376 F.3d 1092 (11th Cir. 2004), 02-16640, Klay v. United Healthgroup, Inc.

Docket Nº:02-16640.
Citation:376 F.3d 1092
Party Name:Leonard J. KLAY, M.D., Price Plaintiffs, Price, Sessa, Katz, & Yingling, Sandra Johnson, Patricia Freyre, Regina Joi Price, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. UNITED HEALTHGROUP, INC., United Healthcare, Pacificare Health Systems, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:June 30, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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376 F.3d 1092 (11th Cir. 2004)

Leonard J. KLAY, M.D., Price Plaintiffs, Price, Sessa, Katz, & Yingling, Sandra Johnson, Patricia Freyre, Regina Joi Price, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,


UNITED HEALTHGROUP, INC., United Healthcare, Pacificare Health Systems, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 02-16640.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 30, 2004

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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        Edward Soto, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, Eduardo Palmer, Steel Hector & Davis, LLP, Michael Nachwalter, Robert D.W. Landon, III, Kenny, Nachwalter, Seymour, Arnold & Critchlow, P.A., Miami, FL, Christopher R.J. Pace, William E. Grauer, Cooley Godward, LLP, San Diego, CA, Gregory S. Coleman, Austin, TX, for Defendants-Appellants.

        Janet L. Humphreys, Harley S. Tropin, Kozyak, Tropin, Throckmorton & Humphreys, P.A., James B. Tilghman, Jr., Stewart, Tilghman, Fox & Bianchi, P.A., Miami, FL, Joe R. Whatley, Jr., Charlene P. Ford, Othni J. Lathram, Whatley Drake, L.L.C., Birmingham, AL, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

        Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

        Before TJOFLAT, BIRCH and GOODWIN [*], Circuit Judges.

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        TJOFLAT, Circuit Judge:

        In this putative class action, 1 physicians are suing many of this country's largest HMOs, alleging that these organizations conspired to systematically underpay them for their medical services. The defendant HMOs immediately moved the district court to stay the proceedings and compel the named plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims. The court held that certain claims were arbitrable, and others nonarbitrable. 2 See In re Managed Care Litigation, 132 F.Supp.2d 989 (S.D.Fla.2000) [hereinafter, the 2000 Arbitration Order]. This order was slightly modified in In re Managed Care Litig., 143 F.Supp.2d 1371 (S.D.Fla.2001), and again in In re Managed Care Litig., MDL No. 1334, 2003 WL 22410373, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23035 (S.D.Fla. Sept. 15, 2003). 3 The details of these rulings and the winding procedural history leading up to them are not immediately relevant. These arbitration orders, though important to this appeal, are not being challenged here.

        Pursuant to the district court's original arbitration order, two of the defendants, United and PacifiCare, initiated arbitration. In response, the plaintiffs filed a notice with the district court purporting to dismiss the claims that the court had ruled arbitrable, and sought an injunction preventing the defendants from arbitration of any claims. The plaintiffs contended that, since they voluntarily dismissed their arbitrable claims, the only claims remaining were those the court had ruled non-arbitrable, which the defendants had no right to bring before an arbitrator.

        The district court agreed that the defendants were trying to arbitrate two separate types of claims--those that had previously been ruled arbitrable by the court, and those that had been ruled nonarbitrable.

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Regarding the arbitrable claims, the district court ruled for the plaintiffs, concluding that since the plaintiffs had dismissed those claims, there was no longer a live case or controversy to resolve and so arbitration of those claims could be enjoined. The court likewise ruled in favor of the plaintiffs regarding the nonarbitrable claims, holding that an injunction against arbitration was necessary to protect its jurisdiction over those claims. See Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Enjoin Arbitration (Nov. 6, 2002) [hereinafter, 2002 Injunction Order]. Both injunctions were issued pursuant to the court's authority under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a).

        Because it is pertinent to both sets of rulings, we begin in Part I by setting forth the standard of review, then proceed in Part II to discussing the general standards for issuing injunctions under the All Writs Act. In Part III we focus on the district court's resolution of the arbitrable claims, while Part IV discusses the nonarbitrable claims. Part V briefly concludes.


         In reviewing the district court's decision to grant an injunction, including an injunction under the All Writs Act, we apply an abuse-of-discretion standard. See Winkler v. Eli Lilly & Co., 101 F.3d 1196, 1203 (7th Cir.1996). "A district court abuses its discretion if it applies an incorrect legal standard, follows improper procedures in making the determination, or makes findings of fact that are clearly erroneous." Martin v. Automobili Lamborghini Exclusive, Inc., 307 F.3d 1332, 1336 (11th Cir.2002). A district court may also abuse its discretion by applying the law in an unreasonable or incorrect manner. See Woodard v. Fanboy, L.L.C., 298 F.3d 1261, 1268 n. 14 (11th Cir.2002) (holding that, "in [the] preliminary injunction context, a district court abuses its discretion where the decision rests upon a 'misapplication of the law to the facts' " (quoting Marco v. Accent Publishing Co., 969 F.2d 1547, 1548 (3d Cir.1992))); 4 see, e.g., McMahan v. Toto, 256 F.3d 1120, 1128 (11th Cir.2001) ("The abuse of discretion standard of review recognizes that for the matter in question there is a range of choice for the district court and so long as its decision does not amount to a clear error of judgment we will not reverse...."). Finally, an abuse of discretion occurs if the district court imposes some harm, disadvantage, or restriction upon someone that is unnecessarily broad or does not result in any offsetting gain to anyone else or society at large. See, e.g., Keener v. Convergys Corp., 342 F.3d 1264, 1270-71 (11th Cir.2003) (holding that, because an injunction lacked "a reasonable scope" when the court made it apply nationwide rather than solely within the state of Georgia, it "should be modified to preclude [the appellee] from enforcing [a particular agreement] in Georgia only.... [T]he breadth of the injunction, without such limitation ... constitutes an abuse of discretion...."); Piazza v. Ebsco Indus., 273 F.3d 1341, 1352 (11th Cir.2001) (holding that where the defendants "identified potential prejudice arising from certification of the [plaintiff's] claim under Rule 23(b)(3) ... [and the plaintiff] has identified no basis for preferring certification of this claim under Rule 23(b)(3) to certification under Rule 23(b)(1), it was an abuse of discretion to certify the [plaintiff's] claim under Rule 23(b)(3).").

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        In making these assessments, we review the district court's factual determinations for clear error, see Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc., 299 F.3d 1242, 1246 (11th Cir.2002) (holding, in the preliminary injunction context, "[w]e review the district court's findings of fact under the clearly erroneous standard"), and its purely legal determinations de novo. See Major League Baseball v. Crist, 331 F.3d 1177, 1183 (11th Cir.2003) (holding that, when reviewing a district court's decision to grant or deny an injunction, "[u]nderlying questions of law ... are reviewed de novo").


         There are at least three different types of injunctions a federal court may issue. The first is a "traditional" injunction, which may be issued as either an interim or permanent remedy for certain breaches of common law, statutory, 5 or constitutional rights. Granting such injunctions fall within the long-recognized, inherent equitable powers of the court. See ITT Comm. Devel. Corp. v. Barton, 569 F.2d 1351, 1359 (5th Cir.1978) ("[A] federal court, sitting in equity, possesses all of the common law equity tools of a Chancery Court (subject, of course, to congressional limitations) to process litigation to a just and equitable conclusion."). The requirements for a traditional injunction are well-known:

A district court may grant injunctive relief only if the moving party shows that: (1) it has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) irreparable injury will be suffered unless the injunction issues; (3) the threatened injury to the movant outweighs whatever damage the proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) if issued, the injunction would not be adverse to the public interest.

Siegel v. Lepore, 234 F.3d 1163, 1176 (11th Cir.2000) (en banc) (per curiam). 6 The factors cited above are the elements for receiving a preliminary injunction "The standard for a permanent injunction is essentially the same as for a preliminary injunction except that the plaintiff must show actual success on the merits instead of a likelihood of success." Id. at 1213 (Carnes, J., dissenting), citing Amoco Prod. Co. v. Vill. of Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 546 n. 12, 107 S.Ct. 1396, 1404 n. 12, 94 L.Ed.2d 542 (1987). In addition, most courts do not consider the public interest element in deciding whether to issue a permanent injunction, though the Third Circuit has held otherwise, see Shields v. Zuccarini, 254 F.3d 476, 482 (3d Cir.2001).

        As the first factor makes clear, any motion or suit for a traditional injunction must be predicated upon a cause of action, such as nuisance, trespass, the First Amendment, etc., regarding which a plaintiff must show a likelihood or actuality of success on the merits. There is no such thing as a suit for a traditional injunction in the abstract. For a traditional injunction to be even theoretically available, a plaintiff must be able to articulate a basis for relief that would withstand scrutiny under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (failure to state a claim). See, e.g., Paisey v. Vitale, 807 F.2d 889, 892 (11th Cir.1986) ("[T]he

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district court did not err in denying [the plaintiff's] motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissing the injunctive count of [the plaintiff's] complaint because [the plaintiff] has failed to state a claim for relief....").


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