United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG HOSPITAL AUTHORITY, d/b/a CAROLINAS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, Plaintiff,
DENISE DIANE KINSINGER a/k/a DENISE D. KINSINGER AND ERIC KINSINGER a/k/a ERIC M. KINSINGER Defendants.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTERS are before the Court upon Plaintiff's motion to
remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Doc. No. 30)
and Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or
in the alternative to consolidate with a related
(Doc. No. 28). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's
motion to remand is GRANTED, Defendants' motion to
dismiss is DENIED as moot, and Defendants' motion to
consolidate is DENIED as moot.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority provided medical
services to Defendant Denise Kinsinger (“Mrs.
Kinsinger”) on January 8, 2016. (Doc. No. 30-1, p. 2).
At the time, Mrs. Kinsinger was covered under her
husband's-Defendant Eric Kinsinger's (“Mr.
Kinsinger”)-employee health care plan. Plaintiff became
the beneficiary of Defendants' plan upon a requirement by
Plaintiff in order to proceed with the medical treatment,
which was agreed to by Defendants. (Doc. No. 37, pp. 4-5).
Plaintiff notes additional treatment of Mrs. Kinsinger was
performed by Plaintiff on October 13, 2014, prior to the
Defendants' obtainment of the health insurance plan.
(Doc. No. 30-1, p. 2).
Mrs. Kinsinger's January 2016 procedure, Mr.
Kinsinger's employee health care plan was retroactively
cancelled. A dispute involving this cancellation of the plan
between the Kinsingers and Mr. Kinsinger's employer and
the health insurance provider is the subject of litigation in
the related case to this action. Nonetheless, Defendants
claim that because Plaintiff became the beneficiary of the
healthcare plan, the dispute over payment for Mrs.
Kinsinger's medical treatment should be between the
hospital and Mr. Kinsinger's employer's health
insurance company, not between the hospital and the
Kinsinger's. Plaintiff disagrees, arguing the plan was
not held by Defendants for the date of the October 2014
treatment and the plan had been retroactively cancelled for
the date of the January 2016 treatment.
Standard of Review
as otherwise provided by law, a defendant may remove a state
civil action to federal district court where the action is
one “of which the district courts of the United States
have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Among those cases of which the district courts have original
jurisdiction are civil cases “arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court must “construe
[removal jurisdiction] strictly in light of the federalism
concerns inherent in that form of federal
jurisdiction.” In re Blackwater Sec. Consulting,
LLC, 460 F.3d 576, 583 (4th Cir. 2006). The burden is on
the party seeking removal to demonstrate that federal
jurisdiction is proper. Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic
Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). “If
at any time before final judgment it appears that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). If a case
is remanded after transfer of venue in federal court, the
appropriate court to receive the remand is still the court
where the action originated. Bloom v. Barry, 755
F.2d 356, 357-358 (3d. Cir. 1985).
to this action before the Court is the Employment Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). ERISA
provides that without a specified exemption, ERISA
“shall supersede any and all State laws insofar as they
may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan . .
.” 29 U.S.C. §1144(a). ERISA protects employee
policyholders from litigation involving insurance-related
disputes. “The principal object of [ERISA] is to
protect plan participants and beneficiaries.” Boggs
v. Boggs, 520 U.S. 833, 845 (1997). “ERISA is a
comprehensive statute designed to promote the interests of
employees and their beneficiaries in employee benefit
plans.” Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 463
U.S. 85, 90 (1983).
Motion to Remand
originally filed this case asserting a state law breach of
contract claim in South Carolina state court. (Doc. No. 1-1).
Defendants removed this case to federal court, contending
federal question jurisdiction exists in that Plaintiff's
cause of action is actually governed by the federal ERISA
statute. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff now moves to remand the case
before the Court based on a lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 30). Plaintiff's motion to remand
is based on its allegation that ERISA preemption of state law
does not apply to the specific facts of this case. ERISA
“supersede[s] any and all State laws insofar as they
may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan . .
.” 29 U.S.C. §1144(a). More specifically,
preemption exists through ERISA when considering a three-part
(1) [T]he plaintiff [has] standing under § 502(a) to
pursue its claim; (2) its claim “fall[s] within the
scope of an ERISA provision that [it] can enforce via §
502(a)”; and (3) the claim [is not] capable of
resolution “without an interpretation of the contract
governed by federal law, ” i.e., an ERISA-governed
employee benefit plan.
Prince v. Sears Holding Corp., 848 F.3d 173, 177
(4th Cir. 2017) (quoting Sonoco Products Co. v.
Physicians Health Plan, Inc., 338 F.3d 366, 372 (4th
appears to meet the first two factors from this test through
Defendants' conveyance of plan benefits to Plaintiff for
the January 2016 treatment. First, although Plaintiff's
claim arises from a state law contract dispute, it relates to
ERISA because at the time of the 2016 treatment, Plaintiff
and Defendants agreed to make Plaintiff the beneficiary of
Defendants' health care plan in exchange for medical
treatment. Indeed, Plaintiff sought and obtained preapproval
of the treatment from the health insurer. (Doc. No. 37, p.
8). ERISA benefits may transfer from policyholders to
healthcare providers and other organizations. Brown v.
Sikora & Assocs., 311 Fed.Appx. 568, 570 (4th Cir.
2008). Such a transfer took place on Plaintiff's January
2016 treatment date of Defendant Mrs. Kinsinger. This
transfer provides standing for ...