The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE, DISQUALIFY COUNSEL, AND RECONSIDER ORDER DENYING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [Dkt. Nos. 36, 40, & 45]
Presently before the court are Defendants Writers Guild of America, West, Inc., and Writers Guild of America East, Inc. (collectively "Union Defendants")'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 36), Defendants Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan ("the Plan"), Andrea Gonzalez, and Ana M. Troub-Wisnev's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 40), and Plaintiff Terry Williams-Ilunga (Williams)'s Motion to Strike Defendants' Coordinated Motions to Dismiss, to Disqualify Counsel and for Reconsideration of Order Denying Plaintiff's Request for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. No. 45). Having considered the parties' submissions, the court adopts the following order.
Williams is the wife of Ilunga Adell ("Adell"), a beneficiary of Defendant Producer-Writers Guild of America Pension Plan ("the Plan"), an employee pension benefit plan as defined by ERISA §3(2),
29 U.S.C. § 1002(2). Adell has satisfied the conditions for entitlement to pension benefits. (FAC at 36, Exh. 4 at ¶ 7.) Williams seeks benefits otherwise payable to Adell to satisfy Adell's child support obligations ordered by the Los Angeles Superior Court in the couple's ongoing divorce proceedings. (Id. at 38, Exh. 4 at ¶ 15.) Under ERISA, a spouse or former spouse can recover benefits in satisfaction of child support obligations if the spouse possesses a valid Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO"). 29 U.S.C. § 1056(d)(3)(A)-(B).
In July 2011, the Plan received a "Notice of Lien" and "Writ of Execution" for the state court's judgment that Adell owed Williams $114,592.69 in unpaid child support. (FAC at 40, Exh. 4
¶¶ 28-29; Ex Parte App. for Temporary Restraining Order, Decl. of Robert A. Pool ("Pool Decl.") ¶ 11; Opp. to App. for Temporary Restraining Order, Decl. of Ana Wisnev ("Wisnev Decl.") ¶ 19.) The Plan did not award Williams the benefits she was seeking, asserting that she did not have a valid QDRO. (FAC at 41, Exh. 4 ¶ 30; Pool Decl. ¶ 12; Wisnev Decl. ¶ 19.)
Previously, separate state court proceedings had been initiated in 1998 to dissolve Adell's marriage to his former spouse, Rosalyn Willis ("Willis"), and award her spousal support. (Wisnev Decl. ¶ 12.) Willis submitted a QDRO on September 12, 2012, and payments began to her on November 1, 2012. (FAC at 42, Exh. 4 ¶ 37.; Pool Decl. ¶ 14; Wisnev Decl. ¶¶ 14-15.)
Williams brought a series of motions in the Divorce Proceedings to obtain a QDRO and/or injunctive relief to prevent the Plan from paying benefits to Adell and/or Willis. [(Wisnev Decl. ¶¶ 10, 23, 28; see also FAC at 3, 42, Exh. 4 ¶ 33; Pool Decl. ¶ 18]. Those applications were denied. (Wisnev Decl. ¶¶ 23, 30;
Opp. to Ex Parte App. for TRO, Decl. of Neelam Chandna ["Chandna Decl."] ¶¶ 5-7 & 14.) Most recently, Williams sought emergency relief in the Divorce Proceedings via an "Ex Parte Application for Nunc Pro Tunc Relief or Alternatively to Shorten Time," which sought to enjoin the Plan from paying any other benefits (precisely the relief she later sought from this Court). (Wisnev Decl. ¶¶ 30-32; Chandna Decl. ¶¶ 5, 14.) The state court first denied Williams' request at a hearing on October 5. (Wisnev Decl. ¶ 30; Chandna Decl. 14.)
However, the state court has been considering the propriety of entering a QDRO for the immediate recovery of the child support payments Williams seeks. Toward that end, the court directed Williams to meet and confer with the Plan to draft a QDRO that would entitle her to this relief, consistently with ERISA, and has also appointed an expert to recommend an appropriate QDRO for Williams. (Wisnev Decl. ¶¶ 21-28, 30; Chandna Decl. ¶¶ 5-6, 14]. Additionally, the court ordered Williams to notify Willis that Williams was seeking a QDRO. It also suggested that Williams move for the proceedings involving her and Willis to be consolidated so that a single judge could adjudicate their competing claims to Adell's pension benefits, but Williams refused to do so. (Wisnev Decl. ¶ 14; Chandna Decl. ¶¶ 7-8.)
On the morning of October 30, 2012, the parties appeared in the Divorce Proceedings, at which time the court denied Williams' renewed request for injunctive relief. [Wisnev Decl. ¶ 31; Chandna Decl. ¶ 14]. Instead, the court set a hearing for December 11, 2012 to consider the expert's recommendation on a QDRO to enable Williams to recover Plan benefits. (Wisnev Decl. ¶ 31; Chandna Decl. ¶ 14.) On November 15, 2012, Williams filed a notice of appeal ...