United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MARILYN BROWN and AARON R. GRINDSTAFF, Plaintiffs,
GADSDEN REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER LLC, et al., Defendants.
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Marilyn Brown and Aaron R. Grindstaff sued Gadsden Regional
Medical Center (GRMC); Triad Holdings V, LLC; Triad of
Alabama, LLC; and Professional Account Services, Inc. for
breach of contract, conversion, breach of implied contract,
and breach of fiduciary duty. Each count also alleged
conspiracy. On September 18, 2017, this court entered an
Order granting Defendants' “Motion to Dismiss, or
in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, ”
(doc. 14), dismissing all claims. (Doc. 34).
October 4, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part,
vacated in part, and remanded this case. (Doc. 39).
Specifically, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed this court's
dismissal of Plaintiffs' breach of express contract claim
and conversion claim. But the Eleventh Circuit vacated this
court's entry of judgment in favor of GRMC on
Plaintiff's breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim because this
court sua sponte granted summary judgment in favor
of GRMC without providing Plaintiffs with notice and an
opportunity to respond to the motion for summary judgment.
The Eleventh Circuit remanded the breach-of-fiduciary-duty
claim back to this court for further proceedings.
October 10, 2018, this court entered an Order notifying
Plaintiffs of the court's intent to sua sponte
address the breach of fiduciary duty claim on summary
judgment. (Doc. 40). GRMC subsequently filed a motion for
summary judgment on the breach of fiduciary duty claim on
November 12, 2018. (Doc. 43). Plaintiffs responded to both
the court's order regarding sua sponte review
and GRMC's motion for summary judgment on the breach of
fiduciary duty claim on December 3, 2018. (Doc. 45). GRMC
then filed its reply on December 17, 2018. (Doc. 46). The
motion is now ripe for review.
case centers on Ms. Brown's and Mr. Grindstaff s claims
that GRMC improperly placed liens on their automobile
insurance medical-payments ("med-pay") benefits
instead of seeking payment directly from then personal
healthcare insurance provider. Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Cross and GRMC have several provider agreements hi which the
hospital agrees to submit bills of member patients directly
to Blue Cross for reimbursement. XXXXX
March 23, 2012, Ms. Brown was admitted to GRMC for emergency
medical services following an automobile accident. (Doc. 15-1
at 2). Her hospital bills totaled $11, 978.00. (Doc. 22-11 at
3). Michael Cotton, the Chief Financial Officer of GRMC,
stated that GRMC's records contain no indication that Ms.
Brown or her daughter informed GRMC that Ms. Brown had Blue
Cross insurance dining that visit. (Id.). Instead,
GRMC claims it received information that the alleged at-fault
driver's automobile insurance would be responsible for
the medical bills, which Ms. Brown neither admits nor denies.
(Doc. 14 at 9; Doc. 21 at 8). On April 16, 2012, GRMC filed a
Notice of Hospital Lien regarding Ms. Brown's medical
expenses. (Doc. 1-8 at 15).
September 11, 2012, Ms. Brown arrived at GRMC for a
pre-operation examination, dining which GRMC alleges she
indicated for the first time that she had private health
insurance through Blue Cross. (Doc. 14 at 9). Ms. Brown
states that-while she neither admits nor denies the
truthfulness of whether she hidicated she had private health
insurance dining her fust visit- GRMC knew by September 2012
that she was insured by Blue Cross. (Doc. 21 at 8; Doc. 45-1
at 2). She does not explain how GRMC allegedly knew of her
insurance by September 2012.
claims that Ms. Brown maintained that the at-fault
driver's automobile insurance would cover the medical
expenses, even during her September 11, 2012 examination.
(Doc. 14 at 9). After Ms. Brown's September 17, 2012
surgery, GRMC alleges that it submitted her expenses to Blue