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Brill v. Velez

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 27, 2014

ADA BRILL, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNIFER VELEZ, COMMISSIONER, NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; and VALERIE HARR, DIRECTOR, NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND HEALTH SERVICES, Defendants.

JANE M. FEARN-ZIMMER, ROTHKOFF LAW GROUP, CHERRY HILL, NJ, Attorney for plaintiff Ada Brill.

MOLLY ANN MOYNIHAN, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, TRENTON, NJ, Attorney for defendants Jennifer Velez and Valerie Harr.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants Jennifer Velez and Valerie Harr, respectively the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services and the Director of the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services. (Pl.'s Compl. [Doc. No. 1] ¶¶ 5-6.) The Complaint alleges violations of subchapter XIX of the Social Security Act ("Federal Medicaid Act"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396 to 1396w-5 (West, Westlaw through P.L. 113-92). (See e.g., Id . ¶¶ 46, 48.) Defendants now move to dismiss on the grounds that the case has become moot. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. Jurisdiction and Standard for Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(1)

"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and when there is a question as to our authority to hear a dispute, it is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or the other, before proceeding to a disposition on the merits.'" Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood , 592 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass'n. , 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977)).

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) challenges the existence of a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). "When subject matter jurisdiction is challenged under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff must bear the burden of persuasion.'" Symczyk v. Genesis HealthCare Corp. , 656 F.3d 189, 191 n.4 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc. , 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction may present either a facial or factual challenge to the complaint. Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n , 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). A facial challenge argues that "the complaint, on its face, does not allege sufficient grounds to establish subject matter jurisdiction." D.G. v. Somerset Hills School Dist. , 559 F.Supp.2d 484, 491 (D.N.J. 2008). A factual challenge, by contrast, proceeds by attacking the "jurisdictional allegations set forth in the complaint." D.G. , 559 F.Supp.2d at 491.

When evaluating a facial attack, "the court must consider the allegations of the complaint as true." Mortensen , 549 F.2d at 891. Upon a factual attack, however, the court need not presume the truth of the allegations and "is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case." Mortensen , 549 F.2d at 891. Moreover, when considering a factual challenge, the Court is "not confined to the allegations in the complaint... and can look beyond the pleadings to decide factual matters relating to jurisdiction." Cestonaro v. United States , 211 F.3d 749, 752 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Mortensen , 549 F.2d at 891). "The defendant may factually attack subject matter jurisdiction at any stage in the litigation, including before the answer has been filed." D.G. , 559 F.Supp.2d at 491.

In the present Motion, Defendants make a factual attack on the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiff's claim has become moot. Holland v. N.J. Res. Corp., 2013 WL 4780763, *1 n.2 (D.N.J. Sept. 5, 2013)(citing Gordon v. East Goshen Twp. , 592 F.Supp.2d 828, 837 (E.D. Pa. 2009). Challenges based on the various justiciability doctrines, including mootness, are properly brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See, e.g. Lindell v. Landis Corp. 401(k) Plan , 640 F.Supp.2d 11, 14 (D.D.C. 2009) (citing Worth v. Jackson , 451 F.3d 854, 857 (D.C. Cir. 2006)). See also, Ballentine v. U.S. , 486 F.3d 806 (3d Cir. 2007).

II. Background

A. Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal program implemented by participating states. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396 to 1396w-5. It was created to provide medical care to people "whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services." 42 U.S.C.A. § 1396-1 (West, Westlaw through P.L. 113-92). As a condition for receiving federal funding, state Medicaid programs must comply with the federal Act and related regulations. See Harris v. McRae , 448 U.S. 297, 301 (1980); 42 U.S.C. 1396a.

In particular, the Federal Medicaid Act requires states to process applications and provide benefits with "reasonable promptness." 42 U.S.C.A. § 1396a(a)(3), (8); 42 C.F.R. 435.912. Federal regulations further provide that determinations of eligibility, except those based on ...


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