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United States ex rel. Sibley v. Delta Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

March 21, 2019



         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Delta Regional Medical Center's motion to dismiss, Doc. 34, and motion to strike, Doc. 51, and Relator Candi Sibley's motion for leave to file excess pages, Doc. 53. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the motion to dismiss should be granted on Count V of the Complaint, the motion to strike should be granted in part and denied in part, and the motion to dismiss should be granted.

         Factual and Procedural Background

          According to the complaint, Dr. Robert Corkern is the Emergency Department Medical Director at Delta Regional. Compl., Doc. 16 at 13, ¶ 52. In 2012, after being convicted in a medical kickback scheme, Corkern was placed on an excluded provider list, which prohibited him from billing the government for services provided to Medicaid patients. Id. at 14, ¶53. Corkern, however, continued to see Medicaid patients, and Delta Regional billed Medicaid by listing other providers in their health record whenever Corkern was the treating physician. Id. ¶ 55. The complaint also asserts that nurse practitioners were instructed that if they consulted Corkern on a patient, they were to falsity the medical records by listing a physician assistant instead. Id.

         Relator Candi Sibley filed her complain, alleging, among other things, that this practice violated the False Claims Act.[1] Delta Regional filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Sibley's complaint fails to state a claim for relief.

         12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Standard

         When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court is limited to the allegations made in the complaint and any documents attached to the complaint. Walker v. Webco Indus., Inc., 562 Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369 F.3d 833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)). "[A plaintiffs] complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Phillips v. City of Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772, 775-76 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).

         A claim is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). "[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid claim." Webb v. Morella, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting City of Clinton, Ark. v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 632 F.3d 148, 152-53 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss." Id. (quoting Fernandez-Montes v. AVied Pilots Ass'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate when the plaintiff has not alleged 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and has failed to 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Emesowum v. Hous. Police Dep't, 561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct 1955).


          I. Motion to Strike and Motion for Leave to File Excess Pages

         In response to Delta Regional's motion to dismiss, Sibley filed a brief three pages over the thirty-five pages allowed by local rules. See L.U. Civ. R. 7(b)(5). Sibley also attached several documents not referenced in her complaint and asked this Court to treat Delta Regional's motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment. Delta Regional responded by filing a motion to strike the excess pages and evidence not referenced in the complaint, Doc. 51. Sibley then filed a motion for leave to file the excess pages Doc. 53.

         The motion to dismiss is fully briefed, and Sibley's response was only three pages over the page limit. Further, the vast majority of Sibley's brief has; been mooted by the Court's order on the government's motion to dismiss. Thus, the Court does not find striking the excess pages to be warranted here. See Thomas v. Firerock Proa., LLC, No. 3:13-CV-00109-DMB-JMV, 2014 WL 12541627, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Oct. 14, 2014) ("[A] single filing, even if somewhat over the . . . page limit, is vastly preferable to a profligacy of motions-which ... invariably triggers multiple responses and replies, supported by escalating rounds of overlapping arguments and duplicative exhibits.").

         As to Delta Regional's motion to strike the evidence, the Court finds that relief is warranted. Courts accept extra-pleading materials and convert Rule 2 motions to Rule 56 motions when those materials are "likely to facilitate the disposition of the action" and "will enable a rational determination of a summary judgment motion." Isquith for & on Behalf of Isquith v. Middle S. Utilities, Inc., 847 F.2d 186, 194 n. 3 (5 th Cir. 1988) (quoting 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1366 (1969)). Consideration of the material Sibley submitted will not facilitate the disposition of this action. Sibley seeks to do the opposite: she submits the extra-pleading material to alter tie standard of review and prevent the Court from disposing of this case. Accordingly, Sibey's motion for leave to file excess pages is granted. Delta Regional's motion to strike is denied with respect to the excess pages of Sibley's response and granted with respect to the evidence submitted by Sibley in support of her opposition brief that is neither contained nor referenced in her complaint. The Court will exclude that evidence from consideration of Delta Regional's motion to dismiss.

         II. ...

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