United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield
MICHAEL AND TABITHA COX, individually and on behalf of their minor child, W.C., Plaintiffs,
AIR METHODS CORPORATION and ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOLDINGS, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. Faber Senior United States District Judge.
before the court is (1) Plaintiffs' Amended Motion to
Remand (ECF No. 12) and (2) Defendants' Motion to
Transfer or Stay (ECF No. 6). For the reasons that follow,
the court denies plaintiffs' motion to remand and stays
this matter pending the dispositive motion to dismiss
currently before the United States District Court for the
District of Colorado in Scarlett v. Air Methods
Corporation, et al.
August 18, 2017, plaintiffs filed a putative class action
against defendants, Air Methods Corporation and its holding
company, Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC (collectively
“Defendants”). Defendants provide air ambulance
services in West Virginia and other states. Plaintiffs'
child W.C. was hospitalized at Princeton Community Hospital
in Princeton, West Virginia and required air transportation
to CAMC Women's and Children's Hospital in
Charleston, West Virginia. Complaint at ¶ 14. Defendants
transported W.C. the necessary 76 rotor miles. Id.
at ¶¶ 14-16. No. written contract or verbal
agreement memorialized these services. Id. at ¶
received a bill for $52, 634.76 from Defendants. Id.
at ¶ 16. Plaintiffs' insurer, West Virginia Public
Employee Insurance Agency (“PEIA”) paid
Defendants $6, 704.14. Id. at ¶ 17. PEIA also
concluded that plaintiffs would be responsible to pay
$586.79. Id. Nevertheless, plaintiffs received a
bill from Defendants for $45, 930.62, the amount unpaid by
PEIA. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18. When Defendants
requested additional payment from PEIA, the insurer refused,
stating in a May 6, 2016 letter that the additional $45,
930.62 “is clearly excessive.” See ECF
1-1, Ex. B. These excessive charges form the foundation for
plaintiffs' claims: that Defendants actions constitute a
breach of West Virginia implied contract law. Complaint at
claims are on behalf of themselves and other similarly
situated West Virginians who have used Defendants'
transportation services. Id. at ¶ 40.
Plaintiffs define the proposed class as:
All patients who, without entering a written agreement with
Defendants for medical transport prior to the transport,
received medical transport by Defendants from a location in
West Virginia to a healthcare facility during the period of
five (5) years prior to the commencement of this action.
Id. at ¶ 27. The Complaint alleges
“[u]pon information, the proposed class would include
hundreds, if not thousands of class members.”
Id. at ¶¶ 27-28. The action seeks damages
for any overpayments collected by Defendants. In the
alternative, plaintiffs request that the court enjoin
Defendants from charging and collecting unreasonable rates.
Id. at ¶¶ 36-51.
originally filed their action in the Circuit Court of Mercer
County, West Virginia on August 18, 2017. Id.
Defendants removed the action to federal court on December
22, 2017, citing the removal requirements under the Class
Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) and
traditional diversity jurisdiction. See ECF No. 1.
Soon thereafter, Defendants filed a Motion to Transfer or
Stay, seeking to either transfer this action to the United
States District Court for the District of Colorado or stay
the action until that court makes a ruling on a pending
motion to dismiss. ECF No. 6. On January 22, 2018, plaintiffs
filed a motion to remand the action to the Circuit Court of
Mercer County. ECF No. 10. On the same date, plaintiffs filed
the operative Amended Motion to Remand. See ECF
No. 12. Each motion has been fully briefed. The court first
reviews the jurisdictional issues raised in plaintiffs'
Amended Motion to Remand and then proceeds to Defendants'
Motion to Transfer or Stay.
PLAINTIFFS' AMENDED MOTION TO REMAND
amended motion to remand claims Defendants have offered
insufficient evidence to establish that this action meets
CAFA's jurisdictional threshold of at least 100 class
members and $5, 000, 000 amount in controversy. ECF No. 13 at
pp. 2-6. Id. The court disagrees and
DENIES plaintiff's motion.
defendant may remove to federal district court “any
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction. . .
.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Under CAFA, an action may
be originally brought in federal court if it has (1) at least
one member of the class who is a citizen of a state different
than at least one of the defendants; (2) the class consists
of at least one hundred members; and (3) the amount in
controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). To properly remove an
action under CAFA, a defendant must file a notice of removal
“containing a short and plain statement of the grounds
for removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a); see also
Strawn v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 297 (4th
defendant bears the burden of alleging federal jurisdiction
under CAFA, Strawn, 530 F.3d at 297, there is
“no antiremoval presumption attend[ing] cases invoking
CAFA . . . a defendant's notice of removal need include
only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy
exceeds the jurisdictional threshold.” Dart
Cherokee Basin Op. Co. v. Owens, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct.
547, 554 (2014). If jurisdiction is challenged, the parties
are required to submit proof and the court must determine if
federal jurisdiction under CAFA has been met by a
preponderance of the evidence. 28 U.S.C. §
1446(c)(2)(B); Dart, 135 S.Ct. at 553-54.
parties agree that CAFA's minimal diversity requirement
is met. Therefore, the court assesses whether Defendants have
demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence ...