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Welsh v. McCollister's Transportation Group, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 20, 2014

JOSEPH WELSH, Plaintiff,
v.
MCCOLLISTER'S TRANSPORTATION GROUP, INC. and PETER BERGIN, jointly and severally, Defendants.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Joseph Welsh's motion for leave to file an amended complaint, (Doc. No. 15), and on McCollister's Transportation Group, Inc. and Peter Bergin's cross-motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and Defendants' motion is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's suit arises out of his allegedly unlawful termination from the employment of Defendant McCollister's Transportation Group, Inc. ("McCollister").

In May 1979, Plaintiff was hired by McCollister as a truck driver. (Compl. ¶ 4.) In August of 2005, Plaintiff was promoted to Driver Training Supervisor. ( Id. ¶ 5.) In that same year, Plaintiff's youngest three daughters were covered under McCollister's health insurance plan. ( Id. ¶ 7.) McCollister is a self-insuring company for employee health benefits and uses Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to administer the company's health insurance plan. ( Id. ¶ 3.)

One of Plaintiff's daughters, Kylynn Welsh, suffers from Pediatric Psoriasis, Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, and Hereditary Angioedema ("HAE"), a rare blood disorder. ( Id. ¶ 8.) In October 2008, the FDA approved a C1 inhibitor to combat the symptoms of Kylynn's HAE. (Id.) Kylynn received this treatment on a compassionate basis with the assistance of the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association. ( Id. ¶ 9.)

In February 2009, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield began covering Kylynn's medication. (Id.) Because McCollister was a self-insuring company, it became responsible for paying for this treatment. (Id.) In 2009, McCollister paid approximately $650, 000 for Kylynn's medication. (Id.) In 2012, the cost of Kylynn's treatment increased to approximately $840, 000. (Id.) As of May 2012, CVS Caremark informed McCollister that it was liable for $70, 000 of Kylynn's back medical bills. ( Id. ¶ 12.) That following July, McCollister and Defendant Peter Bergin ("Bergin"), McCollister's Vice President of Human Resources, terminated Plaintiff's employment. ( Id. ¶ 14.)

On October 23, 2012, Plaintiff filed suit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, alleging that McCollister intentionally retaliated against Plaintiff for his association with his daughter, Kylynn, a person defined as a disabled person under New Jersey state law. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff alleged that McCollister's acts were in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), and in violation of a clear mandate of public policy. (Id.)

On December 12, 2012, McCollister and Bergin filed a notice of removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) stating that this Court had original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Doc. No. 1.) In their notice, Defendants alleged, among other things, that although Plaintiff brought suit under the NJLAD, while also alleging a violation of a clear mandate of public policy, his factual allegations more closely approximated a cause of action under section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), and thus was properly before this Court. (Id.)

On June 21, 2013, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to which he attached his proposed Amended Complaint (the "proposed Amended Complaint"). (Doc. No. 15.) In this proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleged new causes of action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"). (Id.) Plaintiff retained his state law causes of action. (Id.)

On July 3, 2013, Defendants filed a cross-motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint as well as an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) Plaintiff then filed a reply memorandum in response to Defendants' cross-motion and opposition, attaching, as an exhibit, a revised proposed Amended Complaint (the "revised proposed Amended Complaint"). (Doc. No. 19.) In this revised proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiff seeks to add a new cause of action under sections 502(a) and 514(a) of ERISA. (Id.) He also seeks to add Kylynn Welsh as a plaintiff. (Id.) Notably, although Plaintiff still alleges a cause of action under the ADA, he omits his prior claims under the NJLAD and Title VII, as well as his claim that Defendants violated a clear mandate of public policy. (Id.)

After Plaintiff filed his reply memorandum, the parties then filed additional letters and reply briefs discussing, among other things, the propriety of Plaintiff's attempt to revise his proposed Amended Complaint via exhibit.

The Court will now turn to ...


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