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Rumble v. Fairview Health Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 30, 2017

Jakob Tiarnan Rumble, Plaintiff,
Fairview Health Services, d/b/a Fairview Southdale Hospital, and Emergency Physicians, P.A., Defendants.

          Christy L. Hall, Jill R. Gaulding, and Lisa C. Stratton, Gender Justice, Minnesota Women's Building; Katherine S. Barrett Wiik and Lindsey Wheeler Lee, Robins Kaplan, LLP, for Plaintiff.

          Randi J. Winter, Sara Gullickson McGrane, and Scott D. Blank, Felhaber Larson, for Defendant Fairview Health Services, d/b/a Fairview Southdale Hospital.

          Chad W. Strathman, Emergency Physicians P.A.; Jessica L. Roe and Shannon N.L. Cooper, Roe Law Group, PLLP, for Defendant Emergency Physicians, P.A.


          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Court Judge

         Before the Court are requests from Defendants Fairview Health Services (“Fairview”) and Emergency Physicians, P.A. (“EPPA”) to stay the instant litigation in light of a recent injunction issued in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Burwell, No. 7:16-cv- 00108-O (N.D. Tex. Dec. 31, 2016), Ex. 1 to Gaulding Decl. [Doc. No. 210-1], and the decision of the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd. v. G.G., 137 S.Ct. 369 (2016). (See Def. Fairview's Mem. [Doc. No. 208]; Def. EPPA's Mem. [Doc. No. 211].) For the reasons set forth below, the Court stays Plaintiff's claims under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), 42 U.S.C. § 18116, but exercises its supplemental jurisdiction to proceed with dispositive motion practice and trial on Plaintiff's claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Minn. Stat. § 363A.11.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A detailed recitation of the underlying facts of this action is found in this Court's Order of March 16, 2016 [Doc. No. 31] on Defendants' motions to dismiss, which the Court incorporates herein by reference. In brief, in June 2013, Plaintiff Jakob Tiarnan Rumble, a transgender man, sought medical treatment from Defendants Fairview and EPPA. (Order of 3/16/15 at 4-5.) He alleges that in the course of his treatment, Defendants' care givers provided poor medical care and subjected him to unnecessary trauma based on his status as a transgender man. (Id. at 5-9.) Rumble filed the instant action alleging sex discrimination under the ACA's Section 1557 and sexual orientation/gender identity discrimination under the MHRA. (Compl., Counts I & II [Doc. No. 1].)

         On December 2, 2016, Fairview and EPPA filed motions for summary judgment [Doc. Nos. 139; 143]. Shortly before Defendants' reply memoranda were due, defense counsel filed a letter with the Court, referenced above, arguing that a nationwide injunction recently issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Franciscan Alliance mandated the dismissal of Rumble's Section 1557 claim or the issuance of a stay of this litigation. (Def.'s Letter at 1.) The court in Franciscan Alliance, in pertinent part, enjoined the nationwide enforcement of the Department of Health and Human Services' (“HHS's”) regulation under Section 1557 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Franciscan Alliance at 46.

         In response to letters from Plaintiff's counsel and Defendants' counsel [Doc. Nos. 198-99; 203-05] regarding the effect on this litigation of Franciscan Alliance, this Court ordered the parties to file supplemental briefing addressing: (1) whether, and in what way, the Franciscan Alliance injunction is binding on this Court; (2) whether a stay is warranted in this action in light of the United States Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in Gloucester Cnty;[1] and (3) whether, if the Court were to stay Plaintiff's claim under Section 1557, this action could proceed to dispositive motion practice and trial on Plaintiff's MHRA claim. (Id.)

         Defendants argue that the Court must stay Plaintiff's Section 1557 claim because the Franciscan Alliance injunction is binding on this Court because that ruling determined that the federal agency regulation, applicable nationwide, unlawfully violated the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). (Def. Fairview's Mem. at 2-4; Def. EPPA's Mem. at 3-5.) In such circumstances, Defendants contend that a nationwide injunction is proper. (Id.) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 890 n.2 (1990) (observing that a successful challenge under the APA to a final agency action can affect the entire agency program and is not limited to individual litigants); Greater Yellowstone Coal. v. Bosworth, 209 F.Supp.2d 156, 163 (D.D.C. 2002) (“As a general matter, an agency action that violates the APA must be set aside.”); Nat'l Min. Ass'n v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 145 F.3d 1399, 1407-10 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (invalidating an agency rule and granting nationwide relief)). They argue that a stay is additionally warranted in light of the grant of certiorari in Gloucester County, in which the Supreme Court will consider whether Title IX's prohibition against discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes discrimination based on gender identity. (Def. Fairview's Mem. at 5-8; Def. EPPA's Mem. at 5-7.) Finally, Defendants assert that if the Court stays Rumble's Section 1557 claim, his MHRA claim must likewise be stayed. (Def. Fairview's Mem. at 8-10; Def. EPPA's Mem. at 8-10.)

         Rumble, however, contends that Franciscan Alliance has no impact on non-parties' Section 1557 claims and that Gloucester County does not require a stay. (Pl.'s Mem. at 3-8.) However, if the court were to impose a stay, Plaintiff requests that this Court retain supplemental jurisdiction over his MHRA claim and proceed to trial. (Id. at 10.)


         As this Court has observed, the power to issue a stay of proceedings is within a court's inherent power to control the disposition of its cases “with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” BAE Sys. Land & Armaments L.P. v. Ibis Tek, LLC, 124 F.Supp.3d 878, 889 (D. Minn. 2015) (quoting Cottrell v. Duke, 737 F.3d 1238, 1248 (8th Cir. 2013)). While the inherent power to manage a court's docket is within the court's discretion, the party seeking a stay bears the burden of establishing the need for a stay. Id. Because a stay may potentially cause harm to the opposing party, “the decision to stay should weigh ‘the competing interests and maintain an even balance.'” In re Wholesale Grocery Prods. Antitrust Litig., No. 09-md-2090 (ADM/AJB), 2013 WL 6533154, at *1 (D. Minn. Dec. 13, 2013) (quoting Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 255 (1936)). Relevant factors to consider “include the conservation of judicial resources and the parties' resources, maintaining control of the court's docket, providing for the just determination of cases, and hardship or inequity to the party opposing the stay.” Frable v. Synchrony Bank, No. 16-cv-559 (DWF/HB), __ F.Supp.3d __, 2016 WL 6123248, at *2 (D. Minn. Oct. 17, 2016) (citing Edens v. Volkswagen Grp. of Am., Inc., No. 16-cv-0750 (WMW/LIB), 2016 WL 3004629, at *1-2 (D. Minn. May 24, 2016)).

         Defendants argue that a stay is warranted in light of the two recent decisions in Franciscan Alliance and Gloucester County. Resolution of this issue therefore requires an understanding of ...

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