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St. Charles Surgical Hospital, L.L.C. v. Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 15, 2019

ST. CHARLES SURGICAL HOSPITAL, L.L.C., Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
LOUISIANA HEALTH SERVICE & INDEMNITY COMPANY, doing business as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana; BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA, INCORPORATED, Defendants - Appellants

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

          Before HAYNES, GRAVES, and HO, Circuit Judges.

          JAMES C. HO, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Blue Cross seeks removal to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442, on the ground that it is sued here in its capacity as an administrator of health care benefits for federal employees. Three of our sister circuits have allowed removal under such circumstances. See Goncalves ex rel. Goncalves v. Rady Children's Hosp. San Diego, 865 F.3d 1237, 1247 (9th Cir. 2017); Jacks v. Meridian Res. Co., LLC, 701 F.3d 1224, 1235 (8th Cir. 2012); Anesthesiology Assocs. of Tallahassee v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 2005 WL 6717869, at *2 (11th Cir. 2005). We join our sister circuits in allowing Blue Cross to remove, and accordingly reverse the district court's judgment to the contrary.

         I.

         St. Charles Surgical Hospital, L.L.C. sued Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company, d/b/a Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana, Inc. in Louisiana state court for violating Louisiana law. Under Louisiana law, when an insurance company has notice that a patient has assigned benefits to a hospital, the insurance company is required to pay the hospital, rather than the patient. See La. R.S. § 40:2010. St. Charles alleged that Blue Cross violated the Louisiana assignment statute by paying benefits directly to patients rather than to St. Charles, despite the fact that Blue Cross had notice that the patients had assigned those benefits to the hospital.

         Blue Cross removed the case to federal court based on the federal officer removal statute. 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). St. Charles moved to remand and also sought attorney's fees. The district court granted both motions. Blue Cross appealed.

         II.

         We review a district court's remand order de novo. See Sherrod v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 132 F.3d 1112, 1117 (5th Cir. 1998).

         The federal officer removal statute allows a defendant to remove a state court action to federal court, if the state court action was brought against:

The United States or any agency thereof or any officer (or any person acting under that officer) of the United States or of any agency thereof, in an official or individual capacity, for or relating to any act under color of such office or on account of any right, title or authority claimed under any Act of Congress for the apprehension or punishment of criminals or the collection of the revenue.

28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1) (emphasis added).

          To claim removal as a "person acting under" an officer of the United States, a party must show (1) that he is a person within the meaning of the statute; (2) that he acted under the direction of a federal officer; (3) that a causal nexus exists between his actions under color of federal office and the plaintiff's claims; and (4) that he has a colorable federal defense. See Bartel v. Alcoa S.S. Co., Inc., 805 F.3d 169, 172 (5th Cir. 2015) (citing authorities).

         St. Charles agrees that Blue Cross has satisfied the first condition of removal-that Blue Cross is a "person" under the federal officer removal statute-but contests the remaining three conditions. We address each in turn, and ultimately conclude that Blue Cross has satisfied all ...


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