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Teresa Shappell v. Sun Life Assurance Company

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


February 8, 2011

TERESA SHAPPELL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY; LINCOLN NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE;
EMPLOYERS INSURANCE COMPANY OF NEVADA AND DOES 1 TO 100, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

----oo0oo----Presently before the court is a Motion to Dismiss brought by Defendant Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada ("Sun Life"). Sun Life's Motion seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Cause of Action, entitled "Breach of Contract: Plan Benefits" as preempted under the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. section 1001 et seq. ("ERISA").

Sun Life argues that said cause of action, to the extent it purports to allege state law claims, is subsumed by ERISA since ERISA provides the exclusive remedy for all claims arising from employer-sponsored group insurance plans.

In opposition, Plaintiff agrees that her claims do in fact pertain to a group long-term disability plan governed by ERISA. Despite the moniker given to the cause of action, Plaintiff asserts that in reality it is a claim for ERISA benefits and should be construed as such. She concedes, however, that the Second Cause of Action would have been more appropriately titled "Second Cause of Action: Breach of ERISA Contract Plan Benefits." Pl.'s Opp'n, 2:21-24.

Because the Second Cause of Action may indeed invoke state law claims as currently constituted, Sun Life's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) is GRANTED. Plaintiff may file an amended complaint, not later than ten (10) days following the date this Order is electronically filed, in order to properly state a claim for benefits under ERISA, only.*fn1

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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