United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MULTIPLAN, INC. and PRIVATE HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS, INC. PLAINTIFFS/ COUNTER-DEFENDANTS
STEVEN W. HOLLAND, doing business as Physical Therapy Clinic of Gulfport DEFENDANT/ COUNTERCLAIMANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING STEVEN W.
HOLLAND'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW
Guirola, Jr. United States District Judge
THE COURT is the ore tenus Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law filed by the defendant/counterclaimant Steven
W. Holland, doing business as Physical Therapy Clinic of
Gulfport. For the following reasons, the Court finds that
there is an insufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable
jury to find in favor of Multiplan and Private Healthcare as
to their tortious interference of business relations claim.
Therefore, Holland's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of
Law is granted.
lawsuit arose out of a dispute between Holland, a physical
therapist, and two preferred provider organizations (PPOs),
Private Healthcare and Multiplan. Holland alleged that the
PPOs applied discounts to workers' compensation claims to
which they were not entitled. Multiplan and Private
Healthcare have sued Holland, claiming that Holland's
alleged agent, Kevin Barrett, doing business as Quest
Financial Recovery Services, tortiously interfered with their
jury trial of this matter began on March 26, 2018. Following
the conclusion of all testimony, Holland renewed his ore
tenus Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law.
may grant judgment as a matter of law if “the court
finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally
sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that
issue.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1). “In resolving such
challenges, we draw all reasonable inferences and resolve
credibility determinations in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party.” Foradori v. Harris, 523 F.3d
477, 485 (5th Cir. 2008).
Mississippi law, a tortious interference with business
relations claim requires proof of the following four
(1) the acts were intentional and willful; (2) the acts were
calculated to cause damage to the plaintiffs in their lawful
business; (3) the acts were done with the unlawful purpose of
causing damage and loss without right or justifiable cause on
the part of the defendant (which constitutes malice); and (4)
actual loss and damage resulted.
PDN, Inc. v. Loring, 843 So.2d 685, 688 (Miss. 2003)
(citing MBF Corp. v. Century Bus. Commc'ns,
Inc., 663 So.2d 595, 598 (Miss.1995)). “[A]ctual
damage and loss is a required component of the tort of
interference with business relations.” Biglane v.
Under the Hill, 949 So.2d 9, 17 (¶40) (Miss. 2007).
Therefore, in order to demonstrate damages for tortious
interference, a “plaintiff must show (1) a loss, and
(2) that defendant's conduct caused the loss.”
Par Indus., Inc. v. Target Container Co., 708 So.2d
44, 48 (¶10) (Miss. 1998). Furthermore, “the
plaintiff must provide hard proof of financial loss.
Speculative losses will not suffice.” Johnny C. Parker,
Mississippi Law of Damages § 35:19 (3d ed. 2003) (citing
Cenac v. Murry, 609 So.2d 1257 (Miss. 1992)).
Generally, such loss is proved by showing a loss of business
or profit. See Cenac, 609 So.2d at 1272.
present case, Multiplan and Private Healthcare argue that
they demonstrated they suffered actual damages and loss,
because they incurred attorney's fees and expenses as
well as a loss of good will. The Court will first consider
the argument that attorney's fees and expenses can be
recovered as compensatory damages.
Mississippi Supreme Court has held:
As a general rule, in the absence of any contractual or
statutory liability therefor, attorneys' fees and
expenses incurred by the plaintiff or which the plaintiff is
obligated to pay, in the litigation of his claim against the
defendant, aside from usual court costs, are not recoverable
as an item of damages, either in an action ex contractu or an
action ex delicto. Nor are attorneys' fees and other
expenses of former litigation, particularly suits prosecuted
by the plaintiff against the defendant, recoverable in a
City of Laurel v. Bush, 120 So.2d 149, 155 (Miss.
1960); see also Tunica Cty. v. Town of Tunica, 227
So.3d 1007, 1027 (Miss. 2017) (“Mississippi follows the
general rule that, in the absence of a contractual agreement
or statutory authority, attorney's fees may not be
awarded except in cases in which punitive damages are
proper.”) The plaintiffs cite ACI Chemicals, Inc.
v. Metaplex, Inc., 615 So.2d 1192 (Miss. 1993), for the
proposition that attorney's fees satisfy the element of
actual damage and loss for a tortious interference claim.
However, the issue of whether it was proper ...