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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Elite Health Centers Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 6, 2017

State Farm Mutual Ins. Co., Plaintiff,
v.
Elite Health Centers, Inc., et. al. Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) brings this action against 18 defendants. Specifically, State Farm claims that Defendants have submitted fraudulent claims to the insurer under Michigan's No-Fault Automobile Act. State Farm's complaint alleges several claims of common law fraud, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment, and a count for declaratory judgment.

         Currently before the Court is Defendants Elite Health Centers, Inc., Elite Chiropractic, P.C., Elite Rehabilitation, Inc., Midwest Medical Associates, Inc., Pure Rehabilitation, Inc., Derek L. Bittner D.C., Mark A. Radom, Derek Lawrence Bittner, D.C., Ryan Matthew Lukowski, D.C., Michael P. Draplin, D.C., Mark J. Juska, M.D., and Superior Diagnostic, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. Defendants Dearborn Center for Physical Therapy, LLC, Michigan Center for Physical Therapy, Inc., Jayson Rosett, Noah H. Upfall and Michael J. Paley, M.D. have filed concurrences to the Motion to Dismiss. Defendant Chintan Desai, M.D. has not concurred in the motion and has instead filed a separate motion to dismiss, which the Court will address at a later date in a separate Opinion & Order.

         Defendants' advance the following arguments in their motion: (1) the complaint fails to plead any facts to support individual liability; (2) State Farm lacks standing to allege claims arising from the incorporation of the entity defendants as non-profit corporations; (3) the fraud claims fail because they do not meet the heightened pleading requirements of Rule 9(b); (4) the civil conspiracy claims fail because the complaint fails to plead an underlying tort and because the complaint fails to plead conspiracy with requisite specificity; (5) the unjust enrichment claims fail because the complaint fails to identify which Defendants received which benefits and because an express contract exists covering the subject matter at issue; and (6) the Court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction over the declaratory judgment action.

         Defendants' motion has been fully briefed. The Court finds that oral argument would not significantly aid in the decisional process and therefore orders that the instant motion will be decided upon the briefs. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court shall DENY Defendants' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff State Farm is a corporation that engages in the business of insurance in Michigan. State Farm brings this action against 18 defendants, all of which are alleged to have played a role in a scheme to defraud the insurer: (1) Elite Health Centers, Inc.; (2) Elite Chiropractic, P.C.; (3) Elite Rehabilitation, Inc.; (4) Midwest Medical Associates, Inc.; (5) Pure Rehabilitation, Inc.; (6) Derek L. Bittner D.C., P.C.; (7) Mark A. Radom; (8) Derek Lawrence Bittner D.C.; (9) Ryan Matthew Lukowski D.C.; (10) Michael P. Draplin D.C.; (11) Noel H. Upfall D.O.; (12) Mark J. Juska; (13) Superior Diagnostic, Inc.; (14) Chintan Desai, M.D.; (15) Michael J. Paley; (16) Dearborn Center for Physical Therapy, LLC; (17) Michigan Center for Physical Therapy, Inc.; and (18) Jason Rosett.

         1. The Defendants

         At the center of the alleged scheme are Defendants Derek Lawrence Bittner, D.C., a chiropractor, and Mark A. Radom, a layperson.

         State Farm alleges that Bittner and Radom created, own and control several entities that: (1) submit bills and supporting documentation to State Farm Mutual for chiropractic, physical therapy and medical services purportedly rendered to patients that were not actually performed or were not medically necessary; (2) that prescribe and refer patients to two locations owned by Defendant Jayson Rosett for physical therapy services that are either not performed or not medically necessary; and (3) that refer State Farm Mutual insureds to receive medically unnecessary MRIs from Horizon Imaging, LLC and from Defendant Superior Diagnostics, Inc. (Compl. at ¶ 1).

         a. The Elite Entities

         Defendant Derek L. Bittner D.C., P.C. (“Bittner P.C.”) is a Michigan professional corporation, formed in 2000. (Compl. at ¶ 203). Bittner is the resident agent and president. (Id.). Defendant Elite Chiropractic P.C. (“Elite Chiro”) is a Michigan professional corporation formed in 2011. Derek Bittner is the resident agent and sole officer.

         Bittner P.C. and Elite Chiro submitted bills to State Farm Mutual for chiropractic services purportedly rendered at four locations: Sterling Heights, Detroit, Westland, and Riverview. (Compl. at ¶ 205).

         Defendant Elite Rehabilitation, Inc. (“Elite Rehab”) is a Michigan domestic non-profit formed by Bittner in 2011. (Compl. at ¶ 206). Defendant Pure Rehabilitation, Inc., (“Pure Rehab”) is a Michigan domestic non-profit corporation formed in March 2014 to replace Elite Rehab. (Compl. at ¶ 207).

         Defendant Elite Health Centers, Inc., (“Elite Health”) is a Michigan domestic non-profit formed in 2011 by Bittner. (Compl. at ¶ 208). From 2013 through June 2014, Elite Health submitted documentation for: (1) physical therapy under the assumed names Rehabilitation of Sterling Heights and Rehabilitation of Detroit; (2) for medical exams under the name Pain Specialists of Michigan; for surgery consultations under the name Prime Neurosurgery Group; and (3) for neurological consultations under the name Pioneer Neurology Group. Defendant Midwest Medical Associates, Inc. (“Midwest Medical”) is a Michigan domestic non-profit corporation formed in March 2014 to replace Elite Health.

         b. Defendant Chiropractors

         Defendant Ryan Matthew Lukowski, D.C. (“Lukowski”) is a licensed chiropractor. (Compl. at ¶ 211). From Approximately 2012 through approximately February 2013, Lukowski worked for the Elite Entities full-time at the Detroit location and once a week at the Sterling Heights location.

         Defendant Michael Patrick Draplin, D.C., (“Draplin”) is a licensed chiropractor. (Compl. at ¶ 212). Draplin worked for the Elite Entities at the Detroit location, where he became the primary Elite chiropractor after Lukowski left.

         During this time, Lukowski and Draplin are alleged to have falsely purported to provide legitimate chiropractic evaluations and treatment for a significant number of patients who treated at Elite pursuant to the Predetermined Protocol, referred patients to Elite doctors for medical exams pursuant to which medically unnecessary physical therapy could be prescribed and ordered medically unnecessary MRIs.

         c. The Elite Doctors

         Defendant Noah Upfall, D.O. (“Upfall”) is a licensed doctor of osteopathy. (Compl. at ¶ 213). Upfall worked for Elite Health and its successor, Midwest Medical, from 2011 through February 2014.

         Defendant Mark J. Juska, M.D. (“Juska”) is a licensed medical doctor. (Compl. at ¶ 214). Juska worked at Elite Health and its successor, Midwest Medical, from late 2013 through early 2015. Juska testified that: he was an employee of Michigan Sports and Spine Center, P.C. (“Michigan Sports”); his boss was Jeff S. Pierce, D.O., who is the president of Michigan Sports; Pierce arranged for him to work at Elite Health; there was a relationship or agreement between Elite Health and Michigan Sports; and that he was paid by Michigan sports, not Elite Health.

         Upfall and Juska are alleged to have falsely purported to examine, diagnose and prescribe medically unnecessary physical therapy for patients who treated at the Elite Entities and made referrals to other Elite doctors and ordered medically unnecessary MRIs.

         d. MRI Defendants

         Defendant Superior Diagnostic, Inc. (“Superior”) is a Michigan non-profit corporation formed in 2014. (Compl. at ¶ 215). Superior is owned by Bittner and Radom, either directly or indirectly through Midwest Medical, which in turn is owned by Bittner and Radom.

         Bittner and Radom are alleged to have directed chiropractors, doctors and staff at the Elite Entities to steer patients to Superior for medically unnecessary MRIs to serve Radom's and Bittner's financial interests.

         Defendant Chintan Desai, M.D. (“Desai”) is a licensed doctor and works as an independent contractor with a teleradiology company where he remotely reviews MRIs for Horizon, a mobile MRI truck located in a parking lot (which Radom allegedly has a financial interest). (Compl. ¶¶ 22, 216).

         Defendant Michael J. Paley, M.D. (“Paley”) is a licensed doctor and remotely reviews MRIs from Horizon and Superior. (Compl. at ¶ 217).

         Desai and Paley have allegedly provided fraudulent MRI reports for patients who treated at Elite, which report abnormalities that do not exist and which over-read and exaggerate abnormalities that may exist.

         e. The Rosett Defendants

         At all times relevant to this action, Defendant Jayson Rosett (“Rosett”) owned Defendant Dearborn Center for Physical Therapy, LLC (“Dearborn Center”) and Defendant Michigan Center for Physical Therapy, Inc. (“Michigan Center”) (collectively, “the Rosett PT Entities”). (Compl. at ¶ 219).

         Rosett is alleged to have directed the activities of those who were employed by and associated with the Rosett PT Entities. From 2011 to present, the Rosett PT Entities allegedly submitted medical records and supporting documents, which are fraudulent in that they represented that physical therapy ...


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