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Graphic Communications National Health and Welfare Fund v. Tackett

September 4, 2007

GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEE W. TACKETT A/K/A DONALD L. TACKETT, LINDA HIESTAND, HELEN IRWIN, TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF ILLINOIS N/K/A TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA AND GALLAGHER BASSETT SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction and Procedural Background

Graphic Communications National Health and Welfare Fund ("the Plan") is an employee welfare benefit plan providing medical, hospital and surgical expenses under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq. The Plan filed suit in June 2004 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and thereafter transferred to the Circuit Court of Marion County, seeking reimbursement for benefits that it paid to Defendants Lee W. Tackett a/k/a/ Donald L. Tackett ("Tackett"), Linda Hiestand ("Hiestand") and Helen Irwin ("Irwin"). Tackett, who suffered injury during the course of his employment, in consultation with his employer's, insurance company, Defendant Travelers Indemnity Company of Illinois n/k/a Travelers Property Casualty Company of America ("Travelers"), settled his worker's compensation claim for $105,000.00. The Plan seeks recovery of $30,292.21 in benefits paid to Tackett. Similarly, Hiestand and Irwin suffered injuries during the course of their employment, and received worker's compensation benefits from Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., ("Gallagher"). The Plan alleges that it has a lien of $7,032.76 against Hiestand's recovery of $34,887.90 in her worker's compensation settlement. The Plan alleges that it has a lien in the amount of $24,759.26 against Irwin's recovery of $81,321.75 in her worker's compensation settlement.

In February 2007, Travelers removed the action to this Court (where subject matter jurisdiction lies under the federal question statute). In March 2007, both Travelers and Gallagher moved to dismiss, based on their assertions that they were not parties to the Plan, nor fiduciaries of the Plan, and that, therefore, they had no duty to the Plan to protect the Plan's contractual subrogation interest.

Before the Court are Traveler's and Gallagher's motions to dismiss, as well as supporting memoranda, responses, replies and a combined sur-response. See Docs. 13, 14, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 32, 36. The Court now analyzes the pending motions, starting with the standards which govern disposition of the issues raised therein.*fn1

II. Applicable Legal Standards

Travelers and Gallagher move for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs dismissal for failure to state a claim. In assessing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must take as true all factual allegations and construe in plaintiff's favor all reasonable inferences. Massey v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 464 F.3d 642, 656 (7th Cir. 2006); Albany Bank & Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2002).

A complaint should be dismissed only "if there is no set of facts, even hypothesized, that could entitle a plaintiff to relief." Massey, 464 F.3d at 656. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit explained:

"We construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in his or her favor." Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005).... Dismissal is proper "only if it 'appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Id.

McCready v. EBay, Inc., 453 F.3d 882, 887 (7th Cir. 2006).

III. Analysis

A. The Plan Provisions

The Court begins its analysis with a recitation of the relevant language from Graphic's Summary Plan Description, as set forth ...


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