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In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 4, 2014

IN RE: ASBESTOS PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION (No. IV), MDL Docket No. 875 MARIA TORRES, Administratrix of the Estate of Ruben Torres, Deceased, et al.
v.
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION, et al.

MEMORANDUM

M. FAITH ANGELL, Magistrate Judge.

I. Background.

The underlying facts, as alleged by Plaintiff Maria Torres, are as follows:[1]

On February 28, 1995, Ruben Torres and Maria Torres filed this FELA action against, inter alia, the New Jersey Rail Operations, Inc. ["NJT"], alleging that Mr. Torres had contracted esophageal cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos while working for NJT. Given the nature of the allegations, this action was assigned to the Asbestos MDL Litigation. After Mr. Torres died on April 12, 1997, his widow, Maria Torres, was appointed Administratrix of his estate. Plaintiff's Motion for Interpleader at 2.

On July 7, 2011, Plaintiff Maria Torres settled her claims against NJT. The parties agreed that the settlement amount would remain confidential. Id.

On August 24, 2011, Plaintiff Maria Torres filed a motion for distribution of settlement proceeds, requesting that this Court issue an Order directing NJT to pay the proceeds of the FELA settlement to Counsel for Maria Torres and not to the Estate of Ruben Torres. Judge Robreno granted the motion for distribution of settlement funds on September 27, 2011. Id.

NJT paid the settlement, which was then reported by Plaintiff's Counsel to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ["CMS"]. Plaintiff asserts that she gave CMS notice of the settlement, despite the fact that she "has a substantial legal argument that she has no duty to repay CMS" for medical services provided to the decedent, in order to avoid potential sanctions for non-compliance with the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, [MSPA], 42 U.S.C. ยง 1395y et seq.

By letter dated August 14, 2012, CMS gave Plaintiff notice that it had identified $413.39 in conditional payments that it believed were associated with Mr. Torres' estate.

On August 21, 2012, Plaintiff sent CMS a "Notice of Settlement" letter in which she requested a final demand letter from CMS.

On September 4, 2012, CMS responded, noting conditional payments for decedent's medical care in the amount of $67, 602.46 and making a repayment demand of $24, 585.13.

By letter dated September 21, 2012, Plaintiff requested a compromise figure from CMS, presenting her arguments as to why, equitably and legally, full repayment of CMS' final demand figure was not appropriate.

On February 13, 2013, CMS presented a compromise figure of $12, 292.00, void after thirty days.

On March 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed her motion for interpleader. After the matter was assigned to me for decision, the compromise amount was deposited in the Registry of the ...


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