United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ELDIE L. CRUZ, M.D., Plaintiff,
LOVELACE HEALTH SYSTEM, INC., LOVELACE HEALTH SYSTEM, INC. dba LOVELACE MEDICAL GROUP, LOVELACE HEALTH SYSTEM, LOVELACE MEDICAL GROUP, AHS MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC., AHS MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC. dba ARDENT HEALTH SERVICES, AHS NEW MEXICO HOLDINGS, INC., AHS ALBUQUERQUE HOLDINGS, LLC, BHC MANAGEMENT SERVICES OF NEW MEXICO, LLC, ARDENT HEALTH SERVICES, INC., ARDENT HEALTH SERVICES, LLC, ARDENT HEALTH SERVICES, and RELIANCE STANDARD LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BRACK SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eldie Cruz (Plaintiff) was employed as a general surgeon.
Following a leave of absence from the hospital where he
worked, Plaintiff filed for long-term disability (LTD)
benefits under his employer-sponsored health insurance plan
and was denied. He was eventually fired and lost his medical
privileges and alleges that he never received any of the LTD
benefits he believes he was entitled to under the plan.
Plaintiff now brings suit against 13 named defendants, most
of which are somehow connected to his employer through a web
of business names and chains of corporate ownership. As a
result, various defendants have filed four separate motions
to dismiss and numerous other notices of joinder adopting by
reference the other defendants' motions. The Court will
rule on the motions to dismiss in a separate opinion. Before
it can assess the sufficiency of the pleadings, however, the
Court must sort out the identities of the various defendants
and determine the reach of the Court's personal
Memorandum Opinion and Order takes up three motions that will
clarify the procedural posture of this case: (i) AHS Medical
Holdings, LLC's Motion to Dismiss Claims Against
Non-Entity “Ardent Health Services” (Doc. 15);
(ii) Lovelace Health System, Inc.'s Notice of Joinder in
Motions to Dismiss adopting the same arguments regarding
alleged nonentities “Lovelace Medical Group” and
“Lovelace Health System” (Doc. 22); and (iii) AHS
Medical Holdings, LLC's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Personal Jurisdiction (Doc. 17).
identity of several of the named defendants is confusing but
critical to the Court's rulings on these various motions,
a brief overview of the parties is necessary. Plaintiff is a
general surgeon who was employed by “Lovelace.”
(Doc. 71 (Am. Compl.) ¶¶ 1, 22.) Plaintiff refers
to 10 of the 13 named defendants collectively as
“Lovelace” or “the Lovelace
Defendants.” (Id. ¶ 15.) The so-called
“Lovelace Defendants” include:
1. Lovelace Health System, Inc.
2. Lovelace Health System
3. Lovelace Medical Group
4. AHS Management Company, Inc.
5. Ardent Health Services
6. AHS New Mexico Holdings, Inc.
7. AHS Albuquerque Holdings, LLC
8. BHC Management Services of New Mexico, LLC
9. Ardent Health Services, Inc.
10. Ardent Health Services, LLC
(Id.) The only defendant that Plaintiff clearly
does not consider to be part of “Lovelace” is
Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company (Reliance). (See
Id. ¶¶ 15, 17.)
was the sponsor and plan administrator of a long term
disability plan (LTD Plan) that it offered to its employees.
(Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff participated in the LTD
Plan. (Id. ¶ 26.) Reliance was the Plan's
“claims administrator.” (Id. ¶ 25.)
“On March 1, 2016[, ] Plaintiff made a claim for [LTD
benefits] under the LTD Plan[, ]” which Reliance
denied. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 30.) Reliance did
determine, however, “that Plaintiff was entitled to
three months of LTD benefits to be paid by Lovelace . . .
.” (Id. ¶ 34.) Lovelace did not pay any
LTD Benefits to Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff did
receive “limited short term disability payments in
early 2016, but all payments and employment compensation
stopped in March 2016 when Lovelace unilaterally put
Plaintiff on unpaid leave.” (Id. ¶ 36.)
Also “[b]eginning in early 2016, Plaintiff and his
treating physicians repeatedly asked for reasonable
accommodation from Lovelace under the ADA to allow Plaintiff
to continue to work as a physician and support his family[,
]” but Lovelace did not provide the requested
accommodation. (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.) Finally, on
February 27, 2018, “Lovelace notified Plaintiff that
his medical privileges with Lovelace were being terminated .
. . .” (Id. ¶ 41.)
Motion to Dismiss Claims Against “Ardent Health
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), AHS Medical
Holdings, LLC f/k/a Ardent Health Services, LLC has moved to
dismiss all claims against named defendant “Ardent
Health Services, ” asserting that Ardent Health
Services is a federally registered service mark and thus
“is not a legal entity capable of being sued.”
(Doc. 15 at 1.)
Movant AHS Medical Holdings, LLC may participate in this
lawsuit because it was formerly known as named Defendant
Ardent Health Services, LLC.
threshold matter, while the movant's name is quite
similar to that of many of the defendants, AHS Medical
Holdings, LLC is not actually a named defendant in this case.
The “fka” designation that it employs, however,
suggests that “AHS Medical Holdings, LLC” is the
current name of “Ardent Health Services, LLC, ”
which is a named defendant. (See id.)
Still, Plaintiff asserts that AHS Medical Holdings, LLC does
not have standing in this case without evidence of a
connection to a named defendant. (Doc. 40 at 2-3.) According
to Plaintiff, “Movant could have presented
documentation proving the alleged relationship between AHS
Medical Holdings, LLC and Ardent Health Services, LLC, but
did not.” (Doc. 42 at 3 n.1.) While some sort of
official documentation evidencing the name change would
indeed have helped the Court sort through this dispute more
efficiently, Plaintiff is ...