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TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp. v. Geneva Woods Pharmacy LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 15, 2020

TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
Geneva Woods Pharmacy LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE SUSAN M. BRNOVICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Geneva Woods Pharmacy LLC's (“Geneva Woods”) Motion to Dismiss or Transfer Venue. (Doc. 12, “Mot.” or “Motion”.) Plaintiff TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp (“TriWest”) responded and Defendant replied. (Doc. 13, “Resp.”; Doc. 15, “Repl.”.) Neither party requested oral argument and the Court elects to resolve the Motion without it. See LRCiv 7.2(f). Defendant moves to dismiss for improper venue under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b) and 1406(a), or alternatively, to transfer the case to the District of Alaska under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1406(a) or 1404(a). (Mot. at 1.) Having found venue improper in the District of Arizona, the Court grants Geneva Woods' Motion as it relates to transferring the case to the District of Alaska under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).

         I. BACKGROUND

         TriWest is a United States Department of Veteran's Affairs (“VA”) contractor incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Phoenix, Arizona. (Doc. 1, “Compl.” ¶¶ 1, 7.) In this capacity, TriWest contracted with Geneva Woods to provide home infusion therapy services to eligible veterans in Alaska. (Id. ¶ 9.) Per the agreement, Geneva Woods accepted the amount payable under the Alaska VA Medical Center's published fee schedule as payment for its services. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Geneva Woods subsequently provided services to eligible Alaska veterans and submitted payment claims to TriWest's third-party payment administrator, WPS Health Solutions (“WPS”). (Id. ¶ 13.) WPS is in Madison, Wisconsin. (Doc. 12-1 5.) When Geneva Woods submitted its payment claims, WPS was authorized to pay claims on TriWest's behalf, but it could not modify payment terms. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Geneva Woods is an Alaska limited liability company with its principal place of business in Anchorage, Alaska. (Id. ¶ 3.)

         The impetus for this lawsuit is that TriWest discovered an alleged error in WPS' claims payment system in 2018, resulting in $1, 338, 403.43 of overpayments to Geneva Woods for services rendered to eligible Alaska veterans. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) TriWest demanded Geneva Woods return the overpayment, but it refused. (Id. ¶¶ 16-18.) TriWest then filed its Complaint against Geneva Woods alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment for overbilling TriWest and refusing to return the overpayment. (See Id. ¶¶ 19-32.) At issue here, the Complaint alleges that “[v]enue is proper in this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial portion of the events giving rise to TriWest's claims occurred in this district and Defendants are subject to the Court's personal jurisdiction with respect to this action.” (Id. ¶ 5.) Defendant disagrees, and moves to dismiss for improper venue, or in the alternative to transfer the case to the District of Alaska. (Mot. at 1.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3), a party may move to dismiss an action that has been brought in an improper venue. When venue is improper, the Court must either dismiss the case or, “if it be in the interest of justice, transfer [the] case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). When venue is proper, the Court may nevertheless also transfer the case “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice.” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).

         Section 1391 governs venue for civil actions in federal district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1391. That statute requires civil actions be brought in:

(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         When a defendant challenges venue, the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that venue is proper. Piedmont Label Co. v. Sun Garden Packing Co., 598 F.2d 491, 496 (9th Cir. 1979). If venue is improper, the decision to dismiss or transfer a case under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) or transfer under § 1404(a) lies within the district court's discretion. See Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1136-37 (9th Cir. 2004) (reviewing district court's transfer under 28 U.S.C. 1406(a)); see also Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 834, 842 (9th Cir. 1986) (analyzing district court's transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court first evaluates whether venue is proper in the District of Arizona under § 1391; then, if venue is improper, whether dismissal or transfer is appropriate under § 1406(a), or if venue is ...


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