United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
DANNY J. STARLING AND JANICE STARLING PLAINTIFFS
CRAWFORD & COMPANY, et al. DEFENDANTS
matter, Plaintiff Danny Starling Defendants Crawford &
Company ("Crawford") and Broadspire Services,
Inc.'s ("Broadspire") for denying his
workers' compensation benefits claims in bad faith.
Crawford and Broadspire have filed a 12(b)(1) motion to
dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction . Having
considered the matter, the Court finds the motion should be
and Procedural Background
1999, Starling injured his back while on the job with his
employer, Burlington House Fabrics. Compl. ¶ 19. The
Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission found him
permanently and totally disabled and ordered Burlington and
its workers' compensation carrier, Reliance National
Indemnity Co., to provide Starling with disability payments
for a period of 450 weeks, and payments for medical services
and supplies to treat his injury as necessary. Id.
¶ 20; Danny I Starling vs. Burlington House
Fabrics, No. 00 10023-G-9111, 2002 WL 31007477, at *5-6
(Miss. Work. Comp. Com. Aug. 13, 2002). Reliance utilized
Defendant Crawford and Crawford's affiliate, Defendant
Broadspire, for claims administration. Compl. ¶ 19.
August 2002, Starling received a spinal fusion surgery from
Dr. Glenn Crosby. He followed up that surgery with Dr. George
Hammitt for pain management. Id. ¶ 22. Dr.
Hammitt provided Starling with nerve block injections to
alleviate the pain for periods of time. Id. In March
2016, Dr. Crosby advised Starling that he needed a revision
of the original fusion surgery. Dr. Crosby, could not perform
the revision, however, because he no longer accepted
workers' compensation insurance. Id.
informed Broadspire that Dr. Crosby had recommended another
surgery, and Broadspire referred Starling to Dr. Feeidoon
Parsioon for an independent medical exam. Id. Dr.
Parsioon determined that the back pain that Starling was
currently suffering was degenerative- that is, it was caused
by general wear and tear of the spinal disks- and not related
to his injury or prior surgery. Id. at ¶ at 23.
Therefore, he found that no further nerve block injections or
surgical intervention was medically necessary. Id.
Instead, Dr. Parsioon recommended Starling be implanted with
a pain pump. Id.
Starling was notified that he would not be approved for any
further nerve block injections or for the surgery. He was
further notified by Broadspire that the medical management
portion of his claim would be closed. Id.
¶¶ 24, 26.
then brought this present suit in state court against
numerous defendants alleging they had all conspired to deny
him his workers' compensation benefits in bad faith.
Defendants timely removed to this Court. Starling
subsequently dismissed all but Crawford and Broadspire. Those
defendants now move to dismiss the complaint. Starling has
responded, and the matter is now ripe for review.
12(b)(1) motion allows a party to challenge the Court's
subject matter jurisdiction. " '[A] factual attack
under Rule 12(b)(1) may occur at any stage of the
proceedings, and plaintiff bears the burden of proof that
jurisdiction does in fact exist.' " Arena v.
Graybar Elec. Co., 669 F.3d 214, 223 (5th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit. Corp., 613
F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980) (citations omitted)).
Fifth Circuit has instructed:
A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate the case. In considering a
challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, the district court
is free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual disputes in
order to satisfy itself that it has the power to hear the
case. Thus, under Rule 12(b)(1), the district court can
resolve disputed issues of fact to the extent necessary to
Smith v. Reg'l Transit Autk, 756 F.3d 340, 347
(5th Cir. 2014) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the Court can
consider: "(1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint
supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or
(3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the
court's resolution of disputed facts." Tsolmon
v. United States, 841 F.3d 378, 382 (5th Cir. 2016)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
compensation under the Mississippi Workers' Compensation
Act is the exclusively remedy for employees injured on the
job. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-9-3. Mississippi law
recognizes that a bad faith tort claim, independent from the
work-related injury, accrues where an employer or insurer
refuses to pay for benefits as required ...