United States District Court, D. Columbia
LINCOLN HUNTER, ALEXANDER BORBELY, GARRETT GAMBINO, CHRISTINE
GAMBINO, Plaintiffs: Craig L. Briskin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Steven
A. Skalet, MEHRI & SKALET, PLLC, Washington, DC; Patrick A.
Malone, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daniel C. Scialpi, PATRICK MALONE &
ASSOCIATES, Washington, DC.
MEDSTAR GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, Defendant: Elizabeth
Anne Scully, LEAD ATTORNEY, BAKER & HOSTETLER LLP,
DISTRICT HOSPITAL PARTNERS, L.P., doing business as, GEORGE
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, Defendant: Eric N. Heyer,
LEAD ATTORNEY, THOMPSON HINE LLP, Washington, DC; Seth A.
Litman, PRO HAC VICE, THOMPSON HINE LLP, Atlanta, GA.
M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.
case was removed from D.C. Superior Court on September 14,
2015. See Notice of Removal [Dkt. 1]. Plaintiffs
allege that they have been overcharged for their medical
records by the hospital Defendants, as have been " many
hundreds of people who have obtained their medical records
from Defendants in the District of Columbia."
See Class Action Complaint [Dkt. 1-1 at 7]
(Complaint) ¶ 55. Plaintiffs assert a cause of action
only under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, D.C.
Code § 28-3901 et seq. (2015).
removed to this Court under the Class Action Fairness Act of
2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) (CAFA). That statute confers
original jurisdiction upon federal courts to hear class
actions where: (1) there are 100 or more plaintiffs; (2) any
plaintiff is diverse from any defendant; and (3) there is
more than $5,000,000 in controversy. See id. §
§ 1332(d)(5)(B); 1332(d)(2). The parties agree that the
first two elements are satisfied. Although they dispute the
third, the Court need not reach that question because it will
remand the case under the " interests of justice"
exception in 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(3). The exception is
applicable because " greater
than one-third but less than two-thirds of the [putative
class] members" are D.C. citizens, and the factors
enumerated in § § 1332(d)(3)(A)-(F) suggest that
the case be remanded.
Plaintiffs' right to recover ultimately turns on what is
an " improper trade practice" and a "
reasonable fee" under the D.C. Code, § §
28-3901(b)(1) and 3-1210.11, respectively. The Complaint does
refer to federal law in an attempt to demonstrate that the
fees were unreasonable under D.C. law. See Complaint
¶ 70 (" Defendants' charges for medical records
violate the limitations on charges for medical records set
forth in HIPAA, the HITECH Act and related regulations."
) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 17935(e); 45 C.F.R. §
164.524(c)(4)). But federal law does not control the outcome;
a D.C. judge might well rule that Plaintiffs' reference
to federal standards is unconvincing. In the end, " the
claims asserted will be governed by laws of the State in
which the action was originally filed." 28 U.S.C. §
Hospital Partners' (DHP's) memorandum bolsters this
conclusion. In response to the argument that the D.C. Code is
informed by federal law, DHP says that " [t]hat is an
incorrect statement of law." DHP Mem. [Dkt. 21] at 12.
As they put it:
The " reasonable fee" provision that Plaintiffs
cite as controlling law in this case makes absolutely no
mention of HIPAA being a basis for the calculation of
reasonable fees. D.C. Code § 3-1210.11. In fact, D.C.
Code § 3-1210.11(b)(1) states as follows:
A health care provider may require the patient or client, or
person authorized to have access to the patient's or
client's record, to pay a reasonable fee for copying,
as determined by the board through rulemaking.
Accordingly, when this code section was implemented, the
District of Columbia Health and Occupational Board stated
that it intended to define what a reasonable fee for
copying would be. It never has promulgated such regulations,
nor has it suggested that HIPAA cost regulations should be
followed. Plaintiffs' suggestion to the contrary is a
misstatement of the present law.
Id. While perhaps intending to preview the merits of
this case, DHP has ably shown why the issue presented is
state, not federal, and thus why ...