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MOYLE v. GOLDEN EAGLE INS. CORP.

November 10, 2005.

GEOFF MOYLE, Plaintiff,
v.
GOLDEN EAGLE INS. CORP., et al., Defendants.



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

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE
Presently before the Court is a motion by Defendants Golden Eagle Insurance Corporation ("Golden Eagle"), Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ("Liberty Mutual") and Liberty Mutual Retirement Benefit Plan ("Benefit Plan"), seeking to dismiss Plaintiff Geoff Moyle's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendants filed their motion on September 12, 2005. On October 7, 2005, Plaintiff filed an Opposition to the motion, and thereafter Defendants filed a Reply.

The Court heard oral argument on Defendants' motion to dismiss on November 4, 2005. Jack B. Winters, Jr., Esq appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff, and Ashley B. Abel, Esq. appeared on behalf of Defendants. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC for failure to state a claim with prejudice. I.

  BACKGROUND

  A. The First Amended Complaint

  Plaintiff's complaint arises from his employment at Golden Eagle and Liberty Mutual. In 1988, Plaintiff was hired by Golden Eagle's predecessor company, Golden Eagle Insurance Company. (FAC at ¶ 8.) In 1997, Liberty Mutual acquired Golden Eagle. (Id. at ¶ 9.) After the acquisition by Liberty Mutual, Plaintiff contends Defendants advised him that Golden Eagle employees would be eligible for participation in the Liberty Mutual Benefit Plan. (Id.) On April 30, 2001, Plaintiff alleges he received a personal benefits statement from Liberty Mutual, which indicated that his hire date was in 1988, and that he had a total employment credit of 18 years and 4 months. (Id. at ¶ 11.) This calculation included all of his years of service with Golden Eagle prior to Liberty Mutual's acquisition.

  On March 15, 2002, Plaintiff was discharged from his employment with Golden Eagle and Liberty Mutual. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Shortly after his discharge, Plaintiff received a "Retirement Benefit Plan Calculations Statement" from Liberty Mutual; the statement provided that he would be credited 4.416670 service years. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Subsequently, in May of 2002, Plaintiff was advised by Liberty Mutual representatives that he would not receive past service credit for his term of employment prior to the date on which Liberty Mutual acquired Golden Eagle. (Id. at ¶ 21.)

  Plaintiff admits he has not made any claim for benefits or any request for a plan distribution under the terms of the Benefit Plan. (Id. at ¶ 22.) In addition, Plaintiff claims he has not sought payment of any amounts under the terms and conditions of the Benefit Plan. (Id.) Rather, Plaintiff claims that under the terms of the Plan, he was under no obligation to file a claim with the Plan Administrator. (See Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss at 3) ("[B]y the terms of the Plan, there has been no claim. . . .")

  B. Procedural History

  On February 13, 2003, Plaintiff filed an action in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, alleging ten causes of action. On March 13, 2003, Defendants removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441(b). On March 20, 2003, Golden Eagle and Liberty Mutual filed a joint motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). On April 3, 2003, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand. On July 17, 2003, the Honorable Irma E. Gonzalez, United States District Judge, issued an Order denying Plaintiff's motion to remand and granting in part Golden Eagle and Liberty Mutual's motion to dismiss. Specifically, the Court concluded the claims relating to the question of past service credit under the Benefit Plan were preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001, et seq. ("ERISA"). (See July 17, 2003 Order at 14.) Accordingly, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's state claims without prejudice and granted leave to amend the complaint to allege claims under ERISA. (Id. at 17.) Thereafter, Plaintiff's prior counsel stipulated that an amended complaint would not be filed under ERISA, and the Court remanded the remaining state law employment claims to state court.

  C. Plaintiff's Instant Action

  On August 23, 2005, Plaintiff filed a FAC with this Court, alleging two claims for relief under ERISA. Under the first claim for relief, Plaintiff seeks a judicial determination of the terms of the Benefit Plan and clarification of his rights to future benefits under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B).*fn1 (FAC at ¶ 35-46.) Second, based on the alleged representations of Defendants, Plaintiff seeks equitable relief for Defendants' alleged violations of fiduciary obligations under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3).*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 47-58.) Under the second claim for relief, Plaintiff seeks issuance of a permanent injunction precluding Defendants from denying him benefits and past service credits to which he claims entitlement. (Id. at ¶ 56.)

  In their motion to dismiss, Defendants contend: (1) Plaintiff's claim pursuant to § 1132(a)(1)(B) for clarification of rights to future benefits under the Plan should be dismissed because this action was not filed within the time established by the Benefit Plan; (2) Plaintiff's claim for clarification of rights should be dismissed because he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Plan; (3) Plaintiff's claim for breach of fiduciary duty under § 1132(a)(3) fails because that claim seeks the same relief as the first cause of action for clarification of future benefits under § 1132(a)(1)(B); and (4) the doctrine of laches bars the claim for breach of fiduciary duty under § 1132(a)(3).

  II.

  ...


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