United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP REINHARD, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Steven Anderson, filed a complaint in the Circuit
Court of Boone County, alleging that defendants, DaimlerChrysler
Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. Health Care Plan, violated the
Illinois Wage and Payment Act (Wage Act), 829 ILCS 115/1 et
seq. (West 2002), by deducting money from plaintiff's weekly
pay check based on a disputed amount owed to defendants by
plaintiff for an alleged overpayment of benefits under the plan.
Defendants timely removed the state court action to this court,
contending that there is federal jurisdiction pursuant to
29 U.S.C § 1132(e) as plaintiff's action is one to recover benefits
due under an employee welfare benefit plan. Plaintiff, in turn,
has filed a motion to remand, contending that complete preemption
does not exist under section 502 of the Employee Retirement and
Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, because
plaintiff's state law claim can be resolved without an
interpretation of the plan.
If a claim is within the scope of section 502(a) it is
completely preempted, no matter how the plaintiff may have
characterized it. Klassy v. Physicians Plus Insurance Co.,
371 F.3d 952, 954 (7th Cir. 2004). Section 502(a) provides, in
relevant part, that a "civil action may be brought . . . by a
participant or beneficiary . . . to recover benefits due to him
under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the
terms of the plan, or to clarify his rights to future benefits
under the terms of the plan." 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1). There are
three factors to consider in determining whether a claim is
within the scope of section 502(a) and thus completely preempted:
(1) whether the plaintiff is eligible to bring a claim under that
section; (2) whether the plaintiff's cause of action falls within
the scope of an ERISA provision that the plaintiff can enforce
via section 502(a); and (3) whether the plaintiff's state law
claim cannot be resolved without an interpretation of the plan
governed by federal law. Klassy, 371 F.3d at 955.
In this case, plaintiff briefly mentions the three factors in
his motion to remand but relies on the case of Nagel v.
Chunkerman Packaging, Ltd., 19 F. Supp. 2d 826 (N.D. Ill. 1998),
a case he describes as "identical" (emphasis in original) to
his, as his sole authority. Based on the absence of any argument
to the contrary by plaintiff, combined with the fact the court in
Nagel ruled that the first two factors supported a finding of
complete preemption, this court finds that plaintiff has conceded
that in this case the first two factors support preemption under
section 502(a). Notwithstanding plaintiff's concession, the court
finds that the first two factors support section 502(a)
preemption as plaintiff is eligible to bring a claim under
section 502 and such an action would fall within the scope of
ERISA enforceable via section 502(a).
That leaves for consideration the third factor, whether
plaintiff's claim under the Wage Act cannot be resolved without
an interpretation of the health benefits plan. The court finds it
cannot. The plan provides for health care benefits and
specifically allows for collection of any overpayments of such
benefits via a deduction from "wages or benefits." The resolution
of the situation that underlies plaintiff's claim calls squarely
for an interpretation of the plan. Plaintiff's reliance on
Nagel in this regard is misplaced as in that case there was no
indication that the plan spoke to the situation of wage
deductions as it does here.
Because all three factors favor preemption under section
502(a), this matter was properly removed from state court. Thus,
plaintiff's motion to remand is denied.
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