claims for breach of contract (Count I), negligent misrepresentation (Count II), unjust enrichment (Count III), quantum meruit (Count IV), and “preliminary and permanent injunction” (Count V).

         In response to PHHI’s first amended complaint, UHC filed a motion to dismiss [ECF No. 40] arguing: (1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (2) the first amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6). First, UHC contends that PHHI’s state law claims “arise under” the Medicare Act and PHHI did not exhaust, and is not excused from exhausting, applicable administrative remedies. Second, UHC urges that PHHI’s state law claims are pre-empted by 42 U.S.C. § 1395w-26(b)(3). PHHI counters that its claims do not arise under the Medicare Act and are collateral to a claim for Medicare benefits. Therefore, PHHI asserts, it need not exhaust administrative remedies before presenting its claims in federal court. PHHI additionally urges its claims are not pre-empted because it is not seeking application of standards contrary to federal standards.

         Prior to the filing of the first amended complaint, PHHI requested a status conference to address UHC’s objections to PHHI’s effort pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6) to depose UHC’s corporate representative[1] [ECF No. 31]. Additionally, the parties jointly moved for a protective order [ECF No. 35]. The Court conducted a status conference with the parties [ECF No. 36] and entered a protective order [ECF No. 39].

         Approximately one month later, PHHI filed a motion to compel regarding the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition. The Court granted the motion in part to require Defendant to produce a corporate representative to testify during a videotaped deposition and denied it in part [ECF No. 54]. UHC filed an “emergency motion for reconsideration” of the order compelling the deposition and a request for a hearing [ECF No. 55]. The Court held a telephone conference with the parties the day UHC filed its “emergency motion” [ECF No. 57] and granted the motion in part and denied it in part [ECF No. 59]. Approximately two weeks later, PHHI asked for a status conference to discuss UHC’s “production of a completely unprepared witness for” the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition [ECF No. 60][2] and a motion for sanctions related to the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition [ECF No. 62]. The Court denied PHHI’s request for a status conference without prejudice [ECF No. 61]. UHC opposes PHHI’s motion for sanctions.

         Shortly after PHHI filed its motion for sanctions, UHC filed a motion requesting a stay of discovery until the Court ruled the motion to dismiss the amended complaint[3] [ECF No. 66]. PHHI opposes UHC’s motion to stay discovery.

         Within the last month, PHHI filed a motion to compel UHC’s responses to PHHI’s first interrogatories and first request for production [ECF No. 77]. UHC opposes PHHI’s motion to compel.

         The same day that PHHI filed its motion to compel, PHHI filed a motion to amend the scheduling order until the Court resolves PHHI’s motion for sanctions and UHC’s motion to stay discovery [ECF No. 79]. UHC opposes PHHI’s motion to amend the scheduling order [ECF No. 82].

         II. Motion to stay discovery

         UHC asks the Court to stay discovery until, in relevant part, the Court resolves the motion to dismiss because UHC “is likely to succeed on the merits of the motion to dismiss, [it] would face undue hardship and inequity if a stay is not granted, [PHHI] will suffer no prejudice by a stay, and judicial resources would be conserved if a stay were issued.” Def.’s mot to stay discovery [ECF No. 66]. PHHI opposes the motion urging the parties’ discovery efforts should continue because, regardless of the outcome of the pending motion to dismiss, “the discovery is inevitable [as] PHHI will continue pursuing its claims in this Court or through the administrative process.” Pl.’s opp’n motion to stay discovery at 1 [ECF No. 71].

         A district court’s “power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. North Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936); see also Contracting Nw., Inc. v. City of Fredericksburg, 713 F.2d 382, 387 (8th Cir. 1983) (addressing a stay pending arbitration and finding a district court has “the inherent power to grant [a] stay in order to control its docket, conserve judicial resources, and provide for a just determination of the cases pending before it”). The issuance of a stay is “an exercise of judicial discretion . . . dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case.” Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433 (2009) (discussing a stay pending adjudication of the petitioner’s petition for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals’ removal order) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Virginian Ry. Co. v. United States, 272 U.S. 658, 672-73 (1926)). The litigant seeking the stay bears the burden of showing that the circumstances justify a stay. Id. at 433-34.

         While the filing of a motion to dismiss is insufficient in and of itself to support a stay of discovery, Reinerio v. Bank of New York Mellon, No. 15CV-161-FDG, 2015 WL 4425856, at *6 (W.D. Mo. 2015), aff’d, 668 Fed. App’x 669 (8th Cir. 2016) (unpublished per curiam), a litigant may obtain a stay of discovery pending disposition of a motion to dismiss. See Nelson v. Maples, 672 Fed.Appx. 621, 621 (8th Cir. 2017) (unpublished per curiam opinion) (concluding “the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a motion to stay discovery” while a motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) was pending);[4] see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1) (providing that a “court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party . . . from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense”). The decision whether to stay discovery due to the pendency of a motion to dismiss “is generally practical and . . . left largely to the court’s discretion.” Dufrene v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. 15-cv-2796 (WMW/LIB), 2016 WL 10651947, at *2 (D. Minn. Apr. 7, 2016).

         In resolving whether to stay discovery pending disposition of a motion to dismiss, a court considers various factors “including: (1) whether the movant has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the dispositive motion; (2) hardship or inequity to the moving party if the matter is not stayed; (3) prejudice to the non-moving party [if the matter is stayed]; and (4) the conservation of judicial resources.” Id. Put another way, a court considering a stay of discovery during the pendency of a motion to dismiss may consider the first, second and fourth factors listed in Dufrene, as well as: “the breadth of the pending discovery; the balance of harms in delaying discovery against the possibility that the motion [to dismiss] will dispose of the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.