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Med-X Global, LLC v. SunMed International, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

August 8, 2019

Med-X Global, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SunMed International, LLC and others, Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Robert N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant SunMed International LLC's motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint for improper venue. (ECF No 19.) The Plaintiff has responded (ECF No. 21) and the Defendant has replied, albeit untimely (ECF No. 22). Having considered the record, the parties' submissions, and the applicable law, the Court denies the Defendant's motion. (ECF No. 19.)

         I. Background

         This action arises out of the purchase of an international travel insurance policy by a British citizen, L.H., from Defendant Union Reiserersucherung Aktiengesellschaft (“Union”), a German company. (Second Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 4, 12, ECF No. 15.) Plaintiff Med-X Global, LLC (“Med-Ex”) is a medical billing agency which services foreign insurance companies by providing medical billing and payment services. (ECF No. 15 at ¶ 2.) Med-X is a New Jersey limited liability company and its members are also New Jersey citizens. (Id.)

         In February 2018, LH's health failed while traveling in Mexico. (Id. ¶ 16.) Defendant SunMed International, LLC (“SunMed”), a medical expense management company and administrator, arranged for L.H.'s hospitalization at Amerimed Hospital in Mexico. (Id. at 17.) During L.H.'s hospitalization, L.H. had to undergo surgery. (Id. at ¶ 19.) On March 7, 2018, L.H. was flown back to the United Kingdom. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

         According to the complaint, the same day that L.H. was transported back to the United Kingdom, Med-X, serving as Amerimed's billing agent, was advised by SunMed that Defendant Cost Containment would now be handling the claim. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Med-X cooperated with Cost Containment's documentation and information requests in an effort to resolve the outstanding claim. (Id. at ¶ 23.) The total amount claimed by Amerimed for services provided to L.H. is $863, 749.65. (Id. at ¶ 24.) According to the Plaintiff's allegations, the Defendants have only conceded coverage of about $123, 220.64. (Id. at ¶ 24 n. 3.) Med-X, as Amerimed's billing agent, is now seeking recovery from the Defendants for the full amount billed during L.H.'s stay at Amerimed Hospital. Med-X has named six defendants, each involved in this complex insurance and billing scheme. The only United States defendant is SunMed.

         II. Legal Standard

         “On a motion to dismiss based on improper venue, the plaintiff has the burden of showing that venue in the forum is proper.” Wai v. Rainbow Holdings, 315 F.Supp.2d 1261, 1268 (S.D. Fla. 2004) (Altonaga, J.) (citations omitted). In evaluating a motion to dismiss for improper venue, the court “may consider matters outside the pleadings such as affidavit testimony.” Id. The court “must accept all allegations of the complaint as true, unless contradicted by the defendants' affidavits, and when an allegation is so challenged the court may examine facts outside of the complaint to determine whether venue is proper.” Id. Here, the Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint on the basis of international comity, a forum selection clause, and forum non conveniens.

         “A defendant has the burden of persuasion as to all elements of a forum non conveniens motion, including the burden of demonstrating that an adequate alternative forum is available.” Leon v. Millon Air, Inc., 251 F.3d 1305, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001). In undertaking a forum non conveniens analysis, a court must first consider whether the proposed alternative forum is available and adequate. See Leon v. Millon Air, Inc., 251 F.3d 1305, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001). “An alternative forum is ‘available' to the plaintiff when the foreign court can assert jurisdiction over the litigation sought to be transferred.” Id. An alternative forum is adequate so long as it “offers at least some relief.” Id.

         If the court finds that the alternative forum is both available and adequate, the court must then evaluate both the public and private interests involved in retaining the case. Leon, 251 F.3d at 1311. Private interests include “the relative ease of access to sources of proof; availability of compulsory process for attendance of unwilling, and the cost of obtaining attendance of willing, witnesses; possibility of view of the premises, . . . and all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive.” SME Racks, Inc. v. Sistemas Mecanicos Para Electronica, S.A., 382 F.3d 1097, 1100 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-09 (1947)). Public interests include the administrative burden imposed upon the court, the imposition of jury duty on the citizens of a community, and the “local interest in having localized controversies decided at home.” Id.

         “[T]he plaintiffs' choice of forum should rarely be disturbed unless the balance is strongly in favor of the defendant.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A court must “require positive evidence of unusually extreme circumstances, and should be thoroughly convinced that material injustice is manifest before” denying a United States citizen or resident access to the courts of this country. La Seguridad v. Transytur Line, 707 F.2d 1304, 1308 n.7 (11th Cir. 1983). “[A] foreign plaintiff's choice deserves less deference.” Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 256 (1981).

         III. Analysis

         The Defendant moves to dismiss the complaint for improper venue on three grounds: (1) international abstention; (2) forum non conveniens; and (3) a forum selection clause. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. ...


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