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Family Care Inc. v. Oregon Health Authority

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

January 23, 2019

FAMILY CARE INC., Plaintiff,
OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before me on Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on Dismissed Claims [336]. For the reasons below, I GRANT Plaintiffs motion.


         In my June 1, 2018, Opinion and Order [105], I granted in part and denied in part Defendant Oregon Health Authority's (OHA) Motion to Dismiss [79]. Specifically, I granted OHA's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs tenth claim and dismissed that claim with prejudice. Ialso granted OHA's claim to dismiss with prejudice Plaintiffs second, third, and fifth claims to the extent those claims were based on OHA's failure to provide actuarially sound rates.

         Plaintiffs tenth claim alleged a breach of the Health Plan Services Contract ("the Contract") between Plaintiff and OHA. Plaintiff argued that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the Contract gave it the objectively reasonable contractual belief that OHA would set actuarially sound rates. In my June 1, 2018, Opinion and Order, I found that no provision in the Contract explicitly granted Plaintiff the right to actuarially sound rates. The Contract stated that OHA would "actuarially set" the rates, and that the actuarial methodology was described in a report on OHA's website, but the Contract clearly stated that the report was not part of the Contract. Further, I found that federal and state laws requiring "actuarial soundness" did not give Plaintiff a reasonable contractual expectation to actuarially sound rates. Id. at 25-26. Plaintiff subsequently moved for reconsideration of the dismissal of claim ten. I granted reconsideration of my ruling but declined to alter my prior order dismissing Plaintiffs claim 10 with prejudice.

         Defendants OHA and Patrick Allen later filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [149], in which they moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff s claims as well as on their counterclaim for declaratory judgment.[1] In a hearing held on September 21, 2018, 1 granted summary judgment in favor of OHA on Plaintiffs claims four and eleven ("APA Claims"), but denied summary judgment on OHA's counterclaim and Plaintiffs remaining claims. I granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs APA claims because neither the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) nor the Oregon APA could provide Plaintiff with the remedy it sought. The remedy under the federal APA requires Plaintiff to seek review of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service's approval of OHA's rate setting. The remedy under the Oregon APA would only result in a loss of funding to OHA. Id. Following my rulings, Plaintiff moved for entry of final judgment on claims four, ten, and eleven, so that it could appeal them to the Ninth Circuit.


         When a case involves multiple claims for relief or multiple parties, Federal Rule of. Civil Procedure 54(b) allows a court to grant entry of final judgment on some-but not all-claims for relief "only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay." Claims certified under Rule 54(b) do not have to be separate and independent of any claims remaining in a case, but certification is scrutinized to "prevent piecemeal appeals in cases which should only be reviewed as single units." Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. General Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 10 (1980).

         In analyzing whether it is appropriate to certify a judgment for appeal under Rule 54(b), a court must first determine that it has issued a final judgment-a judgment that is "an ultimate disposition of an individual claim entered in the course of a multiple claims action." Id. at 7. If the court has issued a final judgment on those claims, it must next determine "whether there is any just reason for delay." Wood v. GCC Bend, LIC, 422 F.3d 873, 878 (9th Cir. 2005). Detemiining if there is any just reason for delay requires a court to consider "judicial administrative interests" and the equities involved. Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8. Factors to consider in making this determination include whether the dismissed claims are separable from the remaining claims and whether granting certification will result in an appellate court having to issue multiple decisions on the same issue of law or fact. Id. The presence of one of these factors is not dispositive but should go to the weight of the decision making. Id. 8 at n.2. To wan-ant Rule 54(b) certification, claims should be "truly separable." See Wood, 422 F.3d at 879- 80. Similarity of legal or factual issues weighs heavily against granting certification for appeal. Id.


         For Rule 54(b) certification to be appropriate, I must first determine that the judgments I have issued on the claims in question are final. Plaintiffs tenth claim has been considered twice and Plaintiff's fourth and eleventh claims have been fully briefed, resolved on the merits, and are final. Therefore, I find that the judgments issued on Plaintiffs fourth, tenth, and eleventh claims are ultimate dispositions of those claims. I turn next to whether any just reason for delaying certification for appeal exists in this action.

         I. Similarity of Facts

         The Ninth Circuit has held that certification under Rule 54(b) is inappropriate when the dismissed claims are "closely related, factually and legally." Wood, 422 F.3d at 879-80. In Wood, an employee sued her former employer, alleging age discrimination and bringing claims for wrongful constructive discharge, age discrimination, and retaliation under both the federal law and Oregon law. Id. at 876-77. The claims for age discrimination and retaliation survived summary judgment and the district court granted 54(b) certification on the dismissed claims. Id. On appeal, a Ninth Circuit panel held that certification was not warranted because "certification in this case effectively severs trial on different theories of adverse treatment arising out of the same factual relationship." Therefore, the claims were not truly separable, as the dismissed and surviving claims were based on the same set of facts. Id. at 880-81.

         The instant case is distinguishable from Wood because the facts necessary to prove the dismissed and remaining claims are unique. In Wood, the underlying facts were the same for all legal theories presented by the plaintiff. While the facts establishing the relationship and dispute between the parties will overlap for any claim in the current case because they arise out of the same overarching business dispute, the dismissed claims rely upon facts surrounding the Contract while the remaining claims depend on ...

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