Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Davidson v. Howe
Marilyn Davidson, an intellectually disabled individual, was in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) most of her life. In 1985, Marilyn was transferred to the Fernald Developmental Center, an intermediate care facility (ICF). In 2003, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to close Fernald. DDS planned to transfer Marilyn to the Wrentham Developmental Center, another ICF. Plaintiffs, Marilyn’s guardians, filed a complaint in the federal district court, alleging that Marilyn’s transfer violated the federal Medicaid statute and various implementing regulations. Plaintiffs also sought a motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the injunction and held that the statutory and regulatory provisions cited in the complaint did not create a private right of action. Marilyn was subsequently transferred to Wrentham, and Fernald was closed. The First Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claim for damages was barred by the Commonwealth’s Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit for damages in federal court; and (2) Plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were moot. View "Davidson v. Howe" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Heineman-Guta v. Guidant Corp.
Appellant, on behalf of the United States, brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) against Guidance Corporation and Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC), alleging they engaged in a kickback scheme to promote the sale and use of their cardiac rhythm management devices. However, a former employee of BSC had previously filed a qui tam action against BSC, which was later dismissed, alleging similar claims. The district court dismissed Appellant's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis that the earlier-filed complaint barred consideration of Appellant's complaint under the first-to-file rule of the FCA, 31 U.S.C. 3730(b)(5). Appellant appealed, arguing that the earlier-filed complaint could not serve as a preclusive first-filed complaint to trigger the first-to-file bar because it did not meet the heightened pleading standard under Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that section 3730(b)(5) does not require the first-filed complaint to meet the heightened pleading standards of Rule 9(b) to bar a later-filed complaint. View "United States ex rel. Heineman-Guta v. Guidant Corp." on Justia Law
Cruz-Vazquez v. Mennonite Gen. Hosp., Inc.
Plaintiff filed a disparate screening claim in the U.S. district court alleging that she arrived at the emergency department of Hospital with an emergency medical condition as defined by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), that Hospital failed to screen her appropriately, and that Hospital failed to stabilize or properly transfer her before release, thus violating the requirements of EMTALA. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint as stating facts limited to a medical malpractice claim and holding that EMTALA does not create a federal cause of action for medical malpractice. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's dismissal, holding that Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show that a trialworthy issue existed as to her disparate screening claim. Remanded for trial on Plaintiff's EMTALA claim as well as her Puerto Rico law claims. View "Cruz-Vazquez v. Mennonite Gen. Hosp., Inc." on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Estate of Cunningham v. Millennium Labs. of Cal., Inc.
Relator brought a federal False Claims Act (FCA) suit against Millennium Laboratories of California (Millennium) and several physicians, alleging that Millennium encouraged physicians to bill the government multiple times for single drug tests and to perform excessive, medically unnecessary original and confirmation tests. Prior to the filing of the complaint, Millennium filed a suit against Relator's employer, Calloway Laboratories (Calloway), in California state court. Millennium attached emails from from Calloway employees to third parties suggesting fraudulent activity in Millennium's billing practices. The district court dismissed Relator's complaint, finding that the prior disclosure constituted a jurisdictional bar to Relator's suit. The First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the court erred in dismissing all of Relator's claims when only some of them had been disclosed by way of being substantially similar to the information contained in Millennium's prior California suit. Remanded for the district court's consideration of whether Relator's remaining FCA claim was sufficiently pled. View "United States ex rel. Estate of Cunningham v. Millennium Labs. of Cal., Inc." on Justia Law
Kaiser Found. Health Plan v. Pfizer, Inc.
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (together, Kaiser), Aetna, Inc. and Guardian Life Insurance Company (Guardian) filed a coordinated complaint against Pfizer, Inc. and Warner-Lambert Company (together, Pfizer). The coordinated plaintiffs asserted violations of, inter alia, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Ultimately, Kaiser prevailed, and Aetna and Guardian's claims were dismissed on summary judgment. After a jury trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Kaiser on its RICO and state UCL claims. The court subsequently denied Pfizer's motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, to alter or amend judgment. The court awarded Kaiser damages and ordered Defendants to pay restitution. Finding no error, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the verdicts for Kaiser. View "Kaiser Found. Health Plan v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law
Harden Mfg. Corp. v. Pfizer, Inc.
This appeal by Harden Manufacturing Corporation and others (together, Harden plaintiffs) arose from multidistrict litigation concerning the off-label marketing of Neurontin, an anticonvulsant drug manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. The Harden plaintiffs, representing a putative class of third-party payors (TPPs), alleged that Pfizer engaged in a fraudulent off-marketing campaign that caused the TPPs to pay for Neurontin prescriptions that were ineffective for the off-label conditions at issue and that the plaintiffs suffered injury when they paid for those prescriptions. The district court granted summary judgment to Pfizer and denied class certification on the plaintiffs' claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and state common law claims of fraud and unjust enrichment. The First Circuit Court of Appeals (1) reversed the grant of summary judgment as to the plaintiffs' RICO claim, as the Harden plaintiffs presented evidence to survive summary judgment; (2) vacated the grant of summary judgment as to the state law claims; and (3) vacated the denial of class certification. View "Harden Mfg. Corp. v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law
Aetna, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc.
Aetna, Inc. filed a coordinated complaint with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (together, Kaiser) and Guardian Life Insurance Company (Guardian) against Pfizer, Inc. and Warner-Lambert Company (together, Pfizer). The coordinated plaintiffs asserted that they had suffered injury from the fraudulent marketing of Neurontin for off-label uses, and alleged violations of, inter alia, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Statute (PIFS). The district court dismissed the claims of Guardian and Aetna but denied summary judgment as to Kaiser's claims. The court then entered judgment against Guardian and Aetna and in favor of Pfizer. The First Circuit Court of Appeals (1) reversed the dismissal of Aetna's RICO claim, as Aetna presented evidence of causation and damages sufficient to survive summary judgment; and (2) vacated the district court's dismissal of Aetna's claim under the PIFS. Remanded. View "Aetna, Inc. v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law
Fairbank Reconstruction v. Greater Omaha Packing Co.
In this appeal, Greater Omaha Packing Company (GOPAC) asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate a jury's unanimous finding that GOPAC supplied Fairbank Reconstruction Corporation with E. coli-tainted beef, which Fairbank then packaged and shipped to two supermarkets in Maine, resulting in two women who bought meat there becoming seriously ill. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no basis upon which to upset the jury's verdict, as (1) the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude that GOPAC's meat was contaminated and that such meat was included in the packages the two women purchased; and (2) the trial court did not err in admitting a video deposition of GOPAC's former expert witness. View "Fairbank Reconstruction v. Greater Omaha Packing Co." on Justia Law
Felder v. Wetzel
In this Hague Convention case concerning claims by a motion of wrongful retention in this country of her fourteen-year-old daughter who was in need of emergency psychiatric care, the district court both denied relief and dismissed the Swiss mother's case. The district court interpreted orders of the relevant Swiss Guardianship Authority and a Swiss court as having stripped the mother of all custody rights so as to deprive the federal court of jurisdiction. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's dismissal of the case, holding that while the language of these orders was imprecise, the orders had a far more limited scope, and the federal court was required under the Convention to hear the case. View "Felder v. Wetzel" on Justia Law
Me. Educ. Ass’n Benefits Trust v. Cioppa
The State enacted an Act in 2011 pursuant to which health insurers were required to disclose, upon written request from a public school district, aggregate loss information pertaining to any group policies held by the district's employees. Maine Education Association Benefits Trust, which managed a statewide health insurance plan for a substantial segment of Maine's public school work force, subsequently filed suit in the district court, seeking to permanently enjoin the law prior to its enforcement. The Trust alleged that because its information constituted a confidential trade secret, the Act's disclosure requirement resulted in an uncompensated taking proscribed by the Fifth Amendment. The district court denied the Trust's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Trust did not have a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of its takings claim. View "Me. Educ. Ass'n Benefits Trust v. Cioppa" on Justia Law