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United States v. Uradu

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Ashland

March 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROSE O. URADU, M.D. a/k/a ONYINYECHI ROSE URADU and ULTIMATE CARE MEDICAL SERVICES, LLC d/b/a ULTIMATE TREATMENT CENTER, DEFENDANTS.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Henry R. Wilhoit Jr., United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiffs Motion to Strike Defendants' Affirmative Defenses [Docket No. 16]. The matter as been fully briefed by the parties. For the reasons stated herein, the Court will sustain the motion.

         I.

         The United States of America filed this civil action against Rose Uradu, M.D. and Ultimate Treatment Center, the substance abuse center which she owns and operates in Ashland, Kentucky. The basis for its lawsuit is set forth in the opening paragraphs of the Complaint:

The United States seeks civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 21 C.F.R. § 1300 et seq., on two bases: First, Dr. Uradu issued buprenorphine prescriptions to twice as many patients as is permitted by law. See 21 U.S.C. § 842(a)(1). Second, Ultimate Treatment Center failed to maintain complete and accurate records of the clinic's methadone and buprenorphine inventories, as reflected by shortages of both controlled substances. See 21 U.S.C. § 827(a)(3). This failure to comply with the Controlled Substances Act's record-keeping requirements created the potential for the unlawful diversion of these drugs.
The United States also seeks to recover treble damages and civil penalties under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., on two bases: First, during the period January 2013 to September 2014, Ultimate Treatment Center, at the direction of Dr. Uradu, systematically defrauded the Medicare and Kentucky Medicaid programs by submitting false claims for evaluation and management services that were not actually provided to patients. Second, during the period July 2013 to December 2014, Ultimate Treatment Center, at the direction of Dr. Uradu, defrauded the Medicare and Kentucky Medicaid programs by submitting false claims for quantitative urine drug tests that were not actually performed. The false or fraudulent claims Ultimate Treatment Center submitted, and that Dr. Uradu caused it to submit, have resulted in losses to the Medicare and Kentucky Medicaid programs in excess of $1 million.

[Docket No. 1, ¶¶ 2, 3].

         In their Answer, Defendants asserted the affirmative defenses of statue of limitations, equitable estoppel and corporate credit for services rendered. [Answer, Docket No. 13, ¶¶ 197-201].

         Plaintiff seeks entry of an Order striking these defenses as legally insufficient.

         II.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(b)(1)(A) requires a party responding to a pleading to "state in short and plain terms its defenses to each claim asserted against it." Rule 8(c)(1) states that a defendant "must affirmatively state any avoidance or affirmative defense," and provides a list of nineteen affirmative defenses.

         Affirmative defenses plead matters extraneous to the plaintiffs prima facie case, which deny plaintiffs right to recover, even if the allegations of the complaint are true. Martin v. Weaver, 666 F.2d 1013, 1019 (6th Cir. 1981). The burden of proving an affirmative defense rests with the party asserting it. Id.

         Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party, or the court acting sua sponte, to "strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The Sixth Circuit has held that "the action of striking a pleading should be sparingly used by the courts" and should be "resorted to only when required for the purposes of justice" and when "the pleading to be stricken has no possible relation to the controversy." Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. United States, 201 F.2d 819, 822 (6th Cir. 1953).

         An affirmative defense is insufficient when, as a matter of law, the defense cannot succeed under any circumstances. Id. See also Ameriwood Indus. Int'l Corp. v. Arthur ...


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