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McGrath v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 29, 2018

MARK A. MCGRATH, Plaintiff,
v.
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY OF BOSTON, Defendant.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (d/e 5). Defendant's motion is GRANTED. Plaintiff Mark A. McGrath's Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The majority of the following facts come from Plaintiff's Complaint (d/e 1). The Court accepts these facts as true in ruling on a motion to dismiss. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). Additional facts come from the benefit denial letter, dated April 21, 2005, sent by Defendant to Plaintiff, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit A to Defendant's memorandum of law in support of its motion to dismiss. Although not attached to Plaintiff's Complaint, the benefit denial letter is referenced in the Complaint, see Complaint, ¶ 13, and is a document critical to the Complaint. Therefore, the Court can consider the denial letter in ruling on Defendant's motion to dismiss. See Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1019-20 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Plaintiff, a supply chain manager for Safran USA from September 1996 through December 2013, was a participant of the Safran USA Long Term Disability Plan (Safran Plan). The Safran Plan was underwritten and administered by Defendant.

         On October 26, 2013, Plaintiff's medical impairments prevented him from performing his work activity. Plaintiff applied to Defendant for disability benefits and received said benefits from April 25, 2014, to April 21, 2015.[1] In addition, Plaintiff applied for Social Security disability benefits. On August 11, 2014, the Social Security Administration determined that Plaintiff was disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act beginning on October 26, 2013. Although Defendant was aware of the Social Security Administration's decision, Defendant sent Plaintiff a benefit denial, dated April 21, 2015. The benefit denial letter stated that Defendant had determined that disability benefits were not payable to Plaintiff beyond April 21, 2015. Benefit Denial Letter (d/e 6-1), at 1. The denial letter also stated that any written request for review of Defendant's decision had to be sent within 180 days of Plaintiff's receipt of the letter. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff did not send a request for an administrative review to Defendant within 180 days of the April 21, 2015, denial. After the administrative review deadline had passed, Plaintiff's attorney contacted Defendant and requested a voluntary administrative review. Defendant's representative could not guarantee the review requested.

         On April 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (d/e 1), asserting a claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Plaintiff seeks the payment of disability benefits by Defendant pursuant to the terms of the Safran Plan. On April 21, 2017, Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff's Complaint must be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this suit. Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion to dismiss.

         II. JURISDICTION

         As Plaintiff's ERISA claim is one by a plan participant to recover benefits due to him under the terms of a disability plan offered by his employer, this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e)(1). Additionally, the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's ERISA claim because it is based on federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility means alleging factual content that allows a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007). A plaintiff's complaint must suggest a right to relief, “raising that possibility above a speculative level.” Kubiak v. City of Chicago, 810 F.3d 476, 480 (7th Cir. 2016). “[A] plaintiff is not required to plead facts in the complaint to anticipate and defeat affirmative defenses.” Independent Trust Corp. v. Stewart Information Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935 (7th Cir. 2012). However, if the plaintiff's complaint “sets out all of the elements of an affirmative defense, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate.” Id.

         When faced with a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court “accept[s] as true all of the well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). However, “legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011).

         IV. ...


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