IDS Property Casualty Insurance Class Certification Reversed, Remanded

As previously reported, the Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida recently reversed and remanded the class action certification for MSPA Claims 1, LLC v. Ocean Harbor. On October 24, 2018, the same Court reversed and remanded the only other certified class action suit brought by MSPA Claims 1, LLC.

Citing Ocean Harbor specifically, the Third District Court again opined that in this case, MSPA has failed to establish that common issues predominate over individual issues. Applying the same rationale as Ocean Harbor, the Court noted “to quantify the claims of the putative class members will require a comprehensive and distinct analysis of each underlying PIP claim and automobile accident…Plainly this is one of those cases where merely proving entitlement to reimbursement from IDS for payments made by Florida Healthcare Plus on behalf of MA., in no way proves the cases of the other class members.” IDS Prop. Cas. Ins. Co. v. MSPA Claims 1, LLC, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 15107

The Court then went on to reverse as well on the alternate ground of standing. Harkening back to MSPA Claims 1, LLC. v United Auto. Ins. Co., 204  F. Supp. 3d 1342, 1345 (S.D. Fla. 2016), the Court ruled that the approvals of assignment did not occur until after the initial complaint had been filed. The parties in question did not assign benefits until June 1, 2016 as a part of a settlement agreement. However, MSPA filed its amended complaint on March 8, 2016, several months prior to the Receiver’s approval. As previously found, standing must exist at the inception of a case. As IDS had based its attack on standing on validity of the assignment, standing was not present[1].

As such, the Court reversed and remanded for proceedings consistent with the opinion.

It would be remiss to not point out that this was MSP Recovery’s only other certified class action suit. With its reversal and remand, the future of these class action proceedings seems dimmer and dimmer, at least in the Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida.

 

[1] The court does note that this case does differ from MSP Recovery LLC v. Allstate Insurance Co., 835 F. 3d 1351 (11th Circ. 2016) which similarly argued lack of standing. In that IDS argued that MSPA’s private cause of action against IDS was barred by the federal anti-assignment statue. This was rejected by the Eleventh Circuit.

MSPA Claims 1 LLC v. Infinity Auto – No Collection Without Recollection

For MSP Recovery LLC, it apparently takes more than two things to make a thing go right. Collecting fees is now out of sight.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, dismissed yet another MSP Recovery LLC subsidiary claim with prejudice. It seems this time around the Plaintiffs could not establish that MSPA Claims 1, a subsidiary of MSP Recovery, was in fact acting on behalf of the now defunct Florida Healthcare Plus, Inc. Medicare Advantage Organization, despite producing affidavits speaking to the relationship from top brass within both companies.  The assignment was allegedly first with La Ley Recovery Systems prior to MSPA Claims 1.

On October 19, 2018, The Southern District of Florida, ruled in the case of MSPA Claims 1, LLC v. Infinity Auto Ins. Co., granting summary judgment. The Court also dismissed the case with prejudice.

In the present case, the Court allowed over sixteen months of discovery to go forward with this claim. Despite this timeframe, Plaintiff relied on only two affidavits to establish standing (based upon assignment from FHCP to La Ley Recovery) for the claim: the first of the Defense’s own attorney John. H. Ruiz and the second of Susan Molina, CEO of FHCP. Putting aside that it is generally improper for a lawyer in a case to testify as to his legal opinion regarding facts in the case[1], the Court found that the testimony about conversations between Attorney Ruiz and Susan Molina was “merely Mr. Ruiz’s mental impression following conversations…” that “does not lay the necessary factual predicate for Mr. Ruiz’s lay opinion testimony.”[2]

The Court then went on to examine the Affidavit of Susan Molina, who essentially attested to not remembering specific conversations with John Ruiz and did not specifically recall approving assignment to La Ley Recovery. The Court very clearly points out what is missing from the affidavit: a positive statement that express assignment was given to La Ley Recovery.

After that analysis, the Court found in a very familiar fashion, that the Plaintiff lacked standing even despite the Plaintiff’s position that such was demonstrated via the settlement agreement between FHCP and its liquidators. As has been held in several previous MSP Recovery cases, a settlement agreement cannot retroactively establish standing after a case is filed. As no assignment was found and standing was lacking, the Court dismissed the matter with prejudice.

 

[1] Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 67 S Ct. 385, 394, 91 L Ed. 451 (1947)

[2] MSAP Claims 1, LLC v. Infinity Auto Ins. Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181446

Busy Southern District of Florida dismisses one MSP Recovery case; allows another to proceed, for now…

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has been busy lately reviewing more litigation in front of them, courtesy of MSP Recovery LLC. Recently, the Court granted a motion to dismiss with prejudice another claim brought by not MSP Recovery LLC directly, but instead a subsidiary of MSP Recovery LLC, complicating the assignment relationships and ultimately leading to a dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

As we recently reported, MSP Recovery LLC has had two pending claims either dismissed or sent back for amendment due to issues with subject matter jurisdiction. In both of these previous cases, there were questions surrounding who the original assignor of the recovery benefits was and/or if a valid assignment of those rights was made.

On July 31, 2018, the case of MSPA Claims 1, LLC v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company was dismissed due to the same issues recounted above.

In MSPA Claims v. Liberty Mutual, the Defendant Liberty Mutual brought motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s third amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. As similarly discussed in Recovery v. State Farm, which was issued just last month, the Court again noted that standing must be present when the lawsuit was filed and cannot amend to add new plaintiffs.

The background is similar to the most recently reported cases including MSP Recovery, and the Plaintiff’s allege that they are the assignee of FHCP, HFAP, and IMCG and representatives that were Medicare beneficiaries who were enrolled in plans managed by FHCP, HFAP, and IMCG. Plaintiff’s further alleged that the Assignors paid for the Beneficiaries’ medical expenses which should have been paid by Defendant, the primary payer.

However, the Court in MSPA Claims v. Liberty Mutual specifically notes that Plaintiffs are not MAOs, Medicare beneficiaries or direct health care providers. Rather, they have obtained claims for reimbursement via assignments from the Assignors. Notably, the documentation reportedly showing this assignment was provided with the third amendment of the complaint. As such, Defendants argued that the case should be dismissed because Plaintiff lacked standing at the time the lawsuit was filed. Ultimately, the Court agreed with the Defendant and that Plaintiff lacked standing when the suit was originally filed and thus, cannot amend in an attempt to confer standing and failed to allege facts sufficient to show that any of the alleged Assignors have standing under the MSPA. Quoting various other courts rulings on the issue of FHCP and standing, the Court based its rationale on the cases that came before the one at hand.

In summary, the facts and findings of this case are almost identical to the two previous claims that have recently been reported upon. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction seems to continue to be found by courts involving these claims.

Just three days later another, less damaging order was entered in the Southern District of Florida, this time, in favor of MSP Recovery. On August 3, 2018, the court here entered an order granting MSP Recovery’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint and denied plaintiff’s motion to dismiss. In this advancement in the case of MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Hanover Ins. Co. we see the court permitting MSP Recovery to amend its second amended complaint in order to change the named defendant from Hanover Insurance to it subsidiary which underwrites the insurance policy that is at the heart of this case. See generally MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Hanover Ins. Co., 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 131211. Hanover argues that MSP Recovery’s motion should not be granted based on futility and lateness, stating that the amendment would be futile because the plaintiff did not have standing at the commencement of the lawsuit and therefore could not correct this mistake without filing a new suit, and further, that MSP Recovery has provided no legitimate reason for the delay in correcting this mistake and therefore should not be provided the opportunity for leave to amend. Id. at 3. However, the court in citing to MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. United Services Automobile Assoc., states that there appears to be a legitimate disagreement as to standing, and therefore amending the complaint would not be futile, and further, that MSP Recovery has provided appropriate reasoning for the delay in naming the correct defendant in arguing that the delay is due to Hanover’s failure to properly disclose the proper underwriter of the policy in question.

Thoughts: Two specific facts are interesting about these cases. First, in MSPA Claims I, the Court specifically acknowledges that this is the Plaintiff’s third attempt at amending the Claimant to meet the requirements for standing, in almost the same fashion that we see in Hanover. Secondly, the Court also makes a point to cite several previous cases in which standing was found to be lacking and even noted that “Plaintiff’s attempts to characterize HFAP as an MAO are disingenuous.” From these statements, it can be garnered that the courts are now aware of MSP Recovery’s tactics and the issues surrounding their filings and will be taking a much closer look at these cases going forward.

Gordon & Rees will continue to monitor these cases and provide updates.  Should you have any questions regarding the above or need any Medicare compliance assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Gordon & Rees Medicare Compliance Group at mstockdale@grsm.com or 412-588-2277

What’s in a Name? MSP Recovery LLC Sanctioned in Latest MAO Litigation

MSP Recovery LLC, welcome to the Illinois federal courts. This may not be the jurisdiction for you. In a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Peoria Division, not only did the legal group from Miami, now infamous for bringing hundreds of complaints against various insurance carriers under Medicare Secondary Payer reimbursement theories, fail to prevail in yet another effort to collect big money, but it ended up costing them and their attorneys $5,000 each in sanctions.

There are several written decisions about MSP Recovery LLC, many sounding familiar. Assignments, amended complaints, failure to state a claim – it all begins to run together. But when a court states: “This is when things got hairy” halfway through its written decision, something is going down.

The case of Recovery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95789, U.S. District Court for the Central Dist. Of Ill. (June 7, 2018), began back in March of 2017 when the Plaintiffs filed their original complaint alleging that they were assigned the right to seek reimbursement from the Defendant for Medicare conditional payments made on behalf of a Medicare Advantage Organization. The Defendant filed a successful Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that there was no standing because no injury-in-fact had been alleged. The complaint alleged the Plaintiff had received assignments from the MAO to seek recovery under the MSP, however, the Plaintiffs failed to name the MAO.

On June 2, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed the first Amended Complaint, apparently adding nothing more of consequence to the original complaint than the names of a representative Beneficiary (R.F.) and a representative MAO called Health First Administrative Plans (HFAP). Without furnishing additional details to support an injury-in-fact, the Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint did not establish standing and was subsequently dismissed.

Undaunted, a Second Amended Complaint was filed on January 30, 2018, substituting the previous representative Beneficiary R.F. with the more representative R.Y. The allegation was that R.Y. was an enrollee in HFAP and Defendant, as a primary payer under the MSP, failed to reimburse HFAP for medical items and services in a timely manner. Illustrating the relationship between MSP Recovery and HFAP, the Plaintiffs attached documentation including a Recovery Agreement and an Assignment document, in which Plaintiff MSP Recovery LLC assigned the rights of HFAP to MSP Recovery Claims Series, LLC. On March 6, 2018, the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint due to lack of standing.

Elsewhere, a court in the Southern District of Florida was busy working on another similar lawsuit filed by MSP Recovery LLC against Auto-Owners Insurance Group. In the course of this litigation it was determined by the testimony of HFAP’s Chief Operating Officer that HFAP was a company that performed administrative duties for a Medicare Advantage Organization called Health First Health Plans.

This distinction was news to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Peoria Division. And they were none too happy that while the Plaintiff had known about it since April 12th, it took a call from the Defendant on April 26th to notify the Court of the mistaken identity. The next day the Court ordered the Plaintiffs to file a response as to why the case should not be dismissed.

That’s when things got hairy.

Apparently the Plaintiffs did not think it was significant to know details like exactly which company assigned to them its rights of recovery. In their May 11, 2018 response to the Court, the Plaintiffs admitted that it was HFHP, not HFAP that had made conditional payments on behalf of R.Y., but had they had an opportunity to make a “minor clarifying” amendment to the Second Amended Complaint, they may have been more precise. Next that they stated that said potential clarification “would not change the substantive validity of the Health First assignments or R.Y.’s adequacy as an exemplar beneficiary,” a position the Court referred to as “palpably absurd and clearly wrong under the law.” The Court was further perturbed that MSP Recovery had not brought the identity of their intended Defendant to their attention until there was a threat of sanctions, rather than when they learned of the distinction weeks earlier.

When a lawsuit is filed, there are obligations that exist to ensure that the facts alleged are truthful and well-researched. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for sanctions against frivolous lawsuits, and case law indicates that the imposition of sanctions is allowable if the litigating parties should have known their position was groundless. By bringing a lawsuit against a company that does not make any medical payments, much less Medicare conditional payments on behalf of R.Y., a question exists as to whether MSP Recovery’s position was groundless. The law recognizes that corporations are separate and distinct legal entities and cause must be shown to ignore the corporate form.

The MSP Recovery LLC attorneys attempted to show they were not personally involved in the Auto-Owners matter, presumably to suggest they weren’t aware of the testimony, because they had not entered appearances in that case. The Court did not buy it, nor did they buy the Plaintiff’s explanation that the two separate companies are all part of the Health First “corporate family,” complicating their ability to identify the correct entity. And while this case is certainly not the longest legal battle in MSP history, it went on long enough for the Court to acknowledge the Plaintiff had wasted time and resources with its groundless claim.

Upon issuing the sanctions, the Court stated its purpose to “deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Given the prolific manner in which MSP Recovery LLC has been filing complaints that other courts have also determined to be less than adequate, it will be interesting to see whether this case results in a true deterrent or merely a slap on the wrist.