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Madison County Nursing Home v. Broussard Group, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

August 12, 2019

MADISON COUNTY NURSING HOME PLAINTIFF
v.
THE BROUSSARD GROUP, LLC, and BROUSSARD HEALTHCARE CONSULTING LLC, f/k/a BROUSSARD & COMPANY HEALTHCARE CONSULTANTS, LLC DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on several motions filed by Plaintiff in this breach of contract/negligence case. After considering the pleadings and relevant authorities, the Court finds that defense expert witnesses Christopher J. Murphy and Ralph A. Litolff, Jr. should be permitted to testify at trial. Accordingly, the Motion of Plaintiff in Limine to exclude the testimony of these expert witnesses will be denied. Additionally, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, which is predicated on the argument that Defendants will lack the necessary expert testimony to defend this case once the subject expert opinions are excluded, will likewise be denied.

         I. Factual Background and Procedural History

         Madison County Nursing Home (“MCNH”) is a nursing home facility located in Madison County, Mississippi. In 2010, MCNH allegedly entered into a contract with The Broussard Group, LLC, and/or Broussard Healthcare Consulting, LLC, (collectively “Broussard”) under which the latter agreed to provide Medicare-related billing services. According to the Complaint, Medicare guidelines require the timely submission of both claims and supporting documentation. If a claim and/or supporting documentation is not timely submitted to Medicare, the claim will be denied as time-barred by both that agency and other co-insurance programs.

         At some point, MCNH reviewed the accounts of several of its residents. The review purportedly showed multiple instances in which MCNH was not paid for services provided to residents because Broussard failed to timely submit claims/supporting documentation to Medicare. After being notified of the review, Broussard allegedly altered the resident accounts by removing charges that could no longer be billed to Medicare because they were time-barred. Upon learning of the alleged billing errors and account alterations, MCNH conducted a thorough review of its Medicare billing. This review purportedly showed that Broussard's failure to timely comply with Medicare billing guidelines resulted in MCNH's losing over $1.2 million in Medicare and other insurance payments.

         Based on these allegations, MCNH filed a lawsuit against Broussard in state court asserting claims of breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duties, negligence/gross negligence, and fraud. In addition to seeking actual and punitive damages, MCNH seeks equitable relief. The lawsuit was removed and, as the pleadings show the parties are diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $1.2 million, the Court may properly exercise federal subject matter jurisdiction in this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The Court now considers MCNH's summary judgment-related motions.

         II. Discussion

         MCNH has moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Broussard has not retained any expert qualified to refute the Medicare-related opinions offered by its own expert witnesses. See Mem. in Supp. of Mot. [Docket No. 107], 1 (arguing that because Broussard has not retained any qualified experts, it should be held liable in this case as a matter of law). In conjunction with its Motion for Summary Judgment, MCNH filed a Motion in Limine seeking to exclude the expert witnesses designated by Broussard.

         The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides:

         A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the ...

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