United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Amended Motion for Summary Judgment of
Plaintiffs HealthPRO Heritage, LLC and Rehab Solutions (North
Carolina), LLC (“Plaintiffs”). [Doc. 42].
Plaintiffs contend that summary judgment is proper against
Defendants Health Services Manchester, LLC d/b/a Horizon
Health & Rehab Center; Knoxville Healthcare, LLC d/b/a
Westmoreland Health and Rehab; Benchmark Healthcare of Dane
County, Inc. d/b/a Heartland Country Village; Madisonville
Healthcare, LLC d/b/a Madisonville Health and Rehab;
Waynesboro Healthcare, LLC d/b/a Waynesboro Health and Rehab
Center; Hidden Acres Healthcare, LLC d/b/a Mt. Pleasant
Health and Rehab Center (collectively, “Facility
Defendants”); and Health Services Management Group, LLC
(“Guarantor Defendant” but, all collectively,
“Defendants”). For the reasons set forth herein,
the Motion will be GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
entered into separate service agreements with Defendants at
various and dispersed times prior to April 2017, under which
Plaintiffs provided rehabilitation services and Defendants
reimbursed them. [See generally Doc. 1-3].
Facilities Defendants then defaulted on payments required
under those service agreements and, on April 5, 2017, the
Parties executed a Settlement Agreement specifying both the
terms of payment for the obligations then in default
(“Default Balance”) and payment for services
going forward (“Ongoing Services”). [See
Doc. 1-1]. Guarantor Defendant guaranteed at least some of
Facilities Defendants' obligations under the Settlement
Agreement, although precisely which obligations is at issue
in this case.
early 2018, Defendants defaulted on their obligations under
the Settlement Agreement and Plaintiffs sued, leading Judge
McDonough to enter an Agreed Order laying out terms of a
settlement as to obligations under the Settlement Agreement.
[Doc. 1-2; see also No. 1:18-cv-68, Doc. 13].
then violated the Settlement Agreement again by failing to
pay for Ongoing Services. It is “admitted that the
Facility Defendants each owe various” amounts for
Ongoing Services, but Defendants deny that they are jointly
and severally liable for the Ongoing Services balances and
deny that Guarantor Defendant guaranteed “any unpaid
amounts arising from Ongoing Services.” [Doc. 47, at
4-5]. Moreover, Defendants contend that the precise amounts
they owe are in dispute.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs the Court to grant
summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A party asserting the presence or absence of genuine
issues of material fact must support its position either by
“citing to particular parts of materials in the record,
” including depositions, documents, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations, or other materials, or by
“showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c)(1). When ruling on a motion
for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts contained
in the record and all inferences that can be drawn from those
facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Nat'l Satellite
Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th
Cir. 2001). The Court cannot weigh the evidence, judge the
credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of any
matter in dispute. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that
no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The moving party
may discharge this burden either by producing evidence that
demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact
or simply “by ‘showing' - that is, pointing
out to the district court - that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.”
Id. at 325. Where the movant has satisfied this
burden, the nonmoving party cannot “rest upon its . . .
pleadings, but rather must set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Moldowan
v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 374 (6th Cir. 2009)
(citing Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; Fed.R.Civ.P.
56). The nonmoving party must present sufficient probative
evidence supporting its claim that disputes over material
facts remain and must be resolved by a judge or jury at
trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49 (citing
First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co.,
391 U.S. 253 (1968)); see also White v. Wyndham
Vacation Ownership, Inc., 617 F.3d 472, 475-76 (6th Cir.
2010). A mere scintilla of evidence is not enough; there must
be evidence from which a jury could reasonably find in favor
of the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252;
Moldowan, 578 F.3d at 374. If the nonmoving party
fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of
its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof,
the moving party is entitled to summary judgment.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.
to the merits, the Court will consider the contention of four
Facility Defendants that there is no federal subject-matter
jurisdiction over them. No. Defendants dispute diversity, but
the following four assert that the amount-in-controversy as
to any claims against them were, at the time of filing, as
follows and therefore below the $75, 000 threshold required
by 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a):
Health Services Manchester, LLC d/b/a Horizon
Health & Rehab Center
Benchmark Healthcare of Dane County, Inc. d/b/a
Heartland Country Village
Waynesboro Healthcare, LLC d/b/a Waynesboro Health
and Rehab Center
Hidden Acres Healthcare, LLC d/b/a Mt. Pleasant
Health and Rehab Center
however, allege that the jointly-executed Settlement
Agreement between the Parties gives rise to joint and several
liability among Defendants. The Court may therefore aggregate
the claims against Defendants for purposes of the
amount-in-controversy. Charvat v. NMP, LLC, 656 F.3d
440, 446 (6th Cir. 2011) (“[Plaintiff] alleges that
Defendants are jointly and severally liable for each of the
multiple claims brought pursuant to the [Telephone Consumer
Protection Act] and Ohio law. … We thus can aggregate
[plaintiff's] claims to determine whether the total
alleged exceeds $75, 000.”); Reusser v. Saxon
Mortg. Servs., Inc., No. 2:12-cv-87, 2012 WL 3241973, at
*3 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 3, 2012) (“Because the plaintiffs
assert a common undivided right against defendants who they