Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

John Ivan Sutter, M.D v. Oxford Health Plans LLC

February 22, 2011

JOHN IVAN SUTTER, M.D., PLAINTIFF,
v.
OXFORD HEALTH PLANS LLC,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Brown, Chief Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MEMORANDUM OPINION AMENDED*fn1

This matter comes before the Court upon the following motions filed in Civ. No. 05-2198 (hereinafter, the "'05 Case"): (1) the motion to vacate arbitration award and/or for reconsideration filed by Defendant Oxford Health Plans, LLC ("Oxford"); (2) the cross-motion to confirm arbitration award filed by Plaintiff John Ivan Sutter, M.D. ("Sutter"); and (3) the motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) filed by Sutter. (Doc. Nos. 31, 38, 42.) And, further, upon the following motions filed in Civ. No. 10-4903 (hereinafter, the "'10 Case"): (1) the motion to dismiss filed by Oxford; and (2) the motion to remand filed by Sutter. (Doc. Nos. 5, 8.) All of the foregoing motions are opposed, and the Court has considered them without oral argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. Having done so, for the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that federal subject-matter jurisdiction exists in both cases, that the arbitrator's award should be confirmed in the '05 Case, and that Oxford's motion to dismiss should be denied in the '10 Case.

I. BACKGROUND

As the Court writes only for the parties, discussion will be limited to the allegations, the facts, and the aspects of these two cases' procedural histories that are relevant to the Court's present decision.

On September 23, 2003, W.L.D. Barrett ("Barrett"), arbitrator in the parties' underlying arbitration, issued a Clause Construction Award that allowed class arbitration pursuant to the parties' arbitration agreement. Thereafter, on March 25, 2005, Barrett issued his "Partial Final Class Determination Award" (the "Partial Award") that, among other things, integrated and gave effect to Barrett's prior Clause Construction Award. Subsequently, on April 25, 2005, Oxford filed a petition in the District of New Jersey to vacate Barrett's Partial Award. That matter, the '05 Case, was assigned to then-District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr, since elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. On May 9, 2005, Sutter opposed Oxford's petition to vacate, and also filed a cross-motion to dismiss the '05 Case based upon Sutter's assertion that subject-matter jurisdiction did not exist.

On October 31, 2005, Judge Greenaway issued an opinion and order that denied both Sutter's motion to dismiss, and Oxford's motion to vacate the Partial Award. In support of that decision, Judge Greenaway concluded: (1) that federal subject-matter jurisdiction exists in this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a), because the parties are diverse and substantially more than $75,000 is at issue; and (2) that under then-controlling precedent, Barrett did not exceed his powers or manifestly disregard the law in the Partial Award. Oxford promptly appealed, and on February 28, 2007, a panel of the Third Circuit affirmed. Following these rulings, class arbitration proceeded before Barrett in accordance with the Partial Award.

On April 27, 2010, the United States Supreme Court decided Stolt-Nielsen S.A., ET AL. v.Animalfeeds International Corp., 130 S. Ct. 1758 (2010), and therein addressed the issue of class arbitration. In light of Stolt-Nielsen, Oxford asked Barrett to reconsider and vacate his prior decisions that allowed class arbitration pursuant to the parties' arbitration agreement. On July 6, 2010, Barrett issued Procedural Order No. 18. ("Order No. 18"), in which he revisited both the Clause Construction Award and the Partial Award, but concluded that class arbitration of the claims at issue remained mandated by the parties' arbitration agreement following the Stolt-Nielsen decision.

On August 13, 2010, Oxford moved to reopen this case, and on September 7, 2010, this Court ordered the '05 Case case reopened and reassigned to the undersigned in light of Judge Greenaway's elevation. Also on August 13, 2010, in addition to its motion to reopen, Oxford filed its present motion to either vacate Barrett's July 6, 2010 decision pursuant to provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), or for reconsideration of Judge Greenaway's October 31, 2005 decision in light of Stolt-Nielsen. In response, Sutter filed: (1) opposition to Oxford's motion; (2) a cross-motion to confirm Barrett's July 6, 2010 decision; and (3) a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Oxford opposes Sutter's motions.

On September 23, 2010, as the parties briefed the various motions filed in the '05 Case, Oxford removed a verified complaint filed by Sutter in Essex County Superior Court, Law Division, to the District of New Jersey. As a result, the '10 Case was opened and assigned to this Court. While both the '05 and '10 Cases arise out of the class arbitration between the parties, the specific issues presented by each case are different. In the verified complaint that frames the '10 Case, Sutter seeks an order to show cause why Barrett's Procedural Order No. 19 ("Order No. 19"), which was issued on July 29, 2010, should not be vacated, apparently pursuant to provisions of the FAA. Less than a week after removing Sutter's verified complaint, and before either Sutter or the Court took further action on Sutter's underlying request for an order to show cause, Oxford filed a motion to dismiss Sutter's verified complaint in the '10 Case. In support of that motion, Oxford argues that: (1) Order No. 19 is not subject to judicial review; and (2) if reviewed by the Court, Barrett's decision should not be vacated. In response, Sutter opposed Oxford's motion, and on November 12, 2010, also filed a motion to remand the '10 Case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

Sutter argues that there is no federal subject-matter jurisdiction in either the '05 or the '10 Cases.*fn2 Fundamentally, Sutter challenges the existence of Section 1332 diversity jurisdiction on the following two bases: (1) that Oxford's citizenship is not diverse; and (2) that the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement is not met. The Court concludes that both arguments are specious for the following reasons.

Nearly six years ago, shortly after Oxford filed the petition to vacate Barrett's Partial Award that gave rise to the '05 Case, Sutter lodged a similar challenge to federal subject-matter jurisdiction in a cross-motion to dismiss. (Doc. No. 5.) In his October 31, 2005 memorandum opinion, Judge Greenaway decided that Section 1332 diversity jurisdiction exists in the '05 Case because: (1) "[t]he parties do not dispute that they are of diverse citizenship: Sutter is a citizen of New Jersey and Oxford is a citizen of Minnesota"; and (2) "as Sutter has not questioned Oxford's $5,000,000 [alleged damages] figure, and this Court discerns no basis to conclude to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than $75,000, the amount in controversy requirement of Section 1332(a) is satisfied." (JAG 10/31/05 Mem. Op at p. 5; Doc. No. 21) Sutter did not appeal Judge Greenaway's decision that diversity jurisdiction exists in the '05 Case. Further, in affirming Judge Greenaway's October 31, 2005 denial of Oxford's motion to vacate the Partial Award, the Third Circuit did not address subject-matter jurisdiction in any way. As such, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.