Lopez et al v. United States of America

2020 | Cited 0 times | D. Puerto Rico | May 1, 2020


FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO ADA N. LOPEZ and ANGEL RAMOS and minor D.R., Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants, Third-party plaintiff, v. CENTRO MEDICO DEL TURABO INC., Third-party defendant,

CIVIL NO. 19-1219 (DRD)

OPINION AND ORDER The instant case arises of a Complaint filed by Mrs. Ada N. López, Mr. Ángel L. Ramos, by themselves and in representation of the minor son D.R., seeking damages against the United events that occurred between 2012-2013 which allegedly constituted medical malpractice. See Docket No. 1. On August 2, 2019, the Government filed a Third-Party Complaint against various Third-Party Codefendants; including various unknow insurance carriers. See Docket No. 12.

After obtaining the required leave from the Court, the Government filed an Amended Third- Party Complaint See Docket No. 22. Essentially, the Government alleged that Integrated could be liable for the claims in the Complaint as it had issued an insurance policy in favor of Third-Party Codefendant, Centro See Docket No. 22 at 2.

On January 17, 2020, Integrated filed a motion for summary judgement requesting the Court to dismiss the Third-Party Complaint against it. Essentially, Integrated argued that it was arrier under Puerto Rico law. To support its argument, Integrated provided to the Court a License the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance issued in its favor where it certified that, pursuant to Integrated is authorized -from December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2021- to act r See Docket No. 27-1. However, because the facts that purportedly support the Complaint and Amended Third-Party Complaint occurred during 2012-2013, the Court entered an Order in which it ordered Integrated to provide evidence to support its allegations for said period. See Docket No. 39. In compliance with the Order, Integrated provided the Court with its Certificate of Existence, and the various Licenses issued by the Office of the Commissioner certifying Integrated nsurance P Surplus Line B See Docket No. 43. 1

Considering the applicable law and the evidence provided by Integrated, the Court hereby GRANTS motion for summary judgement.

1 o this date, neither Third-Party Plaintiff nor any other party to the instant action has opposed the request for summary judgment; consequently, the Court deems Integrated as unopposed. See PRD Local Rule 7 (b). As a result, the Court uncontested all evidence Perez-Cordero v. Wal-Mart Puerto Rico, 440 F.3d 531, 533 34 (1st Cir. 2006); see, also, NEPSK, Inc. v. Houlton, 283 F.3d 1, 7 8 (1st Cir.2002). Nevertheless, the Court notes that entry of a summary judgment motion as unopposed does not automatically give rise to a grant of summary the district court [is] still obliged to consider the motion on its merits, in light of the record as constituted, in order to determine whether judgment would be legally appropriate. Aguiar-Carrasquillo v. Agosto- Alicea, 445 F.3d 19, 25 (1st Cir. 2006); see, also, Mullen v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 972 F.2d 446, 452 (1st Cir. 1992).

II. FACTUAL FINDINGS 2 Upon careful review of the record, the Court finds the following facts are undisputed:

1. Certificate of Existence

in favor of Integrated. See Docket No. 51-1. 2. On January 17, 2012, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance issued License No.

65118 in favor of Integrated. Under said License, Integrated was authorized, pursuant to to act as with regards to various types of insurance -including insurance for health services- from December 14, 2011 to November 30, 2013. See Docket No. 51-2. 3. Said License was renewed for the period of December 12, 2013 to November 30, 2015.

Upon said renewal, Integrated was See Docket No. 43-2. 4. Additionally, said License has been renewed three (3) times, authorizing Integrand to act

for the period of December 1, 2015 to November 30, 2021. See Docket No. 43-3 to 43-5. 5. None of said Licenses authorizes Integrated to act as an insurance carrier.

2 Documents provided in support of a petition for summary judgment must either be properly authenticated or must be self-authenticating under the Federal Rules of Evidence. Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 131 (1st Cir. 2000). of State or the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance; both under the seal of the agencies and the signature of their leaders. Consequently, the Court finds that said documentation is self-authenticating under Rule 902 of the Federal

III. LEGAL STANDARD A. Motion for Summary Judgment Standard (Fed. R. Civ. P. 56). Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment should together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-325 (1986). Pursuant to the clear language of the rule, the moving party bears a two- Veda-Rodriguez v.

Puerto Rico, 110 F.3d 174, 179 (1st Cir. 1997). nce about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in favor of the non- See Johnson v. Univ. of P.R., 714 F.3d 48, 52 (1st Cir. 2013); Prescott v. Higgins, 538 F.3d 32, 40 (1st Cir. 2008) (citing Thompson v. Coca Cola Co., 522 F.3d 168, 175 (1st Cir. 2008)); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-250 (1986); Calero Cerezo v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 355 directly related to the burden of proof that a non-movant would have in a trial. determination of whether a given factual dispute requires submission to a jury must be guided by

the substantive evidentiary stan Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 255 (applying the summary judgment standard while taking into account a higher burden of proof for cases of defamation against a public figure). Sands v.

Ridefilm Corp., 212 F.3d 657, 660 661 (1st Cir. 2000) (citing Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at

247 248); Prescott, 538 F.3d at 40 (1st Cir. 2008) (citing Maymí v. P.R. Ports Auth., 515 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2008)). DeNovellis v. Shalala, 124 F.3d 298, 306

(1st Cir. 1997) (citing the advisory committee note to the 1963 Amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue as to any outcome- determinative fact on the record. See Shalala, 124 F.3d at 306. Upon a showing by the moving party of an absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate that a trier of fact could reasonably find in his favor. Id. (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, at 323). The non- for summary finite and competent evidence. Maldonado Denis v. Castillo Rodriguez, 23 F.3d 576, 581 (1st Cir. 1994). The non- sue which is b which affects the granting of a summary judgment. Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895

F.2d 46, 48 (1st Cir. 1990); see, also, Suarez v. Pueblo Int'l., 229 F.3d 49, 53 (1st Cir. 2000) (stating that a non-movant may shut down a summary judgment motion only upon a showing that a trial- worthy issue exists). parties will not affect an otherwise properly supported Liberty

Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 247 248. Similarly, summary judgment is appropriate where the and Ayala Gerena v. Bristol Myers Squibb Co., 95 F.3d 86, 95 (1st Cir. 1996); , 637 F.3d 53, 56 (1st Cir. speculation, or evidence which, in the aggregate, citations omitted); Medina-Muñoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990).

inferences in favor of the non-moving party while ignoring conclusory allegations, improbable

inferences Smith v. Jenkins, 732 F.3d 51, 76 (1st Cir. 2013) (reiterating Shafmaster v. United States, 707 F.3d 130, 135 (1st Cir. 2013)). However, while the -moving party] . . . we will not draw unreasonable inferences or credit bald assertions, empty conclusions or rank conjecture Vera v. McHugh, 622 F.3d 17, 26 (1st Cir. 2010) (internal quotations and citation omitted).

Furthermore, the Court must review the record as a whole and refrain from engaging in the assessment of credibility or the gauging the weight of the evidence presented. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 135 (2000); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); see, also, Pina v. Children's Place, 740 F.3d 785, 802 (1st Cir. 2014). Reeves, supra, at 150 (quoting Anderson,

supra, at 250 51).

t summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Hence, in order to prevail, Third-party Codefendants must demonstrate that, even admitting well-pleaded allegations in light most favorable to Third-party Plaintiff, the applicable law compels a judgment in its favor.

IV. ANALYSIS As previously stated, the Third-Party Complaint states that hird-party Co-Defendant Integrated Assurance Solutions is the medical malpractice carrier which had issued an insurance policy in favor of Third-Party Co-Defendant HIMA, covers the instant claim and is liable to Docket No. 22 ¶ 7. However, Third-party Plai , only authorized entities can act as an insurer carriers. See insurance in Puerto Rico except as authorized by a subsisting authority granted to it by the Commissioner, except as to such transactions as are expressly otherwise provided for in this relevant period -and up to this day- it has only been authorized by the Commissioner of the Insurance to participate in the business of insurance as an Insurance Prod , not as an insurance carrier. 3

roducer 3

An insurance producer is . that the responsibilities of a produced towards the insured are the following:

The producer shall fulfill the following duties, among others: (1) Provide the consumer with a clear and concise orientation about the coverage, benefits, limitations and exclusions of the insurance policy negotiated by him/her, as well as about the duties and obligations of the former as insured under the same. (2) Negotiate the insurance product so it adjusts to the coverage needs the consumer seeks. (3) Identify and measure the possibility of loss. (4) Fulfill the duties imposed according to other provisions of this Code and with the principles of conduct the Commissioner may establish through rules or regulations. When the producer acts as authorized representative of the insurer, he/she must also fulfill all those other duties imposed by the insurer by virtue of the contract subscribed between the parties. 26 L.P.R.A. § 949(c). See, also, Sealink, Inc. v. Frenkel & Co., 441 F. Supp. 2d 374, 385 (D.P.R. 2006). The Court notes that the Amended Third-Party Complaint does not include any allegation which would suggest

, Integrated cannot be HIMA carrier as alleged in the Amended Third-Party Complaint since it is not authorized by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to act as an insurer.

V. CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS, Integrated s motion for summary judgement; consequently, all claims against it which ware included in the Amended Third-Party Complaint are hereby dismissed. IT IS SO ORDERED. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 1, 2020. S/Daniel R. Domínguez Daniel R. Domínguez United States District Judge

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