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Abrams v. Peppermill Casinos, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 15, 2017

JOSHUA ABRAMS, an individual; PRESTON FORTNEY, an individual; NOE LUNA, an individual; SALESH JATAN, an individual; NANCI WIRTH, an individual; ADAM YOUNG, an individual; EMERIO BENAVIDES, an individual; JEFFREY SHARP, an individual; ANA HLEDIK, an individual; and FE HLEDIK, an individual, all on behalf of themselves and all similarly-situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
PEPPERMILL CASINOS, INC., a Nevada corporation; and DOES 1 through 100, inclusive, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         Pending before this Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying Remand (“Motion to Reconsider”) (ECF No. 17) and Defendant Peppermill Casinos, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (“MTD”) (ECF No. 18). The Court has reviewed the parties' responses (ECF Nos. 20, 22), replies (ECF Nos. 21, 23), and Plaintiffs' accompanying exhibit to their Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 19-1).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Plaintiffs' Motion to Reconsider and grants in part Defendant's MTD.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In their amended class action complaint (“FAC”), Plaintiffs advance two claims against Defendant: (1) violation of Nevada's Minimum Wage Amendment (“MWA” or “the Amendment”) and (2) violation of NRS § 608.1555. As to their first claim, Plaintiffs contend that Defendant has violated the MWA by failing to provide qualified health benefit plans consistent with NRS § 608.1555, which states that “[a]ny employer who provides benefits for health care to his or her employees shall provide the same benefits and pay providers of health care in the same manner as a policy of insurance pursuant to chapters 689A and 690B of NRS.” (ECF No. 1-2 at ¶¶ 73-75, 88-89; see also ECF No. 17 at 3 (“it is true that Plaintiffs allege that Defendant has violated the Amendment by failing to provide the same benefits and pay providers of health care in the same manner as a policy of insurance pursuant to NRS Chapters 689A and 689B”) (internal quotation marks omitted).) Simultaneously, Plaintiffs' second claim contends that Defendant's proffered health care benefits do not meet the requirements of NRS Chapters 689A and 689B and, therefore, that Defendant has violated NRS § 608.1555. (ECF No. 1-2 at ¶¶ 93-94.)

         In the Court's prior order (ECF No. 16), it denied Plaintiffs' motion to remand (ECF No. 7), finding that complete preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), applied to Plaintiffs' second claim because NRS § 608.1555 “clearly relates” to an ERISA-regulated plan. (ECF No. 16 at 5.) The Court also found that Plaintiffs' reading of the MWA requires this Court “to determine whether the benefits provided by Defendant fail to satisfy the requirements under NRS Chapters 689A and 689B, ” which is the second claim for relief as well as the legal theory advanced in support of the first claim for relief. (Id. at 6.) Because “state causes of action that ‘duplicate or fall within the scope of an ERISA § 502(a) remedy' are completely preempted and hence removable to federal court, ” Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 206 (2004) (quoting Roark v. Humana, Inc., 307 F.3d 298, 305 (2002)) (internal alterations omitted), the Court found removal of Plaintiffs' second claim for violation of NRS § 608.1555 to be proper. The Court then chose to extend supplemental jurisdiction to Plaintiffs' first claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). (ECF No. 16 at 6.) Plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of that order.

         III. MOTION TO RECONSIDER (ECF No. 17) [1]

         Plaintiffs argue that, in the Court's order denying their motion to remand, the Court misconstrued the allegations of the FAC because Plaintiffs “do not allege that Defendant must provide particular benefits to [Plaintiffs]” or that Defendant has failed to provide a “precise health benefit plan . . . as promised, ” and also contend that they “could not have brought [their second claim] under § 502(a) of ERISA.” (ECF No. 17 at 3, 4.)[2] The Court disagrees and finds that it did not misconstrue the allegations in the FAC.[3]

         A. Legal Standard

         A court may relieve a party from a final judgment, order or proceeding only in the following circumstances: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;[4] (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied; or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b); see also De Saracho v. Custom Food Mach., Inc., 206 F.3d 874, 880 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting that the district court's denial of a Rule 60(b) motion is reviewed for an abuse of discretion).

         Thus, a motion for reconsideration must set forth the following: (1) some valid reason why the court should revisit its prior order; and (2) facts or law of a “strongly convincing nature” in support of reversing the prior decision. Frasure v. United States, 256 F.Supp.2d 1180, 1183 (D. Nev. 2003). Motions for reconsideration are not “the proper vehicle for rehashing old arguments, ” Resolution Trust Corp. v. Holmes, 846 F.Supp. 1310, 1316 (S.D. Tex. 1994) (footnote omitted), and are not “intended to give an unhappy litigant one additional chance to sway the judge.” Durkin v. Taylor, 444 F.Supp. 879, 889 (E.D. Va. 1977).

         B. Discussion

         The Motion to Reconsider and accompanying reply, as well as Plaintiffs' opposition to Defendant's MTD, make clear that Plaintiffs have misunderstood the meaning of NRS § 608.1555 in arguing that their second claim is not preempted by ERISA.[5] For that reason, the Court clarifies its prior order by focusing exclusively on the statute's meaning-which applies only where there is an ERISA health care plan-so that it may elucidate why Plaintiffs' second claim is preempted.[6]

         1. NRS § 608.1555

         In Nevada, an employer has three choices: (1) provide no health insurance plan[7]to its employees; (2) provide a health insurance plan to its employees by purchasing a policy through a commercial insurance company;[8] or (3) create its own health care plan for its employees, [9] which may or may not be administered by an entity separate from the employer. NRS § 608.1555 applies to the third category. Thus, based on the plain language of NRS § 608.1555 and the legislative history behind that statutory provision, the Court construed the second claim of the FAC to allege that Defendant acts as an insurer by providing a self-funded health care plan to its employees and that Defendant's plan fails to provide the benefits outlined in NRS Chapters 689A and/or 689B.[10]

         When interpreting a statute, a court's “starting point is the plain language of the statute” itself. United States v. Williams, 659 F.3d 1223, 1225 (9th Cir. 2011). If a statute is unambiguous on its face, then that meaning controls and a court need look no further. Children's Hosp. & Health Ctr. v. Belshe, 188 F.3d 1090, 1096 (9th Cir. 1999). However, if a statute's meaning is not plain, a court may look to the legislative intent behind the statute. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. United States Envtl. Prot. Agency, 217 F.3d 1246, 1251 (9th Cir. 2000). As noted, NRS § 608.1555 states that, “Any employer who provides benefits for health care to his or her employees shall provide the same benefits and pay providers of health care in the same manner as a policy of insurance pursuant to chapters 689A and 689B of NRS.” Because the statute's use of “provides” may be ambiguous as to the fashion in which an employer provides its employees with health care ...


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