United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. COHEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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.
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].
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).
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.
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 [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].
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] 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
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 [ECF No. 66].
PHHI opposes UHC’s motion to stay discovery.
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.
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].
Motion to stay discovery
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].
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.
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); 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).
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 ...