Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Paul Crane v. Charlotte Sartain

April 25, 2013

PAUL CRANE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLOTTE SARTAIN, THE PACKER GROUP, INC., AND THE PACKER GROUP, INC. EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP PLAN AND TRUST, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Ronald A. Guzman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff moves the Court to reconsider the part of its summary judgment order in which it concluded that he could not proceed on his claim of breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA. In its September 27, 2012 order, the Court concluded that "[b]ecause Crane seeks relief only as to himself and not the plan, he cannot proceed under § 1109 and thus [§ 502(a)(2)]." (Dkt. # 99, at 11.)

Plaintiff first challenged this conclusion on the ground that the Court had relied upon ERISA as it applied to a health care benefit plan as opposed to a defined contribution plan. But this characterization is a red herring. While the case cited by the Court in support of its ruling under § 502(a)(2), Krukowski v. Omicron Tech. Inc., No. 10 C 5282, 2011 WL 1303416, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2011), deals with a health care benefit plan, Plaintiff's concern with the Court's ruling is not based on any distinction between the application of § 502(a)(2) in health care benefit plans versus defined contribution plans. In actuality, Plaintiff challenges the Court's conclusion that he only sought relief for himself individually and not the plan.

Generally, as the Court previously noted, "§ 502(a)(2) does not provide a remedy for individual injuries distinct from plan injuries." LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Assoc., Inc., 552 U.S. 248, 256 (2008). Nevertheless, "[§ 502(a)(2)] does authorize recovery for fiduciary breaches that impair the value of the plan assets in a participant's individual account." Id. The Court concluded in its summary judgment ruling that because Plaintiff framed his claims only on behalf of himself and not the plan, he could not proceed with the claim. (Compl., Dkt. # 1, at ¶ 29 ("Defendants . . . still have not paid Crane any of his benefits in the ESOP") (emphasis added)); (id. ¶ 30 ("Defendants have breached their fiduciary duty to Crane") (emphasis added).) In addition, in his prayer for relief, Crane sought only relief as to himself. (Id., Prayer for Relief, at 6 ("That the Court enter judgment in favor of Crane").)

Plaintiff framed his requests for relief only as to himself because that is the relief the allegations in his complaint supported. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged the following in his breach of fiduciary duty count:

29. Despite acknowledging that they owe Crane $77,516.04 in ESOP benefits and despite Crane providing them rollover documents that they requested, Defendants have failed and still have not paid Crane any of his benefits in the ESOP.

30. Accordingly, Defendants have breached their fiduciary duty to Crane. 29 U.S.C. § 1104.

31. Sartain, as the ESOP Plan Administrator, has a separate duty to provide Crane the appropriate plan documents as required under 29 U.S.C. § 1024(b)(2)-(4) and has failed to do so for nearly a year since Crane's first written request.

32. By failing to produce even these simple plan documents as required under ERISA, Sartain has breached her fiduciary duty to Crane. 29 U.S.C. § 1104.

(Compl., Dkt. # 1, ¶¶ 29-32.) Based on these allegations, the losses Plaintiff complained of were individual to him and were not plan losses.

Plaintiff, however, argues in his motion to reconsider that because the "losses here occurred within Crane's ESOP account, they occurred while Crane was an active plan participant, and Crane has not yet been paid one penny of his ESOP's benefits," the complained of losses are plan losses and not individual losses. (Pl.'s Resp. Court's Order, Dkt. # 112, at 4.) In other words, Plaintiff contends that he properly alleged a plan injury and not an individual loss and, therefore, the Court erred in granting judgment in favor of the defendants on the breach of fiduciary duty claim.

In making this argument, Plaintiff relies on allegations he seeks to add to his breach of fiduciary duty claim, not on those contained in his original complaint. (Pl.'s Resp. Court's Order, Dkt. # 112, at 5-6.) In particular, Plaintiff seeks to add the following allegations:

Breach No. 1: After Crane submitted his ESOP redemption request, Sartain redeemed $575,000 of Chairman of the Board Ken Packer's regular company shares, but has paid Crane, a former employee, $0 for his ESOP shares.

Breach No. 2: By December 2009, Sartain, an officer of the Packer Group, spent about $900,000 of The Packer Group, Inc.'s assets making payments on behalf of a separate company, New Vermillion, and labeled these payments as "undocumented loans" to Ken Packer. Sartain knew that this was wrong, yet kept the payments quiet. Sartain spent this money without the Packer Group's Board of Directors' approval, against their wishes, and in what the Board of Directors believes is against the Packer Group By-Laws. Sartain also lied to the shareholders. Shareholders (including Crane) were concerned that the company had incurred liability related to New Vermillion and sent such questions to the Board of Directors. Sartain stayed silent when the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.