Case News

Federal Court Remands Medi-Cal Civil Rights Litigation to State Court

On October 18, 2017, the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California remanded to Alameda County Superior Court the matter of Jimenez Perea v. Dooley, in which Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow LLP, along with co-counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), represents numerous Medi-Cal participants and advocacy organizations, including the Community Division of the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), alleging that Medi-Cal violates the civil rights of its mostly Latino participants by effectively denying them access to Medi-Cal’s full benefits. The complaint, available here, documents how Medi-Cal’s low reimbursement rates for doctors, various administrative burdens for doctors and patients in the program, and the State’s failure to adequately monitor access to Medi-Cal result in civil rights violations. Medi-Cal’s access problems have worsened as the State has disinvested from the program at the same time as it has come to serve more and more Latino participants. These problems hurt everyone on Medi-Cal.

After Plaintiffs filed their complaint in state court, Defendants removed it to federal court under the argument that the case concerned a “federal question.” In remanding the case to state court, Judge Gonzalez Rogers found, among other findings, that “California has principal authority for setting reimbursement rates” and thus “no federal question need be resolved to determine whether plaintiffs here are entitled to relief under state law.” Accordingly, she sent the case back to state court, where Plaintiffs originally filed their complaint. The case will now move forward in state court, where Plaintiffs look forward to making their case. A copy of her order is available here.

More information about the filing of the complaint is available here and here. For additional information, please contact Catha Worthman or Darin Ranahan.