United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
MIRANDO, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court upon review of Defendant State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's (“State
Farm”) Motion to Strike Damages Claimed in Violation of
the Florida Constitution and Fla. Stat. § 627.736(5)(a)
and Plaintiff's response in opposition. Docs. 44, 45. For
the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.
19, 2017, this case was removed from state court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. According
to Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff Diego Arboleda was
involved in a car accident on October 10, 2016 due to George
Allen Percifield's negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Doc. 2 ¶¶ 5-8. As a result of the accident,
Plaintiff suffered permanent bodily injury, pain, suffering,
disability, disfigurement and loss of the capacity to enjoy
life as well as medical expenses. Id. ¶ 13. Mr.
Percifield's bodily injury liability
coverage was insufficient to cover Plaintiff's
damages. Id. ¶ 9. At the time of the accident,
Plaintiff had an insurance policy in full force and effect
through State Farm, which included coverage for underinsured
motorists. Id. ¶ 10. Therefore, Plaintiff
alleges State Farm is liable for Plaintiff's damages in
excess of Mr. Percifield's liability coverage.
Id. ¶¶ 11-13. Plaintiff's only
reference to an amount of damages in the Complaint is that
the action seeks over $15, 000.00. Id. ¶ 1.
sought medical treatment from Gulf Coast Medical Center,
which is part of the Lee Memorial Hospital System (“Lee
Memorial”), for injuries related to the car accident.
Doc. 44 at 1. State Farm approved $10, 221.62 of the $50,
028.61 that Lee Memorial charged for the services, and paid
$2, 420.42 of the approved total.Id. at 2. This left
$7, 813.20 remaining unpaid of the approved amount of
charges. Id. However, Lee Memorial subsequently
claimed a lien against Plaintiff in the amount of $40,
478.61. Id.; Doc. 44-3.
instant motion, State Farm argues the lien is invalid because
it is unconstitutional under Article III, Section 11(a)(9)
and Article I, Section 10 of the Florida Constitution, and it
is unenforceable under Section 627.736(5)(a) of the Florida
Statutes. Id. at 3. State Farm asserts Lee
Memorial's lien violates the Florida Constitution because
it relies on the authority of an unconstitutional
statute-Chapter 2000-439, Laws of Florida. Id. at
4-7 (citing Lee Mem'l Health Sys., 230 So.3d
558, 561-64 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017) (finding Chapter
2000-439, Section 18, Laws of Florida violates Article III,
Section 11(a)(9) and Article I, Section 10 of the Florida
Constitution because it “authorizes the imposition of a
lien based on a private contract” and “impairs
the obligations of contracts entered into by an insurer and
its insured”)). State Farm also contends Lee
Memorial's lien violates Section 627.736(5)(a) of the
Florida Statutes because it attempts to collect from
Plaintiff more than the payment amount State Farm approved.
Id. at 9-11. As a result, State Farm contends
Plaintiff does not owe Lee Memorial the amount of the lien,
and thus the amount cannot be recoverable from State Farm.
Id. at 3. Accordingly, State Farm “moves to
strike as evidence of Plaintiff's damages the amount that
[Lee Memorial] is attempting to collect from Plaintiff, and
that Plaintiff is attempting to recover from [State
Farm claims it has standing to challenge the validity of Lee
Memorial's lien because Plaintiff intends to recover the
full amount of the lien from State Farm and will use the lien
to support his claim for damages. Id. at 8.
Plaintiff responds State Farm improperly is attempting to
adjudicate a dispute between Lee Memorial and Plaintiff, to
which State Farm is not a party. Doc. 45 at 1. Plaintiff also
asserts that regardless of the lien's validity, Plaintiff
currently is indebted to Lee Memorial for the full amount of
the lien. Id. at 2. Plaintiff refuses to address the
constitutionality of the lien, arguing it would be Lee
Memorial's responsibility to defend the constitutionality
of its own lien. See Id. Plaintiff further argues
that State Farm's motion can be denied solely for failing
to comply with Rule 5.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, which requires a party who is questioning the
constitutionality of a state statute to promptly file a
notice stating the constitutional question and identifying
the document that raises it, and to serve the notice and
document on the state attorney general. See Id. at
1; Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.1(a)(1); Reliable Tractor, Inc. v. John
Deere Constr. & Forestry Co., No. 7:07-CV-00043-HL,
2007 WL 4373555, at *1 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 11, 2007).
Court denies State Farm's motion because, as an initial
matter, it fails to assert the legal grounds for the relief
sought. Rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires a motion for a court order to “state with
particularity the grounds for seeking the order.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(b). Also, Local Rule 3.01 of the Rules of the
Middle District of Florida plainly states:
In a motion or other application for an order, the movant
shall include a concise statement of the precise relief
requested, a statement of the basis for the request, and a
memorandum of legal authority in support of the request . . .
M.D. Fla. R. 3.01(a). Here, State Farm's requested relief
appears to be that the Court “strike as evidence of
Plaintiff's damages” the lien Lee Memorial holds
against Plaintiff. Doc. 44 at 1. Although State Farm argues
the various reasons why the lien allegedly is invalid, it
fails to meet the basic requirement of providing the legal
authority permitting or requiring the Court to strike such
evidence. See genera ly id.
extent State Farm is seeking relief under Rule 12(f) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that rule is not applicable
here. Rule 12(f) permits the Court to “strike from
a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) (emphasis added). The damages related to
the lien, however, are not referenced in Plaintiff's
pleadings such that Rule 12(f) would apply. See genera
ly Doc. 2; see also Tooker v.
Scott, No. 2:15-cv-272-FtM-38CM, 2016 WL 6276910, at *1
(M.D. Fla. Oct. 27, 2016) (“Courts across the Eleventh
Circuit have held that motions filed pursuant to Rule 12(f)
that ask the Court to strike documents other than pleadings
are improper.”). Additionally, Rule 37(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure forbids a party from using
information or a witness “to supply evidence on a
motion, at a hearing, or at a trial” if the party
failed to provide the information or identify the witness as
required by Rule 26(a) or (e), unless the failure was
substantially justified or harmless. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(c);
see Lincoln Rock, LLC v. City of Tampa, No.
8:15-cv-1374-T-30JSS, 2016 WL 6138653, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Oct.
21, 2016) (granting in part a motion to strike a supplemental
report brought under Rule 37(c) for failure to comply with
Rule 26(e)). However, State Farm does not argue Plaintiff
violated Rule 26 such that Rule 37(c) would apply. See
generally Doc. 44. Therefore, State Farm's motion is
due to be denied for failure to assert the grounds on which
the motion may be granted.
Court also denies State Farm's motion because at this
stage of the case it is untimely. State Farm “will have
every opportunity to present the appropriate motion in
limine to the trial court to challenge the admissibility
of any document produced.” See Rice v. Reliastar
Life Ins. Co., No. 2:11-cv548-FtM-29SPC, 2011 WL
4596118, at *4 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 3, 2011). It would be
premature for the Court to determine the admissibility of
particular evidence for trial at this time. See id.
Motion to Strike Damages Claimed in Violation of the Florida
Constitution and Fla. Stat. Section 627.736(5)(a) ...