Anghel v. N.Y. State Dep't of Health, 2:12-CV-03484 (ADS)(WDW)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtARTHUR D. SPATT
PartiesDR. MARIA-LUCIA ANGHEL, Plaintiff, v. NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, CLAUDIA MORALES BLOCH, individually and in her official capacity, KATHRYN LEONE, individually and in her official capacity, HAROLD ROSENTHAL, individually and in his official capacity, LABORATORY INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: WADSWORTH CENTER, EILEEN HEAPHY, individually and in her official capacity, COLLEEN FLOOD, individually and in her official capacity MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, individually and in his official capacity, STEPHAN PETRANKER, M.D., individually and in his official capacity, OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT, KEITH SERVIS, individually and in his official capacity, ROY NEMERSON, individually and in his official capacity, NIRAV SHAH, M.D. individually and in his official capacity, ANDREW CUOMO, ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN, individually and in his official capacity, UNITED HEALTHCARE, MICHAEL STEPHANO, individually and as an employee of United Healthcare, THE BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CONDUCT, Defendants.
Decision Date29 May 2013
Docket Number2:12-CV-03484 (ADS)(WDW)

DR. MARIA-LUCIA ANGHEL, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, CLAUDIA MORALES BLOCH,
individually and in her official capacity, KATHRYN LEONE, individually and in her official capacity,
HAROLD ROSENTHAL, individually and in his official capacity, LABORATORY INVESTIGATIVE UNIT:
WADSWORTH CENTER, EILEEN HEAPHY, individually and in her official capacity, COLLEEN FLOOD,
individually and in her official capacity MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, individually and in his official capacity,
STEPHAN PETRANKER, M.D., individually and in his official capacity, OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT,
KEITH SERVIS, individually and in his official capacity, ROY NEMERSON, individually and in his official capacity,
NIRAV SHAH, M.D. individually and in his official capacity, ANDREW CUOMO, ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN,
individually and in his official capacity, UNITED HEALTHCARE, MICHAEL STEPHANO, individually
and as an employee of United Healthcare, THE BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CONDUCT, Defendants.

2:12-CV-03484 (ADS)(WDW)

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Dated: May 29, 2013


MEMORANDUM OF
DECISION AND ORDER

APPEARANCES:

Law Office of Jonathan Bell
Attorneys for the Plaintiff
By: Jonathan Bell, Esq., Of Counsel

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Law Offices of Joseph F. Kilada
Attorneys for the Plaintiff
By: Joseph F. Kilada

Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York
Attorneys for the Defendants New York State Department of Health, Claudia Morales Bloch,
Kathryn Leone, Harold Rosenthal, Laboratory Investigative Unit: Wadsworth, Eileen Heaphy,
Colleen Flood, Michael Weinstein, Stephan Petranker, MD., Office Of Professional Medical
Conduct, Keith Servis, Roy Nemerson, Nirav Shah, MD., Andrew Cuomo, Eric T. Schneiderman,
The Board of Professional Medical Conduct
By: Ralph Pernick, Assistant Attorney General

Robinson & Cole, L.L.P.
Attorneys for the Defendants United HealthCare and Michael Stephano
By: Joseph Lawrence Clasen, Esq., Of Counsel

Robinson & Cole
Attorneys for the Defendant United HealthCare
By: Laura Torchio, Esq., Of Counsel

SPATT, District Judge.

On July 13, 2012, the plaintiff Dr. Maria-Lucia Anghel filed this action against various New York State entities, senior state officials, and United HealthCare. The complaint asserts numerous causes of action, including violations of due process and equal protection, fraud, and conversion. Presently pending before the Court are three motions: (1) a motion by the defendants the New York State Department of Health, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, and related parties to dismiss the amended complaint as against them pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Fed. R. Civ. P.) for lack

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of subject matter jurisdiction; and pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; (2) a motion by several individual defendants, most of whom are DOH employees, to dismiss the amended complaint as against one of them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process and as against all of them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; and (3) a motion by defendants United HealthCare and one of its employees to dismiss the amended complaint as against them pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Before delving into the facts of this case, the Court will describe the procedural process in New York State for investigation of professional misconduct by physicians. The Department of Health Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) initially conducts investigations and makes the decision to bring disciplinary proceedings. Once charges are brought, OPMC's role is over. At that point, the matter is turned over to the Bureau of Professional Medical Conduct (BPMC), a bureau within the Division of Legal Affairs of the Department of Health. Bureau attorneys prepare charges and prosecute those charges before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and Hearing Committee of the Board of Professional Medical Conduct. The ALJ is not entitled to vote. See Public Health Law § 230(10)(e). If any of the charges are sustained by the Hearing Committee, it imposes a penalty. See Id. § 230 (10) (i). The physician may then seek administrative review or commence litigation pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR).

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Relevant here, the Plaintiff is a physician board-certified in anesthesiology and pain management and licensed to practice medicine in New York. On or about April 16, 2008, the Plaintiff was charged by the BPMC with 25 specifications of professional misconduct; including fraudulent practice; negligence on more than one occasion; incompetence on more than one occasion; gross negligence; willful failure to comply with federal law and regulations; excessive tests and treatment; and failure to maintain records. The charges related to the Plaintiff's treatment of seven patients and her operation of a laboratory at her offices. The ALJ and the Hearing Committee conducted a hearing over the course of 19 days. At the hearing, the Plaintiff was represented by an attorney and had the opportunity to present testimony and evidence. On July 15, 2009, following the hearing, the Hearing Committee sustained each specification except for the charge of incompetence. The Hearing Committee revoked the Plaintiff's license to practice medicine in New York and imposed a $240,000 fine.

The Plaintiff subsequently challenged the revocation and fine by bringing a CPLR Article 78 proceeding in the Appellate Division, Third Department. The Appellate Division issued a detailed decision in July 2011, dismissing the petition. See Matter of Anghel v. Daines, 86 A.D.3d 869, 927 N.Y.S.2d 710 (3d Dept 2011). The Appellate Division determined that: (1) the Plaintiff's assertions that various evidentiary and procedural errors deprived her of her right to a fair hearing and due process were without merit; (2) substantial evidence supported the Committee's decision to sustain the specification alleging that the Plaintiff willfully failed to comply with federal law and regulations governing the practice of medicine; (3) the ample record supported the Committee's findings of fraudulent practice and excessive tests; (4) substantial evidence supported the Committee's finding of a failure to maintain adequate medical records; and (5) there was no reason to disturb the Committee's finding that the Plaintiff was

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"intentionally deceitful" and wholly lacking credibility. The Plaintiff's motion for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals was denied.

B. Procedural History

On July 13, 2012, the Plaintiff filed this action against Department of Health and three of its subdivisions, namely the Laboratory Investigative Unit: Wadsworth Center (LIU), the Office of Professional Misconduct (OPMC), and the BPMC (collectively DOH); the Commissioner of DOH Nirav Shah, MD.; Governor Cuomo; and Attorney General Schneiderman (collectively the Senior State Officials); Claudia Morales Bloch, Kathryn Leone, Harold Rosenthal, Eileen Heaphy, Colleen Flood, Michael Weinstein, Stephan Petranker, MD., Keith Servis, and Roy Nemerson (collectively the Individual Defendants); and United HealthCare and one of its employees, Michael Stephano (the United Defendants). The gravamen of the Plaintiff's allegations is that her medical license was wrongfully and unconstitutionally revoked.

On August 23, 2012, the Plaintiff filed a 78-page, 525-paragraph amended complaint against all the Defendants. According to the amended complaint, which is rambling and indecipherable in parts, Bloch acted as the associate counsel for the OPMC and investigated, administered, and prosecuted the charges brought against the Plaintiff. (Am. Compl. ¶ 6.)

Leone acted as the Assistant Attorney General in 2009 and represented DOH in the Article 78 proceeding. (Id. ¶ 7.)

Rosenthal was an attorney within the DOH Bureau of Litigation. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Heaphy was the Senior Investigator for LIU who investigated the Plaintiff's office and testified as a fact witness at the administrative hearing (Id. ¶ 10.).

Flood was the director of the Physician Office Laboratory Evaluation Program (POLEP), which reviews physician-owned laboratories pursuant to a federal grant (Id. ¶ 11.).

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Weinstein was a LIU attorney who issued a subpoena for laboratory records from the Plaintiff's office (Id. ¶ 12). .

Petranker is a physician who testified as an expert witness at the administrative hearing on behalf of the DOH (Id. ¶ 13.)

Servis was the Director of the OPMC and had the responsibility of choosing those cases to be presented to an investigation committee (Id. ¶ 15).

Nemerson was Deputy Counsel of the Bureau of Litigation and Bloch's supervisor (Id. ¶ 16).

The Plaintiff also alleges that (1) the United Defendants wrongly reported the Plaintiff to POLEP for improper billing practices; (2) Stephano created a compact disk (CD) with manipulable, false data regarding the...

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