United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
N. Scola, Jr., United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Infinity Auto
Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff's
complaint. (ECF No. 9.) The Plaintiff timely filed a response
(ECF No. 26) and the Defendant replied (ECF No. 28). After
reviewing the parties' written submissions, the record,
and applicable law, the Court grants the
Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No.
August 7, 2018, Infinity Auto Insurance Company, the
Defendant in this case, filed a notice of removal in case
number 18-cv-61825-JIC. Plantation Open MRI LLC v.
Infinity Auto Ins. Co., No. 18-cv-61825 (S.D. Fla. Aug.
7, 2018) (Cohn, J.). On October 22, 2019, Infinity Indemnity
Insurance Company, the Defendant in related case number
19-cv-60912-RNS, filed a notice of removal in case number
18-cv-62533-JIC. Plantation Open MRI LLC v. Infinity
Indemnity Ins. Co., No. 18-cv-62533 (S.D. Fla. Oct. 22,
2018) (Cohn, J.). Judge Cohn consolidated the two cases,
along with a third related case, because they were filed
against three wholly-owned subsidiaries of Infinity Insurance
Company and involve the same claims and the same operative
facts. (See ECF No. 46 in No. 18-cv-61825-JIC.)
Judge Cohn dismissed the consolidated actions
(“Hidalgo I”) with prejudice on January
22, 2019. (Id. at ECF No. 72.) The issue before the
Court in Hidalgo I was whether the insurance
agreement between the parties covered 80% or 100% of the
plaintiff's medical expenses. (Id. at 2; see
also ECF No. 1-2 at ¶ 10 in No. 18-cv-61825-JIC.)
April 8, 2019, Infinity Auto Insurance Company and Infinity
Indemnity Insurance Company again filed notices of removal in
two separate lawsuits filed by the Plaintiff: Plantation
Open MRI LLC v. Infinity Indemnity Ins. Co., No.
19-cv-60911-RNS (S.D. Fla. April 8, 2019) and Plantation
Open MRI LLC v. Infinity Indemnity Ins. Co., No.
19-cv-60912-WJZ (S.D. Fla. April 8, 2019). On May 28, 2019,
the Court consolidated the two related actions
(“Hidalgo II”) and they are now pending
before this Court. The issue before the Court in Hidalgo
II is whether the Defendant improperly misapplied the
insurance policy's deductible to the Plaintiff's
claim. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2 n.1.) Both Hidalgo I and
Hidalgo II involve the same parties, the same
insurance contract, and a claim for medical expenses based on
breach of contract. The Plaintiff tried to raise the
misapplication of the deductible for the first time in its
response to the Defendant's motion to dismiss in
Hidalgo I, but the Court held that the
misapplication of the deductible was not pleaded in the
Plaintiff's complaint. (ECF No. 3-1 at 6 n.2.) Now, in
Hidalgo II, the Plaintiff is attempting to assert
the misapplied deductible issue that it failed to raise in
Hidalgo I. (ECF No. 26 at 2.)
considering a motion to dismiss, filed under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), must accept all of the
complaint's allegations as true, construing them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. Pielage v.
McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008).
Pleadings by pro se plaintiffs are held to less stringent
standards than those drafted by attorneys; all pleadings are
construed to do substantial justice. Wright v.
Newsome, 795 F.2d 964, 967 (11th Cir. 1986). Although a
pleading need only contain a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, a
plaintiff must nevertheless articulate “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). A court must dismiss a plaintiff's claims if she
fails to nudge her “claims across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Id.
the court's review in considering a 12(b)(6) motion is
ordinarily “limited to the four corners of the
complaint, ” Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc.,
555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009), a court may nonetheless
consider documents that the complaint incorporates by
reference as well as matters that may be judicially noticed,
Tellabs, Inc. V. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd.,
551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). A court may take judicial notice of
“facts that are not subject to reasonable dispute
because they are capable of accurate and ready determination
by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be
questioned.” Sherleigh Assocs., LLC v.
Windmere-Durable Holdings, Inc., 178 F.Supp.2d 1255,
1268 (S.D. Fla. 2000) (Lenard, J.). This includes copies of
filings from an earlier lawsuit to show that plaintiff's
lawsuit is barred by res judicata. See Concordia v.
Bendekovic, 693 F.2d 1073, 1076 (11th Cir. 1982).
Defendant now moves to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint
based on res judicata, specifically impermissible
claim-splitting. In Hidalgo I the Plaintiff alleged
that “Infinity has expressly limited, and continues to
limit, reimbursement at 80 percent of 200 percent of Medicare
Part B Schedule.” (ECF No. 1-2 at ¶ 40 in No.
18-cv-61825-JIC.) In Hidalgo II, the Plaintiff
alleges that “the Defendant is in breach by reducing
the amount of PIP Benefits being reimbursed to the Class
Plaintiffs, which is effectuated by way of applying the Fee
Schedule Reductions [in Fla. Stat. § 627.739] in advance
of applying the deductible under the Policies.” (ECF
No. 1-1 at ¶ 24.) The Defendant argues that the issue of
whether it misapplied the deductible under Florida Statute
§ 627.739 should have been raised in Hidalgo I
as it relates to the same policy between the same parties.
(ECF No. 26 at 8.) Because Plaintiff failed to raise the
issue, its claim is now barred by res judicata.
response, the Plaintiff filed a largely unintelligible
document with a brief introduction followed by a direct copy
and paste of its motion to remand (ECF No. 20) filed in the
same case. (ECF No. 26.) The response challenges subject
matter jurisdiction, which is irrelevant to the arguments
presented by the Defendant, and then pastes a
three-and-a-half-page single-spaced excerpt from a case with
no analysis. (Id. at 5-9.) This is followed by email
excerpts that are also pasted in full into the body of the
response. The pasted emails span another five pages of
single-spaced text with no analysis. (Id. at 8-13.)
The response then ends with a certificate of conferral,
unnecessary and inappropriate in a response, which
states that the Plaintiff has made “reasonable efforts
to confer with Respondent's counsel before filing this
motion to remand.” (Id. at
15.) The Plaintiff has made no effort whatsoever to respond
to or analyze the Defendant's arguments or present any
reason why this Court should not dismiss this case with
prejudice. Despite the Plaintiff's sanctionable response,
the Court will briefly address the merits of Defendant's
Eleventh Circuit has held that the claim-splitting doctrine
“ensures that a plaintiff may not split up his demand
and prosecute it by piecemeal, or present only a portion of
the grounds upon which relief is sought, and leave the rest
to be presented in a second suit, if the first fails.”
Vanover v. NCO Financial Services, Inc., 857 F.3d
833, 841 (11th Cir. 2017). To determine whether a complaint
presents an improper issue of claim-splitting, the district
court must analyze “(1) whether the case involves the
same parties and their privies, and (2) whether separate
cases arise from the same transaction or series of
transactions.” Id. at 841-42.
“Successive causes of action arise from the same
transaction or series of transactions when the two actions
are based on the same nuclease of operative facts.”
Id. at 842. Here, Hidalgo I and Hidalgo
II involve the same parties, Plantation Open MRI as
assignee of Jorge Hidalgo, and Infinity Auto Insurance and
Infinity Indemnity Insurance. In Hidalgo I, the
Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant breached the insurance
policy by reimbursing 80%, instead of 100% of reasonable
medical expenses. In Hidalgo II, the Plaintiff
claims that the Defendant breached the same policy by
misapplying the deductible on the very same bill that was at
issue in Hidalgo I “The factual bases for both
lawsuits are related in time, origin, and motivation, and
they form a convenient trial unit, thereby precluding [the
Plaintiff] from splitting [its] claims among the
lawsuits.” Id. at 842-43. The Plaintiff failed
to raise the deductible misapplication issue in Hidalgo
I and is now precluded from raising it in this case.
the Court grants the Defendant's motion
to dismiss (ECF No. 9) in this case,
19-cv-60911-RNS, and the nearly identical motion to dismiss
filed in the companion case, 19-cv-60912-RNS (ECF No.
10). The Plaintiffs' complaints are
dismissed with prejudice. The Clerk is
directed to clo ...