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Williams v. Baptist Community Health Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 4, 2019

TRENIKA WILLIAMS, Plaintiff
v.
BAPTIST COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES, INC., Defendant

         SECTION: “E” (4)

          ORDER

          SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On January 18, 2019, Defendant Baptist Community Health Services, Inc. (“Baptist”) removed this case from the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana.[1] Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and possess only the authority conferred upon them by the United States Constitution or by Congress.[2] Therefore, the Court has an “independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party.”[3] As a result, the Court may raise the issue of whether it has jurisdiction over this matter sua sponte.[4]

         Paragraph two of the Notice of Removal first states this Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[5] Paragraph two then states this Court has jurisdiction because the controversy involves a federal question.[6] The Civil Cover Sheet for this action states the basis of jurisdiction is this Court's federal question jurisdiction under the Medicare Act and cites 42 U.S.C. § 1369.[7]

         On January 24, 2019, the Court ordered Defendant to file an amended notice of removal establishing the basis for its assertion that this Court has jurisdiction.[8] Defendant filed an Amended Notice of Removal stating this Court has federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim that Defendant committed Medicaid fraud, in violation of Louisiana Revised Statues 14:70.1, because it is “a state law claim that implicates significant federal issues.”[9] The Court notes Louisiana Revised Statues 14:70.1 is a Louisiana criminal statute[10] that does not provide a private cause of action under Louisiana law.[11]

         The Court does not have federal question jurisdiction over this case because Plaintiff's state court petition includes only three state law causes of action, at best.[12] The state court petition does not include a cause of action under the Medicare Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396, 1396a, or any other federal statute. Even if a private plaintiff could bring a claim for a violation of Louisiana Revised Statues 14:70.1, such a claim would not raise a substantial issue of federal law. To demonstrate a violation of Louisiana Revised Statues 14:70.1, a Plaintiff need only show that Defendant contravened Louisiana's Medicaid regulations.[13] The mere fact that the Louisiana Medicaid program is jointly funded by the federal government and the State is not sufficient to raise a substantial issue of federal law.[14] As a result, this claim does not raise a substantial issue of federal law and this Court is without jurisdiction to hear this matter. Remand is warranted.

         Accordingly;

         IT IS ORDERED that this case is hereby remanded to the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Louisiana.

---------

Notes:

[1] R. Doc. 1.

[2] Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001).

[3] Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) (citing Ruhgras AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999)).

[4] In re Bass, 171 F.3d 1016, 1021 (5th Cir. 1999) (“Federal courts must be assured of their subject matter jurisdiction at all times and may question it sua sponte at any stage of ...


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