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Pushkin v. Nussbaum

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 28, 2017

DAVID B. PUSHKIN, Plaintiff,
v.
BETH R. NUSSBAUM, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          MICHAEL A. HAMMER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint, D.E. 288. Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motion, D.E. 293, 298, 300, 302, 303 and 304. The Court also has considered Plaintiff's reply in further support of his motion, D.E. 334. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motion.

         I.BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff filed the original Complaint in this matter on or about November 30, 2010, suing the following:

1. Beth R. Nussbaum (“Nussbaum”) -- Plaintiff's ex-wife
2. RHI Entertainment Inc. (“RHI”) -- Nussbaum's employer during her marriage to Plaintiff
3. Meritain Health (“Meritain”) -- the third party administrator (“TPA”) of the RHI employee benefit health plan (“RHI plan”)
4. Timothy J. Quinlivan, Esq. -- an attorney employed by Meritain Health
5. Aronsohn Weiner and Salerno, LLC (“AWS”) -- the law firm that represented Nussbaum in her divorce proceedings from Plaintiff, and
6. Kevin L. Bremer, Esq. -- an attorney with AWS

         Plaintiff claims that he was denied medical benefits to which he believes he was entitled. Compl., Nov. 30, 2010, D.E. 2. Through amendment, Plaintiff named additional defendants:

1. GEICO
2. Premier Prizm Solutions (“PPS”) - a case-management organization for personal-injury claims
3. Paul Feldman - a GEICO employee
4. Lisa Ardron and Gina Fuge -- two employees of PPS, and
5. Dominic Spaventa (“Spaventa”).

Amd. Compl., Feb. 17, 2011, D.E. 13.

         As summarized in Judge McNulty's Opinion on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges as follows:

Dr. Pushkin is a science educator, formerly employed by Bergen Community College and Fairleigh Dickinson University. He sustained an injury in August 2005 and was diagnosed with a lumbar spinal fracture between November 26, 2006 and January 22, 2007. On January 28, 2008, he sustained additional spinal injury in a motor vehicle accident. On March 21, 2007, he underwent fusion surgery on his lumbar spine. Pushkin asserts that by the end of 2008, he was no longer capable of performing duties associated with teaching chemistry and physics, and his employment was terminated on December 18, 2008. He filed for unemployment benefits and has not been employed since.

         Opinion on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Second Amd. Compl. Sept. 11, 2014, D.E. 286, at 3-4. Essentially, Plaintiff maintains that due to the actions of Defendants, he did not receive reimbursement from either his auto insurer or his ex-wife's health insurance plan. Pl.'s Motion to Amend the Third Amd. Comp., Oct. 15, 2014, D.E. 288.

         B. Procedural History

         The procedural history of this matter is lengthy, but bears discussion to place the instant motion in its proper context. Plaintiff originally filed a complaint in 2010 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiff sought damages from Defendants Nussbaum, RHI, Quinlivan, Meritain, Bremer, and AWS in the amount of $2, 000, 000 for “lost potential wages and employers benefits, ” “lost retroactive [extended term] Social Security Disability benefits, unpaid medical expenses, additional debt associated with unpaid medical expenses, costs associated with independent medical insurance premiums, ” and costs associated with Americans with Disabilities Act-complaint housing and “medical support requirements.” Compl., Nov. 30, 2010, D.E. 2, at 2.

         Plaintiff alleged that after he had spinal surgery in 2007, Defendants “willfully, repeatedly and adversely” interfered with Plaintiff's “health care and recovery, ” “physical disability status and legal eligibility for Social Security Disability (extended term) benefits under the Social Security Act, ” “legal eligibility for COBRA Health Insurance in accordance with the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Medicare Act of 1965, ” “legal medical insurance coverage, ” and “legal right to independent medical coverage under the 2010 Recovery Act's COBRA Health Insurance Continuation Premium Subsidy.” Id. ¶¶ 1-3, 5-6. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants “willfully, repeatedly and adversely” “violated Plaintiff's rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ” and “provided and used false information in order to deny Plaintiff's legal medical insurance coverage.” Id. ¶¶ 4, 7.

         On February 17, 2011, Plaintiff moved to amend his original Complaint. Pl.'s. Mot. to Amd. Compl., Feb. 17, 2011, D.E. 12. Plaintiff's 292-page Amended Complaint modified the amount sought in damages from $2, 000, 000 to $2, 092, 375. Amended Compl., Feb. 17, 2011, D.E. 13, at 2. It also provided a lengthy account of Plaintiff's surgeries, treatments, procedures, hospitalization, physical ability, rehabilitation, and his relationships with each of the Defendants. Id. at 3-11. It also alleged that Plaintiff's ex-wife did not support or accommodate him during his recovery, leading to their divorce and various obstacles in obtaining employment and health insurance coverage for crucial medical treatment. Id. Plaintiff also alleged that interference by RHI, Meritain, GEICO, PPS, Feldman, Ardron, Fuge, and Spaventa, caused Plaintiff ...


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