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Case 4:17-cv-00248-HLM Document 1 Filed 10/23/17 Page 1 of 13

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ROME DIVISION

CHATTANOOGA—HAMILTON )
COUNTY HOSPITAL AUTHORITY )
d/b/a ERLANGER HEALTH SYSTEM, ) CIVIL ACTION NO.
)
Petitioner, )
)
v. )
)
SHANNON WHITFIELD, in his capacity ) JURY TRIAL
as the Sole Commissioner of Walker ) DEMANDED
County, Georgia, and WALKER )
COUNTY, GEORGIA, )
)
Respondents. )

PETITION IN THE NATURE OF MANDAMUS
SEEKING SUPPLEMENTARY RELIEF IN AID OF JUDGMENT

Plaintiff Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a

Erlanger Health System (“Erlanger”), pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil

Procedure 69(a) and 81(b), respectfully submits this Petition in the Nature

of Mandamus Seeking Supplementary Relief in Aid of Judgment,

showing the Court as follows:

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PARTIES, JURISDICTION, AND VENUE

1. Petitioner Erlanger is a Tennessee hospital authority organized and

created by private act under the laws of the State of Tennessee, which is

incorporated and maintains its principal place of business in the State of

Tennessee at 975 East 3rd Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37403-2147.

Accordingly, Erlanger is a citizen of the State of Tennessee.

2. Respondent Shannon Whitfield is the Sole Commissioner of Walker

County, Georgia; resides in Walker County, Georgia; and maintains his

office at the Walker County Commissioner’s Office, 101 South Duke

Street, LaFayette, Georgia 30728, where he may be served with process.

3. As a resident and citizen of the State of Georgia, Respondent

Whitfield is subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court.

4. Respondent Walker County, Georgia (“Walker County”) is a

political subdivision and county of the State of Georgia and may be

served with process on its Sole Commissioner, Shannon Whitfield, at 101

South Duke Street, LaFayette, Georgia 30728.

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5. As a county within the State of Georgia, Respondent Walker

County is a citizen of the State of Georgia and subject to personal

jurisdiction in this Court.

6. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §

1332, as there is complete diversity among the parties and the amount in

controversy exceeds the sum of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

7. The Court further has supplemental jurisdiction over this matter

because it is a “proceeding[ ] supplementary to and in aid of judgment or

execution” within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure

69(a)(1).

8. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) and

(b) because Respondents are located in this District and because a

substantial part of the events giving rise to Erlanger’s claims occurred in

this District.

9. Venue is additionally appropriate in this Division because

Respondents are located within this Division and because the activity

giving rise to Erlanger’s claims occurred in this Division.

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FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

10. On December 28, 2015, Erlanger filed an action in this Court to

collect the amount Walker County owed to Erlanger arising out of its

guarantee of a loan extended to the Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade,

and Catoosa Counties. See Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority

v. Walker County, Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00250-HLM) (the “Erlanger

Action”).

11. On August 23, 2016, this Court entered summary judgment in the

Erlanger Action in favor of Erlanger on Count One of its claims in the

amount of $8,705,000, plus interest accruing at the legal rate, and certified

its judgment as final. (Erlanger Action, Doc. No. 37) (the “Summary

Judgment Order”). Specifically, in the Summary Judgment Order, the

Court: “GRANT[ED] Erlanger’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

[33], and enter[ed] summary judgment in favor of Erlanger and against

Walker County in the amount of $8,705,000 in principal, exclusive of

interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. The Court DIRECT[ED] the Clerk to

enter judgment in favor of Erlanger and against Walker County on Count

One in the amount of $8,705,000, plus interest accruing at the legal rate.

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The Court further [found] that no just reason for delay exist[ed], and

CERTIFIE[D] this Order as a final Order for purposes of Federal Rule of

Civil Procedure 54(b).” (Erlanger Action, Doc. No. 37 at 61-62).

12. Pursuant to the terms of the Summary Judgment Order, the Clerk

of this Court entered a judgment (the “Judgment”) in favor of Erlanger on

August 23, 2016 in the Erlanger Action. (Erlanger Action, Doc. No. 38

(“Ordered and Adjudged that judgment is entered in favor of Erlanger

and against Walker County on Count One of Erlanger’s Complaint in the

amount of $8,705,000, plus interest accruing at the legal rate.”).

13. In the Summary Judgment Order, the Court also deferred

adjudication of Erlanger’s claim for attorneys’ fees and expenses of

litigation in Count Two of its Complaint, pending a jury trial, and the

Court recently entered a pretrial order on that portion of the Erlanger

Action.

14. Walker County subsequently appealed the Judgment entered on

the Summary Judgment Order. (See Walker County, Appellant v.

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority d/b/a Erlanger Health

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System, Appellee, Appeal 16-15656 (Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals)

(the “Eleventh Circuit Appeal”).

15. On July 13, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Judgment and

the Clerk of the Eleventh Circuit docketed a letter stating that the court’s

“[j]udgment has this day been entered pursuant to FRAP 36.” (Erlanger

Action, Doc. No. 46-1).

16. Thereafter, the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion affirming Erlanger’s

judgment issued as mandate, and on September 7, 2017, this Court

entered an Order in the Erlanger Action “ordering and adjudging that the

mandate of the United States Court of Appeals be and hereby is made the

judgment of this Court.” (Erlanger Action, Doc. No. 49).

17. In the course of the proceedings in the Eleventh Circuit, the court

of appeals determined, based in part on the parties’ stipulations, that pre-

judgment interest on the Judgment should run from May 12, 2016. (See

April 12, 2017 order issued by Circuit Judges Tjoflat and Hull indicating

that the parties were bound by their representations regarding the

prejudgment interest rate and the date that prejudgment interest began to

accrue).

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18. Per Georgia statute, pre-judgment interest is computed at 7% per

annum simple interest running from May 12, 2016 through the date of

judgment. Accordingly, in addition to the principal amount of the

Judgment, $171,953.35 is due to Erlanger from Walker County in pre-

judgment interest.

19. In addition to the foregoing, post-judgment interest has continued

to accrue on the Judgment, and such interest is calculated pursuant to the

terms of 28 U.S.C. § 1961. As of October 23, 2017, $60,140.79 is due and

outstanding in unpaid post-judgment interest on the Judgment, and such

interest continues to accrue at a rate of $141.88 per day until the time the

Judgment is paid.

20. Despite repeated demands for payment communicated to Walker

County and its counsel over the course of several months, Walker County

has not paid all or any portion of the amounts outstanding under the

Judgment, which it is lawfully obligated to pay, and has offered no

plausible excuse or justification for failing to do so.

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21. Respondent Whitfield is the Sole Commissioner of Walker County

and has the legal authority and responsibility to satisfy the unpaid

portion of the Judgment on behalf of Walker County.

22. Upon information and belief, Respondents Whitfield and Walker

County have sufficient funds available to them in Walker County’s bank

accounts, general fund depository, and/or general fund treasury to

satisfy at least a portion of the outstanding and unpaid portion of the

Judgment.

23. Furthermore, Respondents Whitfield and Walker County have the

ability and lawful authority to levy and collect taxes and to borrow funds

to pay the lawful debts of Walker County, including, without limitation,

the ability to levy and collect such taxes and borrow such funds as are

necessary to satisfy the Judgment.

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COUNT ONE
RELIEF IN THE NATURE OF MANDAMUS

24. Erlanger incorporates and reasserts, as if fully set forth herein, all

of the preceding paragraphs of the Petition.

25. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 81(b), “[r]elief

previously available through [writs of mandamus] may be obtained by

appropriate action or motion under the[ ] [Federal R]ules.”

26. Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 69(a)(1),

“proceedings supplementary to and in aid of judgment or execution . . .

must accord with the procedure of the state where the court is located[.]”

Cf. GE Betz, Inc. v. Zee Co., 718 F.3d 615, 626-27 (7th Cir. 2013) (“We

endeavor to provide the same procedural rights and processes that the

parties would enjoy in . . . state court here in federal court; however, we

need not ‘apply every jot and tittle of [state] procedural law.’”).

27. Such supplementary proceedings include proceedings brought to

enforce money judgments against counties in a particular state. See

Huddleston v. Dwyer, 322 U.S. 232 (1944).

28. In Georgia, judgment creditors have an absolute right to

mandamus to compel public officials to pay judgments entered against

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political subdivisions, including, where necessary, through the levying

and collection of taxes. See, e.g., Bradford v. Bolton, 215 Ga. 188 (1959); see

also Ellis v. Caldwell, 290 Ga. 336 (2012).

29. In such proceedings, defenses which relate merely to the validity of

the underlying claim are barred. See Board of Education v. Franklin, 204 Ga.

364 (1948).

30. Erlanger has a clear legal right to collect the outstanding and

unpaid portion of the Judgment from Walker County, and Respondents

Whitfield and Walker County have a clear legal obligation to satisfy the

Judgment.

31. Moreover, Erlanger has no adequate remedy, short of an order in

the nature of mandamus, to recover the amounts owed to it under the

Judgment from Walker County.

32. Accordingly, Erlanger respectfully requests that the Court compel

Respondents Whitfield and Walker County: (i) to satisfy the Judgment in

full by using funds available in Walker County’s bank accounts, general

fund depositories, and/or general fund treasuries; and (ii) if such

accounts, depositories, and treasuries have insufficient funds to satisfy

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the Judgment in full, to levy and collect taxes, or borrow funds, and use

such collections and funds to satisfy the Judgment in full, or do each and

every other act required of them in order to satisfy the Judgment in full.

COUNT TWO
EXPENSES OF LITIGATION, INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES

33. Erlanger incorporates and reasserts, as if fully set forth herein, all

of the preceding paragraphs of the Petition.

34. There is no question that the Judgment is lawful. Indeed, Walker

County had the opportunity to appeal the Judgment and the same was

affirmed on appeal.

35. Likewise, there is no question that Respondents Whitfield and

Walker County are lawfully obligated to satisfy the Judgment.

36. Nevertheless, Respondents have largely ignored Erlanger’s

demands for payment and have refused to pay any portion of the

Judgment entered against Walker County, and have instead launched a

public relations campaign against Erlanger in which Walker County has

spread misinformation about the nature of its liability to Erlanger.

37. Accordingly, Respondents have acted in bad faith, been stubbornly

litigious, and have caused Erlanger unnecessary trouble and expense.

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38. Thus, in addition to all other relief to which Erlanger is entitled, it

is further entitled to recover its expenses of litigation related exclusively

to this mandamus proceeding, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and

expenses, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11, to be determined by a jury.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Erlanger respectfully demands that an order and

judgment be entered in its favor and against Respondents as follows:

a. compelling Respondents Whitfield and Walker County: (i) to

satisfy the Judgment, including pre- and post-judgment interest, in

full by using funds available in Walker County’s bank accounts,

general fund depositories, and/or general fund treasuries; and (ii)

if such accounts, depositories, and treasuries have insufficient

funds to satisfy the Judgment in full, to levy and collect taxes, or

borrow funds, and use such collections and funds to satisfy the

Judgment in full, or do each and every other act required of them

in order to satisfy the Judgment in full;

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b. awarding Erlanger expenses of litigation, including

reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 13-

6-11;

c. awarding Erlanger costs incurred in this proceeding; and

d. awarding Erlanger such other and further relief as the Court

deems just, appropriate, and equitable under the circumstances.

Respectfully submitted this 23d day of October 2017.

ARNALL GOLDEN GREGORY LLP

/s/ Karen B. Bragman
Karen B. Bragman
Georgia Bar No. 75755
Edward A. Marshall
Georgia Bar No. 471533
Jennifer L. Shelfer
Georgia Bar No. 557213

171 17th Street NW; Suite 2100
Atlanta, Georgia 30363
404.873.8654 (telephone)
404.873.8655 (facsimile)

Attorneys for Petitioner

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