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Pineview Extended Care Center, Inc. v. Ade

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 9, 2018

ESAU ADE, Respondent.



         Pending before the Court are two motions for reconsideration. Previously, the Court granted the motion to compel arbitration filed by Petitioner Pineview Extended Care Center, Inc., d/b/a FutureCare Pineview (“Pineview”), but denied the request to stay litigation pending in Maryland's Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“HCADRO”). Pineview moves to reconsider the denial of stay. ECF No. 11. Respondent Esau Ade, through his personal representative Julius Ade, moves to reconsider the granting of the motion to compel. ECF No. 13. For the reasons below, the Court will hold Pineview's Motion in abeyance, and will DENY Ade's motion.

         I. Background

         Julius Ade, as representative of Esau Ade, initiated a medical malpractice action in HCADRO against Pineview, alleging that Pineview was negligent in its care of Esau Ade. See ECF No. 1-2 at 2-5. Pineview moved this Court to compel arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 4, based on the written contract executed between Pineview and Julius Ade on behalf of Esau Ade. See ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 3, 20; ECF No. 1-4. In relevant part, the parties to the contract agreed that “any and all disputes that may arise from the care that [Esau Ade] receive[s] from [Pineview]” will be “submitted to binding arbitration for resolution.” ECF No. 1-4 at 2.

         On May 21, 2018, the Court granted Pineview's motion to compel, but denied Pineview's request to stay the HCADRO proceeding. See ECF No. 10. The Court explicitly authorized Pineview to move for reconsideration of the denial of stay if it could provide authority supporting the proposition that this Court had the power to order a stay of state proceedings in these circumstances. ECF No. 10 at 5. Pineview thereafter moved to dismiss or stay the claims pending in HCADRO. ECF No. 11 at 6. Pineview also timely moved for this Court to reconsider its decision under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). HCADRO has not yet ruled on Pineview's Motion, and thus Pineview requests for its motion to reconsider to be held in abeyance until HCADRO issues its decision. ECF No. 11 at 6. Ade also moved that this Court reconsider its decision compelling arbitration. ECF No. 13.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) may be granted on three limited grounds: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law, (2) to account for new evidence not previously available, or (3) to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. See United States ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 1012 (2003). A Rule 59(e) motion “may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Pacific Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403 (quoting 11 Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (2d ed. 1995)). Where a party presents newly discovered evidence in support of its Rule 59(e) motion, it must also provide “a legitimate justification for not presenting the evidence during the earlier proceeding.” Id. (quoting Small v. Hunt, 98 F.3d 789, 798 (4th Cir. 1996) (internal marks omitted)). “In general, ‘reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly.'” Id. (quoting Wright et al., supra, § 2810.1, at 124).

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Denying Stay

         The Federal Arbitration Act requires a federal court to stay its own proceeding regarding aribitrable issues, see 9 U.S.C. § 3, but “it does not specifically authorize federal courts to stay proceedings pending in state courts, ” Ultracashmere House, Ltd. v. Meyer, 664 F.2d 1176, 1180 (11th Cir. 1981). The Anti-Injunction Act provides narrowly circumscribed authority to stay state court proceedings in limited circumstances. See 28 U.S.C. § 2283. In relevant part, the Act specifically provides that “[a] court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except . . . where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.”[1] 28 U.S.C. § 2283; see Employers Res. Mgmt. Co. v. Shannon, 65 F.3d 1126, 1129-30 (4th Cir. 1995). These exceptions imply that “relief may be necessary to prevent a state court from so interfering with a federal court's consideration or disposition of a case as to seriously impair the federal court's flexibility and authority to decide that case.” Atl. Coast Line R.R. Co. v. Bhd. of Locomotive Eng'rs, 398 U.S. 281, 295 (1970); see also United Serv. Prot. Corp. v. Lowe, 354 F.Supp.2d 651, 659 (S.D. W.Va. 2005). Notably, a federal court stay of pending state court litigation is “an extraordinary remedy, ” Nat'l Home Ins. Co. v. Bridges, 142 F.Supp.3d 425, 433 (D.S.C. 2015), and “[a]ny doubts as to the propriety of a federal injunction against state court proceedings should be resolved in favor of permitting the state courts to proceed in an orderly fashion to finally determine the controversy, ” Atl. Coast Line R.R. Co., 398 U.S. at 297.

         HCADRO has not yet decided the motion to dismiss or stay pending before it. ECF No. 11 at 6. If HCADRO grants the motion, this Court will not need to take the extraordinary step of ordering HCADRO now to do what it likely will do of its own volition so as to comport with the arbitration clause in the agreement and this Court's prior decision. Under these circumstances, the Court need not take any further action to shield the Court's decision to compel arbitration. See United Serv. Prot. Corp., 354 F.Supp.2d at 659 (“The court believes that the parties and the state court will likely conform their conduct to the expectations of law.” (internal marks and citation omitted)). Thus, the Court will hold Pineview's reconsideration motion in abeyance, and require Pineview to file a status report within 10 days of HCADRO's decision on the pending motion to dismiss or stay.

         B. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Granting Petition to Compel Arbitration

         With regard to Ade's motion to reconsider, Ade has provided no basis for this Court to change its prior decision. It is undisputed that Pineview and Ade agreed to arbitrate “any disputes that may arise from the care” Pineview provided to Ade. ECF No. 1-4 at 1; ECF No. 10 at 3 n.2. Ade now makes the same argument that he did before: that no valid and enforceable arbitration agreement exists because Julius Ade did not have authority to bind Esau Ade to the agreement. ECF No. 13 at 3. The Court already rejected this claim. See ECF No. 10 at 3 n.3.

         First, Ade was free to litigate this issue, as he did, in his initial pleadings. Ade provides no grounds for the court to revisit this argument anew. Ade argues that Dickerson v. Longoria, 414 Md. 419, 441-42 (2010), compels a different result, but Dickerson does not assist Ade. Dickerson made plain that an agency relationship is created “when the principal confers actual authority on the agent.” Dickerson, 414 Md. at 442. Actual authority can be created by words or conduct by the principal “which, reasonably interpreted, causes the agent to believe that the principal desires him . . . to act on the principal's account.” Id. (internal marks and citation omitted). Dickerson, moreover, is factually inapposite to Ade's case. In Dickerson , the principal for whom the contract was signed had not been in the room at the time and was not aware of ...

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