United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. W. BLAKE VANDERLAN, M.D. PLAINTIFFS
JACKSON HMA, LLC d/b/a CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER a/k/a MERIT HEALTH CENTER-JACKSON DEFENDANT
P. JORDAN III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
suit under the False Claims Act is before the Court on
Relator W. Blake Vanderlan, M.D.'s motion for a
preliminary injunction/temporary restraining order  and
Defendant Jackson HMA, LLC's motion to dismiss . For
the reasons explained, the Court finds the motion for a
preliminary injunction/temporary restraining order 
should be denied. The Court will defer ruling on the motion
to dismiss, opting instead to stay the case.
Facts and Procedural History
parties meticulously set forth the procedural history behind
this action, as well as the background and workings of the
False Claims Act ("FCA") and the Emergency Medical
Treatment and Labor Act ("EMTALA") in their
filings. In the interest of brevity, the Court will not
attempt to recap their overviews.
general terms, Dr. W. Blake Vanderlan ("Vanderlan"
or "Relator") formerly worked as a physician at
Jackson HMA, LLC d/b/a Central Mississippi Medical Center,
a/k/a Merit Health Center-Jackson ("Jackson HMA").
Vanderlan believes that the hospital wrongfully transferred
African-American trauma patients without insurance to the
University of Mississippi Medical Center in violation of
EMTALA. He provided that information to federal
investigators, and on May 13, 2015, the Center for Medicare
and Medicaid Services ("CMS") issued a letter
advising Jackson HMA that its Medicare provider agreement
would terminate on June 5, 2015, unless it produced evidence
that its deficiencies had been corrected. Letter [50-1] at
following day, CMS sent Vanderlan a copy of its letter to
Jackson HMA, thanked him for bringing the matter to its
attention, and advised him he "may wish to consider the
civil enforcement provisions of § 187 [of the Social
Security Act] on an independent basis." Letter [50-2] at
1. On October 23, 2015, Vanderlan filed the instant civil
action against Jackson HMA, alleging that it submitted false
claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid, by virtue
of its violation of EMTALA. The case remained inactive for
almost two years while the Government considered
intervention. The Government ultimately declined to
intervene, so Vanderlan now pursues this qui tarn
action as a private individual (also referred to as a
relator), in the name of the Government, to enforce
provisions of the FCA. 31 U.S.C. § 3730.
Motion for Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order
is afraid the Government may settle the EMTALA claims against
Jackson HMA and in so doing rebrand the EMTALA claims as
"non-FCA" claims. According to him, this might
extinguish his EMTALA-based FCA claims. Vanderlan therefore
seeks an injunction of settlement talks until the Court
decides whether he has stated an FCA claim based on the
alleged EMTALA violations. Both the Government and Jackson
HMA oppose the motion.
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy."
Lakedreams v. Taylor, 932 F.2d 1103, 1107 (5th Cir.
1991) (citing Miss. Power & Light Co. v. United Gas
Pipe Line Co., 760 F.2d 618, 621 (5th Cir. 1985)). To
obtain a preliminary injunction, Vanderlan must establish
four factors: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the
merits, (2) a substantial threat that failure to grant the
injunction will result in irreparable injury, (3) the
threatened injury outweighs any damage that the injunction
may cause the opposing party, and (4) the injunction will not
disserve the public interest. Neal v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, 76 Fed.Appx. 543, 545 (5th Cir. 2003);
Lakedreams, 932 F.2d at 1107; Allied Mktg. Grp.,
Inc. v. CDL Mktg., Inc., 878 F.2d 806, 809 (5th Cir.
1989). Vanderlan "must prove all four elements and
failure to prove any one of them will result in denial of the
motion." Neal, 76 Fed.Appx. at 545 (citing
Enter. Int'l, Inc. v. Corporacion Estatal Petrolera
Ecuatoriana, 762 F.2d 464, 472 (5th Cir. 1985)); see
also PCI Transp., Inc. v. Fort Worth & W. R.R. Co.,
418 F.3d 535, 545 (5th Cir. 2005) (noting that granting
preliminary injunction is "extraordinary remedy" to
be granted only if party seeking it has "clearly carried
the burden of persuasion" on all four elements).
considered the applicable factors, the Court finds that an
order enjoining Jackson HMA and the Government from pursuing
settlement is not appropriate. Specifically, factors two,
three, and four weigh against injunctive relief
show irreparable injury if threatened action is not enjoined,
it is not necessary to demonstrate that harm is inevitable
and irreparable. The plaintiff need show only a significant
threat of injury from the impending action, that the injury
is imminent, and that money damages would not fully repair
the harm." Humana, Inc. v. Avram A. Jacobson, M.D.,