St. Charles Surgical Hospital, LLC v. LA Health Service & Indemnity Co., No. 18-30957 (5th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuits in allowing Blue Cross to remove to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442, on the ground that it was sued here in its capacity as an administrator of health care benefits for federal employees. In this case, the parties agreed that Blue Cross satisfied the first condition of removal by being a "person" under the federal officer removal statute.
The court also held that Blue Cross acted under the direction of OPM; a causal nexus existed between Blue Cross's actions under color of federal office and plaintiff's claims, because Blue Cross has shown that it was prevented by federal directive from paying St. Charles directly; and Blue Cross had a colorable federal defense to St. Charles' claim. Therefore, Blue Cross' preemption defense was non-frivolous and sufficient for purposes of the federal officer removal statute. The court reversed the district court's remand to state court and the district court's award of attorney's fees.