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PENNSYLVANIA ASSN. OF HOME HEALTH AGENCIES v. SNID

July 14, 1993

PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION OF HOME HEALTH AGENCIES, ET. AL.
v.
KAREN SNIDER, SECRETARY OF PUBLIC WELFARE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; J. CURTIS JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 The defendant Secretary of Public Welfare now moves to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on the grounds that the plaintiffs do not possess the standing necessary to sue and that, even if the requisite standing exists, the claims at issue are not ripe for judicial review. For the reasons outlined in the paragraphs which follow, the defendant's motion is denied and she is directed to file an answer to the plaintiffs' complaint.

 I. HISTORY OF THE CASE.

 According to the Preliminary Statement to the complaint, the plaintiffs commenced the instant class action lawsuit to challenge the alleged failure of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to establish appropriate methods for determining levels of payment for home health services under the Commonwealth's Medicaid program. The plaintiffs include not only the Pennsylvania Association of Home Health Agencies (which, according to paragraph 3, "is a membership association representing the interests of the vast majority of Medicaid participating home health agencies in the state of Pennsylvania") but also some 16 individual "licensed and certified home health agencies" participating in the Medicaid program" located throughout Pennsylvania. It is the plaintiffs' position that this purported failure on the part of the defendant to adopt a proper methodology for determining appropriate payment levels constitutes a violation of Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396, et. seq. and Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, et. seq. for which they seek both declaratory and injunctive relief.

 II. DISCUSSION.

 1. Standards Applicable to Motions to Dismiss

 The standards governing motions such as the ones now before the court are well settled. In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must accept as true all of the allegations recited in the complaint, construing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. Angelastro v. Prudential-Bache Securities, Inc., 764 F.2d 939 (3rd Cir. 1985); Hough/Lowe Associates, Inc. v. CLX Realty Co., 760 F. Supp. 1141 (E.D.Pa. 1991). In order to prevail on a motion to dismiss, Defendant must establish that Plaintiff can prove no set of facts which would entitle it to relief. See: Oatess v. Sobolevitch, 914 F.2d 428, 431, note 8 (3rd Cir. 1990); Hendrix v. Fleming Companies, 650 F. Supp. 301 (W.D.Okla. 1986).

 Likewise, since federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, the party which brought the action to the federal forum bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. The standard for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) is similar to the standard for dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See: Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3rd Cir. 1991); Heller v. CACL Federal Credit Union, 775 F. Supp. 839, 841 (E.D.Pa. 1991). The test for determining jurisdiction on the face of the pleadings is whether the federal claim alleged is so patently without merit as to justify the district court's dismissal for want of jurisdiction. In determining whether the challenged pleadings set forth allegations sufficient to show the court that it has subject matter jurisdiction over the matter, the pleadings are to be construed in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Espinosa v. Norfolk and Western Railway Co., 750 F. Supp. 819, 823 (E.D.Mich. 1990) citing, inter alia, Duke Power Company v. Carolina Environmental Study Group, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 98 S. Ct. 2620, 57 L. Ed. 2d 595 (1978).

 2. Standing.

 In essence, the question of standing is whether the litigant is entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or of particular issues. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S. Ct. 2197, 2205, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343 (1975). Where the party does not rely on any specific statute authorizing invocation of the judicial process, the question of standing depends upon whether the party has alleged such a "personal stake in the outcome of the controversy" as to ensure that "the dispute sought to be adjudicated will be presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution." Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 732, 92 S. Ct. 1361, 1364, 31 L. Ed. 2d 636 (1972), citing Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S. Ct. 691, 703, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663 (1962) and Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 88 S. Ct. 1942, 1953, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947 (1968). Stated otherwise, to have standing plaintiffs must show that they have suffered some actual or threatened injury, that the injury is fairly traceable to the allegedly unlawful conduct and that a favorable decision would likely redress the injury. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State,Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 102 S. Ct. 752, 758, 70 L. Ed. 2d 700 (1982).

 While the same constitutional and prudential considerations related to the "case or controversy" limitation of Article III to the U.S. Constitution apply, the concept of associational standing differs only slightly from those enumerated above. Thus, notwithstanding the general rule that a plaintiff must assert his own legal rights and interests and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties, there are situations where, even in the absence of injury to itself an association may have standing solely as the representative of its members. Warth v. Seldin, supra, 95 S. Ct. at 2205, 2211. In Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 97 S. Ct. 2434, 53 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1977), the Supreme Court stated a three-part test for associational standing:

 
An association has standing to bring a suit on behalf of its members when: (a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization's purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.

 See Also: Kansas Health Care Assn. v. Kansas Dept. of Social & Rehabilitation Services, 958 F.2d ...


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