United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
UNITED STATES and STATE OF FLORIDA ex rel. ANGELA RUCKH, Plaintiffs,
SALUS REHABILITATION, LLC, et al.,
D.MERRYDAY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
six-week trial, a jury found $115 million in damages, which
yielded $347 million in judgments for the United States and
the State of Florida. For several reasons (including the
relator's failure to adduce competent and sufficient
proof of materiality and scienter), a January 11, 2018 order
(Doc. 468) grants the defendants' renewed motion for
judgment as a matter of law, vacates the judgments for the
governments, and directs the entry of judgment for the
defendants. Despite the defendants' success in this
action, the relator moves (Doc. 470) to enjoin the
defendants' conducting a transaction outside the ordinary
course of business until the Eleventh Circuit decides the
relator's forthcoming appeal.
first paragraph of the relator's motion brazenly
announces the fallacy on which the motion relies: An
injunction pending appeal “is crucial for protecting
Relator's, the United States', and the State of
Florida's interests.” (Doc. 470 at 2) In fact,
vacating the judgments extinguished the governments'
interest in the defendants' assets. No. longer judgment
creditors, the United States and the State of Florida enjoy
no right to collect money from the defendants and enjoy no
right to interfere with the defendants' use or
disposition of the defendants' assets (that is, no rights
stemming from this qui tam action). Grupo
Mexicano de Desarollo S.A. v. Alliance Bond Fund, Inc.,
527 U.S. 308 (1999), which holds that equity prohibits an
injunction intended to increase the likelihood that a
non-judgment creditor can collect on a future money judgment,
forecloses the relator's request.
equity permits an injunction only if the movant lacks an
“adequate remedy at law.” Rosen v. Cascade
Intern., Inc., 21 F.3d 1520, 1527 (11th Cir. 1994). The
relator contends that the defendants might transfer assets to
evade the now-vacated judgments, but the relator says nothing
about the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, a legal remedy
that permits voiding a false or fraudulent transfer. See,
e.g., Regions Bank v. Kaplan, 2017 WL 3446914
at *3 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 11, 2017) (“[The plaintiff]
argues that the possibility that the defendants might
transfer assets to hinder the ability of [the plaintiff] to
collect a future money judgment warrants a preliminary
injunction, but [the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act] affords
[the plaintiff] a legal remedy that gravitates strongly
against the prospect of an irreparable injury.”).
equity countenances the requested relief, none of the
injunction factors favors the relator. For at least the
reasons explained in the defendants' response (Doc. 472),
the relator's appeal likely will not succeed (and almost
certainly will not restore the lion's share of the
now-vacated judgments, $331 million of which depends on a
“corporate scheme, ” the existence of which is
wholly unsupported in the evidence).
the relator fails to show that the governments likely will
suffer an irreparable injury absent an injunction. Without
citing record evidence, the relator asserts that the
defendants “will be able to transfer” assets to
another company. In effect, the relator relies on the
possibility that the defendants might transfer assets to
hinder collection (a contingency that arises only if the
Eleventh Circuit reverses the January 11 order, finds a new
trial unwarranted, and reinstates the now-vacated judgments).
But the Supreme Court routinely cautions against an
injunction based on the “possibility” of an
irreparable injury; the movant must show that an irreparable
injury is “likely.” Winter v. Nat'l Res.
Def. Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008) (“Our
frequently reiterated standard requires plaintiffs seeking
preliminary relief to demonstrate that irreparable injury is
likely in the absence of an injunction.”)
the relator argues that the balance of the equities favors an
injunction and that the requested injunction “imposes
no significant burdens on [the] [d]efendants.” (Doc.
470 at 8) But the requested injunction inflicts a disabling
injury on the defendants by restraining for at least a year
the defendants' freedom to pursue and to advance the
defendants' principal business: providing critical and
life-sustaining care to several thousand frail and mostly
elderly patients throughout Florida.
the public's interest disfavors the requested injunction,
which threatens to impair the operation of several dozen
skilled-nursing facilities that provide continuing care to a
mass of vulnerable patients in Florida.
equity disfavors the requested injunction in this instance,
because the relator fails to show that the appeal likely will
succeed, because the relator fails to show that the
governments likely will suffer an irreparable injury, because
the balance of the equities favors denying the requested
injunction, and because the public's interest favors the
unimpeded operation of the skilled-nursing facilities, the
motion (Doc. 470) to enjoin the defendants' conducting a
transaction outside the ordinary course of business during
the pendency of the appeal is DENIED.
 Unlike in this action, the plaintiff
in Grupo Mexicano held an interest in the