United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY and STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
PETER J. HANSON, P.C. D/B/A HANSON CHIROPRACTIC and PETER J. HANSON, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISMISS
S. Lasnik, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on plaintiffs' motion to
dismiss defendants' counterclaims (Dkt. #18)
for lack of factual sufficiency.
reasons set forth below, the Court grants plaintiffs'
2016, plaintiffs filed a federal complaint alleging
defendants had submitted false, misleading, and/or fraudulent
claims. Dkt. #1 at 1-2, ¶ 1. In essence, plaintiffs
contend defendants' care of patients who had been in
motor vehicle collisions amounted to predetermined courses of
treatment without regard for the patients' actual needs.
Dkt. #1 at 2-3, ¶¶ 2-4. Plaintiffs allege these
practices resulted in $300, 000 in wrongful billings. Dkt. #1
at 3, ¶ 5.
answered the complaint and alleged numerous counterclaims.
The claims include violations of Washington's Consumer
Protection Act, libel, interference with business expectancy,
infliction of emotional distress, and a request for
declaratory relief. Dkt. #17 at 10-14. This motion followed.
under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate if a pleading “does
not allege enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ebner v. Fresh, Inc.,
838 F.3d 958, 962-63 (9th Cir. 2016) (internal brackets
omitted). The Court accepts “all factual allegations in
the complaint as true and constru[es] them in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party.” Id. at 962.
The inquiry is “a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense.” Id. at 963 (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)).
argue “defendants' counterclaims are facially
defective because they contain only a handful of conclusory
factual assertions and a rote recitation of the elements of
the asserted claims for relief.” Dkt. #18 at 2.
Defendants respond that between the incorporation of the
facts of plaintiffs' complaint, the exhibits attached to
the counterclaims, and the specific conduct alleged in their
answer, their counterclaims are facially plausible under
federal pleading standards. Dkt. #21 at 3-4. The specific
conduct alleged includes:
• That plaintiffs “intentionally and/or
negligently acted to deny [defendants] payment for legitimate
chiropractic care by using a systematic program to harass and
intimidate Dr. Hanson.”
• That plaintiffs “systematically instructed its
insureds and attorneys representing its insureds in third
party actions from pursuing claims against third party
tortfeasors and from pursuing subrogation claims in order to
maintain its cause of action against Dr. Hanson.”
• That plaintiffs “systematically told Dr.
Hanson's patients that he committed fraud and that they
have no basis to seek damages for medical care rendered by
Dr. Hanson from third party tortfeasors.”
• That plaintiffs “refused to accept subrogation
payments in cases involving third party tortfeasors in order
to maintain its cause of action against Dr. Hanson.”
• That plaintffs informed third party tortfeasors as
well as defendant tortfeasors and their attorneys “that
Dr. Hanson's treatment was not reasonable or
Dkt. #17 at 11-12, ¶¶ 2-8. Defendants attached two
exhibits to their answer. One is a communication from a State
Farm claims specialist to an attorney seeking subrogation on
behalf of State Farm for services rendered by defendants.
Dkt. #17-1. The claims specialist informs the attorney of
ongoing civil litigation and requests that the attorney
suspend subrogation efforts until further notice. The other
is a communication between a State Farm claims specialist and
Dr. Hanson denying a bill from Dr. Hanson in light of this
litigation. Dkt. #17-2. The claims specialist puts Dr. Hanson
on notice that State Farm ...