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Jackson v. Chevron Corporation Long-Term Disability Organization

January 30, 2006

TRACY N. JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHEVRON CORPORATION LONG-TERM DISABILITY ORGANIZATION, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, CHEVRON CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, AND CONNECTICUT GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY AND ITS CIGNA GROUP INSURANCE, JOHN DOES 1-10, AND MARY DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martini, U.S.D.J.

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED as to Count I, but DENIED as to Counts II-V.

I. Background

Plaintiff Tracy N. Jackson ("Jackson") worked as a refinery process technician for Defendant Chevron Corporation from October 29, 1990 to February 24, 1994. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 6). As a full-time employee, Jackson was entitled to long-term disability benefits under the Chevron Corporation Long-Term Disability Plan (the "LTD Plan"). (Amend. Compl. ¶ 10). On or about March 28, 1994, Defendants determined that Jackson was disabled and entitled to long-term disability benefits.*fn1 (Amend. Compl. ¶ 12).

On July 19, 1999, Defendants notified Jackson that she no longer fell within the definition of "total disability" under the LTD Plan and, therefore, was not entitled to benefits beyond July 22, 1999. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 13). Jackson appealed this decision. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 13). After Defendants denied her appeal, she filed suit in this Court on July 19, 2005. (See Amend. Compl. ¶ 16).

Jackson's Amended Complaint contains three counts.*fn2 Count I alleges that Defendants breached their ERISA fiduciary duties under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(2) and requests $75,000.00 in damages. (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 20, 21). Count II alleges a claim for ERISA benefits under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(a)(1)(B), 1132(a)(3). (Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 22). Count III also alleges a claim for ERISA benefits under § 1132(a)(1)(B). (See Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 28-32). Count IV seeks unspecified damages for Defendants breach of their fiduciary duties under "Part 4 of Title I of ERISA," 29 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1114. (See Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 34-35). Finally, Count V alleges that Defendants violated 29 U.S.C. §§ 1024(b), 1025(b) by failing to provide claims information and materials requested by Plaintiff on a timely basis. (Amend. Compl. ¶ 37).

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Jackson's Amended Complaint. In their motion, Defendants argue that: (1) Counts I and IV must be dismissed because an individual plaintiff cannot obtain monetary damages based on an alleged breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA; (2) Counts I and IV are untimely; (3) Counts II and III are also untimely; and (4) Count V fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

II. Standard of Review

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc., v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If, after viewing the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, it appears beyond doubt that no relief could be granted "under any set of facts which could prove consistent with the allegations," a court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Zynn v. O'Donnell, 688 F.2d 940, 941 (3d Cir. 1982).

III. Discussion

A. Count I Must be Dismissed Because an Individual Plaintiff Cannot State a Claim for Monetary Damages Under § 1132(a)(2)

Defendants argue that Count I must be dismissed because an individual plaintiff cannot state a claim for monetary damages under § 1132(a)(2) of ERISA.*fn3 Defendants are correct. It is well-established that where a plaintiff seeks to recover benefits allegedly owed to them in their individual capacities, their action is not authorized under § 1132(a)(2). See Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Russell, 473 U.S. 134, 144 (1985) ("[T]he entire text of [§ 1109] persuades us that Congress did not intend that section to authorize any relief except for the plan itself.") (emphasis added); see also Hozier v. Midwest Fasteners Inc., 908 F.2d 155, 1162 n.7 (3d Cir. 1990) ("Because plaintiffs here seek to recover benefits allegedly owed to them in their individual capacities, their action is plainly not authorized by either § [1109] or § [1132](a)(2).").

Accordingly, Count I must be dismissed.

B. Count IV Must Not be Dismissed Because Individual Relief May be Available Under 29 ...


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