United States District Court, N.D. Georgia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Cigna Health and Life Insurance
Company's renewed motion to dismiss, Dkt. 33, and the
Court's Order to Show Cause why this case should not be
transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Georgia, Dkt. 37. For the reasons that follow,
the Court will GRANT Cigna's motion to
dismiss and will ORDER that the remainder of
the action be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Georgia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
Court recounted the facts giving rise to this dispute in its
prior opinion, see Arora v. Buckhead Family Dentistry,
Inc., 263 F.Supp.3d 121, 125-26 (D.D.C. 2017), and will,
accordingly, only briefly outline the allegations relevant
for present purposes. In considering Cigna's motion to
dismiss, the Court must accept the factual allegations set
forth in the amended complaint as true. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
living in Atlanta, Georgia in 2013, Plaintiff Sanjay Arora
sought treatment for a cracked tooth from Dr. Travis Paige of
Buckhead Family Dentistry. Dkt. 6 at 4-5 (Am. Compl. ¶
15). Dr. Paige installed a permanent crown, which was
manufactured by Global Dental Solutions LLC. Id. at
9 (Am. Compl. ¶ 48). The procedure was covered by Cigna
Health and Life Insurance Company, Arora's dental
insurance provider at the time. Id. at 4 (Am. Compl.
¶ 12). Soon afterwards, Arora began to experience
intense discomfort and pain in the area surrounding the
crown. Id. at 5-6 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22-24).
The crown, it turned out, was not the “high noble metal
crown” for which Arora and Cigna paid. Id. at
5, 7-8 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17, 36, 41). Instead,
according to the invoice Global sent Buckhead Family
Dentistry, Arora received a non-noble crown of lower quality.
Id. at 8-9 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 47-48).
“demand[ed] a full refund” of his portion of the
dentist's fee (presumably, his co-payment) from Cigna so
that he could have the crown replaced. Id. at 7 (Am.
Compl. ¶ 39). In a letter dated July 10, 2014, Cigna
described the procedure at issue as receipt of a “high
noble metal crown on tooth #30.” Id. at 8 (Am.
Compl. ¶ 41). In addressing Arora's complaints,
Cigna stated that it “investigate[s] and take[s]
appropriate action on all quality of care concerns, ”
id. at 7 (Am. Compl. ¶ 40), and acknowledged
its “continuing effort to provide quality of care and
service, ” id. at 9 (Am. Compl. ¶ 49). It
declined, however, to refund to Arora the “applicable
patient copay[.]” Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 41).
Meanwhile, Arora switched dentists and had the crown removed.
Id. (Am. Compl. ¶ 45). He eventually moved to
the District of Columbia. Id. at 3 (Am. Compl.
pro se, Arora brought this diversity action against
(1) Dr. Paige and Buckhead Family Dentistry (collectively,
“Buckhead”); (2) Global Dental Solutions, LLC,
and Global's President, Brad Abramson (collectively,
“Global”); and (3) Cigna. As relevant here, the
amended complaint asserts claims for breach of fiduciary duty
and negligent misrepresentation against Cigna, as well as a
conspiracy claim against Cigna, Dr. Paige, and Buckhead.
Id. at 20-23, 26-27 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 115-36,
Global, and Cigna each moved to dismiss, Dkt. 7; Dkt. 11;
Dkt. 18; Dkt. 33, and Arora responded to all three motions,
Dkt. 15; Dkt. 16; Dkt. 24. In resolving those motions, the
Court first concluded that it lacked personal jurisdiction
over Buckhead and Global under D.C.'s long-arm statute.
Arora, 263 F.Supp.3d at 128. But, rather than simply
dismissing Arora's claims against those defendants, the
Court directed that the parties address whether the case
should be transferred to the Northern District of Georgia
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631 given Buckhead and
Global's ties to Atlanta and the fact that “most,
if not all, of the alleged events relevant to Arora's
claims occurred in Atlanta.” Arora, 263
F.Supp.3d at 128. The Court further concluded that Arora had
“failed to carry his burden of showing that he . . .
properly effected service of process” on Cigna.
Id. at 129. The Court, as a result, did not reach
the merits of Cigna's arguments that Arora's
complaint failed to state a claim and, instead, gave Arora a
further opportunity to effect service on Cigna. Id.
defendant opposed transfer on the ground that Arora's
claims lack merit and that transfer, therefore, would be
futile. See Dkt. 38 at 2-3; Dkt. 39 at 2; Dkt. 40 at
4. Arora, concerned about potential statute of limitations
difficulties, requested transfer. Dkt. 41 at 6-7. He also
filed a purported proof of service indicating that he had
served “Cigna's Legal Department” and
“Cigna's Attorney o[f] Record.” Dkt. 42 at 1.
Because Cigna had previously requested that the Court
consider the merits of its previously-filed motion to dismiss
“if [Arora] file[d] proof of service, ” Dkt. 40
at 3, the Court asked Cigna to clarify whether it intended to
contest service and, if not, whether the Court should treat
its motion to dismiss as renewed, Minute Order (Aug. 10,
2017). Cigna, in response, waived any objection to service
and renewed its earlier motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim. Dkt. 43 at 1-2. Arora filed a supplemental
opposition. Dkt. 46.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
“must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
570 (2007)). A claim is plausible if the plaintiff pleads
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
the complaint must contain “more than labels and
conclusions, [or] a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The Court must “assume [the] veracity” of
“well-pleaded factual allegations, ”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, and must “grant [the]
plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived
from the facts alleged, ” Sparrow v. United Air
Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000)
(internal quotation marks omitted). The Court, however, need
not accept “a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Cigna's Motion To Dismiss
Choice of Law
Arora has brought a diversity action, the Court “must
apply the choice-of-law rules of the forum state-here, the
District of Columbia.” In re APA Assessment Fee
Litig., 766 F.3d 39, 51 (D.C. Cir. 2014); see Orchin
v. Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co., 133 F.Supp.3d
138, 146 (D.D.C. 2015). The District of Columbia uses
“a modified governmental interests analysis[, ] which
seeks to identify the jurisdiction with the most significant
relationship to the dispute.” In re APA
Assessment, 766 F.3d at 51 (quoting Washkoviak v.
Student Loan Mktg. Ass'n, 900 A.2d 168, 180 (D.C.
2006)). The Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws, §
145, supplies the four factors relevant to this inquiry: (1)
“the place where the injury occurred;” (2)
“the place where the conduct causing the injury
occurred;” (3) “the domicile, residence,
nationality, place of incorporation and place of business of
the parties;” and (4) “the place where the
relationship is centered.” District of Columbia v.
Coleman, 667 A.2d 811, 816 (D.C. 1995).
these factors, Cigna argues that “the substantive law
of Georgia applies” because “the alleged injury,
the alleged conduct that caused the injury, and the
relationship between the parties all occurred in
Georgia.” Dkt. 33 at 12. Arora has not raised any
objection to the application of Georgia law. The Court agrees
with Cigna that the substantive law of Georgia governs this
action because, by any measure, Georgia has “the most
significant relationship” to the dispute. In addition
to the considerations Cigna has identified, both Buckhead and
Global are based in Atlanta, Georgia. Dkt. 6 at 3 (Am. Compl.
¶¶ 9, 11). The only conceivable basis for applying
D.C. substantive law is the fact that Arora eventually moved
to the District of Columbia. See ...