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Lizer v. Eagle Air Med Corporation

January 28, 2004

DERRICK LIZER AND NATASHA KIRK PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EAGLE AIR MED CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Broomfield, Senior District Judge

ORDER

On August 19, 2002, Plaintiffs brought this action seeking a declaration of their rights regarding a lien Eagle Air Med Corp. ("Eagle Air") placed on uninsured motorist insurance proceeds payable to Plaintiffs. Compl. (doc. # 1). Plaintiffs argue that federal Medicaid law preempts the state law under which Defendant filed its lien. Memo in Sup. of Pla.'s Mot. for Sum. Judg. ("MSPMSJ") (doc. # 16). This issue is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment. Mot. (doc. # 15); Cross Mot. (doc. # 20). After considering all the arguments the Court is now prepared to rule.

I. Facts

In January of 2001 Plaintiffs were in a serious car accident. MSPMSJ (doc. # 16) p 2. They were transported to a hospital by Eagle Air's air ambulance service. Id. Eagle Air's bill for this service was a total of $22,415. Cross Mot. (doc. # 20) p 4. However, the individual who caused the car accident, Jesse Thomas, had no automobile insurance. MSPMSJ (doc. # 16) p 2. Plaintiffs were eligible participants of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) through which Arizona administers Medicaid funds. Id. p 8. Eagle Air received $4,827.68 from AHCCCS on behalf of Plaintiffs as payment for the air ambulance service. Id.

Plaintiffs made a claim for uninsured motorist compensation with their own carrier, Farmers Insurance Group. Cross Mot. (doc. # 20) p 7. Upon discovering this Eagle Air filed a "Notice and Claim of Health Care Provider Lien" for the total amount of their initial bill, $22,415. Id. p 10. Farmers settled the Plaintiffs' claims for a total of $41,710. Id. p 11. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit disputing the validity and amount of Eagle Air's lien. Compl. (doc. # 1). Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether federal law prohibits Eagle Air from availing itself of the state lien statute in this situation. Mot. (doc. # 15). Eagle Air responded with a cross-motion for summary judgment. Cross Mot. (doc. # 20).

II. Legal Standard

To grant summary judgment, the Court must determine that the record before it contains "no genuine issue as to any material fact" and, thus, "that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In determining whether to grant summary judgment, the court will view the facts and inferences from these facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A material fact is any factual dispute that might affect the outcome of the case under the governing substantive law. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the dispute in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. A party opposing a motion for summary judgment cannot rest upon mere allegations or denials in the pleadings or papers, but instead must set forth specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue for trial. See id. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Finally, if the nonmoving party's evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, a court may grant summary judgment. See, e.g., California Architectural Build. Prods., Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir.1987).

Both parties to this action have moved for summary judgment on the issue of whether federal law prevents Eagle Air from enforcing its lien pursuant to Arizona state law. Since the facts regarding this issue are undisputed the Court need only determine ...


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