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McNally v. Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind

May 26, 2010

MONTRY MCNALLY; RUBY BELL; AND KENNETH BALES, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EYE DOG FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

(Document # 28)

BACKGROUND

This is an action concerning whether Plaintiffs are entitled to benefits under ERISA. Plaintiffs are the beneficiaries of the estate of Lequita McKay, Defendant Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc.'s previous employee. Plaintiffs allege violations of ERISA and several state tort claims. Plaintiffs contend that, despite Defendants' denial that an ERISA Plan exists, they have discovered a Plan with assets valued at $254,950.48. Because Defendants have recently removed $49,000.00 from this account, Plaintiffs request a temporary restraining order requiring Defendants to return the $49,000.00 and an order freezing the account until the resolution of this action.

On May 7, 2010, the court denied Plaintiffs' motion to the extent it had been filed as an ex parte temporary restraining order because Plaintiffs had not shown sufficient injury if Defendants were heard in opposition. However, the court construed Plaintiffs' motion as a request for a noticed motion for a preliminary injunction. The court ordered that Defendants could file any opposition on or by May 14, 2010. The court set a hearing on Plaintiffs' motion for May 24, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.

Defendants have not file any opposition to Plaintiffs' motion.

On May 18, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a notice that they had not received any opposition from Defendants.

On May 24, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. the court held a hearing. Plaintiffs' attorneys attended the hearing. The case was called after 1:30 p.m. Neither Defendants nor anyone acting on their behalf appeared at the hearing. At the hearing, the court granted Plaintiffs' motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

A party seeking a preliminary injunction must demonstrate that the party is likely to succeed on the merits, that the party is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in the party's favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., -- U.S. --, 129 S.Ct. 365, 374 (2008); National Meat Ass'n v. Brown, 599 F.3d 1093, 1097 (9th Cir. 2010). "In each case, courts must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief." Indep. Liv. Cntr. of Southern Cal., Inc. v. Maxwell-Jolly, 572 F.3d 644, 651 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Winter, 129 S.Ct. at 376) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Following the Supreme Court's holding in Winter, the Ninth Circuit has held that, "[t]o the extent that our cases have suggested a lesser standard, they are no longer controlling, or even viable." Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky, 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotes omitted).

DISCUSSION

Title 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(A) allows for a civil action by an ERISA participant or beneficiary for relief if an ERISA plan administrator fails to comply with ERISA's requirements or fails to supply requested information. 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(A). Section 1132(a)(1)(B) allows an ERISA participant or beneficiary to recover benefits due under the terms of a plan, to enforce rights under a plan, or to clarify future benefits under a plan. 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(1)(B). Section 1133 requires a plan to: (1) provide adequate notice in writing to any participant or beneficiary whose claim for benefits under the plan has been denied, setting forth the specific reasons for such denial, written in a manner calculated to be understood by the participant," and (2) "afford a reasonable opportunity to any participant whose claim for benefits has been denied for a full and fair review by the appropriate named fiduciary of the decision denying the claim."

29 U.S.C. § 1133.

Lequita McKay was employed by Defendant Eye Dog Foundation ...


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