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Deidre Nolen v. Trustmark Life Insurance Company

June 30, 2011


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



On February 17, 2011, Deidre Nolen filed a complaint against Trustmark Life Insurance Co., in the Circuit Court of Perry County, Illinois. Served on March 4, 2011, Trustmark timely removed the action to this federal district court on April 1, 2011, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. Nolen brings claims against Trustmark for vexatious and unreasonable delay for failure to pay benefits within the meaning of the Illinois Insurance Code, 215 ILCS 5/155, and for interest under § 215 ILCS 5/357.9.

Nolen, an employee of Perry County Counseling Center, Inc., was provided group health insurance through Trustmark. Trustmark employed Star Marketing and Administration Inc., (Star) as a third-party administrator of the group health plan and ACS Recovery Services, Inc., (ACS) to make collections on its behalf of amounts claimed to be due to Trustmark as subrogation or reimbursement from third-party recoveries by Trustmark's insureds.

On March 4, 2008, Nolen was involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in medical expenses for diagnosis and treatment of her injuries. Nolen's personal automobile insurance provided $10,000 in medical benefits, which amount was exhausted by payment of $10,000 to Arch Air for emergency helicopter transportation on the day of the accident.

The core of Nolen's complaint is that between March 4, 2008, and December 14, 2010, Trustmark refused or delayed payment of its obligations for Nolen's health care because of potential payment from her automobile insurance medical coverage. But, according to Nolen, Trustmark, through its agents, ACS and Star, knew or had reason to know by February 16, 2009, that her medical benefits from this source had been exhausted. Nolen claims that because of the $97,214.92 in unpaid medical bills (as of January 25, 2010), she was required to file a motion for adjudication of liens under the Illinois Healthcare Lien Act - and did so on January 25, 2010.

Nolen submits that because of Trustmark's unreasonable and vexatious delay in making or refusal to make payments, refusal to make timely payments, reversals of payments allegedly previous made and overcharges for reimbursement, her attorneys have been required to act in matters which would not have been necessary, or which would not have been so lengthy and complicated.

Nolen seeks attorney's fees, costs and sanctions pursuant to 215 ILCS 5/155 and interest at 9% from February 16, 2009, to the dates of each payment, as itemized within the complaint.

Now before the Court are Trustmark's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 8) and Nolen's motion to remand (Doc. 16). The motions are fully briefed and ready for disposition.


1. Rule 12(b)(6) Legal Standard

Dismissal of a claim is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) if the complaint fails to set forth "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twonbly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); EEOC v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773,776 (7th Cir. 2007). In deciding a motion to dismiss, the District Court takes as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Tricontinental Industries, Inc., Ltd. v. Price Waterhouse Coopers, LLP, 475 F.3d 824, 833 (7th Cir. 2007).

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has explained that even after Bell Atlantic retooled federal pleading standards, notice pleadings is all that is required. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008). A plaintiff need provide only enough detail to give defendants fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and through the plaintiff's allegations show that it is possible, rather than merely speculative that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit has emphasized that conclusory statements of law and their unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Northern Trust Co. v. Peters, 69 F.3d 123, 129 (7th Cir. 1995).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires complaints to contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint consisting of nothing more than "'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement,'" must be dismissed for failing to meet the requirements of Rule 8. Walton v.Walker, 364 ...

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