Gardens Regional Hospital & Medical Center Liquidating Trust v. California, No. 18-60016 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After Gardens Regional filed for bankruptcy, the State deducted certain "fees"—which Gardens Regional had failed to pay to the State—from various payments that the State was obligated to make to Gardens Regional under its Medicaid program. The bankruptcy court and the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) both agreed that the deductions were permissible recoupments rather than impermissible setoffs.
Although the bankruptcy court and the BAP held that all of the State's withholdings of unpaid Hospital Quality Assurance Fee (HQAF) amounts constituted legitimate instances of equitable recoupment rather than setoff, the Ninth Circuit held that the bankruptcy court and BAP's holding rested on an overly generous conception of what qualifies as "the same transaction or occurrence" for purposes of recoupment. The test remains whether the relevant rights being asserted against the debtor are sufficiently logically connected to the debtor's countervailing obligations such that they may be fairly said to constitute part of the same transaction.
The panel affirmed the judgment of the BAP insofar as it holds that California's deduction of unpaid HQAF assessments from the supplemental payments made to Gardens Regional was permissible under the doctrine of equitable recoupment, but the panel reversed its judgment as to the fee-for-service payments. The panel remanded to the BAP with instructions to remand to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings.