United States District Court, D. Utah
IHC HEALTH SERVICES, INC., dba INTERMOUNTAIM MEDICAL CENTER, Plaintiff,
HILTON DOMESTIC OPERATING COMPANY, INC. and ANTHEM HEALTH PLANS OF VIRGINIA, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING  MOTION
FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
NUFFER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
IHC Heath Services, Inc. (“IHC”) filed a Motion
for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P.
Rule 15(a), to substitute plan beneficiary W.S. as the
plaintiff in this ERISA action. Defendants Hilton Domestic
Operating Company, Inc. and Anthem Heath Plans of Virginia,
Inc. oppose the Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint is GRANTED.
was treated at IHC's Intermountain Medical Center from
October 5, 2014 through October 9, 2014. Upon release,
W.S. assigned his benefits to IHC for all claims related to
W.S.'s treatment at Intermountain Medical
Center. IHC submitted a claim for payment to
Defendants for $56, 927.00. Defendants paid IHC $26,
367.19. With a remaining balance of $30, 559.81,
IHC filed this action under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)
against Defendants to recover the remainder of costs owed to
it. On December 6, 2017, Defendants sent IHC a copy of
W.S.'s benefit plan (“the Plan”), which
contains an anti-assignment provision. Upon learning
about the anti-assignment provision, IHC filed this Motion to
substitute W.S., the Plan beneficiary, as the
argue that an amendment substituting W.S. as the plaintiff
would be futile for two reasons: (1) the statute of
limitations has expired and the relation back of amendments
provision of Rule 15(c) does not apply; and (2) IHC
unduly delayed in seeking the amendment. Neither of these
arguments is persuasive.
Plan establishes that any legal action must be brought 3
years and 90 days after the last day of treatment was
received. Defendants contend this limitations
period expired January 7, 2018 and that IHC's Motion,
filed on March 7, 2018, is untimely. Defendants further
contend that Rule 15(c) cannot apply to cure the expiration
of this limitations period through relation back because IHC
does not share a sufficient identity of interest with
W.S. and because W.S.'s claim “does
not arise out of the same conduct, transaction or
occurrence.” IHC argues that the Motion was timely
filed to ensure that the proper party is bringing this
action and that because“[a]ll of the
facts of the case are the same . . . Defendants are arguing
against the same claims for payments of benefits for the same
treatment[, ]” the relation back doctrine applies.
Tenth Circuit has held that “[w]hen the substitution of
a plaintiff by amendment does not change the claim or
cause of action, the amendment relates back to the
commencement of the action or the filing of the claim and
stops the running of the statute of limitations at that
point.” Here, if W.S. was substituted for IHC as
the plaintiff, the cause of action and claims would remain
unchanged from the First Amended Complaint. Therefore,
IHC's Motion to substitute W.S. as the plaintiff by
amendment relates back to the original filing date under Rule
15(c) and is not barred by the statute of limitations.
also assert that IHC unduly delayed filing
Motion. Under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 15(a)(2),
“[a] party may amend its pleading only with the
opposing party's written consent or the court's
leave.” Furthermore, “[t]he court should
freely give leave when justice so
requires.” “In the absence of any apparent or
declared reason-such as undue delay … the leave sought
should, as the rules require, be freely
given.” The Tenth Circuit has held that
“the denial of leave to amend is appropriate
‘when the party filing the motion has no adequate
explanation for the delay.'”
being made aware of the anti-assignment provision, IHC made
diligent efforts to ensure that the complaint was corrected.
Indeed, Defendants have been on notice of IHC's intent to
substitute W.S. as the plaintiff since December 19, 2017,
before the expiration of the limitations period in January.
The docket shows that multiple extensions of time were
granted in order to facilitate the parties' active
discussions regarding IHC's intention to substitute W.S.
as the plaintiff. The failure of the parties'
discussions regarding this substitution is what led to filing
the Motion. These events more than adequately
explain IHC's “delay” in filing the motion.
Justice requires granting IHC's Motion.
HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File
Second Amended Complaint is GRANTED.