The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge
Friday, 23 March, 2012 03:36:02 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
The parties have consented to have this case heard to judgment by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the District Judge has referred the case to me. Now before the court is the motion for summary judgment (#15) filed by Defendant Boilermakers National Health & Welfare Fund. The motion is fully briefed, and I have carefully considered the arguments and evidence of the parties. For the reasons stated herein, the motion is GRANTED.
This lawsuit was filed by OSF in the Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois, alleging that the Fund's refusal to pay a bill for medical services and supplies rendered by OSF to the child of Fund participant Travis Weatherford was a violation of ERISA (Count I), and that Amanda and Travis Weatherford's failure to pay the OSF bill was a breach of contract (Counts II and III), a violation of the Illinois Family Expense Act (Counts IV and V), and breach of an implied contract (Counts VI and VII). It was removed by Defendant on the grounds of ERISA preemption. The three Counts against Travis Weatherford were voluntarily dismissed; see Motion #9 and Order #10.
This Court has jurisdiction over the ERISA claims pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 1132(e)(1), which accords concurrent jurisdiction of civil actions to the district courts of the United States and to State courts of competent jurisdiction for actions, such as this one, brought under subsection (a)(1)(B).
The state law claims are properly before this court under its supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 1367(a), because this Court has original jurisdiction over the dispute, and the state claims are so related to the federal claims that they form part of the same case or controversy. All claims relate to a bill for medical services rendered by OSF to the child of the Weatherfords.
Venue is proper pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 1132(e)(2), because the alleged statutory violation took place in Peoria County, Illinois, within the Peoria Division of the Central District of Illinois.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT GENERALLY
The purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment should be entered if and only if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Jay v. Intermet Wagner Inc., 233 F.3d 1014, 1016 (7th Cir.2000); Cox v. Acme Health Serv., 55 F.3d 1304, 1308 (7th Cir. 1995). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court may not weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; disputed facts must be left for resolution at trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The court's role in deciding the motion is not to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994). The court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.
When the motion for summary judgment was first briefed, it became
apparent that there were uncertainties about which documents were the
governing Plan documents at the time services were rendered. The
parties were ordered to take the deposition of Karen Wilson*fn1
and, if possible, to stipulate to the governing documents and
the pertinent provisions thereof. This has been done. In addition,
supplemental briefs were allowed as to the effect of that deposition
on the arguments previously made. Those briefs have also been filed.
The facts stated below include the relevant information from the
stipulation and supplemental briefs, as well as the initially-stated
facts and arguments that were not mooted by the supplemental briefing.
Boilermakers National Health and Welfare Fund ("the Fund") provided medical benefits to Eligible Individuals. The Fund was established by a written Agreement and Declaration of Trust. The Declaration of Trust does not spell out the benefits to which participants and beneficiaries are entitled. Those benefits are established under and governed by a written plan ("the Plan") titled "Boilermakers National Health and Welfare Fund Plan Document for ...