United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
the Court are three motions. First is a motion for judgment
on the pleadings filed by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee,
Inc. Second is BlueCross's motion to strike the amended
complaint filed by the Millses. Last is the Millses'
motion for leave to refile their amended complaint. For the
following reasons, the motion to strike is granted, the
motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and
the motion to amend is granted in part and denied in part.
Mills lives in Memphis with her parents, David and Julia.
Marlena suffers from mental-health issues and is insured by
BlueCross. She purchased her BlueCross insurance plan on a
state exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act. She has
used this plan for in-network and out-of-network
2015, Marlena moved from Memphis to Knoxville. While there,
her mental health worsened. Marlena and her parents decided
that she needed inpatient care, and they considered her
in-network and out-of-network options. They concluded that
the best facility for Marlena was Pasadena Villa, an
out-of-network treatment center located in Pigeon Forge.
Pasadena Villa was outside Marlena's plan, she would have
to pay all costs out of pocket. The only way to avoid this
was for BlueCross to give Marlena prior authorization to be
treated there. So David began trying to get prior
process proved daunting. From October 31 until November 16,
David strove to get prior authorization. Instead, he received
conflicting information, had his request for prior
authorization shuttled among several departments, and ran up
against the slowness of large organizations. Meanwhile,
Marlena entered Pasadena Villa.
with David's inability to get prior authorization and
worried about the out-of-pocket expenses for Marlena's
treatment, the Millses sued in Knox County Chancery Court on
November 16, 2015. BlueCross removed to this Court a month
later and filed its answer.
March 2016, BlueCross moved for judgment on the pleadings.
The Millses responded by filing an amended complaint.
BlueCross replied with a motion to strike the amended
complaint, and the Millses moved for leave to refile it. The
Court will now consider these three motions.
is BlueCross's motion to strike the amended complaint.
BlueCross filed its answer to the original complaint in
December 2015. In March 2016, the Millses filed an amended
complaint without requesting permission from the Court.
BlueCross argues that the Millses needed permission.
is correct. If a pleading requires a response, a party may
amend that pleading without the court's permission within
twenty-one days of serving it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). And
if that party then receives a responsive pleading or a motion
to dismiss, a motion for a more definite statement, or a
motion to strike, the party has another twenty-one days to
amend the pleading without the court's permission.
Id. 15(a)(1)(B). If both deadlines have passed, the
party may amend the pleading only with the court's
permission. Id. 15(a)(2).
deadlines passed before the Millses filed their amended
complaint. First, they did not file it within twenty-one days
of serving it on BlueCross. BlueCross removed the case to
this Court on December 14, 2015. The Millses filed their
amended complaint on March 17, 2016.
the Millses did not file their amended complaint within
twenty-one days of receiving a responsive pleading from
BlueCross. Answers count as responsive pleadings. United
States ex rel. Wall v. Circle C Constr., L.L.C., 697
F.3d 345, 350 (6th Cir. 2012). BlueCross filed its answer on
December 21, 2015. The Millses filed their amended complaint
three months later.
Millses did not file their amended complaint within the
periods set out in Rule 15(a)(1). The amendment was therefore
untimely. BlueCross's motion to strike the amended
complaint is GRANTED. The Millses' request for permission
to amend their complaint is considered below.
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court
looks at all the pleadings filed in the case. Gavitt v.
Born, 835 F.3d 623, 640 (6th Cir. 2016). Motions for
judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) are reviewed under
the same standard as motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Id. The complaint will survive a motion to dismiss