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Salazar, v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 22, 2017

OSCAR SALAZAR, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GLADYS KESSLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In 1993, Plaintiffs filed this Complaint alleging various statutory and Constitutional violations by the District of Columbia ("Defendants" or "District") in the course of administering its Medicaid Program. 42 U.S.C. § 1396, et seq. The Plaintiffs have again alleged failure of the District to meet the dental needs of eligible children under the Medicaid Program and have filed this Motion to Enforce the Dental Order ("Mot.") [Dkt. No. 2094].

         Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition ("Opp.") [Dkt. No. 2142], Reply ("Rep.") [Dkt. No. 2165], Revised Opposition ("Rev. Opp.") [Dkt. No. 2173], and Supplemental Reply ("Sup. Rep.") [Dkt. No. 2178], and the entire record herein, and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 1996, after a lengthy bench trial, the Court found the District to be in violation of the Medicaid Act. See Salazar v. District of Columbia. 954 F.Supp. 278 (D.D.C. 1996), and issued a 56 page Opinion setting forth detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Government then took an appeal of the 1996 Order to the Court of Appeals. However, shortly before oral argument, the Parties decided to enter into a Settlement Order ("the 1999 Settlement Order") [Dkt. No. 663]. Section 36 of the 1999 Settlement Order mandated that the District "shall provide or arrange for the provision of early and periodic, screening, diagnostic and treatment services ("ESPDT") when they are requested by or on behalf of children." 1999 Settlement Order ¶ 36. A number of its requirements exceeded obligations imposed by federal law.

         In 2004, the Plaintiffs again alleged violations of the Medicaid Act and Section 36 of the 1999 Settlement Order. The Court found the District to still be in violation of Section 36 obligating the District to provide EPSDT dental services, and entered the 2004 Dental Order [Dkt. No. 1033], which again included standards exceeding those required by federal law in order to ensure provision of dental services to the eligible children.

         Between 2006 and 2012, the District filed various Motions, many of which asked the Court to vacate or modify the 2004 Dental Order, or to terminate the 1999 Settlement Order. See e.g. [Dkt Nos. 1153, 1618, and 1627]. These Motions were either denied or withdrawn. On April 20, 2012, at the request of the Parties, the Court entered an Order referring the case for mediation [Dkt. No. 1790]. The Parties mediated in good faith from July 2012 to August 2014, but, unfortunately, were unable to reach a final agreement. Rev. Opp. at 5.

         From 1999 until the present time, Plaintiffs and the District of Columbia have been working diligently, overcoming many obstacles in their way, including the difficult transition to Obamacare, to ensure that the children of the District were receiving the services to which they were entitled under the various provisions in Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396, et seq. and accompanying regulations, 42 C.F.R. § 430, et seq.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         District Courts have the authority to enforce the terms of their mandates. See The Fund for Animals v. Norton. 390 F.Supp.2d 12, 15 (D.D.C. 2005). A motion to enforce may be granted when a "plaintiff demonstrates that a defendant has not complied with a judgment entered against it." Heartland Hosp. v. Thompson, 328 F.Supp.2d 8, 11 (D.D.C. 2004). A motion to enforce should be denied if a plaintiff "has received all relief required by that prior judgment." Id. (citing Watkins v. Washington, 511 F.2d 404, 406 (D.C. Cir. 1975).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiffs Have Not Violated Paragraph 80 of the Settlement Order

         As an initial matter, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce violates Paragraph 80 of the Settlement Order which requires that

Before any party moves the Court to enforce or construe this Order ... it shall give the other party 10 days' notice of its intention. During that 10 day period, the parties shall negotiate in good faith in an effort to resolve the dispute without seeking a decision from the Court before filing it.

         The District admits that Plaintiffs gave it 10 days' notice before filing the Motion to Enforce. However, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs failed to negotiate in good faith in an effort to resolve this dispute without the involvement of the Court. In light of the two years of good faith, but unsuccessful, mediation which preceded the filing of ...


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