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Southern Credentialing Support Services, LLC v. Hammond Surgical Hospital, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 12, 2018

SOUTHERN CREDENTIALING SUPPORT SERVICES, LLC
v.
HAMMOND SURGICAL HOSPITAL LLC ET AL.

         SECTION “H”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 164) and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 165). For the following reasons, the Defendants' Motion is DENIED, and Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Southern Credentialing Support Services, LLC (“SCSS”), alleges that Defendants, Hammond Surgical Hospital, LLC d/b/a Cypress Pointe Surgical Hospital (“CPSH”), Hammond Surgical Hospital Management Co. LLC (“Hammond”), and Christopher Beary, infringed on its copyright through the unauthorized use, reproduction, and distribution of Plaintiff's healthcare credentialing forms. On January 15, 2010, CPSH hired Plaintiff to provide healthcare credentialing services. Plaintiff alleges that after this relationship was terminated on April 10, 2013, CPSH continued to use its healthcare credentialing forms. The forms at issue consist of two packets (collectively, “the Packets”)-the Louisiana Hospital Credentialing Process Packet (the “Initial Application Packet”) and the Louisiana Hospital Re-Credentialing Process Packet (the “Re-Credentialing Packet”). Each packet consists of forms, applications, delineations, and other documents designed to streamline the healthcare credentialing process.

         Specifically, the Initial Application Packet is 83 pages and consists of: SCSS's original application; 8 “base documents” common to all credentialing applications: the Bylaws Attestation, Medical Record Signature Verification, Call Coverage Verification, Federal DEA and LA State Controlled Dangerous Substance Verification, Practitioners Receiving Medicare/Champus Payments Notice, Health Statement Verification, Continuing Education Verification, and Tuberculosis Skin Testing and Influenza Verification; and 33 provider-specific delineations. The Re-Application Packet is 113 pages and consists of: SCSS's original re-appointment application; the same 8 “base documents;” and 33 provider-specific delineations. Healthcare providers use these documents when seeking credentialing and re-credentialing with hospitals. In completing the credentialing process, a healthcare provider will only submit the delineation form consistent with his or her practice area.

         Plaintiff claims, and Defendants do not dispute, that Defendants continued to use their base documents and delineations to credential providers even after they stopped working with Plaintiff and hired LA Credentials, Inc. to conduct their credentialing services. It also alleges that between January and August 2017 Defendants published seven of Plaintiff's base documents and 28 of its delineations on the LA Credentials website.

         The parties previously moved for summary judgment in this matter, and this Court has held that while Plaintiff has a valid copyright in the Packets as factual compilations, it failed to show that Defendants copied the Packets. The Court held that the parties failed to provide sufficient briefing on the issue of substantial similarity. The Court also denied summary judgment on Defendants' defenses of joint authorship and waiver.

         Thereafter, the Court invited the parties to file summary judgment motions on the issue of copying, and the instant motions ensued. Plaintiff seeks a finding of substantial similarity and summary judgment on its copyright infringement claim against Defendants CPSH and Hammond. All Defendants seek dismissal of the copyright infringement claim against them.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”[1] A genuine issue of fact exists only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[2]

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.[3] “If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.”[4] Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.”[5] “In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the non-movant on all issues as to which the non-movant would bear the burden of proof at trial.”[6] “We do not . . . in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.”[7] Additionally, “[t]he mere argued existence of a factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion.”[8]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         To show the second element of a copyright infringement claim, copying, “a plaintiff must prove: (1) factual copying and (2) substantial similarity.”[9]This Court has already held that the first prong is easily satisfied in this case as Defendant does not deny using ...


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