Florida Medical Ass'n v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ETC.

Decision Date11 July 1978
Docket NumberNo. 78-178-Civ-J-S.,78-178-Civ-J-S.
Citation454 F. Supp. 326
PartiesFLORIDA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, INC., a Florida corporation, on behalf of its members, Louis C. Murray, M.D., Jack McCris, M.D., Jere Annis, M.D., O. William Davenport, M.D., Robert E. Windom, M.D., and Charles H. Berchert, M.D., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, and American Medical Association, on behalf of its members, and Robert B. Hunter, M.D., Frank J. Jirka, Jr., M.D., Lowell H. Steen, M.D., Harold Gurgone, Walter E. Schrange, Plaintiffs (Intervenors) and Broward County Medical Society, Amicus Curiae, v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION & WELFARE, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., a Florida Corporation, and Group Health, Inc., a Florida Corporation, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida


John Slye, Jacksonville, Fla., for Blue Shield of Florida, Inc.

Steve J. Cohen, Miami, Fla., for Group Health, Inc.

Ernst D. Mueller, Asst. U. S. Atty., Jacksonville, Fla., for government — HEW.

Henry R. Goldberg, Columbia, Md., Vicki Schulkin, Washington, D. C., for HEW.

Peter L. Dearing, Jacksonville, Fla., for Florida Medical Ass'n, Inc.

Jack R. Bierig, Chicago, Ill., for American Medical Ass'n.

William DeF. Thompson, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for Broward County Medical Society.


CHARLES R. SCOTT, Senior District Judge.

This case is before the Court on a stipulation by the parties for a consolidated ruling by the Court on the merits of the case with the plaintiffs' preliminary injunction motion, based on the complete record of evidence presented at prior hearings as well as affidavits, memoranda of law, and other documents filed by the parties. Plaintiffs1 seek to prevent the Secretary ("the Secretary") of the Department of Health, Education & Welfare ("HEW") from disclosing a list of all Medicare providers, including individually identified physicians, and the annual amounts of Medicare reimbursements attributable to them. Essentially, plaintiffs contend that they have a federally protected right of privacy, based on several federal statutes2 and constitutional provisions,3 which bars the disclosure of such information. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b), a temporary restraining order was issued on behalf of the original plaintiffs, and was extended for an additional ten days. Thereafter, by consent of the parties, that temporary restraining order was extended through June 19, 1978. In the interim, the additional plaintiffs were allowed to intervene in this case, and a temporary restraining order at their request was issued on behalf of a recertified class4 of plaintiffs. That temporary restraining order was also extended for an additional ten days.

The primary issues raised in this case are (1) whether there are any federal statutory or constitutional provisions that prevent the disclosure of individually identified physicians' annual Medicare reimbursements; (2) if not, whether such information is exempt from obligatory disclosure by the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"); (3) if so, whether the disclosure of such FOIA-exempt information is prohibited by any federal statutory or constitutional provisions; and (4) if not, whether a reasonable and prudent exercise of the Secretary's discretion would prevent his disclosure of such FOIA-exempt information. These issues are essentially questions of law. Equitable relief in the form of temporary restraining orders has been granted by the Court because it is convinced that it has subject matter jurisdiction over these issues, and is concerned that its jurisdiction would vanish through mootness if the Secretary should proceed to disclose the information that he proposes.

Meanwhile, however, the parties have been allowed additional time to brief the issues in this case, and the Secretary has obtained extensions of time in which to file an additional memorandum of law. While the Court waits for the help that the Secretary's memorandum of law may furnish, the additional ten-day extension of the temporary restraining order is about to expire. Once again, the Court is concerned that its limited subject matter jurisdiction might be nullified by the Secretary's unrestrained disclosure of the information that he proposes to release. Hence, the issue at this point is whether, in view of the expiration of the temporary restraining order and the Court's inability to extend it without his consent, the Secretary is free to disclose the list of annual Medicare reimbursement information, and destroy the Court's subject matter jurisdiction by rendering the issues moot. For the reasons that follow, the Court holds that the Secretary is not free to extirpate this Court's limited subject matter jurisdiction through mootness.5

Ancillary Jurisdiction

Once the prerequisites for a federal court's limited subject matter jurisdiction are satisfied, its power to act in order to protect and effectuate that jurisdiction is beyond serious question. The power to protect and effectuate properly acquired subject matter jurisdiction is known as "ancillary jurisdiction". Ancillary jurisdiction is not an anomaly to the principle that the subject matter jurisdiction of federal courts is strictly limited. Ancillary jurisdiction does not supply jurisdiction where none exists; but it is the inherent power of a federal court to act, where it has acquired original subject matter jurisdiction, in order to exercise that jurisdiction over the primary and principal issues before it. Morrow v. District of Columbia, 135 U.S.App. D.C. 160, 172, 417 F.2d 728, 740 (1969). Cf. Utz v. Cullinane, 172 U.S.App.D.C. 67, 72-3, 520 F.2d 467, 472-73 n. 9 (1975); United States States v. Bohr, 406 F.Supp. 1218, 1219 (E.D.Wis.1976); Morgan v. Serro Travel Trailer Co., 69 F.R.D. 697, 703 (D.Kan. 1975). The doctrine of ancillary jurisdiction, then, "is based on the theory that it is essential to the independence and self-sufficiency of the Federal Courts." Averdeen Hosiery Mills v. Kaufman, 113 F.Supp. 833-34 (S.D.N.Y.1953).

The test for the exercise of ancillary jurisdiction is whether the secondary and additional issues or parties are logically related

. . . to the aggregate core of operative facts which constitutes the main claim over which the court has an independent basis of federal jurisdiction. Riviere Copper & Brass Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Surety Co., 426 F.2d 709, 714 (5th Cir. 1970).

Lewis v. S. S. Baune, 534 F.2d 1115, 1120 (5th Cir. 1976); Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1205 (5th Cir. 1975); Warren G. Kleban Engin'g Corp. v. Caldwell, 490 F.2d 800, 802 (5th Cir. 1974); United States v. United Pacific Ins. Co., 472 F.2d 792, 794 and n. 7 (9th Cir. 1973), cert. denied sub nom. United Pacific Ins. Co. v. Discount Co., 411 U.S. 982, 92 S.Ct. 2273, 36 L.Ed.2d 958 (1973); Hercules Inc. v. Dynamic Export Corp., 71 F.R.D. 101, 108-09 (S.D.N.Y.1976).

The conditions when the exercise of ancillary jurisdiction is proper are universally recognized: ancillary jurisdiction attaches when

. . . (1) the ancillary matter arises from the same transaction which was the basis of the main proceeding, or arises during the course of the main matter, or is an integral part of the main matter; (2) the ancillary matter can be determined without a substantial new fact-finding proceeding; (3) determination of the ancillary matter through an ancillary order would not deprive a party of a substantial procedural or substantive right; and (4) the ancillary matter must be settled to protect the integrity of the main proceeding or to ensure that the disposition in the main proceeding will not be frustrated. Morrow v. District of Columbia, 417 F.2d at 740 (emphasis added).

United States v. Wilson, 176 U.S.App.D.C. 321, 324, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103 (1976); Lamb v. Carey, 162 U.S.App.D.C. 247, 251, 498 F.2d 789, 793 (1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 869, 95 S.Ct. 128, 42 L.Ed.2d 108 (1974); N. W. Controls, Inc. v. Outboard Marine Corp., 349 F.Supp. 1254, 1257 (D.Del.1972); Dillon v. Berg, 347 F.Supp. 517, 519 (D.Del.1972); Wilgus v. Peterson, 335 F.Supp. 1385, 1389 (D.Del.1972). Ancillary jurisdiction, in short, is the "common sense solution" to how a federal court of limited subject matter jurisdiction can achieve a complete, final, and just disposition in a case over which it has acquired subject matter jurisdiction originally. Morrow v. District of Columbia, 417 F.2d at 738.

There is no question that a federal court may exercise its ancillary jurisdiction to preserve the status quo pending the determination of claims and issues over which it has jurisdiction, by fashioning equitable injunctive relief. Hiram Walker, Inc. v. Serr, 277 F.Supp. 3 (E.D.Pa.1967), is a case that illustrates such equitable, injunctive, ancillary jurisdiction. In Serr v. Sullivan, 270 F.Supp. 544 (E.D.Pa.1967), the district court had held that, in the absence of a specific congressional, statutory grant of power to the Director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division (within the Internal Revenue Service), the Director did not possess general subpoena power, and the right to have such subpoenas enforced by a federal court, in the course of investigatory proceedings. That decision was ultimately affirmed. Serr v. Sullivan, 390 F.2d 619 (3d Cir. 1968).

In an attempt to circumvent the district court's ruling, while the appeal of that order was pending, the Director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division continued his investigatory proceedings and continued to issue administrative subpoenas to aid such proceedings. However, the Director, who was outside of the proper venue of the court, issued the similar subpoenas to individuals who were outside of the district court's venue, specifying that the subpoenas were returnable to locations outside of the district court's venue. Undeterred by the Director's venue arguments, the...

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7 cases
  • Florida Medical Ass'n v. DEPT. OF HEALTH, ED., ETC.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida
    • 22 Octubre 1979
    ... ... Steen, M.D., Harold Gurgone, Walter E. Schrange, Plaintiffs (Intervenors), ... Broward County Medical Society, Amicus Curiae, ... DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION & WELFARE, Patricia R. Harris, Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, Blue Shield of Florida, Inc., a Florida Corporation, ... ...
  • Pushkin v. Califano
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 8 Agosto 1979
    ... ... Joseph A. CALIFANO, Jr., Secretary of Health, Education and ... Welfare, Defendant-Appellee ... Court for the Southern District of Florida ...         Before WISDOM, CLARK and ... covered by Part B are limited to certain "medical and other health services," 42 U.S.C.A. § 1395k, ... But see, Florida Medical Ass'n v. Department of HEW, 454 F.Supp. 326 (M.D.Fla.1978); ... ...
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    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • 11 Julio 1978
    ... ... D., as he is Commissioner of Public Health, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Defendant ... to become Deputy Commissioner of the Department that she is unable to accept or perform any other ... ...
  • Minnesota Medical Ass'n v. State
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    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • 24 Noviembre 1978
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