United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, District Judge.
Before the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' Thirteenth Amendment claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
This litigation arises from the allegedly racially discriminatory administration of the Louisiana Medical Transportation Program.
The State of Louisiana, through its Department of Health and Hospitals, initiated the Louisiana Medical Transportation Program with the goal of creating means of transportation for patients to travel to their doctor's office visits. The program receives 70% of its funding from the Federal government and 30% from the State. The Louisiana Medical Transportation Program consists of four components, but at issue here are the Non-Emergency Ambulance Provider (NEA) and the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Provider (NEMT). It is alleged that the NEA providers are 100% Caucasian while the NEMT providers are 99% African American.
The plaintiffs are, or were formerly, business owners registered as NEMT providers with the Department of Health and Hospitals. All plaintiffs had been Medicaid certified to transport patients to and from their medical appointments. The defendants include the State of Louisiana, acting through its Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Health and Hospitals, Kathy Kiebert, in her official capacity as Secretary of Health and Hospitals, and Ronald W. Johnson, Steffan Rutledge, Randy Davidson, Steve Erwin, and Kimberly Sullivan, all of which are named in their individual and official capacities.
Plaintiffs allege that, as NEMT providers, they were discriminated against, even though they were providing services identical to NEA providers, which were preferred by the State program. For example, should an NEMT provider bring a dialysis patient to and from the doctor's office, they would receive $18.32 total, while an NEA provider would receive $334 for the trip plus mileage reimbursement in the amount of $6.57 per mile. Additionally, plaintiffs claim that NEMT providers are not allowed to contract with other entities to provide medical transportation while NEA may contract with other entities such as nursing homes. Plaintiffs also aver that NEA providers may submit invoices immediately while NEMT providers may only submit invoices at the beginning of the month for services rendered the previous month. This treatment adversely impacts NEMT providers' cash flow, they allege.
The plaintiffs further allege that defendants retaliated against those plaintiffs who questioned, criticized, or complained about the aforementioned discriminatory practices. Specifically, the defendants allegedly brought bogus violation charges against plaintiff, Tony Crawford, singling him out as follows:
(1) he misrepresented the seating capacity of his van, and therefore, his trips would have to be reduced;
(2) he was not properly licensed, and therefore, was faced with imminent termination;
(3) he was not properly insured, and therefore, was faced with suspension or termination; and
(4) he reported his trips improperly, and therefore, could not be paid for the ones which were allegedly improperly documented.
Plaintiffs surmise the purpose of these retaliatory tactics was to harass, threaten suspension or termination, delay plaintiffs' ability to make trips and delay and reduce plaintiffs' ability to get paid.
On May 21, 2014, the plaintiffs sued the defendants, alleging violations of Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They seek $300, 000, 000 in damages. On September 17, 2014, the plaintiffs filed their First Supplemental and Amending Complaint; they added plaintiffs, corrected spelling errors, and clarified plaintiffs' status as either former or current business owners. On October 17, 2014, the plaintiffs filed an ex parte motion to withdraw their claims asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Court granted the motion on October 20, 2014. The plaintiffs then filed ...