United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
LEE K. WILDY, Plaintiff,
THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA and CONAGRA FOODS, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge
Lee K. Wildy brought this lawsuit against his employer,
ConAgra Foods, Inc. (“ConAgra”), and The
Prudential Life Insurance Company of America
(“Prudential”), alleging violations of §
502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B), as
well as negligent misrepresentation. ConAgra and Prudential
have each moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons
stated herein, the motions  are granted.
began working for ConAgra in June 2015. Compl. at 2,
No. 1-1. At that time, Plaintiff enrolled in an employee
benefit plan (“the Plan”) through ConAgra and
elected to take out a $100, 000 life insurance policy on his
wife, Joyce Wildy. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he did
not know the life insurance was provided through Prudential.
Id. at 2-3.
states that, from June to September 2015, he paid the premium
for the spousal life insurance policy through payroll
deductions. Id. at 3-4. According to Plaintiff,
ConAgra told him on July 8, 2015, that “the $100,
000.00 spousal life insurance policy on Joyce Wildy was in
place.” Id. at 4.
Wildy passed away on September 23, 2015. Id. at 3.
When Plaintiff notified Prudential of his wife's death,
Prudential paid out only $20, 000 for life insurance
coverage. Id. This was because Prudential determined
that Plaintiff had not provided any evidence of insurability
as to Joyce Wildy. Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges that
he was not aware of the requirement to submit such evidence
and that ConAgra never told him about it. Id. at
addition, Plaintiff alleges that, while appealing the
benefits determination to Prudential, he was informed that
ConAgra had told Prudential that it previously had not
provided employees with “life insurance that required
evidence of insurability.” Id. at 4.
Furthermore, Plaintiff states, ConAgra told Prudential that
“their system did not adequately prompt to inform
employees when evidence of insurability was required.”
Id. Accordingly, ConAgra “[took] steps to
[e]nsure that this situation would not happen again.”
states that he has exhausted his internal appeals with
Prudential. Id. at 3. Accordingly, he filed this
action in the Circuit Court of Lasalle County on July 24,
2018. Id. at 2. Plaintiff seeks $80, 000 in unpaid
life insurance benefits under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B)
(Count I), as well as damages for negligent misrepresentation
on the part of ConAgra (Count II). Defendants filed a notice
of removal on December 17, 2018, invoking this Court's
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint
must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
addition, when considering motions to dismiss, the Court
accepts “all well-pleaded factual allegations as true
and view[s] them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park,
734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013). At the same time,
“allegations in the form of legal conclusions are
insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.”
McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 694
F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678). As such, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
ERISA Claim (Count I)
and ConAgra (together, “Defendants”) seek
dismissal of Count I on the basis that Plaintiff is not
entitled to additional benefits under the terms the Plan.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff did not provide any evidence
of insurability for his wife as required. For his part,
Plaintiff does not dispute that he failed to provide evidence
of insurability; however, he argues that Prudential's
actions “amount to a waiver of the requirement to