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Anderson v. Dergance

June 18, 2009

CHARLES E. ANDERSON, TRUSTEE ON BEHALF OF THE PAINTERS' DISTRICT COUNCIL NO. 30 HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORY DERGANCE AND THE LAW OFFICES OF PETER FERRACUTI, P.C., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Background

On February 18, 2007, Defendant Cory Dergance sustained an injury at a Dollar General Store ("Dollar General"), which resulted in the payment of medical and disability benefits from the Painters' District Council No. 30 Health and Welfare Plan (the "Plan"), administered by Plaintiff Painters' District Council No. 30 Health and Welfare Fund (the "Fund"), an ERISA multiemployer. On February 25, 2008, Dergance settled his claim with Dollar General for $30,000. Pursuant to the terms of the Plan, the Fund now moves for summary judgment, seeking repayment of the $14,365.13 in benefits paid to Dergance. Defendant Law Offices of Peter Ferracuti ("Ferracuti") responded to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.*fn1 Defendant Dergance failed to respond. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for summary judgment is granted.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than "[c]onclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)). A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000). I consider the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). I will accept the nonmoving party's version of any disputed fact only if it is supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).

III. Statement of Relevant Facts*fn2

On February 18, 2007, Dergance injured himself at a Dollar General Store when he cut his right hand on a glass jar. An ambulance transported Dergance to the Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, Illinois, where he received medical treatment for his injury.

Dergance was an "Eligible Individual" covered under the Painters' District Council No. 30 Health and Welfare Plan, which is administered by Plaintiff Painters' District Council No. 30 Health and Welfare Fund. The Plan is an employee welfare benefit plan within the meaning of ERISA § 3(1), 29 U.S.C. §1002(1), which controls how and whether benefits are paid by the Fund. The Fund through the Plan provides Eligible Individuals with benefits, including medical care and weekly disability payments. On behalf of Dergance, the Plan paid $6,602.29 for medical benefits resulting from Dergance's injury between February 18, 2007 and July 13, 2007 and $8,057.14 in weekly disability benefit payments between February 18, 2007 and July 8, 2007.

On August 2, 2007, the Fund received notice from Ferracuti that Dergance was seeking recovery for his injury from Dollar General and Ferracuti requested the Fund provide the amount of its "subrogation lien." That same day, the Fund provided Ferracuti with a lien amount of $12,096.73, including $4,039.59 in medical and $8,057.14 in weekly disability benefits, the amount paid by the Plan as of that date.

On February 22, 2008, the Fund provided Ferracuti with an updated lien amount of $14,365.13, including $6,307.99 in medical and $8,057.14 in weekly disability benefits. On February 25, 2008, the Fund received notice that Dergance settled with Dollar General for $30,000. That same day, Ferracuti acknowledged receipt of the Fund's lien of $14,365.13. Ferracuti now holds $14,365.13 of Dergance's $30,000 recovery in Ferracuti's trust account. Plan terms provide for reimbursement for all amounts paid to or on behalf of Dergance, which includes the settlement amount from Dollar General.

IV. Discussion

The Fund's summary judgment motion is based on the assertion that the Fund is entitled to reimbursement for benefits paid to Dergance once he settled with Dollar General. Plan §2.17(b)(1) provides:

In the event that benefits are paid by the Plan to or on behalf of an Eligible Individual . . . and such Eligible Individual recovers or is entitled to recover from another source all . . . benefits from another source shall become the Plan's and the Plan shall be entitled to reimbursement of such payments ...


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