Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schenberger v. Air Evac Ems Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

March 15, 2017

SUSAN SCHNEBERGER; LACY STIDMAN; and JOHNNY TRENT, Individually and as Class Representatives, Plaintiffs,



         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and, in the alternative, to Strike Class Allegations. [Doc. 19]. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case began with the question of whether the rates that Defendants charged Plaintiffs for air ambulance services are excessive as a matter of Oklahoma law. It ends at the pleading stage with a determination that federal law preempts Plaintiffs' claims.

         Defendants Air Evac EMS, Inc. (“Air Evac”) and EagleMed, LLC (“EagleMed”) are air ambulance carriers who provided emergency transport to Plaintiffs or their relatives in 2014 and 2015. Plaintiffs seek relief on the ground that these charges were unreasonable. Plaintiff Susan Schneberger, for example, was originally billed $63, 564.71 after EagleMed transported her now-deceased husband 416 miles from one hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, to another one in Houston, Texas. She alleges that she did not receive the choice of transporting her husband in any other manner. When Ms. Schneberger's insurer refused to pay any of her balance with EagleMed on the grounds that the charges were not medically necessary, EagleMed offered her a “significant discount on [her] past due account” of 16%, resulting in a charge of $53, 133.83.[1] [Doc. 1, Ex. 2, at 11].

         Plaintiff Lacy Stidman's trip with EagleMed was shorter though her experience was similar. EagleMed flew her 67 miles from a location in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, to a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bringing her bill to $34, 696.79. Stidman's insurer paid a portion, leaving her with the remaining balance of $19, 516.26. [Id. at 12].

         Finally, Plaintiff Johnny Trent faces an account balance of $45, 101.94 after Defendant Air Evac rushed him 106 miles from Elk City, Oklahoma, to Oklahoma City. [Id. at 13].

         These three Plaintiffs, along with several others, originally filed a putative class action in state court in Oklahoma against Air Evac, EagleMed, and two other Defendants- Air Methods Corp. and Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC (“Air Methods Defendants”). Plaintiffs alleged breach of implied contract, money had and received, and violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act. They also sought declaratory and injunctive relief. [Doc. 1, Ex. 2]. Defendants removed [Doc. 1] and survived a Motion to Remand. [Doc.47]. The Court temporarily stayed this case pending Defendants' Motion b efo re the Ju d icial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to centralize the class actions against the Air Methods Defendants that were percolating around the country. [Doc. 53].

         Though the MDL Panel denied the request, it noted that transfer of claims against the Air Methods Defendants would be eminently feasible and would minimize any potential for duplicative discovery or inconsistent pretrial rulings. [Doc. 64, Ex. 1]. To that end, this Court severed the claims against the Air Methods Defendants pursuant to the Parties' Joint Motion. [Doc. 65]. The Court then transferred the claims against the Air Methods Defendants to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. [Id.]. Following this severance and transfer, only the claims against Air Evac and EagleMed remained before the Court, thus leaving three Plaintiffs-Schneberger, Stidman, and Trent.

         Because Plaintiffs dismissed their Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act claim, all that remain are their claims for breach of implied contract, for money had and received, and their request for declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs argue that Defendants' rates, which allegedly exceed the customary and reasonable rates allowable under Oklahoma law, do not rationally relate to the value of Defendants' services. [Doc. 1, Ex. 2, at 16]. Worse, Plaintiffs argue, they did not legally consent because they were unconscious or lacked legal capacity when transported; and if any relative signed a form authorizing transport for Plaintiff, it was only after learning that the Plaintiff would die without the transport. [Id. at 17]. Defendants move to dismiss these claims as federally preempted, or in the alternative, to strike Plaintiffs' class allegations as facially defective. Because the Court finds that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 does in fact preempt Plaintiffs' claims, the Court need not reach the question of whether Plaintiffs can maintain a class action.


         “Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a pleading must offer more than “labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). There must be “sufficient factual matter, [which if] accepted as true . . . state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court “must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint . . . and must construe them in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party].” Thomas v. Kaven, 765 F.3d 1183, 1190 (10th Cir. 2014). That said, “[a] district court may grant judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the basis of an affirmative defense like preemption when the law compels that result.” Caplinger v. Medtronic, Inc., 784 F.3d 1335, 1341 (10th Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 796 (2016).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.